90 wins to get in! Simple, concise, informative, this was my motto for the 2013 Cleveland Indians. The day before the season started I predicted on Baskin & Phelps that the Indians would win 90 games and get one of the American League wild card spots. It became my hash tag, my rallying cry through the highs and lows of this long and at times extremely frustrating season. When the season started I was alone or at least it felt that way with my lofty prediction. I was beginning to wonder if my fandom was clouding my ability to judge the Indians fairly. I mean they didn’t have an ace, Nick Swisher was having a below average season, our vaunted bullpen was in disrepair. How could I have been so naïve, so silly to think that a team without a superstar could challenge in a tough AL? Then something strange happened, the team began to bond, Jason Kipnis became our star, unexpected contributions from the “Goon Squad” and Corey Kluber.
This team comprised of players from the Island of Misfit Toys had a great manager and wanted to play with each other and they won. I’m not going to sit here and try to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge and act like I didn’t have my moments of doubt with this team. I was frustrated when they didn’t make a move at the trade deadline, or with their inability to beat the Detroit Tigers, and let’s not even go down the Chris Perez road. Yet, every time I felt they were about to hit rock bottom, someone would step up and save the season. It created that magic that Cleveland has long for since the late ‘90’s. That feeling that no matter what happened in a game the Indians could/would find a way to win. The moment that best describes this came just this past week when Jason Giambi hit the game winning home run against the White Sox. It was the Indians 11th walk off win of the season and lifted the fan base from despair to elation with a simple swing of the bat.
That is both the joy and sorrow of baseball that everything can change so quickly and yet decisively. This leads me to Sunday’s game, it’s very simple win and you are in. It’s a simple statement, but incredibly hard to execute. The Twins have played the Indians tough all season and would love to spoil an Indians party. The Indians will have Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound in Minneapolis Sunday. Jimenez has been a changed man since the All Star break and has become the guy the Indians thought they traded for during the 2011 season. As I think about game 162 that familiar knot of nerves fills my stomach and the fan in me wants to explode out. I’m comforted to know that this Indians team will approach this game like it was game 62 instead of 162 and that makes the difference.
This team has never gotten ahead of themselves they just take it one day at a time. There are no glory hounds, or cancers, or guys just in it for themselves. They are a team, a team that loves each other and loves baseball. A team that is looking to bring Cleveland an Indian summer and an organization that has given Terry Francona the pieces he needs to bring this city the winner it so richly deserves. This team hasn’t captured this cities a heart, but a win tomorrow will heal many of the previous wounds. My prediction of 90 wins didn’t come true, but that’s the beauty of this team they defy expectations. My Sunday prediction you ask? Let’s just say the champagne and beer will flow in Minnesota tomorrow.