On Sept. 30, 2020, at approximately 11:45 p.m. ET., interim manager Sandy Alomar looked to the heavens and whispered to the baseball gods, “Don’t worry, I got this.”
Trailing 8-6 in the seventh inning against the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALWCS, facing elimination, the Cleveland Indians had drawn a pair of two-out walks. With left-hander Zack Britton on the mound, Alomar opted to pinch-hit for Josh Naylor — the Tribe’s hottest hitter in the series up to that point — and send Jordan Luplow to the plate. Yankees manager Aaron Boone responded by pulling Britton and bringing in right-hander Jonathan Loáisiga.
Alomar, seizing upon the opportunity to take advantage of a favorable pitching matchup for Luplow, had lifted the hottest hitter in the Indians’ lineup, only for Boone to flip that matchup advantage with a simple call to the bullpen that anyone could have seen coming.
The Let’s Go Tribe Slack channel was apoplectic.
Matt Lyons, who we now know to be a serial blasphemer, used the Lord’s name in vain. Chris Davies wrote, “what the actual [fudge].” Matt Schlichting, who had earlier copped to being “unhappy,” was nowhere to be found, presumably comatose. I contributed, “oh boy.”
But then Chris, experiencing what I can only assume was a moment of divine clarity, typed out seven words: “Watch this work out because nothing matters.”
Luplow fouled off the first two pitches from Loáisiga. Down to his last strike, he laid off a curveball that appeared to nip the bottom outside corner of the strike zone but was instead called a ball. Luplow would get at least one more chance. The next curveball to come across the plate ended up over the head of center fielder Aaron Hicks for a game-tying two-run double.
The LGT Slack channel was consumed by stunned silence, with the exception of two messages. One was a GIF from Chris and the other was from me: “what in god’s name have we done.”
Whatever happened after that is irrelevant. Jordan Luplow, with his .192 batting average and his 80 wRC+, was a hero. He had actually had a good month of September, slashing .313/.389/.594 in 36 plate appearances. Luplow had even already had a taste of heroics, striking out three times against the White Sox before delivering a walkoff home run in the ninth on Sept. 23.
But I’ll never forget the night when nothing mattered, and neither should you. Because sometimes when life tells you to trust the process, screw the process and get results.