Cleveland sports fans have been through it all. The Drive, The Shot, The Decision, multiple World Series collapses, and the general state of the Cleveland Browns have all made their mark on the minds of Cleveland sports fans. The 2017 Cleveland Indians can now sign their names at the bottom of that list with “The Hangover.”
The Hangover. The fact that the Game 7 loss in the 2016 World Series might have done more to this team than anyone ever imagined. There is something about seeing Aroldis Chapman again, this time as a member of the New York Yankees, that just sums it all up. The Indians had the talent, both at the plate and on the mound. What they showed to lack, for the second straight year, was the ability to finish.
But things change when October comes around. The postseason is a different animal, and the cracks some thought to see early on finally appeared in the ALDS. The hitting was never present in the series. One of the most talented and exciting offensive teams in baseball turned to pressing and seemed completely out of sorts. Ace Corey Kluber looked lost in both starts despite the team’s ability to come back and win Game 2. Across the board the team seemed anxious the entire series. That fun, always smiling always exciting group from the regular season nowhere to be found.
The roster could see big change during the off-season after the most recent disappointment, with key pieces such as OF Jay Bruce and 1B Carlos Santana able to leave in free agency if they so choose. The bullpen could also see a major shake up as Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith are unrestricted free agents and others such as Cody Allen head into arbitration years.
This was the most complete Cleveland Indians team since the 90s and yet the outcome was the same. Another blown series lead, another highly anticipated postseason ending in disappointment. The roster will surely see at least a moderate shake up before Opening Day in 2018. Although I hope the changes are not too extensive due to the camaraderie of the group I believe the changes that likely will occur are very much needed. Maybe some new voices in the locker room will break the mental block the group has developed and sent the bunch right back to the World Series.