Let’s have some fun with our friends this morning.
When you first encounter them, put on a big smile and say, “Did you see that game last night?”
As happens too often in Northeast Ohio, they won’t think you are talking about the Indians.
For years, a June trip to the West Coast has been a major factor of what was usually referred to as the JUNE SWOON. This term is used by many fans, even if the Indians fare well as it appears they are this year. It’s all about that “Believeland” cynicism gaining national attention.
This is a major problem. While Cleveland-area fans will complain about the Browns and sometimes the Cavs while still attending games and watching on television, the Indians suffer from a particularly bitter form of this fan swooning.
With all of the attention directed elsewhere, many folks are not even aware that the Indians are in first place. Still more have no idea how well the Indians’ pitching has been performing.
The Indians are dead last in MLB attendance. After 29 dates they are averaging 15,450 fans per game. That’s more than 1,000 fewer fans per game that the Tampa Bay Rays. The current pace would put them at about 1.2 million fans and 91 wins.
Now this tremendous, well-built team is marching into darkness for the next week-plus. The games will be played while Cleveland sleeps, while Cleveland watches basketball, while Cleveland worries about becoming the center of an ugly political season.
So those friends of yours need to wake up this morning. There’s a tremendously entertaining baseball team returning to town soon.
Here are some details to pique their interest from last night’s game:
Carlos Carrasco continued his strong return. Two of the runs he allowed came on a fence-scraping homer in the third inning.
The Indians are in first place despite suffering some significant injuries. Michael Brantley, their best hitter a year ago, has produced next to nothing because of a leg injury. Carrasco, among those considered in the offseason to be a Cy Young candidate, missed about a month. Catchers Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez have had trouble staying in the lineup.
Despite losing, the Indians remain in first place, 2.5 games ahead of the Royals and Tigers.
The bullpen appears to be the weak spot on an otherwise solid pitching staff. Zach McAllister (3.43) and Joba Chamberlain (1.93) failed to keep the Tribe close Wednesday night. Tommy Hunter (3.46) and Kyle Crockett (14.73) also have struggled at times. Nevertheless, all except Crockett are well above the league-average ERA of 4.15 going into Wednesday’s games.
Yes, the Indians managed only three hits Wednesday night and didn’t seem to be competitive after Iannetta’s first home run. Expect you friends to be less than impressed, probably dismissing the Tribe as just another bunch of losers. But that just shows a lack of understanding in the ways of baseball. The best teams lose at least 50 games. Many champions lose more than 60. There are no teams with 80-percent winning. That’s why “getting above .500” is such a big deal.
So your Cleveland friends need to hear about their first-place Indians. But if you take a pass this morning, we’ll all understand why. There are a lot more wins coming.