COLUMN: Don’t think of the loss, think of the Tribe’s gains

Joey Simon

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t hate myself for being a Cleveland sports fan.

It’s just so damn heartbreaking. Not to mention depressing, frustrating, saddening, oppressing and just downright upsetting.

As soon as you think “This is it, they’re gonna do it,”… WHAM! The team, whichever one it may be at that particular time, falls flat on its face.

I’m not going to mention all of the city’s many collapses because, well, there’s just not enough space on this page. The part that really bothers me, though, is that its always a collapse.

Every time a team doesn’t make it or narrowly misses the postseason or whatever the case may be, it’s not a missed chance or a team that just fell short despite some valiant effort. No, it’s always a total breakdown of some kind. The team just can’t play under pressure is what you always read, hear and see.

For instance, there’s the Cleveland Indians’ latest run that fell short. About two weeks ago, everyone was talking about how the Indians made one of the greatest comebacks in sports history – the Tribe nearly rallied from 15 games behind Chicago to win the Central Division. Then, after their comeback effort came up a game short, it was the Indians choking under pressure.

This team went 39-18 from July 31 to end of the season at 93-69. In the 10 years since the inception of the Wild Card playoff format, 93 wins would have been good enough to get into the playoffs every year except 2002.

The Indians did everything they could to get to the postseason, and while I’m just as upset as anyone that it didn’t happen, give them some credit for the type of year they’ve had.

Sure, everyone’s tired of hearing ‘almost’ and ‘wait until next year’ as a Cleveland fan, and trust me when I tell you, I’m more sick of hearing that than anyone else on this planet, but remember that the Tribe was 9-14 in April and it looked like the wheels might have come off of the rebuilding project put together by Mark Shapiro. They had the resolve to put the first half of the season behind them and made an unbelievable run. That’s not choking, that’s perseverance and determination.

Two players under the age of 25, Johnny Peralta and Grady Sizemore, had unreal rookie seasons. Why isn’t anyone talking about that? Or how about Bob Wickman nearly retiring only to come back and finish with 46 saves – OK, so maybe he looks more like the beer guy at the game than a pitcher, but still.

Point is, when a Cleveland team fails, it’s never the same as any other team failing. It’s always the worst catastrophe in sports history. I actually read that in a paper, that this was one of the worst meltdowns in history. Give me a break. The media, the fans and everyone else need to give it a rest.

When everyone who speaks of the team starts saying that it was another choke job, the team, too, may begin to believe it, and if that happens, they’re really in trouble. So while you may think I’m being an eternal optimist, which I’m far from, think about where this team was entering the season and how they finished.

Contact sports editor Joey Simon at [email protected].