As I write, tonight’s game between the Indians and the Tigers is being delayed due to rain. This temporary lull in the game action has caused me to do what I have seldom been able to do this baseball season: to think calmly about what has happened so far.
It’s hard for me to remember sometimes, and it might be for you, too, if you’re a Tribe fan, but most people weren’t expecting a whole lot from the Indians this season. After all, the team won only 69 games last year. There were some reasons to expect improvement in 2011–the continued progress of Shin-Soo Choo, the return to health of Grady Sizemore and Carlos Santana–but no one over the age of 12 honestly thought they had a chance to make the playoffs.
Well, here we are, in the start of the second week of August, and the Indians are in fact legitimate contenders for a playoff berth. They’re greatly aided by being in the AL Central, of course, where only the Tigers have a winning record. A lot of things didn’t go as planned–Sizemore got hurt again, and Choo did too–but some things went better than expected (I’m looking at you, Jason Kipnis, and you, Justin Masterson).
I freely admit that I got swept away with excitement when the Indians had that great April this year, going 18-8 and taking a four-game lead in the division. And yes, since then the team has gone ten games under .500, and at times they’ve looked kind of, oh let’s say inept, at the plate and on the basepaths. But honestly, if on Opening Day, you had told me that on August 9, the Tribe would be in second place in the division, only four games back, with a shot at being only ONE game out three days later, I’d have taken that in a heartbeat.
Of course, once the rain stops and the Tigers series continues, I’ll go back to worrying about every game, every inning, every pitch. But for now, while the rain gently falls, let me take a moment to thank the Baseball Gods (Susan assures me that they exist) that in the heart of the summer, the Cleveland Indians, my team since I was five years old, have a chance to make the playoffs again. Let me enjoy this sensation while I can.