Now how in the wide world of sports did this happen?
And no, I’m not talking about Brandon Weeden and his dismal 5.1 quarterback rating.
In my continued effort to try and stay as far away form any Art Modell tributes as possible, I decided to forego watching the first Monday Night Football game when I remembered there’s also a baseball team in Cleveland that technically still has games until October 3rd.
Unfortunately, I think it’s unbearably apparent that this team mailed it in over a month ago.
I was never one who thought that the Indians would be serious contenders in 2012. At the beginning of the season, I thought they’d go 79-83 to finish third in the AL Central because the front office made no real improvements to the team over the offseason. But now as we sit here on September 11, the Indians are in last place at a stunning 59-82, and are tied with the Minnesota Twins for the worst record in the AL.
Who would have thought they’d make me look like such a fool?
And yet, in a strange way, I’m see a positive that can come out of this horrific and historic collapse. Maybe, just maybe, the Dolans will finally see that the system they’ve created is one of mediocrity and they’ll be willing to shake things up.
A few weeks ago, Indians CEO Paul Dolan said that before making any judgments about the fate of the front office and manager going forward, he has to understand what happened to the team this season. He needs to understand why his baseball team had this dismal collapse. He has to figure out how his team that he believes was contending all of a sudden had the worst month of any Indians team since 1914 with a mind boggling, and franchise record tying 24 losses in August.
Really, I don’t understand exactly what there is to figure out. The team played OK for a couple months, and then the bottom fell out. And if you’re really serious about it, there’s no way any rational person can say the Indians were in contention. Being in first place in April, May, and June isn’t contending. And even though the Tribe beat Justin Verlander to climb to just 3.5 games back in the Central on July 26, the team never really had a shot at the division title.
The numbers tell the whole story. The Indians run differential has been negative for pretty much the entire season. They have been battling it out with the Twins for the dead last ranking in AL ERA for the entire season. They haven’t gotten any kind of good, consistent production from LF, 1B, or 3B all season. Their top two starters in Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez have been inconsistent—at best—all year, but as of late have both been awful with Jimenez’s ERA well over 5.00 with Masterson’s creeping up to the Weeden-rating mark.
With all those chips stacked against a team, how were they supposed to compete with the likes of the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox?
Obviously one bat or one pitcher wasn’t going to solve all the Indians’ problems, but it certainly would have been nice to see the GM Chris Antonetti go after someone not named Brent Lillibridge or Lars Anderson. I didn’t want Kevin Youkilis because at the time of his trade to the White Sox Lonnie Chisenhall was still healthy. But someone, anyone to light a spark on that team might have helped.
Instead was as fans get futility. We get votes of confidence from a GM to a manager when both probably should be out of a job in less than 30 days. We get a closer who blasts the front office and ownership to the media after blasting fans for not coming out to the ballpark early in the season to support a bad team playing over its head.
I understand doing due diligence and not trying to make knee jerk reactions, but when will enough be enough? How many mediocre or just plain bad teams will it take before the Dolans realize that something in their organization must fundamentally change? Say what you want about Randy Lerner being an absentee owner, but at least he knew when to pull the plug on poor management.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to just assign blame so the Dolans can fire everybody and be done with it. There is plenty of blame to go around for the way this season has turned out—from the players, to the manager, to the coaches, to the front office, all the way on up to ownership.
But I sincerely believe the only way the Indians organization can cure what ails it is for the Dolans to stop tolerating mediocrity and start demanding excellence. Otherwise, we’ll continue to see the same losing product year after year.