As 2011 winds down, I figured it may be a good idea to get all of my whining and complaining out of the way. You know, start fresh in 2012 with a positive attitude and all of that crap. This will also serve as my last post of the year, since I’m heading to Florida for a mini vacation (i.e. I’m going to go run around the Harry Potter area at Universal and act like an idiot).
My whole rant started when I saw this ad a couple of weeks ago:
That’s pretty innocent, right? The Cardinals just won the World Series, so of course there is going to be Cardinals-themed merchandise out there available for purchase. So why were my hands slowly clenching into fists when I saw this? I’ll tell you why – because the Cardinals just got to celebrate their second World Series in five years, while the Indians haven’t won a World Series in my lifetime. Heck, they haven’t even really won one in my parents’ lifetime, since they were only a few months old in 1948.
The Tribe now has the honor of the second-longest championship-less drought in Major League history, behind only the Chicago Cubs and their 103 years of futility. “But at least they’ve won something” shriek the fans of teams like the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. Oh yes, Indians fans – I’m sure we all recall with fondness when the 1920 Indians picked up and soldiered on after the tragic death of Ray Chapman, beating the Brooklyn Robins to win the franchise’s first title. Oh wait…if you’re anything like me, your grandmother was 1 in 1920. Brown vs. the Board of Education, the JFK assassination, Watergate – these are all things that took place after Cleveland last had a world champion baseball team.
I’ve sustained lectures from my bandwagon Yankees-fan husband, “Just give up and follow a real team; all of this misery is ridiculous.” This is the same fan that said “who’s Yogi Berra?” when the legendary catcher walked right next to us at spring training one year. This is the same fan that said “who’s Don Mattingly?” When I mentioned that the legendary Yankee was being considered as the successor to Joe Torre. I’d rather put up with the misery, than be one of those fans. Suffering through all of the title-less years, through good teams and bad, will make the win that much more sweet when it finally comes. (*If* it finally comes; I just keep telling myself this to make 90+ loss seasons more bearable).
I’m also aware of the fact that I have much less to complain about than many Indians fans. I was born in 1979, so I suffered through the 80s and early 90s; then I at least got to see competitive baseball. What if you were born in 1948? By the time you were old enough to really appreciate and follow baseball, the Indians were already on their downward slide. It would be decades before those fans would see competitive baseball again.
Almost every off-season, I endure this internal monologue – “Is this the year? Will they finally find a way to win and put an end to a 6+ decade drought?” (To be fair, I don’t think this every season; some seasons I’ve already given up before Opening Day.) In 2011 though, the Indians showed some promise, and have a decent roster heading into 2012. With some luck in regards to injuries, and with a few players having a good year, there’s seriously a chance the Indians could contend this year. The major question is, will the season end like 2007, with a playoff run, or will it lead to disappointment and a subsequent fire sale like the 2008 season?
For a couple of months, Indians fans get to remain blissfully ignorant in regards to the promise of the 2012 season. The pessimist in me thinks, “They’ll blow it…they always blow it. It’s not a matter of *if* the Indians will disappoint, but *when* and how crushing it will be.” However, the optimist in me always thinks, “Could this finally be the year?” It’s as if I’ve maintained this sense of child-like wonder, that every year could be the year, no matter how many holes the logical part of my brain sees in the roster.
You tend to see two types of Indians fans – those who are almost sickeningly positive, and always think the team looks much better than it does; and those who are incredibly negative and seem to hate the Tribe more than a fan of a rival team. I think both approaches are completely understandable. Some people must stay positive in order to maintain their sanity and fandom, while others are just so bitter from the general letdown of being an Indians fan, it’s hard to ever be positive. Both types of fans ultimately have one common goal – we all want to see the Indians bring a title to Cleveland; a city that hasn’t seen a sports championship since 1964.
Is 2012 the year that we’ll finally see ads all over the Internet for Indians World Series merchandise? For a while at least, we can still dream that “there’s always next year,” finally refers to this year.