We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
Winston Churchill, June 4th 1940
“I don’t want to get any messages saying, ‘I am holding my position.’ We are not holding a goddamned thing. Let the Germans do that. We are advancing constantly and we are not interested in holding onto anything, except the enemy’s balls. We are going to twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all of the time. Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy.”
General George S Patton, Spring 1944
The first thing we want to make sure we do is find a way to gain entry into the postseason and the best way to do that is winning the American League Central and we feel we are positioned to do that. The other thing we’ve demonstrated over time...is we’ll look at opportunities to fine-tune & adjust our roster as the season moves on & I’d expect that to be the case this year if we’re again in the position of being a contender around the Trade Deadline or later in the season.
Chris Antonetti, January 25th 2019
I know it’s not fair to compare the President of a baseball team with a Prime Minister or general during war time. Yes, sports arouse in us a mild flavor of ferocity and tribalism, but no one is going to die if the Cleveland Indians fail to make the postseason or lose the World Series. At least, I don’t think anyone will.
I know that the front office of the team is still looking at ways to improve the roster before the regular season begins. None of us really want to trade Corey Kluber, and we would revolt if the return for a deal wasn’t delightful. They just re-signed Oliver Perez today, and there have been a few small deals that may pay off. However, this off-season is a far cry from flipping prospects for the game’s best reliever and doling out for a power bat after nearly winning the World Series.
I know that baseball is a notoriously difficult beast to tame. Players get injured, suddenly lose all of their abilities, or suddenly find them after going to another team. You can’t predict the motions of this wild game, let alone slip a collar around its neck. Antonetti and the rest of the front office is doing the best it can with the resources available. I won’t belabor the point, but those resources aren’t as plentiful as some other teams in the league.
I know that the organization doesn’t want to mortgage the entire future in the present. There’s nothing fun about rebuilding a baseball team from scratch unless you’re a divisional rival (Everybody wave at the Royals! What are they doing? Aren’t they cute?!). It takes years. It depresses attendance and fan loyalty. I’ve also heard that players don’t like losing 90-ish games for a few seasons. It’s understandable that they want to balance the desire to bring helpful free agents in against the hope that prospects develop well and contribute now and down the road.
That being said, there’s one bit of this here quote that I can’t let go.
[I]f we’re again in the position of being a contender around the Trade Deadline or later in the season
I’m sorry. If?
The Indians arguably own the best starting rotation in all of baseball. The left side of the infield is the greatest anyone’s seen in a generation, and possibly ever. I understand everything I wrote above, but how can you look at the talent on the roster right now and be content with the possibility of maybe being in contention?
I’m sure that he’s not content. I bet on some level he’s livid about giving remarks like this. Antonetti may never have a team with this opportunity again, and if he could have re-signed Josh Donaldson, or sign Bryce Harper; or hell, even AJ Pollock, I think he would have.
It’s one thing to acknowledge that the team can still be improved upon from its current state. It is another entirely to admit that the best strategy we can come up with is to coast across the surface of the weakest division in the league toward the playoffs. We’ll hope for some wind at our backs and that fortune favors us upon our arrival, but yeah, sure, this crew is probably good enough to make the voyage. Aye aye, captain.
I’m not looking for the man to top “once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more / Or close the wall up with our English dead.” Still, as Indians fans, I think we’ve got every right to be pretty pissed off at the idea of the team holding its position — this position — while the rest of the league goes over, under, and through us.