That Terry Francona guy. He’s pretty good.

Though it’s just our nature as Indians fans to always overreact to the momentary blips as the official WORST THING EVER, he was the one guy who remained stoic through the noise. While we were certain Ubaldo Jimenez would never everevereverevereverevereverEH-VER be the guy we thought we were getting, Tito (and, possibly more directly, Mickey Callaway) stuck with him. And here we are, with a question of where would the Indians be without him?

The eight-game losing streak in early June and six-game streak in August, which included the crushing four-game sweep by Detroit, conjured grisly memories of the soul-sucking collapse of last season. While we sweated, the malaise barely registered to Francona. “We’re gonna find out who we are,” he said. He believed even when we were struggling to find the reasons to. I think we know who and what the Indians are now.

Justin Masterson strains his oblique muscle. We freak out. Francona doesn’t even blink in putting his trust in Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister and the prodigious Danny Salazar to keep us afloat. And the remade Bullpen Mafia has been more along the lines of what we’ve come to expect. Terry believed.

This team may be his finest work. A limited budget. A mostly apathetic fanbase. Lowered expectations. The media barely paid attention. He went to work quietly with this team of mostly B-level talent and got them to believe; to grind in a way that Eric Wedge would be proud of. While Manny Acta never bothered to figure out what worked, Tito knew the precise buttons to push for each and every one of his troops.

And now comes the most important part of his shepherding: Making sure that the success of the team doesn’t make it easy to overlook the Astros, White Sox, or Twins en route to a potential showdown with the Rays or Rangers. Tito knows that the playoffs has, in effect, already started. The Indians are six games away from potentially shocking the baseball world.

You want to know the perfect example of this man’s master touch? Look no further than the Matt Carson who has come up producing nearly every time he gets an opportunity.

Terry Francona is pretty good. He’s been everything we could’ve wanted.

Now it’s time for his troops to repay him in the only way he deserves.

 

 

16 Comments

  • powza says:

    Spine tingling stuff

  • peter says:

    Go tribe! Finish it.

  • STUART FERRIS says:

    TERRY FRANCONA HAS DONE A MASTERFUL JOB. THE TRIBE AND THE FANS DESERVE A MEMORABLE FINISH TO THIS 2013 SEASON.

  • DaveR says:

    I think most of us knew if the Tribe could get to the soft underbelly of the schedule only a handful of games back, good things would happen. I’d give Tito the most credit for the pitching staff. Keeping the bullpen together and bringing along all the various backgrounds and experience levels of the starting staff.

    Anyone have a magic number? 4 Tribe wins and 2 Texas losses seems to work.

    Ubaldo has been a rock vs the non-elite opponents. I love him vs any possible WC club.

  • Swift says:

    Nice piece Chris.

    Yes, Tito has been the rock – now let’s go hang a pennant banner up on that rock.

    And someone buy Mickey Callaway a couple of rounds for what he has done with this pitching staff.

  • DaveR says:

    Anyone buying the ESPN Ultimate Standings with the Cleveland Indians at #44? #17 in Affordability and #24 in Bang for Buck (wins against revenue from fans). So even with dead attendance this surprising club is one of the top in all pro sports? I wonder if Dolan is reading this now.

  • Edward Ennett says:

    Tito deserves manager of the year, hands down…
    Yeah, the Red Sox went worst to first, but they were also expected to be a World Series contender when half the team decided to write it in and they tanked. They still have one of the highest payrolls, and still the same team that was a perennial playoff contender. The Tigers? or should we call them the Motorcity Yankees, they spend as much to buy a championship. The A’s? been there last year, and not exactly a surprise..

    The Indians in the playoffs? Heck, the Indians above .500, no one but us Indian Homers, ever believed that possible… and even us Homers were like the fans in ‘Major League’ after their several losing streaks.. “These guys stink”… But did Tito Waver? nope… Heck who wasn’t sick of Swisher and his Brohio when they were losing and his production was down. Just more Cleveland Sports fan fatalism…

    Here they are less than a week away from the playoffs, the promised land in sight. Who would have believed?

    If it lasts one game or until Game 7 in the World Series. This team, and Tito deserve all the credit in the world.

  • Seattle Stu says:

    shifting gears….given how tight this thing is there is a very possible scenario that Jiminez has to pitch last game of the season (he is currently slotted to go in that game)…if so he’s likely dead for the WC game….so who are you sending to the hill if that comes to pass?…a rusty and possibly not 100% Masterson?….Tomlin with a quick hook if ineffective?….Kazmir & Kluber wont have enough rest so that leaves Salazar (lot on a rook) or McAllister.

    • mondo dentro says:

      I notice Albers is penned in to start on Thursday. Could this be part of the maneuvering? I’d love to see Ubaldo against in the 1-game WC playoff. He’s got the hot hand.

  • Seattle Stu says:

    friggin’ O’s blow 4-2 lead in 7th and lose 5-4 to Rays….Rangers up 3-0 on the beleaguered stros….something tells me they aren’t relishing their spoiler role….

  • Mike says:

    Y’all better stop counting your chickens before they hatch….remember 2005….same piece-of-cake schedule, same “expert” predictions….until Grady misplayed that flyball.

    • Kevin says:

      In 2005 we got swept in the final 3 games by the World Series Winner Chicago White Sox. Hardly a “piece of cake schedule.”

  • Cale says:

    I’m with Mike. Call me superstitious, but I don’t like all this playoff talk when it’s only a 1 game lead. Texas still has a couple against the Lastros they should win, and the Angels aren’t all that great. We’re only 9-6 against the Twins this year (3-3 at Target Field), so I don’t really foresee a 4 game sweep coming. We’re going to need 4 wins this week.