The Cleveland Indians begin their 2020 playoff journey against the New York Yankees tonight. The Tribe have a legitimate claim to being the hottest team in baseball right now, winning eight of their last nine to lock up the fourth seed. Rather than dominate opponents down the stretch, they rallied late and walked off to win it almost every other game in the last week.
It goes without saying, then, that I am ready for the pain.
I don’t want the Indians to come up short again this year. 2016 gave us bittersweet heartbreak; 2017, a rotted chest cavity; and 2018 bashed us to death with a shovel. In some ways, narrowly missing the postseason last year gave me time to heal. Now, faced with the prospect of a three-game series and seven other playoff opponents, it seems more likely than ever that something ludicrous will derail the Indians’ dreams and leave all of us forlorn.
I am ready to accept that as easily as a championship, because it’s necessary to maintain sanity.
I’d love to see Francisco Lindor cradle the Commissioner’s Trophy and shout, “This one’s for you, Cleveland!” giving us a beautiful touchstone for remembering his time on the left side of the infield at Progressive Field. Perhaps we’ll see Carlos Santana turn on a fastball and hit a ball into Pierre’s, where a placard can commemorate the walk-off home run for the rest of time. How about Terry Francona jogging out onto the field to celebrate with the team despite being separated from it for most of the year?
I extend open arms to the reality that long-standing tenures in Cleveland — including the team nickname — might end without a worthy send-off.
You can never anticipate what will happen next in October. It’s what makes Rajai Davis’s home run off of Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller’s multi-inning destruction endure. The impossible moments, small and large, from which legends grow.
I expect with all certainty that they’ll happen against Cleveland more often than not.
I can handle the pain, the disappointment, and the misery, because that’s what is necessary to remain a fan of the Cleveland Indians for so long. I am prepared. What I ask, though, is this: in a year that has been so improbable, can the impossible please break Cleveland’s way? Just once?