Sure, the Indians lost 2-0 to the Athletics last night. Sure, C.C. Sabathia was outdueled by Danny Haren, a youngster with World Series experience and a nasty splitter. But Monday wasn't a total loss for the Indians. In fact, Monday could be a very important day three weeks from now.
While the Indians were busy beating Haren's pitches into the infield grass, coins were on their side. The Indians won all three coin tosses to determine who would host playoff tiebreaker games should the regular season end with one or more ties for playoff spots.
If the Indians tie the White Sox for the division, or the Yankees or Athletics for the wild card, Cleveland would host any playoff game.
Silly me. I thought head-to-head record determined where the games would be played. The Indians would be glad I was wrong. They lost the season series against the Yankees, are unlikely to win the season series with the White Sox, and are currently up on the A's by a scant 4-3 margin.
Monday ended a long string of coin-flipping futility among Cleveland teams. The Indians were 0-3 in playoff-game coin flips at the end of the 2000 season. It ended up not mattering, as the Indians missed the playoffs by one game that year. In 2002, the Browns lost a series of coin flips that sorted out a knot of 7-9 teams in the draft order. The Browns fell to 16th and picked running back William Green, who is only still on the roster due to a forgiving coach and general manager, and a threatened holdout by starter Reuben Droughns last spring.
"I told Eric Wedge I am packing up and heading for Las Vegas," The Plain Dealer quoted Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro as saying.
Hold up, Mark. See if these picks mean anything in three weeks before you go off to play the slots at the Belaggio. You team has to be there at the end before you can worry about hosting playoff games. There's still a lot of baseball to be played in the meantime.