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Indians Indians Archive When Can We Laugh About This?
Written by Jeff Rich

Jeff Rich

Acta LaughsAdmit it.  If it were happening to someone else, it would be funny.  If the Pittsburgh Steelers would re-hash their 1969 effort of ending the season on a 13-game losing streak, I’d dig it. You’d probably laugh if it were Ed Farmer and Hawk Harrelson recapping some White Sox misery, instead of Tom Hamilton and Matt Underwood narrating the horror that was the end of Sunday’s 10-8 loss to the second place Tigers.  To someone who didn’t see it see or hear about it first-hand, they’d think it was a fake story when you gave it to them straight, like a Family Guy cut-away that says, “What’s The Worst That Could Happen?”, not to be confused with the dreadful 2001 Danny DeVito and Martin Lawrence comedy-ish movie that we sometimes catch ourselves watching on Comedy Central.

Since I did mention Lawrence, let’s crawl a little higher up the Rotten Tomatoes scale to his 1997 odd couple type pairing with Tim Robbins in Nothing to Lose, because at this point, Manny Acta and the Indians have nothing more to lose in this shamefully lost season.  Forget the World Series and the playoffs; right now, we’re just hoping they win another game.  So, we’re going to see Vinny Rottino get called up for a cup of coffee, Vinnie Pestano in the seventh inning, and Applied Sunglass Concepts 101 with Professor Ezequiel Carrera.  Why?  Because, why not?

Nothing To LoseStandard practices get thrown out of the window when you’re suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, 8 and a half games back.  Like the Nick Beane character in Nothing to Lose, you have to chuckle to yourself about it, unless you happen to be the victim of hard luck.  By the time Lawrence’s character carjacks him, his day has already been spoiled by what he believed to be his pathetic half-man of a boss (Michael McKean) giving it to his wife (Kelly Preston).  Long story short, Robbins “give-a-damn” factor is low, so the car-jacking fails, but they become friends in the process, and team up to rob and vandalize McKean’s office.  Blah, blah, blah...hilarity ensues.  After a quick make-out session with the Noxema girl, the M. Night Shymalan styled twist reveals the truth to be nothing close to what Robbins thought he saw.

At that point, he’d already tossed his wallet on to a random street in Los Angeles, kidnapped his would-be carjacker, and chopped the exaggerated genitalia off of a primate statue, then unmasked himself to break down the fourth wall (the security cameras) and share some unkind words for his employer.  If you hear about that situation happening to a random schmuck, you laugh, but if it’s happening to you, you don’t want anyone thinking any kind of happy thoughts about your serious dilemma.  On Sunday, Chris Perez got to be Nick Beane, but the Tribe’s closer doesn’t get his Hollywood type of happy ending.

fmjThis genre of awful is nothing to new to Cleveland fan.  When our Cavaliers stopped a 26-game losing streak on what quite possibly was a JJ Hickson goal-tend in February 2011, confetti fell from the rafters.  The nation laughed about that, and I had to laugh with them in that case.  When it comes to the Browns, at some point when Derek Anderson or [INSERT QUARTERBACK NAME HERE] is chasing a ball carrying defender towards the end zone with half a care, I shake my damn head with some level of embarrassment.  It takes me back to Parris Island, when one of my fellow “scum-bag” recruits would do something so outrageously stupid that the Drill Instructor had to bury his face in his smokey to conceal that he’d lost his bearing.  These days, it’s the 2012 Cleveland Indians that are hiding jelly donuts in their foot lockers and cracking John Wayne jokes.

If we, the fans, aren’t calling them disgusting fatbodies, asking them if their parents had any kids that lived, or making reference to brown stains on the mattress, well, we just don’t have a functional relationship with our baseball team.  We know that they aren’t this bad.  Honestly, we try to find a silver lining where one probably doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean we stop trying.  I heard someone suggest that fans wear paper bags over their heads at Progressive Field, and I won’t be doing, but I suppose they have my blessing.  This is just our way of making lemons out of lemonade.

Dawg PoundThere’s a history of that in Cleveland, as long as it’s our lemonade, and not Johnny Carson’s or Conan O’Brien’s.  With the (historic) filth of the Cuyahoga and the Lake, we don’t mind Randy Newman’s “Burn On”.  With the futility of the Indians of my early childhood, David Ward allowed us to laugh at ourselves with Major League.  When Marty Schottenheimer’s prevent defense couldn’t keep John Elway out of the end-zone, the Dawg Pound offered up the AA, C and D battery defense, which forced Elway to get his six on the other end of the field.  Hell, a bird’s eye view of Jason Grimsley infiltrating the umpire’s room at Comiskey or Albert Belle’s trick-or-treat SUV chase could possibly be hilarious, if only it weren’t happening to us.

If we can’t bring ourselves to laughter over this, then what does that say about us?  There was hope, and an expectation of sorts for the World Series, I believed it and told anyone who would listen that it was a very real possibility.  Call it being naïve, but I believe in what’s in the box.  Given the choice between the boat and the box, most people are going to choose the boat.  When they aren’t on their boats, you’ll see them around town in their Yankee hats, waving their terrible towels, and buying up every style of the #6 jersey that the NBA allows the Miami Heat to sell.  A boat’s a boat, but a box, it could be anything.  It could even be a boat, or less realistically, it could be that Championship our town has been craving since 1964.

ActaRight now, we don’t want to get caught laughing by Manny Acta or the 25 men that do play to win 162 nights a year; it would just be nice if the Indians happened to have games scheduled on those 162 nights.  I kid, of course, but losing games you deserve to lose is much less gut-wrenching than the giving away games that you deserve to win.  This last week or so, they haven’t given away much; I had to search the boxscores just to remind myself that they held 1-0 leads over the Twins in Minnesota not once, but twice.  That’s scraping the bottom of the barrel, but it will be funny to look back on, eventually.

Right now, I don’t want anyone to get caught laughing, especially by those ESPN cameras looking for a new way to smear our great city.  They need something to replace the WEWS footage of jersey burning from 25 months ago.  When you’re Cleveland, being in first place and winning baseball doesn’t get you on Sportscenter like blown saves, surrendering walk-offs, double-digit losing streaks do.  If the brown bags show up Monday, the four-letter folks will surely get them some camera time; just don’t let them catch us laughing until this thing is over.

Frankly, I’m scared.  When I’m watching this team in Anaheim on August 13, will I still be biting my nails, hoping for this streak to end?  Will Baseball-Reference have to re-format the “streak” column on their Schedule and Results page to accommodate enough minus signs for the Indians?  It wasn’t that long ago that my cousin and his friends (all Indians fans) were reviewing the AL Central standings, speaking of the White Sox and Tigers, and how close the Indians were to catching them; they laughed at me when I inquired about the Royals and Twins.

laughingNow, with the Indians further behind the second place Tigers than they are ahead of the last place Royals, none of us are laughing.  However, there is a shred of good news to be spoken of here; this is all one big Tiger bashing hangover; granted, it’s the worst one yet.  In previous encounters with Detroit, the Indians have either swept or taken 2 of 3 from the Tigers, but the euphoria of slaying that dragon gave the Indians no momentum in their ensuing 9 games. 

After a late May sweep of the Tigers, the team went 2-7 versus Chicago, Minnesota, and Kansas City.  They lost the 3 games in Chicago in embarrassing fashion, and saw first place slip through their fingers.  In early June, they managed to take 2 of 3 in Detroit, then stole a series from the defending Champs in St. Louis, before laying a 1-5 egg against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.  After what we thought was a season-saving series with the Tigers at the end of July, what feels like a lifetime ago, we’d have been grateful to salvage a 2-7 stretch here in hindsight.  Now that Detroit swept the Tribe, the Indians best baseball is yet to come, the losing streak will soon be over, and I can get over the shame of searching for Big Momma’s House 2 on Netflix.

Hey!  Stop laughing.


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