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Cleveland Indians: The 5 Worst Moments in Franchise History

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIJuly 24, 2011

Cleveland Indians: The 5 Worst Moments in Franchise History

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    How do you rate the worst moments in a franchise that has gone through endless suffering over the last 63 years?  

    The Cleveland Indians have not disappointed and done their part in creating a compelling addition to the championship drought saga that is Cleveland sports.

    However, on a positive note, many droughts have been broken over the past decade, including: 

    • Chicago White Sox: “Curse of Shoeless Joe (Jackson)” - 88 years, 1917-2005
    • Boston Red Sox: “Curse of the Bambino” - 86 years, 1918-2004
    • Dallas Mavericks: 31 years, 1980-2011
    • Boston Bruins: 39 years, 1972-2011
    • Chicago Blackhawks: 49 years, 1961-2010
    • San Francisco Giants: 56 years, 1954-2010 (Won as the New York Giants, coincidentally defeated the Tribe—this may make an appearance later on, stay tuned!)

    Cleveland Indians: 1948-????

    Without further ado, the top five worst moments in Cleveland Indians franchise history!

Honorable Mentions

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    With a franchise as futile as the Cleveland Indians, it is hard to determine only the top five worst moments!

    That being the case, I added a few other terrible moments in franchise history as to not forget their tragic happening.

    Runner up #1: 1993 Boating Death of Tribe Pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews. (Credit: @Monte_Colorman)

    Following a family picnic, Crews, Olin and starter Bob Ojeda took Crews's 18-foot bass boat out for a night boat ride on Little Lake Nessie, near Tavares Florida.

    The pitchers' were unaware of the newly constructed dock that would cause their death.  Ojeda was the only of the three to survive and said he slouched in his seat, thus missing the dock as it swooped over the top of the boat and crushed Olin and Crews.

    The driver, Crews, was found to be over the legal limit of consumption of alcohol.

    Truly tragic and a very sad moment for the Indians as a team. 

    Runner up #2: Cliff Lee (TX Rangers) and C.C. Sabathia (NY Yankees) depart Cleveland, then subsequently start Game 1 of the 2009 World Series for different teams.

    Both pitchers won the Cy Young Award prior to the year of their trade (2007 for Sabathia, 2008 for Lee).

    Cleveland received Michael Brantley, Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, and Rob Bryson in exchange for Sabathia.

    Sabathia was rumored to have no intention of resigning with Cleveland at the end of the 2008 season.

    Just before the trade deadline in 2009, Cleveland shipped Lee, along with Ben Francisco to Philadelphia in exchange for Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Jason Knapp, and Jason Donald.

    This trade made little sense as Cliff Lee would have still been under contract until 2010.

    Runner up #3: 63 Seasons without a World Series Championship and counting. (1946-????)

    This is categorized as less of a specific moment and more of an everlasting secession of defeat and embarrassment.

    Runner up #4: Trading "The Rock" results in the Curse of Rocky Colavito, 1960-????

    Following a terrific 1959 season, leading the league with 42 home runs, Rocky Colavito was traded by the Indians to the Detroit Tigers for batting champion (.359 avg) Harvey Kuenn.  Predictably, Kuenn didn't pan out and was traded at the end of the 1960 season.

    Curse Highlights: 33 years (1960-1993) without coming within 11 games of first place.  Zero Divisional Titles, Zero Pennants and Zero World Series Championships.

    51 years without a World Series Championship, and counting (1960-????)

5. Albert "Joey" Belle Suspended 10 Games for Use of a Corked Bat

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    Here is a synopsis of the overall events:

    July 14, 1994 - White Sox Manager Gene LaMont acted on a tip and requested umpires examine Albert Belle's bat.  The bat was confiscated and locked in the umpire's dressing room.  Following the game, the umpires discovered that the bat was not the bat of Albert Belle.  How did they notice a swap had been made?

    The bat had the name "Sorrento" inscribed on it.

    The umpires demanded the real bat be returned.  After confiscating it, again, it was sent off for testing and determined to be corked. 

    July 29, 1994—Belle is suspended 10 games by the MLB for use of a corked bat.  Following an appeal of the suspension, it is lowered to seven games.

    October 4, 1995—Belle hits a home-run and returns to the dug out, points to his bicep and yells, "There's your f@$%ing cork" to the fans in an effort to show he doesn't "need" a corked bat.  His bat was subsequently confiscated after the game under suspicion from the Red Sox it was corked.

    April 11, 1999—In an article in the New York Times, former Indians pitcher Jason Grimsley admitted to climbing through an escape door in the Indians locker room and switching the confiscated bat in the umpire dressing room with a "clean" bat belonging to Paul Sorrento.

    2002—Omar Vizquel's book, "Omar!: My Life On and Off the Field", corroborates the account given by Jason Grimsley and asserts that Belle used corked bats.

    That is all pretty embarrassing, but bear with me, it gets worse...

4. "The Catch" and the 1954 World Series Sweep

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    The Tribe won a then AL Record 111 games in 1954 and seemed destined to grab a World Series crown.

    That was of course until the eighth inning of Game one of the Series. Willie Mays made an amazing over the shoulder catch, later dubbed "The Catch".  Everything was downhill from there.

    Not to take away from the catch itself, but there have been others like it that have followed.  However, this spectacular play occurred with zero outs and runners on first and second base.  After Mays caught the ball he threw a rocket back into the infield to hold the runners.

    Without the "catch" and the "throw", who knows?

    The Tribe score in the eight?

    The Tribe win Game one.

    New York went on to go scoreless in the bottom of the eight and ninth and won in the 10th inning.

    Momentum shifted and Cleveland never recovered.  The following three games resulted in losses and a New York Giant sweep of the Tribe.

3. Rangers at Indians. June 4, 1974 Promotion: 10 Cent Beer Night

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    There are good ideas and there are bad ideas. Then, there are tragic ones.

    On June 4th, 1974, the Cleveland Municipal Stadium marketing crew had an epicly tragic idea.  What was it you ask?

    A 10 cent, all you-can-drink beer night promotion.

    To add fuel to the fire of an inherently idiotic idea, a week earlier the Rangers/Indians participated in a bench clearing, all-out brawl.  Fans were heated and players were heated...

    Just add in dirt cheap beer and the following makes a lot more sense.

    The game drew an astounding 25,000 people in comparison to the season average of 8,000.  Those fans, drunk from the beginning became increasingly less sober as the game continued.  After several disturbances caused by fans the game was forfeited in the 9th inning due to an umpire determination the game was unable to continue.

    What kind of disturbances?

    A woman ran out to the Indians on-deck circle and flashed the crowd.

    During a Texas Rangers player's home-run trot, a fan ran naked to second base.

    A father and son tandem ran into the outfield and mooned the bleacher section seating.

    Objects and spit were consistently raining down as the crowd became more inebriated.

    An all-out riot in the 9th inning in which a large group of FANS charged the field was sparked when the Rangers dugout cleared in response to a fan stealing their pitcher's hat, causing him to trip and fall.  Armed with bats, the Rangers and Indians benches defended themselves as fans mobbed them.  Fans threw food, chairs, rocks and bottles.  

    The umpire referred to rioting Cleveland fans as beasts, and said he had only seen behavior like that in a zoo.

    A police RIOT SQUAD was called in to quell the unrest.

2. Indians vs Red Sox: 2007 ALCS Collapse

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    Since the MLB reformatted the League Championship Series to a seven game set in 1985, 26 of 32 teams with a 3-1 advantage have went on to win the pennant.

    Our 2007 Indians are honored to be one of six in an elite club of ineptitude.

    After losing game 5 in Cleveland, the writing was on the wall for the disastrous collapse to follow.

    Not only did the Tribe collapse, they did so in epic fashion; falling 7-1, 12-2, and 11-2 consecutively to complete the meltdown.

    It wasn't even close.

    But it was CLOSE to rock bottom.

    What could have hurt more? 

1. 1997 World Series: "The Hit"

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    Rock bottom.

    Edgar Renteria delivered a devastating blow to the Cleveland Indians franchise with one swing of the bat as he singled in Craig Counsel in the 11th inning to defeat the Indians in Game seven of the 1997 World Series.

    Jose Mesa became one of the most hated people in Cleveland as a result of a blown a save opportunity in the bottom of the 9th, allowing Florida to tie the game and send it into extra innings.

    The Florida Marlins, fresh out of their MLB diapers, clinched their first World Series after only seven seasons as a franchise.

    Heart wrenching.

    Apparently, the Wigwam Warriors still have not recovered.

    What devastating, embarrassing or hilarious moment will break the Top five next?  

    Perhaps, as things are headed right now in 2011, "the slide" from a commanding first place lead in the AL Central could be making a strong case for at least an honorable mention.

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