Remember in spring training when Michael Brantley made his first start and would hit a homer and make a sparkling defensive play, and then EVERYBODY (myself included) saw him as healthy and ready to go?
Oh, how foolish hope can be.
He’s played in 11 games thus far this season. It is now August 9. It is time to declare the disappointing inevitable: He tried. We all waited. It just doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
2016 has been a season where most of it has gone the Tribe’s way, but you can’t help but wonder where the Tribe would be if Dr. Smooth were healthy. And as much as we don’t want to admit it, it really does make Jonathan Lucroy’s spurning of the proposed trade sting that much more. We thought had Brantley as the “Yeah, but…” in our back pocket as insurance. But with 53 games left in the season, and now with this downer of a report from Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes, the reality is that 2017 is now the most logical and hopeful target date for his return.
Thankfully, it’s not like offense has been the problem; far from it. It’s actually been the only saving grace in this current tough stretch in which the rotation has been wobbly at best, which has helped slice the Indians’ comfortable 7.5 game lead down to a 2.5 game lead over the Tigers. So we’re back to scoreboard watching until the pitching can right itself.
(Can we blame this on Lucroy, too? Asking for a frrr…me.)
Of course, that leads us to those awful “What ifs” (2014 ad campaign, represent!) of how a healthy –heck, an 80 percent healthy– Brantley would be nothing but a plus in the first real concerning funk of the season.
So the time has come to wave the white flag on the the ideas and hopes of the good doctor coming to the Indians’ aid as we head down the home stretch towards the playoffs.
The good news is that they’ve shown that they are more than capable of performing well without him. How quickly have we apparently forgotten that they won 14 games in a row with Brantley being nothing more than a cheerleader. Having write-off seasons stink, especially when they involve cornerstone players. But this Indians team is a sum of all of its parts; and the guys who are healthy are pretty freakin’ good.
Injuries happen. It’s a fact of life in sports. And it does us no good to start crying over the hand we’re dealt. This is the team we’re riding with, hopefully to great things. So let’s try to enjoy the ride.