Why 21 doesn’t matter

The Cleveland Indians have won 21 straight baseball games.  That’s a new Major League record, which is pretty impressive considering the sport, for better or for worse, has been around since anyone reading this website has been alive.

That’s right, the Indians have now won 21 straight games… and it doesn’t matter a lick.

Here’s why.

Remember way back when (and by way back when, I mean two years ago) when the Golden State Warriors were having one mammoth of a season.  Not only were they beating teams, they were beating them handily, just like the Indians are currently doing in Major League Baseball.

The Warriors stared Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bull’s “Best Team Ever” record squarely in the face… and beat it.  In 1995-6, the Chicago Bulls went 72-10.  The Warriors finished the 2015-16 season 73-9, one game better than the Bulls, to break a record no one ever thought could be broken.

Then they lost in the Finals, ironically to a team from Cleveland.

As Golden State chased that streak, people asked if breaking the regular season record would mean as much if they didn’t win the title, like the Bulls did in 1996.  We debated over it fruitlessly, acknowledging that no matter what happened in the post-season, the Warriors impressive mark of 73-9 would forever be etched in history… with a ‘but.’  As it turns out, that team will forever be remembered as the best REGULAR SEASON team ever, which is not something any team wants to be remembered for.  Just ask the 2007 Patriots.

This Indians winning streak is unprecedented as is the fashion in which they achieved it.  Their rotation has combined for seven shutouts in those twenty-one games and they are outscoring opponents on an historical clip.  Their players are loose and having fun, but none of them are taking this too seriously.  That’s because they know, in the end, it won’t matter.  They’d rather win four games in late October than 21 in early September.

The Oakland A’s once won 20 straight games.  It was a nice story, recollected by Michael Lewis and eventually made into a neat little movie, starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.  But that’s all that A’s team will be remembered for: a win streak that once existed and the beginning of sabermetrics, aka, baseball on a budget.

Cleveland has a lot to celebrate these days.  LeBron is still a Cavalier, the Browns have a young quarterback they haven’t run out of town yet and the Indians are on one helluva ride.

But it won’t matter.  It won’t matter one bit.

Cleveland sports fans finally tasted victory, the inevitable LeBron-led championship that city will never forget.  Despite not having lost a baseball game in three weeks, the Indians haven’t won a title in 69 years.

There are currently four teams in baseball with better than a .600-win percentage: the Indians who haven’t won a World Series since 1948, the Dodgers who haven’t won since 1988, and the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals, neither of whom have won a World Series at all.  We are on a collision course of inevitability and for the first time in a long time, I can’t wait for the baseball post-season.  Something will have to give.

The next forty days and forty nights will tell us exactly how good this Indians team is and how historic it can be.   To be clear, it’s not that I’m not impressed with the win streak.  I am.  I just want to see if they can dot the I.

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14 Replies to “Why 21 doesn’t matter”

  1. It’s an impressive run nevertheless . Yet , you’re right, it won’t count for anything if they don’t pull down the brass ring and win the World Series. I believe Terry Francona can prepare the team to do that , but then it’s down to the players themselves.

    Hope you and the family remained safe during Irma ?

  2. I was wondering where you were going to go with this…. and wasn’t thinking the Warriors, but knowing how you lean to the NBA, I get it.

    I do feel like a win streak like this in baseball is ten times more impressive than one this length in the NBA… but maybe that’s because it seems to occur more often in the NBA. More parity in baseball and more so tied to individual pitching performances that can change one game, as opposed to an off night by an NBA star, which doesn’t quite have the same impact. LeBron can shoot 20% from the floor and still score 35 points.

  3. The streak’s impressive, KP, no doubt.

    But I think it also needs to be put in perspective.

    The Dodgers and Astros have both have impressive win streaks this season, not 21, but half that.

    There are gonna be some hungry teams heading into October. It’ll be fun to see who’s the hungriest.

  4. Awhile back ESPN’s Believeland actually made me feel sorry for our long suffering Ohio bretheren.

    That was then, this is now.

    They hit blackjack while my Dodgers go from heroes to zero-for-11. I got 99 of my own problems.

    Fuck the Indians.

    May the Eli be with them.

  5. Bleed you don’t know me but I’m here to tell you that your post is funny! Maybe SC should let you have some air time (don’t get jealous SC – we’ve been waiting to hear from you).

    Kobe vs Ball, ESPN rankings crap, race baiting, sports talk vs personalities talk (especially on radio) – crazy.

    How about them Jags?

    I swear I’m going to leave sports radio – I hear the same shit from ESPN, Fox sports, Mad Dog radio, USA Today, Bleacher Report, etc.

    OK, mindless rant over. I’ve got work to finish and then go to a concert tonight. Peace……

  6. See, if you watched more hockey, you’d already know this. Every year, the NHL gives the President’s trophy to the team with the best regular season record. And every year, we watch that team not win the Stanley Cup.

  7. Moose…

    Bleed and I go way back.

    In fact, he and I have collaborated on quite a few posts. He’s my West Coast respondent on all things Lakers.

    I love a good dose of educated homerism where I can get it.

  8. Good pitching and defense, a great coach and just enough offense to be dangerous. I dreamed that Tampa Bay had a team like that and then I woke up to the ugly truth. When you lose one of the greatest coaches in baseball because the organization can’t retain quality players you have no chance to seriously compete. Sorry about the rant, but I’m a life long baseball fan and I’ve had it with the Rays. Go Cubs or Indians, or whoever, I just don’t care anymore.

  9. Thanks Moose, I appreciate anyone who can appreciate my sarcastic sense of humor.

    Chump knows I’m ready to chime in on posts whenever he calls.

    Meantime, I’m content leaving my two cents with smart ass comments.

  10. Deac…

    It’s possible for small market, or rather small budget teams, to win a title. San Fran did it without coughing up much cash. Pretty sure that Kansas City payroll was on the bottom half of the league as well.

    That being said, the Rays are consistently either 30, 31 or 32 as far as monies spent.

    The rumblings about a new stadium continue but there are no guarantees fans will show if the organization continues to only spend $65 mil a year on their talent.

    It’d be nice to keep a player we’ve developed. Just sayin’.

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