An article by Seth Pae, a hopelessly optimistic die hard Cleveland sports fan.
As I lie here in my Chicago apartment, draped in a Cleveland Indians blanket, (which nicely matches my Indians pillow and sheets) I am filled with nervous energy. This is a different kind of nervous, though. It's isn't the usual Cleveland attitude of "we have a chance to FINALLY win...but we'll probably find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory again."
This is excitement. This is confidence. This is belief.
However, as my description of myself includes "hopelessly optimistic," one can (rightfully) assume that I ALWAYS believe in Cleveland's sports teams. This is true, I am the perpetual keeper of the faith. My dad, who was 6 the last time Cleveland won a Championship explains to me that I just haven't lived long enough to be heart broken by them. The Indians are his favorite Cleveland team. He has never seen them win. Earlier this summer, I made myself rewatch game 7. I cried. I truly understood now the heartbreak. I just tell myself that it'll be that much sweeter when Cleveland DOES win a Championship. You won't see a city celebrate harder than Cleveland. Plus, it's like the ever wise Steven Tyler once said, "You've got to lose to know how to win." Cleveland has lost enough. We should be able to write a BOOK on winning that Charlie Sheen could even learn from.
The nervous energy I have is excitement. Today the Indians can clinch a playoff spot. All they have to do is win. All the fans have to do is believe. October baseball will be among us, Cleveland fans! It's closing time!
When it's "closing time" in the game... What happens...
Perez was removed as the closer by Terry Francona yesterday as many have heard. He was "costing the team games" as he explained to the manager. In my opinion, I like the move. Am ERA of over 7 in September? Back to back meltdowns? In fact he even LOST us a game against the METS in a non save situation back on the 8th. The worst part is that he supposedly ASKED to be removed as closer. If a man doesn't believe in himself, why should anyone else?
Now, the Indians go to a "closer by committee" approach. This is a genius move by Francona. Alternating Joe Smith and Justin Masterson is great. You can give one guy a night off. You don't put too much pressure on one guy. If one isn't ready mentally or physically to pitch, then you use the other! In fact, didn't the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series doing this exact thing in 2011!? In today's game the closer is an over hyped position. You put the game in the hands of one guy. He takes the heat, and the blows to his confidence when it goes wrong. When he wins, it was just his job completed, nothing more. They demand a HUGE contract too. Perez would probably get $10 Million next year if the Indians kept him (I have several bridges to sell if anyone thinks there is a remote possibility of this happening). Everything about the "closer by committee" idea is brilliant. It also gives different guys a chance to play different roles. Position players do it all the time, why not pitchers too?
Cleveland fans should not worry about our team. Other than Perez, our bullpen has been almost invincible, our starting pitching has been unhittable, our batting average as a team has been around .300 for the past few weeks, we are getting clutch hits, and we are the hottest team in baseball. To me, this sounds like a recipe for something amazing. Only time will tell.
Until then, the Indians just need to win one more game.
It's closing time.