Indians fans dealt new dose of frustration

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 3, 2005

Now, you can teach your children about what it means to be a Cleveland sports fan.

You don't have to go into those old horror stories about "The Drive," "The Fumble," "The Shot." You don't need to dredge up Jose Mesa and Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. You can just point to this weekend, and how being a Cleveland sports fan means having your heart broken.

Only, this was a little different.

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No one expected the Indians to enter the final weekend of the season with 93 victories and a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. No one imagined that they'd have baseball's best record in the final two months of the season. No one thought that they'd finish this season winning only one of the final six home games.

Not when they returned to Jacobs Field with a 92-64 record and leading the wild-card race.

This was one of the best Indian summers in years, full of surprise endings, emerging stars, and a very likeable group of players overachieving. That remains the truth, despite losing 3-1 to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.

If you're a real Tribe fan, your head tells you all that.

But your heart still aches.

It aches because the Indians finished the season with six home games, and all they needed to do was win three to at least force a one-game playoff for a ticket to the postseason. Four wins meant the postseason.

They won one game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a talented but young team with a lame duck manager.

They won none against the White Sox, who had clinched the American League Central Division and were resting many of their regular players.

They sent fans home shaking their heads, not so much angry as sad.

So why does your heart ache today?

Because you know the window of opportunity doesn't open often around here, and it was just slammed on your fingers. That's what it felt like Sunday at Jacobs Field.


It was a sellout crowd of 41,034. There were fans on their feet every time the Indians had a runner on base, every time a pitcher needed a big out. There was a huge sign reading I BELIEVE.

They certainly wanted to believe, especially in this final six days of the season.

When the game was over Sunday, many of the fans stood and applauded for the team. Then they were allowed on the field to walk around the bases. Many of them stayed to do just that.

As they did, the song Don't Be Cruel was on the public address system.

Most of the fans weren't, they just seemed sad, like they knew something like this would happen. Like it always seems to happen to their favorite teams.

You know the Indians are headed in the right direction, that there really is reason for hope about next year and to feel good about this one.

But right now, it might just hurt a little too much to think about that.

Terry Pluto is a sports columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal.