Remember that stirring comeback victory of yore when Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner homered on consecutive pitches against the reigning Cy Young, AL MVP, king of all men because he is rumored to be dating Kate Upton, Justin Verlander? That fleeting moment in time that stirred memories of the 1990s?
Hard to fathom that this particular instance was only a week ago. Because, boy howdy, nothing at all has gone right since.
Now, most of us have had no illusions of what this team has been all season; it seemed fishy to assume that an all-lefty lineup paired with an all-righty rotation would set the world on fire. But with no clear-cut horse in a truly awful division, and the assumption (such a bad word more often than not) that the team would lean on the experiences learned of last season, the season started out reasonably well.
But a whopper of a big shoe sitting on the other foot is falling like a meteor. And after seeing poor Corey Kluber's (now absolved with a no-decision thanks to Mr. Santana) first inning this evening, it's easy to wonder if this team has been cratered for the 2012 season.
What's gone wrong? Wait—no. Wrong question. How did this season go wrong?
Well, in my opinion, it started at last season's trading deadline. Chris Antonetti's panicked impulse buy of a clearly broken Ubaldo Jimenez was awful when the papers were processed and it continues to be no better than a bad bet on a passable fifth starter.
(Though, I must try to be fair: If Zach McAllister is the best guy in the rotation you have this year, you have permission to wonder if Scott Radinsky is the man for the job. And I'm a guy who loathed Mark Wiley when things were awesome.)
Can the Indians turn it around to get back into contention?
But I have one name for you that defies all logic and pretty much is a microcosm for what sucks about this team.
No, it's not Johnny Damon, whose only real use these days is "Great Clubhouse Guy."
It's Brent Freaking Lillibridge.
Now, I know the rotation has likely pitched us out of contention this season. That's the realist talking; but trading for a fringe part just because you can isn't a "baseball move." It's dangerously close to trolling a fanbase that is already distrusting and rightfully cynical. Manny Acta and Antonetti were selling us "versatility," which sounded quite a bit like what the Eric Wedge regime was selling, but at least that group got to the postseason.
So, where next season takes us is anyone's guess. I'm writing this season off as the season of bad signings, bad decisions, regressions to the mean, age, and overall awfulness.
Imagine what next week will bring.