As the 2012 season comes to a close, Indians fans are left to ponder one of the more frustrating seasons in the team’s recent history.  On May 17 the team was in first place with a four game lead on their closest competitor.  The Tribe actually spent more days in first place than the eventual champion of the AL Central, the Detroit Tigers.  Unfortunately, they had the second worst record in the majors over the second half of the season, behind only the Houston Astros.  The Indians stumbled to the finish line in 2012 as they lost 53 of their last 77 games, and had an overall record of 68-94.  I never expected this team to win 100 games, but at the same time, I never would have predicted that they would lose more than 90.  It was a frustrating season both as a fan, and as a blogger.  The team’s shortcomings were so blatantly obvious, it started to feel ridiculous pointing them out day after day, week after week throughout the season.  As someone who is already a rather cynical and sarcastic person, I found my bitterness running often unchecked, particularly after the All-Star break.

That’s not to say that there were not high points this season, or fun moments for me both as a fan and as a writer.  Two of my favorite games actually came during the dismal second half – one on September 16 against the Detroit Tigers, and the other against the Chicago White Sox this past Tuesday night.  Until September 13, the Indians had been 1-75 when trailing after eight innings.  They came back on the Texas Rangers on the 13th, and then came from behind to beat the Tigers just three days later.  Against the Tigers, they fought back from a 3-0 deficit to go up 5-3.  The Tigers quickly responded in the top of the seventh inning with three runs, and before I knew it, the Indians had surrendered their lead.  On this particular day, some of the most obnoxious fans I’ve ever seen at Progressive Field were sitting next to me.  They weren’t content to just cheer for the Tigers, they had to scream at, and taunt, every Indians fan in the vicinity throughout the game.  This group was so loud and obnoxious, most of the outfield section cleared out to find seats elsewhere in the stadium (not difficult to do when half of the park is empty).  My friend and I made it until the eighth inning, before we chose to stand at the back of a section near home plate.  At that point, the Indians mounted their comeback and won in a walk-off against Jose Valverde.  I felt that karmic justice was served.

Tuesday night’s game was also an exciting walk-off win.  After Chris Perez surrendered the lead, it looked pretty bleak.  Down 3-1, it was the bottom of the lineup that would face a practically unhittable Jake Peavy.  With Hafner to the plate, I fully expected him to strike out or weakly ground out to the right side of the infield.  Instead he slammed a two-run home run down the right field line.  I thought for sure it was foul, until I saw it bank off of the foul pole.  A game that looked like a quick loss (it was barely past 9 p.m. when Hafner hit his bomb), suddenly turned to give the Indians hope.  When they won in the 12th, I figured it was a great way to close out the season, since I was unable to attend Wednesday’s game due to my plans to attend the Louis CK show at Severance at 10 p.m.

Something strange happened after that game.  Despite my frustration on the season, and the fact that the Indians were clobbered the night before, 11-0, I couldn’t stand the fact that the season was ending (even though I completely felt ready to see it end a couple of weeks ago).  I decided to go see the first half of Wednesday’s game before I headed to Severance – just to sit outside and watch baseball one last time, even if it wasn’t for an entire game.  No matter how bad the Indians play, I know I’ll always come back for more – I’ve already submitted my season ticket deposit for next year and am currently planning my trip to Arizona for spring training.  There’s something so peaceful and pleasurable about watching baseball outside on a beautiful summer’s day, that no matter how bad the product on the field, no matter how angry it makes me, I will always come back for more.  By January I’m sure that I’d be willing to give anything even to see Ubaldo Jimenez pitch, or Casey Kotchman hit a weak grounder to second.

As we enter the cold months of winter, we’ll have nothing but the hot stove discussion to keep us warm.  Even if I don’t have much hope that the Indians will make significant improvements in the offseason, I will still anxiously await their next game on April 2, 2013 in Toronto.  When it comes down to it, I’d rather have baseball that’s painful to watch at times, than no baseball at all.

9 Comments

  • Steve Alex says:

    I understand completely. I too found myself progressing from apathy to bitterness to anger as the season went on. I commend your loyalty to the team and baseball in general, but my negative side can’t help but think that’s what the Dolans must be counting on to sell their product. I’m already hearing the usual talk of confidence in the players we have and they’ll get better. With most payrolls over $100M and some pushing $200M, what are the little guys to do? The team has multitudes of holes to fill with a barren farm system and a $65M budget that forecloses any free agent shopping spree. We need at least one starting pitcher and two hitters to even field a major league caliber team, let alone compete. Chicago had 5 players hit 25+ HR with Dunn over 40 while no one on our team even reached 20 HR or a .290 average. Four opening-day starters had ERAs over 5.40. You can’t compete like that. The bullpen saved over 20 one-run games to keep them from the 105 losses they probably deserved. Where do you go from there? TGI-Over.

  • Bob Sproule says:

    Great article, Stephanie. I could almost echo it word for word as I sat at PNC park on Tuesday night for the Pirates 161st game of the season (a win!). When I see the comment of Steve Alex above, it is like I am reading a comment about the Pirates as well. Change “Dolans” to “Nuttings” and there we are!

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    Steve – I agree with you, it is really disheartening. That’s what is so crazy…no matter how negative I feel (and I feel pretty damn negative) I know I’ll still watch. It’s like an addict almost. You know this is going to bring you misery, yet you just can’t stop yourself from watching!

    Thanks Bob! I wanted to make one last game at PNC, but ended up being too tired on Sunday to go. There really are a lot of similarities between the two teams. I even did a post a couple of weeks ago on how the front offices are similar, and how they all seem to adhere to the same philosophy that they picked up in the Indians organization.

    • Swift says:

      “I agree with you, it is really disheartening. That’s what is so crazy…no matter how negative I feel (and I feel pretty damn negative) I know I’ll still watch. It’s like an addict almost. You know this is going to bring you misery, yet you just can’t stop yourself from watching!”

      I guess that means I’m on my way to breaking the addiction. :( I only ended up actually going to one game this season (I typically go to about one a month). Yes, I always love baseball and love to go to the park, even if they lose, but the last two seasons have drained me.

      In some stupid sense I felt a little guilty for not going, but frankly, it seemed like I was wasting my money.

      I was sad that the season ended, but I frankly feel no reason to look forward to next season, and I’m sorry for that. But I don’t feel there is anything I can do about it.

  • Kevin Price says:

    I can’t say that while watching Jason Donald hit that walk off or single(on replay btw) that I felt anything about the Indians winning a game. No feeling at all because I knew the bigger picture. On the other hand some of the early season victories such as the Asdrubal Cabrera walk off single against the Angels in a Jason Weaver game or when Chris Perez won the series against the White Sox and Rios seemed visibly upset. These moments I enjoyed because the players, the team, and the fans(mostly me though) were into it. I still love the Indians but the disappointment casts a shadow over it and honestly I won’t watch if it doesn’t matter.

  • Jeremy C says:

    It was a tough year but this blog did really help! Knowing we had sort of a forum to vent and read another fellow season ticket holders point of view on things. Thanks for a great year Stephanie!

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    Kevin – that was a great game! I’m not sure if Tuesday would have been as exciting to me if I was watching from home. In fact, I’m fairly certain it would not be! Usually I get more amped by the huge crowd, but Tuesday’s crowd was so very small by the 12th inning it just seemed cool for some reason. Maybe it’s because we kept saying “this sucked, but at least we’ll be home early,” and it ended up being a good game in the end.

    Thanks Jeremy! It’s nice for us to be able to vent here and chat with commenters.

  • Steve Alex says:

    I guess I like punishment because I’ll probably watch too. Just don’t tell the Dolans. I don’t want them to think I’m a sucker.

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