Plenty of Storylines and Subplots in this Year’s World Series... October 25, 2016 | Bob Toth
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A History of Cleveland’s World Series Game Ones... October 25, 2016 | Bob Toth
***editor’s note: this story was originally published on 9/23/15.
The 1908 season – like so many since – ended in disappointment for Cleveland baseball fans.
But it was a wild ride for the last two weeks of the season.
Going into the series with the Boston Red Sox on September 17, the Naps were in second place in the American League, tied with the Detroit Tigers in the win column with 78, but with four more losses, putting them two back with 16 to play.
The Naps – still named for player-manager Napolean Lajoie – took the first game, a 1-0 shutout, but gained no ground. The following day, pitcher Bob Rhoads was in less than top form, loading the bases on a couple occasions and letting in an unearned run in the second inning. He walked Doc Gessler, who advanced to second on a sacrifice by Jack Thoney. Heinie Wagner’s grounder was fumbled by Lajoie, putting Gessler on third, and a wild pitch scored him for the Red Sox to take the lead.
In the span of a few short months, Cleveland has become title town, a city of champions. The Believeland moniker has become that of an Achieveland variety, as the Cavaliers ended a 52-year championship void in June, only to have the older brother Indians now within four games of their own trophy and parade in October.
It’s an incredible time to be a Cleveland fan. What generations before have clamored for has become a reality on the shores of Lake Erie. The Indians will look to end their 68-year championship drought by extending that of the Chicago Cubs beyond its current 108-year void in a battle between the two longest suffering franchises in the sport.
While the June NBA championship hangover still lingers and the images still persist in the collective psyche of the Cleveland populous, those watching the Cleveland Indians with earnest know that the coming World Series feels different than the NBA Finals of four months ago or even those most recent postseason pursuits of the Indians organization 20 years ago.
Designated hitter Eddie Murray delivers in the clutch as his walk-off RBI-single in the bottom of the eleventh inning pushes the Cleveland Indians past the Atlanta Braves, 7-6, to earn the club its first win in the World Series since 1948.
Terry Francona has received much deserved praise this postseason for the way he has masterfully guided the Indians, with an injury-depleted starting pitching rotation, all the way to the World Series.
In watching the drama and excitement that has been a strong, three-week playoff showing, it is easy to forget the energy and excitement the Tribe brought to the 162-game regular season. However, that is where Francona’s mastery truly began this year.
In skippering a team, with numerous key injuries, to a 94-win American League Central Division championship campaign, Cleveland’s bench boss proved to be quite a few steps above the rest of his managing brethren this year in the A.L. While it is stunning that the group of Indians managed to win seven of eight games in the playoffs to earn entry into this season’s World Series, which starts Tuesday, it would be even more stunning if Francona does not earn his second A.L. Manager of the Year Award.
Three runs in the ninth inning are not enough, as the Florida Marlins edged out the Cleveland Indians by an 8-7 final in the last game of the season at Jacobs Field. The Marlins took a 3-2 World Series lead over the Indians as the series returned to Miami.
While the focus right now may be on the Cleveland Indians’ Major League roster, things are going well throughout the Tribe’s farm system as well.
The importance on drafting strong and developing stronger is no more apparent than at the Major League level for the Indians. The current playoff roster is well-balanced between guys drafted/signed internationally and developed solely by the club (Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Cody Allen to name a few), others acquired via trades and developed on the farm (Corey Kluber, Carlos Santana, and other absentee names like Carlos Carrasco, Michael Brantley, and Yan Gomes), and other veterans still who were added via big trades or free agent moves (Andrew Miller, Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis, Brandon Guyer, and Coco Crisp).
The names that compose the roster now all worked their way up through the minor league system, whether in the Indians organization or elsewhere. The names of the future are doing the same and some standout performers were recognized this week when MILB.com announced its picks for Cleveland’s organizational All-Stars.
The Cleveland Indians knot up the World Series at two wins a piece with a strong 10-3 victory over the Florida Marlins. It marked the second straight game that the Indians scored in double digits after a 14-11 loss in Game 3 of the series.
***editor’s note: This story was originally posted 11/4/2015.
Since 2003, Major League Baseball has used the All-Star Game to determine home field advantage for the World Series.
It’s a dumb idea, implemented as a knee-jerk reaction to the 2002 All-Star Game, which ended as a tie as both managers, who treated the game as a glorified exhibition, blew through their rosters as the game went into extra innings.
But it’s really not much dumber than the way home field advantage was determined before that: It simply alternated between leagues, with no consideration for which team assembled the better regular season record.
The 2007 season comes to a shocking and heartbreaking end for the Cleveland Indians as they lose their third straight ALCS game and are eliminated from the postseason by the Boston Red Sox in an 11-2 shellacking at Fenway Park. The losses all came after the Indians took what appeared to be a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.