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    Screw it dude, let’s go to Cleveland (Part Two)

    Screw it dude, let’s go to Cleveland (Part Two)
    An ill-fated, yet still enjoyable, voyage to World Series Game Seven
    By Drew Pelto, AKA *censored*

    I had finally arrived and only missed two and a half innings. No matter what happened with the game, this would be a good trip to take. I could stock up on Stadium Mustard and Malley’s hot fudge, I could eat at Melt and The B-Spot, and of course visit my dad and go through some old family photos. Hopefully a parade would be involved at some point.

    “It is designed to break your heart…”
    But enough about the coming days. For now, baseball was all that mattered. I was at Game Seven of the World Series. Maybe I wasn’t inside, but I could see inside and was surrounded by thousands of fans that were just as excited, just as loud, and just as hopeful as those inside the fence. I was there as much as anyone else was.

    I strolled through the crowd after texting my friends that I was there and trying to get to them. As I walked through the packed crowd a hand reached out and grabbed me.

    It was Quinn. Ari and Brandon—neither of whom I had seen in four and eleven years, respectively— greeted me with a “PELTO! Alright, he’s here, we can start winning now.”


    And start winning we... almost did.

    They weren’t too far off. It was a 1-0 game at this point. I had heard about it on the train that Dexter Fowler led off the game with a home run. The Tribe half of the third started off with a Coco Crisp double, the cheers drowning out Tom Hamilton’s call as we watched it live on the big screens. A bunt moved him over, and then Carlos Santana tied it up with a single.

    Maybe for once, I wasn’t the jinx, but rather the good luck charm…

    “The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again…”
    If I was, it didn’t appear to last long. The fears I had of Corey Kluber not being at his best following three days rest proved accurate. The Cubs got a single, a hit-by-pitch on a 0-2 count, fielder’s choice, and sac fly for a 2-1 lead, made 3-1 by a Contreras double. A one-two-three bottom of the fourth started the nail biting as the Plaza crowd got quieter.

    Kluber’s night ended after one pitch in the fifth, as Javier Baez hit one halfway to Bratenahl. Andrew Miller, the stopper throughout the playoffs, developed a leak as a rare walk led to run number five with Kris Bryant being driven in by Anthony Rizzo. After a pair of outs to lead off the fifth, we discussed leaving and watching the rest from over at The Greenhouse.

    In Boston, Terry Francona had Kevin Youkilis, The Greek God of Walks. In Cleveland, he had Carlos Santana who has finished top-three in the AL in walks in each of the last six seasons. True to that, he kept the inning alive with a free pass. Kyle Hendricks’ night ended, and in came the switch of Jon Lester on the mound and David Ross behind the plate. Perhaps this would be a good time to exploit Ross’ defensive deficiencies and Lester’s unwillingness to throw to first. While Santana isn’t a speedster, that combination doesn’t need raw speed so much as smart baserunning or a little luck. Maybe a little of all of those things.

    It all came to fruition on a tapper in front of the plate. Ross fielded it… and threw it away, allowing Santana and Jason Kipnis to get into scoring position with Frankie Lindor coming to the plate. Lindor didn’t even need to put the bat on the ball: a wild pitch brought both plateward, and suddenly it was back to a two-run deficit.


    *Doink!*

    We decided maybe we should stick around.

    “…and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings…”
    Andrew Miller’s sudden ineffectiveness reared its ugly head again in the sixth, as the normally offensively anemic David Ross atoned for his glove and arm issues with a solo home run. Disgust ran through the crowd: how does your best pitcher give up—not just a hit, but a home run— to a guy who had hit .200 since Mitt Romney had been considered a hot political commodity?

    A quiet sixth. A silent seventh. Cody Allen was his normally solid self, but the bats just couldn’t get going. At the start of the eighth, my feet were killing me. I told the guys I was going to go have a seat on the cement edge of the berm behind us.

    But again with two outs in the eighth, a baserunner. Baseball-Reference put the Cubs’ chances of winning at 94% at the time of the single. As Aroldis Chapman entered the game, we felt that you might as well put that to 100%.

    I couldn’t see the screens from my seat, only hear a bit when the crowd was quiet. With a full count on Brandon Guyer, suddenly the crowd on the Plaza went nuts. A double off of possibly the most dominant arm in the game cut the deficit back to two. I told them that if I move from my spot, they need to just shove me back down. Even fans I didn’t know were getting into the act. Maybe my possible good luck was back.

    I tried hard not to entertain even the thought that this would be a nice time for Rajai Davis to break his playoff slump with a game-tying home run. It just seemed so unlikely that even thinking about it would ensure it wouldn’t happen. Seeing as he was 3 for 32 in the playoffs to this point and hadn’t gone yard since August 30, all we could really hope for was maybe a single to put runners at the corners and see if Coco could do something again.

    I couldn’t hear Hammy’s radio call. The “Let’s Go Tribe” chants on the Plaza and from the stadium were just too loud at this point. I still couldn’t see the screens from my seat.

    All I knew was that suddenly, there was bedlam.

    Screaming. Hugs. High-fives. Jumping around crazier than the last Dropkick Murphys pit I was in.

    And fireworks.

    Davis had done it and we were tied. I didn’t even see it until the next morning. But I experienced it, and that was far more memorable than if I had seen it from anywhere else.


    The biggest hit in Cleveland history. And Lebron approves.

    The entire tone had changed on the Plaza. A once-moribund crowd that was being openly taunted by bellicose Cubs fans without response now seemed ready to take on all comers. Cleveland Against The World suddenly felt like more than just a saying, but was something we could actually accomplish.

    “…and then as soon as the chill rains come…”
    The weather started changing in the bottom of the ninth as a light drizzle began to fall and the wind picked up. Cody Allen seemed to be affected by it, pitches not quite hitting their location, followed by Yan Gomes’ throw to second going into the outfield on Jason Heyward’s steal of second and subsequent advancement to third. But Bryan Shaw entered, got out of the inning, and the rain let off for a moment.

    Bottom nine. Top of the order. A rattled Chapman. This was our time…

    With one out, Jason Kipnis came to the plate. A Chicago native, he had dreamed of this moment—but almost certainly for the opposition.

    Contact.

    A fly ball to right.

    The wind helping it…
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    Just foul. Kipnis struck out eventually, followed by a Lindor flyout as the rains came again. Time to bring out the tarp as we went toward the overhang of Quicken Loans Arena.

    After the tarp came off, Bryan Shaw came back out, a move I immediately questioned. While the rain delay wasn’t long by most standards, typically when a pitcher—especially a reliever—sits for that long, he’s gotten some run support. Clearly this wasn’t the case and with a couple pitchers ready out in the bullpen, this would have been a good time to turn to one of them.

    My fears were proven correct: when the dust settled, two runs were in and the bases were loaded with one out. Trevor Bauer put out the flames but the damage was done. The Indians were down to their last chance.

    Carl Edwards got a pair of quick outs before Brandon Guyer worked a two-out walk. Other than their first run of the game, every Tribe run had come with two outs. The magic couldn’t run out just yet. The chanting willed them on. It was all we had left. As Guyer advanced to second on the first pitch to Rajai Davis, we hoped that just maybe that bat had one more home run in it. Or a double. Even just a single would at least keep it alive.

    Line drive, base hit. 8-7 game. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. There still was a nervous excitement on the Plaza, the hope that never dies when you’re a Cleveland fan. The metaphorical “Next Year” finally came for us with the Cavs in June. Could it finally come for the Indians in November?

    This would have been Coco Crisp’s spot to bat, a chance to continue his playoff heroics, but he had been removed an inning prior to improve the outfield arms in the event of a fly ball when Heyward was at third with one out. A new Chicago pitcher enters. An 0-1 count to Michael Martinez. A tapper to third…

    “…it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”
    Silence on the Plaza.

    A few hundred feet away, several thousand Cubs fans celebrated. Another several thousand Clevelanders cursed their fellow Tribe fans who valued money over fandom and sold their tickets to the alien scourge from the Windy City.

    The dream season was over.

    And once again, we sit and we wait for that near-mythical Next Year to come, as modern-day Gatsbys waiting and hoping, staring at the green light, that dream for something that “eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch our arms out farther… So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

    Let the countdown begin to 2017.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Drew Pelto may or may not have cried while writing this. He currently lives in Texas but wants to move back to Ohio with his wife and two cats soon.


    Don't ever change, Cleveland.

    0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
    Last edited by *censored*; 11-27-2016 at 01:14 AM.

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