Did you go with my midseason prediction (7/31/18) and make a bloody fortune? Are you are now driving your Ryder truck to Vegas to collect? Good for ye of much faith. You are among the “haves.” You remembered my prophetic message at baseball’s midseason:
In the spring I called for a very predictable season. It still is, with some notable exceptions. Washington has sputtered, giving both the Braves and Phillies a real shot at the Eastern Division crown. The Cubs are a good bet to blow it to the talented Brewers in the NL Central, while the Dodgers, strengthened by the trade for Machado, will take the NL west title and go on to win the NL championship. Unfortunately, they will meet the winner of the two American League super teams, the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox, and lose. Pick a winner in the AL? With shaky hands I don my Red Sox. (The Indians and Yankees are AL runner-ups.)
Wow! One hundred percent correct! If you put your money down midseason, then you’re already in first class on a jet to meet and party with the Kardashians and the Koch brothers! And, once more, you have me to thank. You’re welcome.
Unfortunately, as you surely know, at season’s end I second-guessed myself and dropped the Red Sox in favor of the Cleveland Indians over the Dodgers in seven. That puts you late bettors in the “have not” category. Sorry.
Why did I switch and make such a crazy choice for the World Series? Well, I let my heart overrule my head, gave in to emotion over reason. How could I do such a thing? Well, I was exposed to the bug early and caught baseball fever, which has been likened to prostate cancer: you usually don’t die of it; you just die with it.
Back in the summer of 1938 my machinist dad took off from his WPA Depression day duties of leaning on a shovel and took his five-year-old son to League Park in Cleveland for my first Major League game. It was love at first sight. I don’t remember whom the Indians played that summer day. All I know is I came out of the encounter a fan of Roy “Little Thunder” Weatherly, Bruce Campbell and Hal Trosky—names as familiar today as a roll of Nubian queens.
As my father took me to more games, I soon showed signs of becoming a more discriminating fanatic, idolizing Bob Feller, Bob Lemon and Lou Boudreau, and listening to the grainy radio voice of Jack Graney on those lucky days when I was sick (or faking it) and home in bed from school listening to the Tribe’s feats of daring done.
I also remember the suspense of waking to the front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer where a line drawing of Chief Wahoo would signal the results of the day before. If the smiling Chief had a scalp in his hand, the Tribe had won; if he had a black eye, we’d lost; if he held a scalp and had a black eye, we’d split a double header; if he had two black eyes, well, you know....
It all came to a glorious climax in 1948 when the Cleveland Indians won the American League Pennant in a one-game playoff with the Boston Red Sox (Lou Boudreau was the hero) and then went on to defeat the Boston Braves four games to two in the World Series. I was not among the celebrants in Cleveland streets, however, for my father had already moved his family to Southern California, where I rejoiced by myself from afar, my addiction sealed.
The Indians have not won a World Series since 1948, yet I remain a lifer among its fans. Try as I might, I can’t kick the habit. Each spring brings hope anew; by most Junes the Indians are struggling; and by August they’re mathematically eliminated. Have I ever returned to the city of Cleveland proper, you might ask. No. Why should I? No World Series win draws me there to celebrate. And, as Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, who did some brief time with the Tribe as a first baseman, is reputed to have said, “Cleveland is the only city where it’s better to have a plane crash flying in than taking off.”
You see that tear Chief Wahoo is shedding at the top of the page? It’s not just because we failed to win another World Series this year. It’s mainly because he has been told he will be “retired” (eliminated) next year, which my daughters say is long overdue, and I, despite my personal nostalgic feelings, must agree.
Sad. Bigly sad.
Still, I believe with Monte Python that we should always look on the bright side of life. That in mind, I’ve made a Faustian bargain with Thanatos that I not die until the Indians win another World Series. What does Mr. T get in return? My complete collection of Cleveland Indian baseball cards.
The way it’s going, I have at least another 70 years of collecting.