The “Guess the Jinx” Game
Jonathan Knight | On 15, May 2015
So – elephant in the room – it would appear that the Indians aren’t going to win the World Series.
And it’s safe to assume that most of us blame this on Sports Illustrated.
Those voodoo-priest bastards just had to go and throw Michael Brantley and Corey Kluber on the cover and pick the Tribe to win the whole thing. But give SI credit – the juju they’ve got cooking in their black-curtained editorial offices works fast. Almost as fast as the last time they put the whammy on the Indians with an LSD-induced World Series prediction in 1987.
Not only did the ’87 Tribe not win it all that year, but it also went down in history as one of the worst editions of the Indians ever, losing 101 games and forever establishing itself as a beacon of false hope to which all future optimism would be compared.
You’d think this year’s team won’t sink THAT low, but statistically speaking, they’re starting to merge onto that freeway and have begun to mirror the 1987 team in all kinds of uncomfortable ways.
Now that our October schedule is clear and we’re looking for excuses not to watch somebody weakly ground out to second for three hours every night, let’s play a little game called “Guess the Jinx.”
Below is a list of 10 disturbing little details. Try to guess whether they pertain to the 1987 team that was supposed to go to the World Series but finished in last place, or the 2015 team that was supposed to go to the World Series but currently sits in last place.
Keep in mind that the better you do at this game simply indicates an aptitude for categorizing and memorializing pain. So, as with most of the Cleveland sports experience, there are no real winners, just survivors.
And with that, let’s play our game…
The Indians failed to win 10 consecutive series.
Since taking two of three from Houston in the opening set, this year’s Indians have lost or split (mostly lost) every series since. The 1987 Tribe – despite embarking on losing streaks of six and eight games in the first month – topped out at six straight winless series.
Though they struggled over the first six weeks of the season, at least the Indians managed to string together back-to-back victories more than once.
By losing 10 of its first 11 games, this team made it clear from the outset it was going to be an industrial accident. But it did manage to win back-to-back games on two wonderful occasions and even strung together three straight victories at one point. Since winning games two and three in Houston, the well-mannered 2015 Tribe has apparently decided it’s always best to follow up a victory by letting the other team have a turn.
The Indians’ opening day pitcher not only lost his first start, but five of his first seven.
This one pertains to both Tom Candiotti in 1987 and Kluber in 2015 – though Candiotti did manage to pick up a victory in his fourth outing to avoid the 0-5 record that, until Wednesday, Kluber carried around like a sack of wet cement. Candiotti didn’t manage his second victory until June – which, incredibly, must look pretty good to last year’s Cy Young Award winner right now.
After 33 games, the Indians had the worst record in the American League, and already stood a distant 10 games back in their division.
Just that you had to stop and think about which one it might have been indicates how bad things are this year. The 1987 Tribe won just 11 of their first 33 for an appropriately fractional .333 winning percentage, and they trailed the Yankees by 10 games in the American League East. Sounds utterly horrific, doesn’t it? This year’s Tribe is better. By exactly one game.
The Indians started their home schedule by getting dusted in a three-game sweep, and lost six of their first seven home games.
One of the trademarks of a truly disappointing team is its ability to physically hurl its fans off the bandwagon in a hurry. And there’s no better way to euthanize excitement for an expected pennant run than by getting spanked on your first two home stands, which happened both in 1987 and this year.
For all their struggles, at least the Indians provided some excitement by winning three games in walk-off fashion in the first three weeks.
As if to atone for the 1-10 start, the ’87 Indians strung together three dramatic walk-off triumphs in a five-game stretch in late April, two on back-to-back nights. The 2015 Indians have yet to deliver a walk-off, though they’ve lost this way twice.
The Indians had seven guys in the regular starting lineup with batting averages below .250.
Even though Cory Snyder – who appeared on the SI cover – was only hitting .220 at this point while Tony Bernazard and Rick Dempsey were both under the Mendoza line, the ’87 lineup was still slightly more balanced than 2015’s.
The Indians’ cleanup hitter managed to crack a batting average of .240.
Ah, good old Mel Hall. By this time in 1987, he was hitting .247 with a Ruthian four homers and 13 RBI. This year the Indians can’t quite decide who their cleanup hitter is (always a promising sign), but leading candidates Carlos Santana (.237) and Brandon Moss (.238) just aren’t providing Mel Hall-type numbers.
There was a game in which the Indians had twice as many errors as hits.
Surprise! With all the talk about this year’s dreadful Indians defense, you naturally assumed they’d get the nod here. But nope – in early May, the ’87 Tribe collected two hits and four errors in a shutout loss to the Royals. But give this year’s team credit for trying – on April 27 they committed three errors while scoring just two runs, and in two other games their run and error tallies have equalled out.
Over the first six weeks, the Indians drew an average of more than 17,000 per home game.
Playing in a miserable venue for baseball that hadn’t undergone effective renovations since the Spanish-American War, the ’87 Tribe did manage to draw an average of 17,103 to its first 17 games. So far this year, playing in a ballpark with working toilets, the Indians are averaging just 15,540.
Thanks for playing! And if you scored anywhere between zero and 10, take a drink.
Photo: Sports Illustrated