By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor
WAIT UNTIL NEXT year! That’s a horrible thing to hear or say, but when you are a fan of the Cleveland Indians it’s a common phrase season after season.
Since that wonder year when the Tribe last won the World Series in 1948 — I was 10 months old at the time — it has been a series of poor performances mixed in with a few close calls.
And it looks like 2013 might be more of the same after the team was swept in Atlanta by the Braves. Yes, the Braves have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. But you can’t score just 3 runs in 3 games and expect to be a playoff contender.
At the start of the season, I would have said that the hitting would be one of the best things about the Indians. But while it wasn’t too bad early on, it got progressively worse as the season went on.
So why hasn’t the Tribe changed hitting coaches? Isn’t it the job of the hitting coach to watch the players and figure out what their problems might be at the plate?
Anybody remember the 1997 Indians when every player in the lineup was batting over .300. While that obviously is very rare, it would be nice if even one player on this year’s team was over .300. Or close to it!
The starting pitching has been terrific, and if they had any kind of quality hitting they would be leading the division and/or the wild card race. And even with shaky hitting the Indians still have a shot, yet they did nothing at the trade deadline to boost that part of the game.
While the Tribe still has a slim shot at the playoffs, it can’t happen unless the hitting magically comes around. Other than that, we Tribe fans will be reiterating a common phrase:
Wait until next year!
Meanwhile the Pirates are still in the thick of it, but it will be tough coming down the stretch. We can only cross our fingers and hope that the Buccos can hang on and slip into the postseason as a wild card if not the division champs.
And Pittsburgh fans definitely are putting a lot of hope in the Pirates after watching the pathetic preseason performances of the Steelers. There is something greatly missing with that team. After not making the playoffs last season, I thought the team would be ready to make a statement. But to me it looks like the veterans are lacking in focus, which filters down to the youngsters.
Unless the young Steelers’ line shapes up it will be a long season for the Black & Gold in a division where they very well could finish last.
While that would be a welcome sight to Browns fans, it really isn’t that great, unless the Browns are at the top of the division. Although Cleveland should be much improved, I don’t see that happening.
To me, 8-8 would be a good record for the Browns and anything better would be a true blessing.
Lynn Saternow is sports editor of The Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.