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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Could Cleveland be able to keep fans entertained?

Por Fidel Orihuela

The night of September 16, 2017, Cleveland was shaken by the standing ovation of the Indians fans. The franchise had obtained the second longest win’s streak in the history of the MLB. The team, ran by the experienced Terry Francona, did not lose for almost an entire month and had more than 22 wins in a row, with only 4 fewer wins than the now remote New York Yankees’ record, achieved in the year of 1916, more than a hundred years ago. The big question at the gates of the 2018 season is: Will they be able to accomplish the same thing and advance to the World Series?

Last campaign, the runner-up team of 2016 amazed the MLB with their impressive pace, only altered by the Kansas City Royals, confirming an old baseball saying: anyone can win a game. Kansas team, the champions of three seasons ago, had a negative win-lost record (73 wins and 74 losses), with a mediocre run differential (-73), but the team still had several important players that were part of the winning selection of 2015. The Indians suffered the consequences. Their winning streak was about to come to an end at 21 wins, but Francisco Lindor batted a double in the ninth inning. They would win by a decisive hit by Jay Bruce.

However, the next day Cleveland couldn’t turn the score on its favor and the wins stopped at 22 although the baseball universe has the opinion that they deserve a spot in history as one of the most entertaining teams of all times, a characteristic we are hoping to see in the coming 2018 season. They still have all kinds of players in their roster. From a young leader that keeps attracting the fans with his contagious smiles, his fielding, his hits and his speed to a group of more experienced and cold-blooded players. The younger player is the already mentioned Francisco Lindor, a 23-year-old Puerto Rican shortstop that plays baseball in his very own peculiar way. To his impressive speed, defensive skills and contact hitter abilities he has added also the slugger’s power.

Lindor is the spiritual guide of the team. He attracts his teammates with his magnetic personality. Apart from him, other important pieces of the team have a say in its performance. Among them we have Dominicans Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion and the pitchers Corey Kubler and Andrew Miller. Ramirez was a player that was not taken into consideration until the year of 2016 but he demonstrated his versatility and capacity to hit and he earned his place in a team that now has him as one of his best assets. Corey Kubler, on the other hand, is a pitcher that has won twice the Cy Young Award. A right-handed power pitcher with a great strikeout percentage, he did not fail the Indians in their winning streak and they are counting on him to maintain his stability for the next season.

One way or the other all of the above mentioned and even the ones with less participation in the field, were heroes in the Cleveland feat. Despite the latest accomplish the Cleveland Indians has the largest string of losses in MLB. They have not won a World Series since 1948. A record that belonged to the Chicago Cubs, which endured the Goat’s Curse for 108 years until last season, with the success against the Cleveland team that would eventually become a win for the Cubs in the seventh game. The Indians want the same thing and they are looking forward to stay in the postseason, which could sustain its levels of popularity. Will they be able to repeat what they did in 2017 and break their own curse? We can hold our breaths and wait for what the field has to say.