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Indians Indians Archive Are Tribe Fans Realistic About The Team's Ability To Compete?
Written by Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore

2012 08 tribe unrealisticThe numbers have been downright depressing as the Cleveland Indians have sunk toward the bottom of the standings in the American League Central Division.

Consider that:

  • The Indians just completed the first 0-9 road trip in franchise history – and that is a history that goes back to 1901.
  • During the team’s 10-game losing streak (heading into Tuesday night’s game vs. Minnesota) the Tribe has been outscored 88-31.
  • That losing streak saw the starter’s post an ERA of 11.66 while being tagged for eight of the losses. The starting rotation has totaled just 44 innings of work during the losing streak, giving up 75 hits, walking 23 and allowing 10 home runs.
  • During the losing streak, the Indians designated for assignment starting pitcher Derek Lowe, relief pitcher Jeremy Accardo, left fielder Johnny Damon and infielder Jose Lopez.
  • With the release of Lopez, the Indians currently only have three players who bat from the right side – Shelley Duncan, Lou Marson and Brent Lillibridge. That has to mean something, we’re just not sure what.
  • Since the All-Star break, the Tribe is batting just .234, while the pitching staff has posted an ERA of 5.86 and given up 27 home runs.
  • The Tribe is 6-18 since the All-Star break, brining the team’s second-half record under manager Manny Acta to 74-97.
  • Go back to May 17 and the Indians have gone 28-42, the worst mark in the American League during that time frame.
  • In case you were wondering, the franchise record for the longest losing streak is 12 games.

Had enough? No? OK, how about this:

  • The starting rotation – loaded with third and fourth starters – has been a mess all season. Heading into Tuesday night’s game, the Tribe’s starting pitchers had the most losses (50) in the American League, had given up the most runs (402) and the most walks (254), and had the third-highest ERA (5.17) and the third-worst batting average against (.282).
  • \The lineup has four reliable parts – Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis. Although in the second half of the season, Cabrera (.288 in the first half, .253 in the second), Kipnis (.277 vs. .202) and Choo (.299 vs. .250) have all struggled.
  • As for the rest of the lineup, Travis Hafner and Carlos Santana have struggled all season, and the bottom of the order, featuring Casey Kotchman, Jack Hannahan, Shelley Duncan, and the departed Damon and Lopez, doesn’t exactly strike fear in opposing pitchers.

“As a team, we have not performed to our expectations,” general manager Chris Antonetti said earlier this week. “We’re in the process of kind of reviewing what may have caused that and why we haven’t performed the way we’ve expected. I think that’s something we can really assess at the end of the year.

“Right now, our collective focus is, ‘How do we play better? How do we get the guys here to perform to their potential?’ All of our resources are committed to doing that.”

“I don't believe in superstition,” Acta said after Monday night’s loss, “but I've done a few things differently and we still haven’t been able to come up with at least a semi-quality start in 10 games. It’s been kind of mind-boggling. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it, and I’m not sure if I'll ever be able to see that again. .... It continues to be just rough and disappointing, the way we’re throwing the ball.”

None of this comes as a surprise to anyone who has watched this Indians team for the past month. But night after night fans still throw the remote, pull out their hair and take to Twitter and other outlets to complain about the team.

Which leads us to wonder – why? Did Tribe fans really think this team could compete for 162 games and, if so, why?

Basically, have Tribe fans become unrealistic about the team?

Fans have complained since Opening Day about players like Kotchman, Duncan, Lopez, Hannahan, Josh Tomlin and (later) Damon. Now that the team is struggling, fans are surprised and hurt as the team tumbles down the standings.

Well, what did we really expect to happen? Where did that optimism, no matter how fleeting, come from?

Maybe the disappointment is rooted in the fact, by and large, this is an easy team to root for (as long as closer Chris Perez stays away from Twitter). Going out and giving an honest effort goes a long way in this town.

But effort only goes so far – in the long run talent is going to carry the day and this Tribe team, plain and simple, lacks talent.

The Indians have built their entire marketing campaign around the idea of What If? As in, What if this team could be as magical as the ones from the late 1990s?

But with each passing day and subsequent ugly loss, the fear rises up that the question is really What if we are focusing on the wrong decade? What if this Tribe team is the descendant of the Indians teams from the 1970s?

Much like the current team, those Tribe teams were built around a “core group” of young players in Dennis Eckersley, Jim Kern, Buddy Bell, Rick Manning and Duane Kuiper. Some of those players, for a variety of reasons, never reached their full potential as they played in front of dwindling crowds and for owners that didn’t have the money to compete.

Sound familiar to anyone?

What if that is our reality, Tribe fans?

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

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