Losing their 82nd game of 2012 Monday, September 10 the Cleveland Indians guarantee the franchise a fourth straight losing season. Furthermore at 59-82 entering this year's final 21 games the Tribe appears in a position to give the city their third 90-plus loss campaign over the past four seasons. The last time the Indians enjoyed a winning season came in 2007, also their most recent playoff berth. In 2008 Cleveland ended the year 81-81, exactly .500.
Despite finishing last season 80-82 the future looked promising for the Cleveland Indians. As any reasonable 2011 Cleveland Indians recap will note, countless injuries led to the season's losing record. So if the Indians stayed healthy in 2012, there remained hope the Tribe could contend. After all, the Cleveland Indians started 2011 with an incredible 30-15 record.
Enter 2012. The Cleveland Indians prove themselves early on as contenders, maintaining a good position within the AL Central, at least until the calendar flips to August. A franchise low 5-24 month quickly down spirals Cleveland from contender to all too familiar territory, fighting to not finish last. Cue frustration and disappointment around the city.
Beyond the negative feelings lays bewilderment. How did this happen? In 2011 injuries offered a scapegoat but the same excuse doesn't emerge now. Besides the usual DL stints for veterans Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner, who else spent significant time sidelined? Bottom-of-the-rotation starter Josh Tomlin, number nine hitter Jack Hannahan, lefty specialist Rafael Perez, and young third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, not necessarily players you label "essential."
Admittedly a healthy Rafael Perez could've improved the Indians' bullpen. At the same time if fellow lefty reliever Tony Sipp pitched like he did a year ago, Perez's absence becomes neutralized. Additionally in fairness to Lonnie Chisenhall, he could one day become an essential player for the Indians. Yet as things stand currently he wouldn't have single-handedly prevented Cleveland's rapid 2012 demise.
Moving forward the Cleveland Indians face a difficult assessment. Does the team's 2012 performance represent a bad year or accurately foreshadow what Tribe fans should expect in 2013? As a person who tries to hesitate deflating optimism I'm hoping the 2011, 2012, and 2013 seasons mirror history from 2005, 2006, and 2007.
Cleveland sports writer Terry Pluto documents this time well in his book Dealing. In 2005 the Cleveland Indians went 93-69, just missing out on the playoffs. Thanks to a few poor decisions 2006 saw the Tribe go 78-84. Cleveland rebounded in 2007 though with a 96-66 record.
Why can't something similar occur today? 2011 brought confidence. 2012 sees a regression. Perhaps in 2013 the Cleveland Indians can recover and at least secure the franchise's first winning record in over half a decade.
Zachary Fenell fell in love with the Cleveland Indians during the 1995 season when the Tribe powered their way to the organization's first World Series appearance since 1954. While the Indians lost some allure since the 1990s you will still find Zachary watching the games on TV, listening to them on the radio, or best yet taking in a game from the stands at Progressive Field.
More from This Contributor:
- Sports & Recreation
- Cleveland Indians