If the Indians’ Division Series loss to the Yankees proved anything — emphatically and agonizingly-so for Tribe fans — it’s that baseball is the most unpredictable sport in the world.
Who would have thought the Indians, who won an American League-best 102 games and produced the longest winning streak in AL history (22 games) during the regular season would lose in the first round to a team that didn’t even win its own division?
Who would have thought that a team that had just experienced a World Series run the year before would blow a 2-0 lead to a team full of young players who were on the postseason stage for the first time?
Who would have thought that ace Corey Kluber, who is in line to win his second Cy Young award after dominating the opposition on a consistent basis over the final five months of the regular season, would pitch terribly in two ALDS starts?
Who would have thought that a 37-year-old CC Sabathia would outpitch Kluber, not once, but twice in front of his former fans at Progressive Field? Would have been nice had Sabathia performed as well in an Indians uniform during the 2007 ALCS, but that’s a different subject.
Who would have thought that two of your biggest offensive stars, shortstop Francisco Lindor and second baseman Jose Ramirez would go a combined 4-for-38 over the five games?
Who would have thought last year’s ALCS MVP Andrew Miller would have served up a game-winning home run to Greg freaking Bird in Game 3?
Who would have thought that after posting the AL’s highest fielding percentage during the regular season, the Indians would commit seven errors in the final two games of the series?
Who would have thought the team leader in homers and RBIs, Edwin Encarnacion, would sustain a sprained ankle in the first inning of Game 2 and become a complete non-factor?
Who would have thought that two of your weakest hitters during the regular season — catchers Roberto Perez and Yan Gomes — would be two of the strongest?
Who would have thought New York’s Aaron Judge would be the only right fielder tall enough to rob Lindor of a potential game-winning homer in Game 2?
Who would have thought that after a much-maligned regular season that Bryan Shaw would be the Indians’ best reliever in the ALDS?
I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
You can call the Indians chokers. I mean, after all, they did appear to take control of the series after a dramatic 13-inning victory in Game 2 and they don’t have a great track record in postseason elimination games, losing their last six and 14 of their last 17 clinch opportunities.
But I’m not buying that. How can you label the 2016 Indians chokers after all they overcame? No one expected them to advance to the World Series.
And the teams in the past that came up short had different players and personalities.
It’s just baseball and one of the reasons I haven’t completely embraced the advanced metrics statistics — launch angle, hit probability, that kind of stuff.
Because I don’t think baseball makes ANY sense and never will.
Rarely do the best teams during the regular season win the world championship. In fact, only three of 23 teams to have posted 100 or more wins during the regular season went on to win the World Series — most recently, the Cubs over the Indians last year. Of those 23 teams, 10 (thanks to the Indians) have been eliminated in the first round.
Wrap your head around that. In what other sport would that happen? None, and certainly not at that rate.
I learned long ago after the Indians advanced to the World Series in my first year on the beat.
I figured this was the norm and I would be headed back to the Fall Classic multiple times.
In the 20 years since, I’ve covered one.
Take it from me, it’s baseball.
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