It’s been kind of a rough week if you’re an Indians fan. Just five days ago the team was flying high, fresh off a comeback win over Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers. Then they got swept by the worst team in the American League, and their offense was shut down by the AL’s worst pitching staff. Fans were hoping for some kind of big deal to improve the team, ignoring the fact that this team has a number of flaws and that one big deal won’t solve all of their problems. After the series in Minnesota, everyone switched gears and prepared themselves for a fire sale. Chris Perez, Shin-Soo Choo, and Justin Masterson were names that all came up in rumors, and there was a very realistic possibility that one or more may depart from the Indians.
I started to think about how much my thoughts and opinions have changed over the past week, as well as my approach to following this team. I saw the same thing from other fans; we were all going through this bizarre progression of emotions as we tried to come to terms with the realities of this team. You may know the feeling – you know deep down that it’s just not coming together this season, but you can’t help hoping that something bizarre happens to somehow save the season. It’s like going through the five stages of grief, trying to process a season that, at times, seemed promising.
Here’s the five stages for Indians fans:
Step 1, Denial: Look, I know that the starting pitching has been atrocious (second worst behind Minnesota) and that the offense has been pretty bad, particularly in left field and at first base. It’s just that Detroit and Chicago have problems too! Sure, you’re not even at .500 anymore, but you’re only five games out of first at the end of July. Some fans would kill for their team to be in that position.
Step 2, Anger: I’m so sick of watching Johnny Damon, I don’t even care that he’s a veteran and a great clubhouse presence. (Hat tip to Chris B. for always Tweeting “GCG” for “good clubhouse guy” every time he does something stupid). Would it kill Derek Lowe and Josh Tomlin to give up less than 10 earned runs in a game? Could Casey Kotchman please quit hitting weak grounders to second? Why wouldn’t the Indians just give Josh Willingham that third year in the offseason, so we could be free from this stupid left field platoon? I’m tired of watching other teams spend money while the Indians do nothing. Even if they do have a fire sale, they’d just find a way to screw it up. They’d trade for someone who will probably never play in the Majors again, like Jason Knapp, or pick another bust like Matt LaPorta. Why are they so stupid and cheap?! I’m so mad right now, I think something ruptured inside of my brain.
Step 3, Bargaining: All right, so I know things look pretty bleak right now. If the Indians could just find a way to make a more significant improvement, like someone under control for the next couple of years, they could still save this season and help themselves for next year. What about Chase Headley? Tampa Bay is shopping James Shields, he would certainly look better in the rotation than Josh Tomlin. If they make a big deal before the deadline, they could still find a way to win this thing. Detroit and Chicago didn’t do anything off the charts this trade season either, so some of the underperforming Indians could start doing better and get them on a winning streak.
Step 4, Depression: Why do I even watch this team, year after year? Why do I insist upon doing this to myself? I’m so upset, I don’t even want to go see any games at this point, I can keep my money and just spend it on scotch instead. I can just sit around my house, drink scotch, and cry as I watch the Tigers or the White Sox run away with the division. It will probably be a Yankees-Dodgers World Series anyway. Great. Whatever.
Step 5, Acceptance: To be honest, I saw this coming. This team just didn’t have what it takes to win the division this year, and I’m okay with that. I’ll go ahead and relax and watch the rest of the season, and hope maybe they call up some of the young guys from Columbus to see what they have. What’s the harm in giving Russ Canzler some at-bats if we’re not going anywhere anyway? Sure, a pennant race is exciting and fun, but I just love to watch baseball. Plus, there’s always next year.
That should be the mantra of Indians fans: There’s always next year.
Follow Stephanie on Twitter @stephanieliscio