The best team doesn’t always win.
This is not going to be a wholly rational piece of writing, and I apologize for that. I was hoping when I signed on to do the the recap for a decisive game 5 that a celebratory piece was in the offing. Instead, the dream is dead, foiled in a 5-2 loss to the evil, evil Yankees (shades of the late 1990s).
The Indians were the best team, both in this series and maybe/probably in MLB, depending on your thoughts on the Dodgers’ September swoon. But the best team doesn’t always win, especially in a sport like baseball. Postseason series aren’t designed to find the best team; they exist to figure out who won. And tonight was not Cleveland’s night.
The Yankees were led by three unlikely heroes: Didi Gregorius, who as recently as last year was no one’s idea of a worthy Derek Jeter replacement; Brett Gardner, a solid-if-unspectacular outfielder who gutted out an agonizing 12-pitch at-bat against Cody Allen in the 9th to pad the Yankees’ lead; and CC Sabathia, which, where was this version of postseason Sabathia in 2007?
Joe Girardi did attempt to be the Indians’ unlikely hero by leaving Sabathia in too long. You would think having such a phenomenal bullpen would lead Girardi to have a quick hook on Sabathia, but he let his starter sit out there in the fifth and give up hit after hit after hit before finally pulling him after two runs crossed home.
And let’s not forget Terry Francona, who may have overthought things with his Trevor-Bauer-starting-Game-1 gambit. Not to dwell on it too much, but it would have been nice to have two games of Carlos Carrasco in this series rather than two games of Bauer.
And so the Indians’ season, a season in which they really felt like a team of destiny, has come to an abrupt, untimely end. They’ll be back next year, but in the year that featured a historic winning streak, the likes of which haven’t been seen in the modern era, it would have been such a nice capper for this colossally fun team to add a World Series trophy to its list of accomplishments. I’ll always have fond memories of the 2017 Indians, and the streak especially, but there could have been more. It’s just too bad it had to end here.