Regardless of the truth, Kenny Lofton begs to differ.
Lofton, a former Indians star who frequents team functions year-round, doesn't think the Indians made the playoffs because it was just one game. Current Indians bro-in-chief Nick Swisher heard about Lofton's opinion and confronted him about it during the club's recent fan fest. And the argument got heated, reports Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Swisher and Lofton nearly were in each other's face, like a manager and umpire arguing a call:
[Swisher] sought Lofton out at the event, got in the grill of the member of the team Hall of Fame, and told him, in so many words, that the Indians are trying to build something special, and that if Lofton didn't want to be a part of it, he ought to board the first flight back to Los Angeles.
Tellingly, when Lofton arrived to the Tribe's Spring Training camp in Goodyear, Ariz., last month, he was given the cold shoulder by multiple members of the current club. His stay was a particularly short one.
Asked about Lofton's comments now, Swisher was pretty straightforward.
"That was handled," he said. "We handled that."
When asked, via text message, for a response on how his comments were received, Lofton replied that he had said enough on the topic and that "maybe someone else can back me up on how it's not a real playoff series."
"U guys need to put in there on what's the definition of playoffs," Lofton wrote, "and that should answer Swisher's comments."
Castrovince also sought the opinions of another former Tribe star, Jim Thome, and the team's general manager, Chris Antonetti — who pointed out, unnecessarily so, that the Indians had the fourth-best record in the AL and would have made the postseason under the previous format.
Giving him the benefit of the doubt, Lofton might be under the impression that the Indians and Rays played a "Game 163" in October, as if it were a tiebreaker. But the stats count as postseason stats. The won-loss records of both teams do not reflect 163 regular-season games. Ergo, ipso, facto, it was a playoff game.
But that's not why this is bugging Lofton. It's possible that he's jealous of the attention the current Indians get when they're inferior to the golden era clubs of the 1990s. And many of those Indians teams were better, of course. But that's no reason for Lofton to try and put a damper on what's happening now. It might be jealousy, and it might be something more.
When he played for the Chicago White Sox, I covered Lofton for a local newspaper and wire service. One time, he made of one his amazing "Kenny Lofton" home-run robbing catches at U.S. Cellular Field and, of course, the media asked him about it after the game. I'll never forget some of the first words out of his mouth:
"You saw the [flippin'] replay. Just write it," Lofton said.
It's just one quote, but that's kind of how Lofton was. He tended to be a sourpuss. A curmudgeon. Hey, maybe he's a great guy underneath it all, but he also must be great at hiding it. Lofton wasn't even happy to talk about a great play that he made. So there's little reason to expect Lofton to be genuinely happy for the Indians after they did a one-and-done in the playoffs. Or whatever he'd call it.
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