It’s amazing to think this run of the Indians is just entering its fourth year.
The AL Central has been theirs handily for fully three seasons with another expected, the only real hint of a challenge coming from a young Minnesota team that ultimately got steamrolled by a 22-game win streak.
It seems like such a long time, like we’ve been rapping our fingers on the desk, waiting for them to get back to October for something like a decade now. And yet, we’re not even half way to that mark. In the grander scheme of baseball history, what we’ve seen so far is barely a blip. These long seasons somehow pass by quicker than we’d like each year, and take longer and longer to return each spring. The waiting to get here, only to get there, it’s a bit of a pain. One would be right to be a bit frustrated. But at the same time, gutting out the doldrums of the dark and cold is worth it, if only for this moment in late March, when Spring dawns again. And finally, after yet another long winter, the sun shines. Baseball is back.
For as much as seems to be looming over this Indians team in 2019, don’t we deserve a moment to bask in that simple joy? Cleveland’s flaws will be bared sooner rather than later, simply because they’re the same flaws we talked about all winter, and all last summer, and the winter before that too, and yet here we are still expecting to see a fringe title contender and a squad penciled in for October baseball, whoever long that lasts this time around.
But considering how long this good stretch of theirs is going, and how assumed a division title is and all we have to worry about is, you can forget how fragile it all is, how rare what they’ve put together can be. Teams like the Padres or Mariners or really anyone have surely stared longingly at the rotation that’s somehow come together as if by magic in Cleveland of drafting one future star and finding another out of nowhere, somehow able to give the Indians a guarantee for October, albeit a guarantee bolstered by an otherwise dreadful division. No rebuild is ever assured, much less one that hands you a division for a handful of years, and yet the Indians continue to sit pretty, and don’t really seem to be ready to slow down. Not with an improving minors system on top of this very solid big club.
It’s come together and given us what will soon be four years of incredible baseball. The true end goal hasn’t been achieved, but the fact that we get to have it here, for us as fans, to be the envy of so many, should not be forgotten. Remember, the Tigers went from toast of the division to basement dwellers in a blink, so did the Royals after their own title. The peaks can feel forever, the depths a thing of the past, but baseball can slap you around before you know it.
Which is all a long way of saying, I’ve learned, and I hope you have too, that while it’s hard to appreciate the team each and every day, it’s important to reflect on what we’ve gotten to see come together at Carnegie and Ontario, that beautiful baseball has dawned each March for the past four years now, and that’s a rare delight to enjoy.
This year will likely be similar to the last two, rife past with surges and swoons, victories and failures and worries and wonders, and as with so much in life it will be hard to take a step back and just appreciate the game being played so well by so many stars on the Indians roster. Especially if the Twins exceed expectations and give the Tribe a chase. Between Minnesota making moves, subtle hits of improvements in Chicago, and a couple good players in Kansas City, things are less assured than in the past, and the injuries to the infield either. By June everyone is going to be upset for some reason or other.
For a little while, at least, it’s nice to have this silly game back.