Indians’ streak perfect primer for postseason
For a team that fell just short of winning a World Series championship last season, the Cleveland Indians’ 22-game win streak may have been the perfect primer for the looming postseason.
When I was nine and playing Little League, the only statistic of which I was aware was whether we’d won or lost the game. It didn’t occur to me until years later that I could track my own batting average.
So it was a bit of a surprise when in the moments after his fall ball game on Saturday morning the boy asked me to calculate his wins-above-replacement value.
If you’re not in the loop on baseball’s new-age sabermetrics, you’re not alone. I can barely explain what WAR means and have no idea how it’s determined.
Perhaps I can entice the little man to put together a Power-Point presentation for our benefit.
On the flip side, our team won Saturday’s game in walk-off fashion. Only no one walked off the field or celebrated or had any reaction of any kind when the winning run scored. That’s because neither team realized the game had ended. They’d all lost track of the score.
Walking into the dugout to proclaim, “OK, guys, the game’s over. We won!” is one of the joys of coaching Little League. Although there’s surely been a few occasions this season when Terry Collins has had to do the same thing for the Mets.
• There was an added element to the Cleveland Indians incredible 22game win streak, which ended Friday night. For a team that fell just short of winning a World Series championship, and has to be considered the favorites this October, it may have been the perfect primer for the looming postseason.
Outwardly, the Indians did their best to downplay the streak. Their emotions and personnel choices made it clear they took great pride in what was happening, playing each night to win in hopes of breaking the all-time record of 26, despite holding a massive lead in the AL Central.
You can count Orange’s Chris Antonetti, the team’s president of baseball operations, among those in the organization who believes the experience was invaluable.
“Most of these guys have been through the crucible,” Antonetti told Sports Illustrated after Friday’s loss to the Royals. “But for the other ones, there’s something to creating that environment.”
• Eli Manning is 36 years old. Without Odell Beckham Jr. in the lineup, he might as well be 72.
• The Indians streak may only rate as the second-longest in MLB history — the 1916 Giants won 26 in a row — but we’ll rate it as the most impressive, if only because every one of the Giants’ wins came at home. Travel was a bit different back then, and the entirety of the Giants’ streak came during a 31-game home stand at the Polo Grounds.
The Indians streak began in Cleveland, included road sweeps in New York, Detroit and Chicago before a return to Cleveland. All told, the Indians’ run, which began Aug. 24, totaled 11 wins at home and and 11 on the road. • Is there any way to distinguish between an NFL sideline reporter and a publicity agent? The sympathetic report from the faceless announcer on the sidelines about Bengals running back Joe Mixon overcoming negative public perception — which, by the way, stems from video of Mixon punching a woman in the face while a student at Oklahoma — could have been straight from the fall semester syllabus of Propaganda 101. • Attendance is down at many NFL stadiums, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Everyone knows it’s a hassle to battle traffic in and out of games. It’s ri- a JD Power award is or means. means. diculously expensive. And it’s a dull sport to watch live, at least at the NFL level. Know what they do at the stadium during those endless TV commercial breaks? Nothing.
Fans at NFL stadiums spend infinitely more time monitoring their fantasy football teams on their phones than watching the game they’re actually at, though I suppose you could use that argument to disparage anything. I’ve lost track of my kid for hours on end while tracking fantasy stats.
• Even watching the NFL from the comfort of your living room has become exhausting. Not only are there endless commercials, but those ads are excruciating.
There’s the bearded hipster bragging to a group of other bearded hipsters about Chevy’s plethora of JD Power awards, like anyone has the first clue what How about the pregnant lady in labor getting out of bed to put the football game on TV? A Texans game, no less. Quite believable. Even the truly funny ones, like Peyton Manning and Brad Paisley for Nationwide, are played so often it becomes like nails on a chalkboard. • The best sport to watch watch cifically, live live collegeis is hockey. hockey. hockey. Spe- SpeEven better if the game’s at Yale or Quinnipiac. Pep bands, chanting student sections and nightly packed houses on the edge of their seats for 60 minutes are the norm. Next best is basketball (always loud). Then baseball (perfect for summer drinking.) Then college football (much lower if Bob Diaco is coaching in any capac-ity.)
hen high school football (much higher if Anthony Sagnella is coaching.)
Then boxing (unless it’s a sham bout involving Floyd Mayweather and an MMA fighter.)
Then horse racing (only if you’re betting. And double-fisting mint juleps in a sear sucker suit.)
Then jai alai (when Bolivar was active, this ranked much higher. Those who went to Milford Jai-Alai in the 1980s know what I’m talking about.)
Somewhere down the list is the NFL.
The Indians’ Jay Bruce, center, celebrates with teammates after Bruce drove in the winning run in the 10th inning Thursday in Cleveland. The Indians won 3-2for their 22nd straight win.