The Boston win will haunt me

Chris Crowell

I couldn’t sleep after Game 7. I was past the anger stage of my fan-grieving and well into the deep, dark depression stage. Every time I closed my eyes I saw something disturbing: C.C. Sabathia walk in a run; Travis Hafner swing as helpless as a one-legged baby chick; J.D. Drew snap out of a career-long coma and crush a grand slam; the faces of Red Sox Nation get more annoying, arrogant, self-important and smug.

The most disturbing thing I saw, however, was Joel Skinner give the stop sign to Kenny Lofton. This may haunt my dreams forever.

If I told you Sabathia and Fausto Carmona would fall apart, that half the lineup wouldn’t hit their weight, and that our dependable relievers would all decline in alternating intervals, what odds would you have given me on this series?

The Indians, as a whole, curled into a ball and died after going up 3-1 and they didn’t deserve to win the series. But they had one last chance to make up for everything and put the pressure on the Sox and their pompous fan base.

The score was 3-2. Lofton was on second. Franklin Gutierrez rocked a ball down the left field line that should have no doubt scored the speedy 40-year-old. If it were the Yankees, people would have shouted, “AND HERE COME THE YANKEES!” But it was the Indians, so everyone looked confused and passed gas.

The game should have been tied, but it wasn’t. Skinner gave Lofton and the Indians season the stop sign. The rally ended as quickly as it started. Skinner killed it. Game over.

Clearly there were many other reasons the Indians lost: walks, errors, an elaborate conspiracy, inexperience, double plays. Yet no one choked more in one single moment than Skinner. This was Game 7 of the ALCS. The Tribe had to be aggressive to win the game. If they could get one chance to punch Boston in the throat, they had to punch with all their might. Skinner had to send Lofton. He didn’t.

Sails: “Hey, wind? Where did you go?”

Wind: “Skinner took me out of you. Sorry.”

For the first time since Game 4 the Indians actually had momentum. In that moment, all of our inadequacies and prior screw-ups were meaningless. That is what momentum does. C.C. stunk? Hafner is inept? Paul Byrd’s HGH needle just poked Victor Martinez in the eye? Doesn’t matter if you can pick up momentum just this one time. So, when dumb Skinner held up both his dumb hands and dumbly told Lofton to NOT score a run to tie the dumb game, Skinner kicked momentum in the teeth. As a result, the Sox scored 67 straight runs, and I broke out into hives.

This is the ALCS! It’s Game 7! There is no tomorrow! Decisions should not be timid, and decisions should not squash momentum – especially with Casey Blake coming up next. Skinner was timid. Skinner squashed the momentum. Skinner left it all up to Blake. Skinner squashed my October.

Well, thus ends the Cleveland Indians 2007 season. It was fun. The team provided thrills and post-season excitement for the first time in ten years, and now it’s done. Sure, I feel like crying uncontrollably because I thought this was our year, but I always feel like it’s our year. I’ll be OK, you’ll be OK, and the Indians will be OK. Remember, there’s always next year (Unless Skinner puts a stop to that, too). If that doesn’t help, just be happy you aren’t a loathsome Red Sox fan. Go Tribe.

Contact sports columnist Chris Crowell

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