Mark Duncan/Associated Press
The Cleveland Indians are a ragtag group of players cobbled together with enough moxie and hidden talent that they just might go out there and win the whole darn thing. Yes, that's the plot of Major League, but it also describes the current Indians team.
The Tribe's dynamic is so positive, Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall have somehow become two of the finest hitters in the league, although the latter got squeezed out of an All-Star appearance.
The roster includes aspiring player-coach Jason Giambi, Carlos "Not the Musician" Santana, Nick "Aw Man, That's Just Awesome Man" Swisher and affable Irishman David Murphy. The organization even boasts a "T-Plush" (Nyjer Morgan) and a "T-Hush" (recent call-up Tyler Holt).
This Indians have so much swag that they can turn a twice-challenged 7-2-4 triple play. So when exactly did they become good again for the first time since Albert Belle?
Back in 2011, the Boston Red Sox collapsed in stunning fashion with Terry Francona at the helm. That year, the BoSox lost 18 of their final 24 games, becoming the first squad to have a nine-game lead in September and fail to make the playoffs.
The Boston Globe's Bob Hohler detailed an unruly clubhouse atmosphere, which ostensibly led to the team choking down the stretch because Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey drank too much beer, ate too much fried chicken and played too many video games in the locker room. The ax fell on Francona, and things got so bad that general manager Theo Epstein voluntarily left to go to the Chicago Cubs.
As it turned out, none of that was Francona's fault, and he's actually a great manager—a "player's manager," to be sure, but one who gets results nonetheless. If you care to offer a different opinion, try explaining it to Tito's 2013 Manager of the Year hardware. He inexplicably guided the Tribe to 92 wins and a playoff berth behind a pitching staff of Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister.
It's just a shame that former closer Chris Perez went a little too chicken-and-beer. In 2013, he had several ounces of marijuana shipped to his family home under the name "Brody Baum," cleverly addressing it to his dog and appending his wife's maiden name. Perez accepted a $250 fine and, eventually, a new job with the L.A. Dodgers. Francona can't have bumbling tokers in the clubhouse after the 2011 debacle in Beantown.