There are a lot of words you could use to describe the 2016 Cleveland Indians: “overachieving”, “scrappy”, “tough” and “enthusiastic” are just a few that come to mind.
But what’s impressed me most this season (besides Tyler Naquin’s inside-the-park home run) is how there’s not just ‘one guy’ on this team doing all the heavy lifting. Sportswriters and broadcasters love to talk about how ‘so-and-so’ has strapped this team on his back and taken them to new heights. Not this bunch.
One night the heroics are Jason Kipnis’ or Mike Napoli’s. The next night it’s a great outing by Trevor Bauer or Corey (“Klubot”) Kluber. Or an outstanding outing (with a save, where appropriate) from any one of the bullpen. A dazzling defensive play by Francisco Lindor. An unexpected home run from any of the guys in the bottom third of the order. There’s no one guy on this team who makes things happen. This team makes things happen, and that’s what has been so great about this season and especially this post-season.
That’s why I’ve got a feeling that what ESPN called “The Little Engine That Could” — will. That’s why I expect to be standing out in a cold October or November day watching the guys go by on cars or buses or whatever with about a million of my closest friends.
Right now, there’s the Blue Jays to watch out for. I’m hearing the same things about Toronto that I heard about Boston. Watch out for their hitting. Their pitchers are unhittable. It didn’t stop us before. I am cautiously optimistic (and occasionally superstitious) that we can do it again, and go on to the World Series.
Whoever we’re up against then, they’ll face not just one hero, but a team of them, made up of:
- Mike Napoli’s leadership
- Jason Kipnis’ hitting
- Corey Kluber’s emotions (yes, that’s a joke)
- Rajai Davis’ quiet confidence
- Lonnie Chisenhall’s aim with a tray of Gatorade cups
- Francisco Lindor’s enthusiasm and exuberance (and great defense)
and everything and everyone else who has contributed to this game, including Cookie Carrosco and Michael Brantley, who were in the locker room in Boston during the ALDS finish there, and Danny Salazar and the crew working away in Arizona in case they’re needed before the final win.
And as an Indians’ fan who has followed this team since she was 11 (in 1972) through a handful of ups and an awful lot of downs, that’s good enough for me.