Sometimes, the best team runs empty at the worst time

New York YankeesAfter the Yankees beat the Dodgers in the 1953 World Series, Duke Snider swore to New York Herald-Tribune writer Roger Kahn, much later to write The Boys of Summer, ”I still say we’re the better team.” The ’53 Dodgers owned the National League but lost the Series to the Yankees in five.

“That’s the hell of it,” Kahn replied. “That’s the rottenest thing in this life, isn’t it? The best team doesn’t always get to win.”

The Bird was the word

This is how you flip the Bird to Andrew Miller when Miller throws a rare errant fastball . . .

This is how you flip the Bird to Andrew Miller when Miller throws a rare errant fastball . . .

Andrew Miller, who’s only human in spite of his reputation, knew the split second Greg Bird swung his bat Sunday that the fastball he threw the Baby Bomber wasn’t long for this world. It wasn’t even long for Yankee Stadium.

Miller had just ended a bases loaded threat when he got Starlin Castro to pop out to the back of the infield an inning earlier. Now, Miller had just thrown Bird a pair of sliders Bird couldn’t have hit with a shovel. And then it came.

The replay that wasn’t abets the surreality that was

Francisco Lindor celebrates the grand slam he smashed after Yankee skipper Joe Girardi failed to challenge whether Lonnie Chisenhall, hitting ahead of him, really was hit by a pitch to load the pads . . .

Francisco Lindor celebrates the grand slam he smashed after Yankee skipper Joe Girardi failed to challenge whether Lonnie Chisenhall, hitting ahead of him, really was hit by a pitch to load the pads . . .

When the pros and cons of instant replay come under debate, as they still do even after it’s become entrenched, bet on it. Yankee manager Joe Girardi will be questioned for seasons to come over why he didn’t call for one in the bottom of the sixth Friday.

The Indians’ version of Trevor Time

It was Trevor Time in Cleveland Thursday.

It was Trevor Time in Cleveland Thursday.

A pitcher whose thing for drones almost cost the Indians a trip to last year’s World Series. A hitter who sometimes seemed like the unwanted man, the subject of trade rumours almost from the moment the Mets landed him in July 2016, until the Indians agreed to take his full salary on in a waiver-period deal with the Mets in August.

Weren’t Trevor Bauer and Jay Bruce the least likely guys you thought would give the Indians the first big leg up in their American League division series?

Tough for even the best to hit the Indians’ pitching

Get your runs now---Miller Time is coming . . .

Get your runs now—Miller Time is coming . . .

If good pitching beats good hitting, the Indians go into this postseason with a distinct advantage over the competition. Even over those yummy young Yankees. And if good hitting beats good pitching, a few postseason bullpens have key vulnerabilities. Rather than bore you with why I think everyone else can just hurry up and wait for the Indians to claim this year what they nearly did last, let’s expand upon those two thoughts.

Fifty years ago, the Hawk’s forgotten sneak preview

Ken Harrelson, a young Kansas City Athletic, before Charlie Finley inadvertently shoved him to show a sneak peek at what players could get on a fair and open market in 1967 . . .

Ken Harrelson, a young Kansas City Athletic, before Charlie Finley inadvertently shoved him to show a sneak peek at what players could get on a fair and open market in 1967 . . .

When you think of the advent of baseball’s free agency era, you think of Curt Flood, Catfish Hunter, and Andy Messersmith first, and in that order. As Ted Simmons phrased it, following the Messersmith ruling of 1975, “Curt Flood stood up for us. Jim Hunter showed us what was out there. Andy showed us the way.”

The streak is over, but wasn’t that a time?

Mike Minor (right) gets to brag that he finished off the Indians' American League record winning streak.

Mike Minor (right) gets to brag that he finished off the Indians’ American League record winning streak.

All good things must come to their finish, sooner or later. The Indians and their fans would have preferred the streak to finish later, of course, and likewise most of baseball and its lovers. But as the ancient folk song says, “Wasn’t that a time?”

“What they did over there was amazing,” said Royals manager Ned Yost, after his charges hung on for the 4-3 win that put an end to the Indians’ romp. “I mean, it’s utterly amazing. It’s just unfathomable for me that you can go three weeks without losing a game. I mean, it was a tremendous accomplishment.”

For the Indians, it’s blackjack

Ramirez and Lindor are only two Indians with a lot to celebrate as it seems they've forgotten entirely how to lose . . .

Ramirez and Lindor are only two Indians with a lot to celebrate as it seems they’ve forgotten entirely how to lose . . .

Twenty-one means blackjack. Or, the name of the show proving the wick that lit the powder keg of the legendarily notorious quiz show scandal of 1959. In Cleveland, it means American League history. And, for the time being, anyway, invincibility.

Look out, 1935 Chicago Cubs? Step aside, 1916 New York Giants? The Indians aren’t that crazy no matter how invincible they feel after finishing off the teetering Tigers 5-3 Wednesday afternoon. But you wouldn’t blame them for thinking about it, either.

The merry-go-round goes round (and round, and round) for the Indians

It's getting to be a daily habit---Indians celebrating wins, that is . . .

It’s getting to be a daily habit—Indians celebrating wins, that is . . .

Don’t look now, but the Dodgers have turned from everybody’s runaway train to a trainwreck losing nine straight and fourteen of fifteen. And the Indians—as in, the guys who got thatclose to winning the World Series last year—have picked up where the Dodgers left off and won seventeen straight.

Right now the Indians look like the team to beat who may be next to impossible to beat. May. And that’s without Miller Time.

The Yankees fumble on their new toy’s dime

Gray started his life as a Yankee with a 2-0 deficit not of his own making on a night Corey Kluber was impossible to hit . . .

Gray started his life as a Yankee with a 2-0 deficit not of his own making on a night Corey Kluber was impossible to hit . . .

Once upon a time, Athletics fans hailed a Sonny Gray start with a banner on the railing reading, “Forecast: Sonny with Chance of Strikeouts.” For Gray’s Yankee debut against Corey Kluber and the Indians, you could have forgiven Indians fans if they’d thought to hang one reading, “Forecast: Sonny with Chance of Errors.”