One thing I should have anticipated before the season began, but I did not, was the streaky nature of the 2013 Cleveland Indians. I was kind of sucked into the notion that they would be more consistent because of a better mix of veterans. That will eventually be true in my opinion but not yet. What I failed to factor in (and I bet most fans did as well) was the huge culture shift caused by the number of veterans coming from different organizations and different baseball “cultures”. One of the strongest influences on the 90s Indians, aside from their immense talent, was a system-wide belief that they would win and win consistently. The majority of our veteran base came from very different backgrounds but all with a modest or high level of recent success. Bourn came from a broken organization (Astros) into a highly successful organization (Braves) but saw a monumental collapse at the end of last year similar to the Indians. Swisher came from a consistently winning organization but with their own cultural challenges (Yankees). Aviles came from a recently consistent organization who had a horrible 2012 (Red Sox). Stubbs came from a very good and improving organization who has not quite found the way to make it over the hump (Reds). Rayburn came from a recently solid organization with an expectation of winning (Tigers) but was forgotten there. Shaw/Albers came from a solid young organization where they have had decent success (Diamondbacks). Hill was nomadic and almost a AAAA player. Kazmir came from the scrap heap (I say that will all due affection). Jimenez came from an organization who doesn’t seem to have a consistent culture (Rockies). Giambi has not had many consistent ABs over the past few years but has a world of “cred” from winning organizations (Oakland/Yankees). The rest of the team was basically young and from an organization (Indians) that has, frankly, had no consistent culture and is back to trying to find itself again. The fact that the majority of the rest of the roster went through the most painful August collapse in Cleveland history adds to the intrigue of our new cultural development.
As I now look at all of this with a large part of the season gone, I might have anticipated a rocky and less than consistent approach and culture from this team. They have spent all season trying to “find themselves” as a team. Francona has been completely aware of this when he keeps saying “I like my guys”. He is confident, as I think we all should be as fans, that the diverse cultures brought to the 2013 Indians will settle in and develop into a winning attitude and expectation. As usual, I think Terry will be right even though he anticipated the inconsistency better than I ever did. He knew that to develop a culture and to find an identity could not happen overnight with this diverse group. As you watch the clubhouse now and realize what they went through with that horrible stretch of baseball, an identity is developing. And that identity is not one of losing or a lack of confidence. This team is just beginning to believe in themselves as a group and it would be anticipated that this will carry over as the season progresses. No team played much worse than the Indians in their most recent stretch. Conversely, no team has played much better in their two stretches around that horrible baseball.
The Indians organization is in a good position to succeed and will go, as we all have said from the beginning, as far as their pitching will take them. I have no doubt that the team placed on the field every day is vastly superior to the 2012 team as I have said all along. We need to do our part and recognize that some of this inconsistency should have been expected and act accordingly. I am proud to be an Indians fan and expect great things, if not from the 2013 Indians, in the years ahead.