Sunday, November 20, 2016

Indian Summer.

It's been almost a month and it still doesn't seem real. I still cannot look at any of these photos or watch any of these videos without getting goosebumps. 

The Cleveland Indians went to the World Series.

Let me say that again. The team that no one thought would amount to anything. The team voted "most disappointing team in the playoffs" swept the Red Sox to win the ALDS, held the Blue Jays to win the ALCS, and then took on the Chicago Cubs and their 108 year drought in the WORLD SERIES.

And, in the end, we lost. BUT WE WERE THERE.

Seriously. I used to pay $7 for tickets when I was in high school because it was one of the cheapest forms of entertainment in Northeastern Ohio. This year they were in the World Series. And I paid way more than $7 to see them play, but it was worth it.

I went to a couple of games while I was home in August, when playoff dreams were just close enough to start entertaining, but far enough away to not get our hopes up too much. (We are Cleveland fans, after all.) I even tweeted about how sad I was to be at the Jake for the last time until the 2017 season. 

At the end of October, I returned to Rio de Janeiro where I really got my money's worth of MLB.TV when I tuned in to the game almost every night. I watched the Magic Number get smaller and smaller and smaller. And then it happened-- our Magic Number was zero. 

We started talking more and more about the Cleveland Indians in class, and I had the students write good luck messages to the team on our whiteboard. Some favorites included "The Boston teams looks like a baby next to you, Cleveland Indians" and "For the hot dogs!" We might have been big fans of the hot dog races...

Each night, I stayed up waaaay past my bedtime (thank you, two hour time difference) and watched as the Indians were up 1-0, then 2-0, and then as they swept the Boston freakin' Red Sox. It was like a dream come true-- the Cleveland Indians were Central Division Champs

I'll admit, I kind of thought that's where things would end for us. We'd done so well, I figured that the other shoe just had to drop. 

Sweeter words have never been spoken.
But it didn't.  We went on to play the Toronto Blue Jays, and I spent all week receiving picture and video messages of the games from my best friend and brother.  At the end of the week, against all odds and circumstances, and a really unfortunate drone accident, we walked away ALDS champions. 

I think that I went to school with a smile on my face every day for two weeks. The Cleveland Indians, MY Cleveland Indians, were going to the World Series.

I watched Games One through Three on MLB TV and cheered alone in my room. And then I started making plans. I spontaneously bought an incredibly expensive ticket to be home to attend the watch parties for Games 5-7, although I secretly hoped we would have already crushed the Chicago Cubs by then. I didn't, and don't, regret a single penny spent on that ticket.

Upon boarding my flight home, I looked for a flight attendant who looked like they would know a thing or two about baseball and asked if there was a way for them to keep me posted on the score throughout the flight. He looked at me with a questioning look and asked "...What sport is the World Series for?" I had clearly chosen the wrong flight attendant. 

They weren't able to keep me updated, which is okay because I passed out cold for the entire flight and I woke up to at least 50 text messages from my friends and family telling me all about how Cleveland had killed the Cubs in a 7-2 game, how Kipnis hit a three-run homer at Wrigley Field, and how the Indians were up 3-1 in the WORLD SERIES. I couldn't wait to be home.

That night, my family and I bundled up and headed down to the stadium for the watch party. It was freezing, but it was worth it. After all, it's not every day that your team makes it to the World Series. The only thing that would have made it better would have been, you know, a win. But it was okay, the Indians were coming home to win it all in Cleveland.

Over the next few days, you could feel the excitement in Cleveland. It was everywhere. Everywhere I turned, someone was wearing a Tribe shirt. Every single cashier and I talked about how this year was our year and how we couldn't handle the stress of going to Game SevenCleveland felt so alive.

Obviously, Joey and I were unable to actually purchase tickets to watch the games from inside the stadium, but that didn't stop us from driving downtown and watching the game in the plaza next door. It was packed. It was crazy. It was the next best thing to actually being inside the stadium. 

 On the first night, we watched the Indians fall to the Cubs again. But it was okay. We were disappointed, but we still had Game 7. We could do this. Plus, we all had free Doritos Locos Tacos waiting for us at Taco Bell the following day, courtesy of Fransico Lindor and his stolen base.

Thanks Frankie, you da best. 
The next night, we headed downtown again. And again, like the night before, we stood in the plaza between the Jake and Q and cheered on our Tribe. We were bummed, and upset, when we were losing in the first. We shouted angry cheers when Joe Buck was shown on the screen. We all cheered Jose, Jose, Jose when my dude, JRam, was up to bat. There has never been a happier group of people than we were when Rajai Davis tied the game in the eighth. Strangers hugged each other. People cried. We were in it to win it. Lebron knows what's up.


In the end, the Cubs won. Their drought was over and ours lives on for another year.

For the next few days, Cleveland fans were met with many "who blew a 3-1 lead now" a la Golden State versus the Cavs. And, of course, we came back with a "Well, we were missing three of our best players and lost by one run in extra innings of Game 7, sooooo..." The fans took their lead from the players and the management, who must be some of the best in baseball. The players were proud of what they had done and they were disappointed in the loss, but they weren't angry. And, in turn, the fans weren't angry either. Not the real fans anyways. We shared in their disappointment and in their pride. We were all consoled, and even congratulated, by Cubs fans who recognized what it meant for Cleveland to be in the World Series and how hard of a fight we put up.

Cleveland against the world. Cleveland or no where. Cleveland that I love.

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