September 20, 2005

They Just Play

Jayson Stark of

This can't be happening. Can it?

A 15-game lead, melting like the polar ice caps?

A magical season, turning messier than a mudslide?

This can't be happening. But it is. It's happening to those Chicago White Sox. Right before our eyes.

Seven weeks ago, the White Sox were 34 games over .500 -- and the Cleveland Indians were four over. Four.

So everybody who figured they'd be waking up on the morning of Sept. 20, finding those same two teams suddenly separated by 2½ games, raise your hands. We'd like to come hang out with you on your next trip to the Powerball machine...

...Whether the Indians want to know this or not, they are now within reach of doing something not just historic but borderline impossible. Wiping out a 15-game lead with two months to play? What are the odds of that?

Stark goes on to document the worst ever historical collapses by first place teams for perspective. I wasn't aware that the White Sox were so close to making baseball history. The whole Stark piece is must reading for Tribe fans.

Count me as still skeptical that we can overtake the White Sox. But I am amazed at what has happened to and for the Indians in the last 45 games or so. When they were 60-52 after winning six of seven, I figured that if they could go 15-5 against the Royals and the Devil Rays and play .500 ball (15-15) against everybody else, they could reach 90 wins, the upper end of anyone's April expectation of what this team could do.

Soon after that came the deflating sweep at home by the Devil Rays, but the Indians are 25-7 since that debacle, and have lost consecutive games only once during that stretch. That leaves them two short of 90 with 12 games to play, and now the only question is how many wins over 90 it will take to make the playoffs one way or another.

And to be fair, if I'm linking back to April's 90-win prognostication, I have to also recall my post-All Star Game blues when I said they didn't look like a playoff-caliber team. Never more glad to be wrong.

Posted by dan at September 20, 2005 3:21 PM