The Cleveland Indians’ 2012 season is shaping up to be eerily similar to 2011. In both years, the Tribe played well early, surprised everyone by grabbing the lead in their division, reached their high point at about 10 games over .500, and then tried to hang on for dear life. In 2011, the Tribe ultimately collapsed and fell far behind the Tigers. With the Tribe in the midst of a six-game losing streak and now five games under .500, 2012 looks like it will be a carbon copy of 2011.
The problem is obvious. The starting pitching has been fine, and the bullpen has kept the team in games. Unfortunately, the Tribe can’t score runs — and you have to score if you want to win in baseball. The Indians’ roster is filled with .230 and .240 hitters with little power; the glory days of the 1990s offensive wrecking crews that featured Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, and Omar Vizquel, among others, are increasingly distant memories. Opposing pitchers must rub their hands with glee when they get a chance to face the banjo hitters wearing the Chief Wahoo caps.
It’s hard to complain too much about the Tribe. The organization is trying to be competitive on a shoestring with a team made up of prospects, retreads, and long shots. This year, like last year, it looks like lightning won’t be striking.
Although it’s disappointing to see the Tribe once again skidding to oblivion, I have to thank the team for making the first part of the season interesting. The Tribe kept me intrigued until football training camps opened — and that’s a start.