Whether you play for the Cleveland Indians or watch them play, yesterday was a bad day. They blew a late lead against a bad San Francisco Giants team wrap up a disastrous 1-5 road trip against a pair of last-place teams.
At Let’s Go Tribe, we talked about it in posts, we talked about it comments, and we talked about it on Twitter. We all even got in a thread and yelled together to get it all out in place and hopefully not in the comments of every single post for the rest of eternity.
We are all a little angry, but is anybody panicking?
Matt Schlichting brought up the question in our Super Slack Club (no you can’t get in stop emailing me) and it got me thinking. There are seemingly very few things that are truly objective in baseball now. There are so many numbers to analyze that are used to back up statements, that it’s hard to come to many different conclusions without having some kind of “correct” answer in numbers, even if everyone doesn’t want to believe it. But panicking? That’s still relative.
Maybe someone could break down some numbers on a time when teams should panic, but there’s no such thing for fans. Everyone has their own breaking point, and it’s your own. Of course there are easy answers, like when the team is eliminated or a dozen or more games behind with a month left, but what if your team is technically in first place in your division but is boring as a jar of mayonnaise and slumping something fierce?
That makes for a more interesting question. If your team is bad all season long, or was expected to be bad coming into the season, it can be easy to just let go and enjoy the ride to the first-overall draft pick. Cleveland fans know this feeling all too well, but now we’re sitting and watching a team loaded with talent failing to beat the Oakland Athletics and Giants more than once in six tries.
Here’s how I view it.
I enjoy riding the highs and lows of baseball, and sports in general. I tend not to overdo it in either direction in real life, even if I do exaggerate to poke fun at things on the webbernet. But still, I enjoy feeling great after a win and revel in the disappointment of a loss, even if it comes in the middle of July with a division lead.
But because I enjoy riding these highs and lows, I also know how fast things can change. A losing streak feels awful and everyone hates the team, but a winning streak can change all that. So, my basic view on when to comes down to: If a sudden winning streak wouldn’t make things right, it’s time to panic.
Every baseball team is capable of ripping off a crooked number of wins a row at any point. I don’t care how bad they are, things happen, baseball is a weird random number simulator that sometimes lines up all 7’s for the San Diego Padres and they win a bunch in a row. This is especially true for a team like the Indians, who are full of slumping potential stars just waiting to all break out at once.
If you are thinking of panicking right now, sit and relax for a minute. I would say close your eyes, but then you won’t be able to read, so maybe read this then go back and close your eyes, I don’t know. Either way, visualize the Indians winning their next seven games. That’d be sweeping the Toronto Blue Jays, winning a makeup against the Cincinnati Reds, and sweeping the Los Angeles Angels. The teams are irrelevant, but that’s who the Indians happen to be playing next.
Imagine them winning all those games in a row. If you feel like that’d make the season less hopeless, that means there is hope. If your opinion on the Indians can be swayed by a week’s worth of good games, then everything probably isn’t as doom and gloom as you think. Maybe it is right now — and it’s okay to embrace that — but full-season panic might not be warranted.
This dumb little exercise wouldn’t work for everyone, mind you. The Giants are still pretty hopeless if they win their next six straight, and I would guess the Kansas City Royals are too, even if they won’t admit it. But the Indians aren’t. The Indians should probably still do something at the deadline to address issues on the team, but you as a person, as a fan, might not want to burn your Indians jerseys just yet.
But that’s just my personal measuring stick. I want to know yours. How do you know when to panic about a baseball season? Is it now? Is it later? Was it the moment Michael Martinez walked off the field sulking in game seven? After you’re done yelling about this post not having enough stats or graphs or how Let’s Go Tribe is bad now, feel free to put your own panic breaking point in the comments.