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Indians Indians Archive Tribe Keeps Falling Deeper Into The Abyss
Written by Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore

2012 08 tribe abyssCan things get any worse for the Cleveland Indians in this train wreck of a 2012 Major League Baseball season?

Wait, don’t answer that, because every time it seems the team has finally hit the abyss, they find a way to sink a little bit lower.

After finally breaking an 11-game losing streak – just one game shy of the franchise record – it looked as if the Tribe was finally stabilizing things by winning three-of-four games.

Then they hit the road, where they are 17 games under .500 this year (24-41), and things got worse as the Tribe proceeded to lose eight-of-nine – including the final eight games of the trip to Los Angeles, Oakland and Seattle.

Add it all up and the Tribe now sits in fourth place, 14 games out of first (pending the outcome of Wednesday night’s games) and closing in fast on Minnesota in a race for not only the bottom of the American League Central Division but the worst record in the American League.

But, not to fear Tribe fans, manager Manny Acta is getting more involved during the streak.

“It’s challenging to keep them motivated even when you’re going good," Acta told the team’s website. “It’s a big amount of people. This is not a basketball roster. It is a challenge, but in this type of situation, yeah, it is harder, especially because you don’t have that many veterans on the team.

“The coaching staff and myself, we have to be very hands-on with every single one of these guys, just making sure that they stay upbeat and they don’t allow this to crush them and get them down.”

Whatever the coaching staff is doing it’s clearly not working, as the Indians are a major-league worse 4-21 since July 27 and they also own the highest team ERA during that time frame at 6.39.

Not the kind of daily double you’re looking for out of the local team.

This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to Tribe fans, however, as Acta’s teams have tended to perform poorly in the second half of the season. The Tribe’s record under Acta, now in his third season with the team, is 78-107.

Maybe Acta should be a little less “hands-on” as the season winds down.

The Indians also learned this week that starting pitcher Josh Tomlin will have Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow and will certainly be lost until at least 2014 as the recovery period is generally 12 to 18 months.

“It’s something that he needed to get done in order for him to be able to compete the way he was able to compete in the past,” Acta said.

The injury news at least goes a long way toward explaining Tomlin’s disappointing season, as the right-hander was just 5-8 with an ERA of 6.36 (still no word, yet, on why Ubaldo Jimenez is what he is, however).

“In Josh's case, dating back to his time in junior college up until last August, he’s probably had four or five episodes of ligament sprains,” Indians trainer Lonnie Soloff told the team’s website. “He’s done well in each instant over the short-term. Even at the present point, it’s not disruptive. It’s just to the point where it’s lengthened enough where it becomes what is termed ‘insufficient.’ An insufficient ligament begins to just not do its job.”

Hey, just like Ubaldo!

Rounding out the trifecta is the news that outfielder Grady Sizemore won’t, in fact, play a game this year.

Sizemore reportedly felt soreness and inflammation in his surgically repaired knee while running and the Indians have decided to slow down his rehabilitation.

“It’s sad,” Acta said. “I won’t call it disappointing. I’m just sad for the human being that he is, and the type of player that he is. Especially for me, because one of the things that attracted me the most to this job was Grady Sizemore, being able to have a player that was going to help me win ballgames by himself.

“A lot of things have happened over the last three, four years that have been completely out of his control. The guy played the game right. He was an elite player in this league. Unfortunately, over the last three or four seasons, he hasn’t been able to do it.”

In related news, the Cleveland Browns announced on Wednesday that rookie running back Trent Richardson ran in a pool and may be able to start running outside next week (which is good because the Browns don’t play football games in a pool). Let’s all just hope that Sizemore was never anywhere near the pool that Richardson is using for his rehab or we may not see him on the field until the next decade.

Add it all up – the losing, the injuries, the money wasted on Sizemore, Johnny Damon, Jose Lopez, Dan Whelan – and you wind up with a fan base that is losing (or in a lot of cases lost) hope that things will get better.

Attendance is among the worst in the league and will only continue to drop between now and the end of the season.

The front office won’t (or can’t, depending on your perspective) spend any money in the off-season to upgrade the team and there is no help on the horizon from the minor leagues, unless you are in the “Matt LaPorta only needs a chance” club (members of which share meeting space with the “Give Colt McCoy a chance” club).

Two seasons in a row now the Indians have gotten off to good starts only to fade as the season went along (last year’s fade was mercifully a bit more gradual than this year). If the team gets off to another decent start in 2013, what is there that would give fans hope that the team will stay in contention over the course of the season?

Since Cleveland’s sports teams don’t win on a regular basis, they need to sell fans on the notion that a better day is coming.

But for the Indians, that better day just keeps getting farther and farther away.

(Photo by The Associated Press)

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