It was just two years ago that the Red Sox sent home Martinez's Indians in a brutal Game 7 loss at Boston in the American League Championship Series. Cleveland led the series 3-1 before losing the final three games. The players were crushed. On the plane home, Martinez and Sabathia — teammates since low-A ball — sat next to each other. They were emotional, teary-eyed, as they reminisced about their time together.
Martinez, always emotionally attuned to the moment, confessed to Sabathia his thoughts about the future.
"That might be the last time we're all together, in this position," he said to his friend.
That bit of nostalgia comes from this piece by Amy K. Nelson at ESPN on Victor Martinez adapting to his new team in Boston.
A similar sentiment or phrase might have been uttered among many an Indians fan to the Indians fan seated next to him that same night, if only we had any inkling of the calamitous and precipitous collapse that would soon ensnare our baseball team. Maybe we all knew, after all, it's not everyday your team's on the verge of a World Series berth, and it's definitely not something you get used to, even if they've been there twice in twelve years. But even if we did know, we were probably too busy throwing nachos at the TV and deliriously interrogating the Chief Wahoo on our hats about why exactly he was so freaking happy to mumble anything other than vulgarities to each other. I'm sure the physical demonstrations got the point across though.
I mean, it goes without saying, but it bears repeating: The Indians were one win away from the World Series two short years ago, and now Cliff and Vic and Garko and Betancourt and others — the same guys, with the exception of Cliff, standing on the field during the Game 7 loss in Boston — are playing for other teams. Including Boston. The freaking Red Sox. I mean, son of a bitch, right?
Seeing Vic in a Red Sox uniform could be just the prelude, however. As we mercifully count down the days until this season ends, October baseball still looms. Considering the number of former Wahoos littered around the rosters of playoff contenders, I began thinking about what I would like to see least when the postseason actually begins and just what my reaction might be to yet another swift bitch slap from God upon the humble and steadfast masses of Cleveland sports fans.
Ranked on a scale of "Better Not Happen Because I Might Punch My TV And Thusly Be Unable to Watch the Cavs" to "Wouldn't Care."
1. Victor Martinez Hits a Game-Winning Homer in ALCS or Later at Fenway
When asked about his thoughts on the recent Indians trades, a friend recently wrote to me, "Something happened to me when Shapiro traded Victor. It stopped being my team. I told my son to find another team. They're dead to me."
That's a pretty common theme among disgruntled Indians fans. The contingent of forward-thinking, rational loyalists who believe it was a smart move to send Vic eastward might have a few less members if this occurs. Mainly because the Red Sox "nation" is unbearable to begin with, and to see them celebrating wildly while Martinez circles the bases and slowly (remember, this is still Vic we're talking about) approaches the awaiting mob of Papelbon and Ortiz and Youkilis at home would be simply disgusting.
2. Cliff Lee vs. C.C. Sabathia, Game 1 of the World Series, Yankee Stadium.
Gut punch. Only possible way to describe this scenario. Sure, on one hand, it would be kind of cool, in a way, to watch these two square off merely from a baseball standpoint.
Just a bitter reminder that two short years ago our ace faltered in the playoffs against the Red Sox, got shipped out during the next season, only to make room for another ace to stake his claim at the top of the rotation — and they're both freaking gone. Cue replays of the Indians vs. Red Sox 2007 ALCS during every available moment of the broadcast and incessant, depressing Indians talk from the ill-equipped announcers. Then cue me, attempting to fit the remote in my eye.
The only salvation in this case is if C.C. falls apart, just like he did for us in the playoffs. Since the trade to Philadelphia, Cliff Lee is like 123-0 with a -0.124 ERA for the Phillies, or something like that. And he plays in the NL, so I'm rooting for him.
In fact, that's the basis of my bias. Can't be the Yankees or Red Sox. For all I care, Mark DeRosa could hit 32 homers in the playoffs for the Cardinals and single-handedly carry them to the World Series. Rafael Betancourt could convert to a starter and toss a perfect game for the Rockies. Ryan Garko could turn into Albert Pujols for a few months. Don't care.
As long as what transpires has nothing to do with what used to be the Indians best players, playing for the teams I hate the most, I can happily watch baseball the rest of the year. Even if that nacho stain from 2007 hasn't come completely clean yet.