Saturday, June 24, 2006


I am going to make a bold prediction in the hopes that it will somehow utilize reverse psychology:
The Indians will win exactly one more game before the all-star break. I don't know when or where, but they will win one game and no more. When you consider the Reds, Cardinals and Yankees make up the bulk of the schedule between now and then, it's not that far-fetched a prediction.
And here's another educated guess: unless this team's attitude changes drastically, the Indians will lose 100 games, something they haven't done since losing a team-record 105 in 1991.
But that team had no talent as an excuse. This team is bad for reasons that aren't yet totally clear. We just know it has its roots between the ears.
The Indians are already on pace for 90 losses and it's only June. Another month of awful baseball could easily put them on pace for 100 losses.
One hundred losses would mean 62 wins, which would be a 31-game drop from a year ago. That's with 100 losses even. It's entirely possible that this team could threaten 110 losses if they never figure out a way to apply the emergency brake.
Think I'm being a frustrated, overreacting fan right now? Yeah, maybe. But if I'm frustrated, the Indians players are downright depressed. C.C. Sabathia admitted to throwing in the towel in Wednesday's blowout loss to the Cubs (a pretty bad team in their own right).
The postgame comments of manager Eric Wedge are growing more exasperated with each passing game. Wedge, his coaches, his players and the front office are all flabbergasted. They have no idea what is happening.
Fans want Wedge gone. Fans want trades galore. That won't solve anything. The misperception is that this team needs to be jolted awake. They are awake, and staring in horror at what their season is becoming. Taking a figurative machete to the clubhouse will probably just weaken this team's resolve even more.
If the Indians lose 100 games, you can rest assured Wedge will be gone. Rare is the manager who follows a 90-win season with a 100-loss season and keeps his job.
I am more concerned about what happens to Mark Shapiro. Some fans think he's a dope. Those fans are wrong. He had a bad offseason that could have been prevented if the Indians had more money to spend.
Shapiro talks about liking his life here. But if the Washington Nationals come calling for Shapiro -- a D.C. area native -- he might jump at the chance. The big-market Nationals will be able to compete with the likes of the Braves, Orioles and Phillies on the free agent market once the new ownership group is in place. The Nationals will be able to offer Shapiro the knowledge that he will head into many an offseason able to be competitive for free agents.
If Shapiro takes over a team like the Nationals, I'll bet he leads them to a World Series title within five years. You know that's how things go in Cleveland. Players and executives who fail here go on to win titles elsewhere. It's only a matter of time before Butch Davis is hoisitng the Vince Lombardi Trophy and being hailed as a coaching genius.
The same might go for Wedge. He'll learn from his mistakes here and resurface elsewhere as the second coming of Casey Stengel.
Meanwhile, Indians fans can look forward to a new era with John Farrell as the GM and Brad Komminsk as the manager. They can also look forward to C.C. Sabathia winning a Cy Young Award with the San Francisco Giants and Travis Hafner breaking the Cubs' curse, helping lift them to a World Series title around 2010.
When the Dolans finally give up and sell the team, it will probably be to a filthy rich, spend-crazy ownership regime ... that wants to move the team to Charlotte or Portland, Ore.
The rule in this city: it's never so bad that it can't get worse.

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