Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hail, Hail To The Tribe!

Shades of 1920!

Getty Images/AP Photos
The Cleveland Indians (yes, the Indians) are on a rampage. With their impressive 20-9 record they became the first team in the major leagues to win 20 games this season. The Tribe posted their 20th win one day before the mighty Philadelphia Phillies, who are also 20-9, did so. They are doing it with great hitting, great starting pitching, great bullpen and great everything. The whole enchilada. I guess to be 20-9, you need all components of your team running on all cylinders and the Indians are on all cylinders right now.

This is the 6th time in their history that the Indians are the first team to 20 wins. They also did it in 1916, 1920, 1952, 1954 and 1999. So which one of these teams will the 2011 Indians emulate?

Here's a look at how those teams ended up after being the first to 20 wins--

1) The 1916 team pretty much fell apart and ended up with a 77-77 (.500) record and 6th in the American League. It's safe to say Indians fans don't want their current team to emulate this team.
2) The 1920 team, led by their player-manager, the immortal Tris Speaker, ended up with a whopping 98-56 (.636) record. They won the American League and went on to defeat the Brooklyn Robins, 5-2, in the World Series. The 1920 World Champion Indians sound more feasible to Cleveland fans, I'm sure.
3) The 1952 team wound up with an impressive 93-61 (.604) record BUT ended up in second place behind the New York Yankees. Remember prior to 1969 only 1 team made the playoffs in each league and the only playoff round was the World Series back in those days. So obviously, a second place finish is unacceptable to the championship-thirsty Cleveland fans.
4) The 1954 Indians-- who doesn't know about this team? They ended up with one of the best records in major league history at 111-43 (.721). The team featured 4 Hall of Famers in Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Early Winn and Larry Doby. They had a lethal pitching staff and a monster lineup BUT astonishingly enough, wound up getting swept, 4-0, by the New York Giants in the World Series. To this day, the outcome still mind-boggles the entire baseball world and the city of Cleveland. Not good.
5) The 1999 Indians ended up with a 97-65 (.599) record and were the AL Central Division champions. These were the great Indians teams of the 90's which featured stars like Manny Ramirez, David Justice, Kenny Lofton, Sandy Alomar Jr., Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Omar Vizquel, Travis Fryman, and on and on, BUT!!!!, they wound up losing in the ALDS to the Boston Red Sox, 3-2. So late 90's Indians? Not good either.

1920 World Champion Indians - Click on image to view larger
So I guess it's a no-brainer that the obvious choice of all the "quickest to 20 wins" Indians teams for this year's team to emulate is the 1920 world championship club. Although the 111 wins of the '54 team would be nice also, except of course, not the World Series result. I think the 1995 and 1997 World Series disappointments is enough for the new generation of Indians fans to stomach. So let's not remind them of 1954.

Anyway, as a fan of the game, I hope the Tribe does something magical this year.

Go Tribe!!!!

Stats courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau and Wikipedia

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