“Winning will never feel as good as losing feels bad.”
That sentiment was penned by then-ESPN columnist Bill Simmons in his famous “Levels of Losing,” column over a decade ago, and it’s a sentiment that I’ve always agreed with. I always wondered if it was was just because I was so used to losing and so traumatized by losing that I didn’t know how good winning could feel. Then, the Cavaliers won it all this past June and while I was excited and elated and joyous and every positive feeling you could imagine, the predominant feeling in my bones at that moment of victory was relief. It was over. The Curse, the Losing, the Heartbreak. For once I didn’t have to go through it.
Well, five-plus months later, here we are. Heartbreak.
Much will be written about how the Indians choked. How they failed. How they lost the series. I hope more digital ink is spilled on the fact that the Chicago Cubs won this series, and that the Cleveland Indians did everything they could to steal it from them.
Yes, there were miscues. The bloop in the first inning in Game 6 comes to mind. The “sac fly that shouldn’t have been” in Game 7 comes to mind. But those miscues don’t diminish what the Cubs did, which was attack constantly and effectively in Games 5, 6, and 7 with a superior team and a deeper team. If you gave the Indians a 3-1 lead 100 times, I think we’d be celebrating 75 of them, but this was not one of those times. Oh well. It hurts. We move on.
I’m not going to go over the minutiae of this game. It was an epic game, one for the ages. One that saw Tribe fans admit defeat and come roaring back only to be crushed some 45 minutes later. You’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, and we’ll all see it 100 times more. We’ll spend the offseason writing about it. We’ll dissect it – and I want to get into how badly Joe Maddon almost bungled this series, but not today, and not this week.
The difference between this Indians loss and every other ‘Cleveland’ loss that I can imagine is that there is no “The” moment. Yes, mistakes were made, and yes, they shouldn’t have been made, but the Cubs had 3 errors in this game themselves. The story of this game is that the Indians, short handed for the past month, finally had it all catch up to them. There was nothing any one of us would have done drastically differently (maybe not subbing out a right fielder – who was battling the flu, by the way – for a stronger arm and a weaker bat, but it doesn’t matter).
Let’s look at the big picture issues in Games 6 and 7:
–Josh Tomlin, starting on short rest, didn’t have any command of his curveball and got obliterated. He gave everything he had.
–Corey Kluber, starting for the third time in nine days, just didn’t have good stuff. He did his best, but in the end, he didn’t have enough to stifle this powerful Cubs lineup.
–Andrew Miller, also fatigued, did not have his best stuff and got relatively torched. Nothing we can blame him for, and nothing we could have done differently.
–Cody Allen was great, but his stamina fell off quickly. He had to be replaced by Bryan Shaw.
-After Shaw, there was nothing Tito could trust – he ended up going to Trevor Bauer on 2 days’ rest!
And so it came to Bryan Shaw, and he couldn’t get through the red-hot middle of the Cubs order. It happens.
Don’t hang your heads over this loss, Cleveland. It hurts. It hurts terribly. But this team gave you everything it had and more, and they left it all on the field, and that’s all we can ask for at the end of the day.
For those of you who need a break from baseball – take it. But know that in April we’re gonna have a scary rotation again and a lot of hungry guys eager to win that division again and fix the ending of 2016. And we have the talent, and the organization, and especially the leadership to do it.
From all of us at IPL – have a safe and healthy offseason, and hopefully we’ll see you over the long, cold winter.