There’s nothing really good to glean from the 2019 playoffs for an Indians fan.
There are certainly things to focus on that bring little more than sadness, like Yandy Diaz showing up big time or the constant reminder that in baseball, money can be a huge boost to a team’s likelihood of success. If the Indians were the ones with Giancarlo Stanton, for instance, they’d be crippled with his inability to play. The Yankees have just shrugged it off all year. Yes, it’s right to see little more than disappointment with this crop of non-Indians playoff teams. There’s some silver linings though, right?
There’s Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes, and neither of them are on the Bad Guy team.
A Tribe fan might have some reason to be mad at the Astros for how they took Cleveland to the woodshed last year. It sucks that was the swan song for Brantley in a Cleveland uniform — he deserved whatever money he got, though, and the Indians weren’t about to shell out. Seeing him get a chance at a ring is a small piece of happiness, and getting the chance to make Yankees fans mad is a pleasure any baseball fan can enjoy.
It’s really kind of nice hat he did end up on the Astros and not the Cubs or Dodgers or Red Sox or something. There’s not a lot to hate about that team. They’re really good, they are going to continue to be good, and their players rule in one way or another. Whether Yordan Álvarez and his impossible might, Alex Bregman seemingly always getting better, or Jose Altuve disproving that size means anything, It’s a wonderful collection of guys. They even rehabbed Justin Verlander in the eyes of the Cleveland fan. Now that he’s not a Tiger it doesn’t matter if he’s good or not, and you can just appreciate how dazzling he is at his best. Bringing Brantley in almost feels like half an apology, a promise that since Cleveland, with it’s lack of resources and still being behind the Astros in development and preparation, probably won’t have such a consistent chance to win the title Brantley deserves. It sucks to think about, but it’s pretty true.
Then there’s Yan Gomes. It’s hard to describe what Gomes meant to the Indians, because what he did so amazingly is still tough to quantify. Yes, there was the excellent 2014 season where he slashed .294/.345/.481 and looked like the centerpiece in a hoodwinking of the Blue Jays. There’s that weird All-Star Game appearance from 2018. He’s the one that ushered the amazing Tribe rotation to their zenith, only to suffer a season-ending injury in 2016 and was unable to help the Indians reach the mountain top. It’s all a sense of what could have been with Gomes, whether if he were healthy he’d be able to realize that flash of potential he showed for one year. That didn’t happen, but he did allow the Indians to again hoodwink a team, bringing back Oscar Mercado. even when he couldn’t do it himself, Yanny was a blessing for the Indians.
So seeing him succeed against the Midwest Yankees, at least a little bit with that back-breaking double in Game 1 ... it’s nice, isn’t it? Plus, it was him who guided Anibal Sánchez to within a handful of outs of a no-hitter. Those two feats, it was a little glimpse of what the best of Yan Gomes was for the Indians. It would have been nice to see it happen in Cleveland, but you can’t help but feel good for the guy.
It’s little joys that we search out these days. With the Indians facing down a growing danger across the division, the potential departure of some stars we’ve grown to love, we have to latch on to what we can. Maybe next year will be different for Cleveland. After their hideous April they got pretty good and nearly chased down the Twins, so there’s a lot to be excited about. That potential can carry the fandom through the winter. Right now though, there’s still baseball, and still old friends to hope the best for. If they meet in the World Series, it doesn’t mean that magical, championship type of happiness will be brought to northern Ohio. It’ll be another case of a former star or fan favorite leaving town and getting a ring somewhere else. Which sucks, but at least we’re used to that tale. We root for the player though, most days anyway. Just because they changed uniform doesn’t change what they once were, and the joy they brought to us. Both these guys deserve whatever they get.
If nothing else, at least it means the Yankees won’t win. Again, small blessings in a time of darkness.