Why Being Calm is the Rational Approach for Cleveland's Final Games

Hey! You! Yeah, you out there, my fellow Cleveland Indians fan. Just one thing to really say in the aftermath of this past Monday. And I'm going to be really clear with it, as best as I can.


Your Cleveland Indians are 2016 American League Central Champions and I'm telling you to settle because you aren't calm. You're getting all uppity and feisty about these games and the lineups and winning and trying and effort and...my head 'esplode.

Here's a guy telling us to calm down, but he USES ALL CAPS TO DO IT? HOW CAN SOMEONE REMAIN CALM WHEN THERE'S SHOUTING!?

Damn straight I'm telling you to remain calm and using shouting to do it. You need to hear it. And if I have to bang my head on John Adams's drum for you to hear me, I will. I know that there are some of you that are new to this idea of contention, but, settle down and listen to me. We're about to witness the Indians enter a new type of territory in regards to baseball. I know you aren't quite accustomed to it, because this is a rare position to be in for this team in the past decade.

But, here's a secret. This isn't the regular season, this isn't even a pennant race down the stretch or fighting for that last playoff spot. This is a series of games played over the course of a few weeks to determine who is the best in baseball. And Paul Hoynes narrative aside, it hasn't even ended before it started.

The thing is, it doesn't always go to the actual best team in baseball. I'm looking at you Chicago. The Cubs should rightfully be the favorites to take everything and if you wanted to play your money smart, that's what you would do.

But you most definitely are not guaranteed to come out a winner on that bet. 

So, do me a favor here and dial it back a bit in regards to whatever your thinking about the Indians in regards to this final week. Don't do me a favor, rather, do yourself and your blood pressure a favor. Chill the hell out. And hey, here's a novel idea. Enjoy it! How about bask a little in the glow. I mean, the Indians are doing it. There's no shame. This is team is damn good, and there's some entitlement in enjoying that.

For those not accustomed to this type of situation, this is what happens in baseball. A team clinches a division and are guaranteed a trip to the postseason. In this day, they're guaranteed an appearance in the ALDS and five games to prove themselves. They don't have to worry about a one-game playoff. They're in! And this Indians team got in on Monday. That gives them a whole six games to play that are absolutely 100-percent inconsequential to them making/not making the postseason. 

If Tito wants to bat Mike Martinez second, start Mike Clevinger (who was probably going to start at this juncture anyway), and play Chris Gimenez at third, he absolutely can. Set aside his lineup staying up until 4 AM getting hammered to celebrate their accomplishment, you have one thing and one thing only to worry about.

The ALDS and surviving an entire month of a different kind of baseball game. This team played 156 games trying to win them all to put themselves in that spot. Some, like Francisco Lindor, haven't had much of a break, especially when you single-out Lindor specifically into having to travel for the All-Star Game and play in it.

So before the month that Lindor et al. are asked to play every single day and give their maximum amount of effort, it makes the best baseball sense that rest be given. And, oh yeah, very few players play 162 games in a full season. Where were you in May when Lindor was granted a day off? Save your gripes for fielding a lineup comprised of mostly reserves and September call-ups, Tito got them ALL a break on Tuesday and went back to a more competitive lineup on Wednesday. He'll continue to manage the rest/rust decisions from here on out, as he should.

This is the advantage you gain in clinching your division a week early. You use that advantage. You don't squander it, especially to be "respectful" of another team's chances of making the postseason. You worry about what you need to do to win the World Series and everything else is background noise, just let it play and focus on what you have to do.

Oh, I know what argument is coming next. Just pocket it now. No? Okay fine, go ahead.

"But they still have something to play for, what about home field advantage?"

What about it? 

No really, what about it.

Look no further than this excellent piece of research from Adam Burke:

These are coin flips! It's completely 50-50. Which means, you literally cannot say it can go one way over the other. You can't, in your best Hoynes impression say "We'll the Indians don't have home field advantage, they aren't winning the ALDS!" Either "A" can happen or "B" can happen. Does that mean the Indians won't lose the first two games on the road if they end up in that situation. No, context is everything and each year and situation is different. But over the course of all these years, no one can say you definitively have the advantage by gaining home field in the first round or in the entire playoffs for that matter.

So why, at the expense of potentially losing someone to an injury or exhausting players would you fight so hard for something that comes down to you flipping a coin to determine the outcome? Why not take the true advantage of giving your players some quality rest prior to what has the potential to be a physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting month of baseball if the Indians are so lucky to play that long?

If you can make a decent argument to counter that, then I'll be all ears. But you are unlikely to convince me otherwise. What the Indians are doing in this final week is a good call. If they end up with an extra home game, great, awesome, fantastic, cool. If they don't? Hey, is Josh Tomlin starting at home in Game 3 really a bad thing compared to if he were to be starting in Game 3 in Fenway? My point, you can spin positives and negatives each way.

Yeah, you lose Game 5 advantage, but if you play well enough in Games 1-4, Game 5 becomes unnecessary, right? Again, these are all valid arguments that fall both ways.

Which is why you shouldn't be the one freaking out about not "trying" or the lack of winning this last week. The Indians earned the ability to not having to worry about winning these last few games. And save your "mentality" talk, because the focus has now shifted to worrying about winning the more important ones, and that is what this strategy sets up to do. This is the strategy the Indians are employing and it is soundly reasoned. It's backed with evidence to suggest it is logical.

So stop freaking out, calm down, settle your jitters, and hey, enjoy the aftermath of a division clinching season until the postseason starts. Hopefully it isn't nine years between this one and the next, but you never know when you may get a chance to bask in it again.

Picture: Getty Images


An Open Letter to Paul Hoynes

Dear Paul,

First off, hi, how do ya do? I'm the guy you blocked in Spring Training for arguing with you about Ryan Raburn hitting right handed pitching.

I think it's safe to say that I was at the forefront of the scorched earth movement against you Sunday morning. I was surprised when people kept talking about it well after I had. It turned into Sunday afternoon, and yep, even Sunday evening, it was still going on. Thanks in large part to the Indians bringing attention to it, and players like Bauer and Kipnis sounding off, I think what you wrote went further than you ever thought it would. I've made no secret, especially this year, that I don't think you have been very good at what you do, at least in the present time. So, when I saw the latest Hoynsie tweet that led to another Hoynsie piece that irked me, I had to say something.

I've done this before. I'm not shy about it and I have no problem challenging an opinion or statement if I don't agree with it. This is no different and it doesn't matter who it is. I would expect the same sort of accountability in regards to the things that I say and if someone disagrees, they challenge back. It's up to me to go from there. That is the case with anyone, right? I mean you especially, are paid to write and apparently, to give your opinion now too. So I guess before we go further, know that when I called you out earlier in the year on Raburn, I wasn't trolling you. But I'll get back to that in a second. First, the matter at hand.

Some people with a little more cache begun to chime in and some dropped some absolute bombs on you after I had ranted. I know you didn't see any of it because of the aforementioned blocking of me. But I know you saw Trevor Bauer and Jason Kipnis both lobbing some counter-fire towards you. It was probably made worse by you not being present on Sunday at the game because of your off day. And hey, days off a precious, I'm not blaming you for a scheduled break. Bauer may be a little harsh calling you a coward, but I'm sure there was a level of disappointment for essentially you saying he wasn't good enough to win.

The Indians Twitter account threw some subtle shade your way too, and man that was funny. Keith Law, ESPN columnist mentioned it, and when defended by another writer that covers another team, gave a quick retort about you having a bit of a track record of terrible "opinions".

Here's the problem that I have, and I don't want people to get crossed up on why what you wrote is bad. It's why I'm putting this out there because I think it is important to differentiate. It's important for you to know the different reasons people are upset and not to just write it off as you "saying what you said because you believe it" and not really caring why people are upset. I sincerely hope you at least care why people are upset.

A lot of people are irate that you are "dooming" the Indians right now and being negative. I get it. The players should absolutely be fired up about it. You are counting them out, telling them their eventual postseason berth will be nothing because a few of their teammates got injured. That's your cross to bear in the clubhouse with those players that are still there, fighting and playing hard until they're aren't allowed to anymore. Probably not the smartest thing for a guy who has to get his information and quotes from those same people you just counted out, but that was your decision to print. If you want to be providing an opinion, but still be covering the team, you will have to live with it. I'm sure you know this and recognize it, you've been at this long enough, right?

That's not where I derive my issues with what you wrote. It all stems from me posing this single question: What is your job description?

Is Paul Hoynes a beat-writer covering the team on a daily basis, looked upon to provide unbiased news and factual information to the reader in an effort to inform them so that they can form their own opinion (what NEWS is supposed to be and how we are supposed to react to it)? Or is Paul Hoynes an opinion columnist, paid to provide his opinion and analysis on a situation, where he can use the facts to make his argument however he sees fit?

This certainly doesn't read like an opinion piece, even though Jordan Bastian defended you Sunday afternoon. (I'm refraining from linking to the actual piece you wrote because I don't think it deserves any more clicks, but if someone wants to find it, I'm sure they'll seek it out.)
"CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Indians won a ballgame Saturday afternoon, but their postseason dreams ended.
Write it down. On Sept. 17, the Indians were eliminated from serious postseason advancement before they even got there.
They have 14 regular season games left and they'll eventually clinch their first AL Central title in nine years. But that's where it ends, because no team can withstand the losses the Indians have suffered over the last nine days.
The Indians have no one of equal caliber to replace them.
Headed into the best-of-five AL Division Series it's going to be Kluber and Trevor Bauer. The other two starters are Josh Tomlin and rookie Mike Clevinger. That's reality and that means a quick exit in the postseason."
The headline, which reads "Sept. 17: The day Cleveland Indians' postseason dreams ended before they began" isn't misleading in the slightest, so at least there's that. You jumped right in after it and went on to definitively end the Indians postseason. Even though, this isn't factual information (the Indians haven't been eliminated from postseason advancement, as you said, they haven't even gotten there, so...what?).

Then you get even more definitive, declaring no team can withstand the losses the Indians have suffered. How can you say that without absolute certainty? If that's your opinion, pose it that way. Set aside the crux of my argument against you for a second about being an objective journalist and even if you are paid to give your opinion here...how can that be an opinion? That's not an opinion, at least the way you've written it. That reads more like someone saying something is for certain.

If it was your opinion? Perhaps it should read something like this: "The Indians are unlikely to withstand the amount of injuries they've endured and their postseason road is a mighty tough one."

Oh, but wait, it's your opinion, so you can write it however you want, right? Why am I being so stingy? Perhaps, because, even if we are going at it from an argument that this is clearly an opinion piece, you are a man who is paid to write. You put something up, pen to paper, finger to keyboard, whatever method you use, you earn your living off of.

And that is terrible writing. Point blank. How can a man that has had a long career, who continually gets praised for his longevity in the game, and for being looked up to by other writers, who is getting defended for having such, be so terrible at writing?
"They're still around: One-time prospects Adam Miller and Scott Lewis will come to camp with the minor leaguers in early March. Miller's career is in jeapordy because of repeates surgeries on his right middle finge. Lewis was taken off the 40-man at the end of last season after missing much of the year with left elbow problems."
Oh right... You did that back in like 2010. Everyone deserves a good editor, or I guess, in your case, an editor period, but, what about being your own for something as blatant as that?

At least take some care in how you write, right? At least write so that people can understand how you mean it, and they can discern for themselves what are facts and what is your opinion. Don't write something as if it is fact, when it is in fact, your opinion. And take a little pride in what you do, and don't submit something that has three errors in one paragraph. No one who is getting paid to do that should ever submit something that chopped up. I take pride in what I write here. I make mistakes, no doubt, everyone does. Typos happen. But if you take pride in something, you at least proofread it to make sure you didn't make a mistake, and you surely would have caught at least one of those mistakes. I digress.

This entire letter that I'm writing to you, this is my opinion. I'm not saying you have to make it as clear as I'm making it, but not once did you even make it clear that the entire piece was your opinion. Some of those other articles you write, with "rant of the week" or whatever in the title, don't even do that. You don't need to outright say I believe this because it is my opinion (look at an Anthony Castrovince, who doesn't have to use a pronoun to make it known that he's only providing a thoughtful opinion), but let's at least make it more clear. And, important detail here, he's listed as a columnist.

Especially when this particular post is preceded with a BOX SCORE! A box score Paul! Doesn't that usually mean a game recap? A game recap with FACTUAL information that has no bias or slant to it?

Double-triple-quadruple especially when your primary role is to be a beat writer and the job of a beat writer, in most printed pieces, is to not insert their opinion, right? And that's the problem here overall and the main reason that I'm really ticked off about what you wrote. It isn't the same reason that Jason Kipnis, Trevor Bauer, and the Indians are ticked off. Yeah, it's annoying that a beat writer for the team is being negative, but, again, it's your opinion and you can be negative if that is what you believe. That's fine. I hope those guys use it as fuel to their fire. Whether another person is negative about the Tribe is not a reason for most of us as fans need to be upset. Again, your opinion, people can be negative, and you in particular just have a burden of being negative to the people you cover, so that's on you.

But...the role that Paul Hoynes is in makes this a really blurred line. A blurred line of what are we supposed to believe is fact and what is opinion? If we have a guy who routinely prints stories that are game recaps and posts containing information pertaining to the team where he tells you just the facts of what happened, how are we supposed to react when he posts something that is his opinion (especially when it isn't 100% clear and he talks in definitive statements)?

People consume what you write Paul. And have for years. You probably have avid readers. I know you have some avid followers based off some of the inane opinions people have and formulate because of the way you transmit information about this team. I don't need to tell you any of that or that you've been at it long time and a lot of people read what you say and they gain their information from you.

Not to mention, a lot of your stuff is dripping in that negativity and not so unbiased slant, even when it is supposed to be just factual information. You can't even say "the Indians signed Mike Napoli" without saying "the Indians are pinching pennies, which is why they signed a guy like Mike Napoli." How is THAT biased? The Indians sign the old, injured, and infirm is something that you said. I'm not making that up. You said that! Are the Indians pinching pennies, or is that your opinion again? If it's preceded by a quote from Chris Antonetti where he is saying "Hey, we're pinching pennies here, which is why we signed Mike Napoli" that is one thing. But is he? 

How is that objective journalism? 

How is what anything you do objective journalism when that is your job?

If Cleveland.com wants you to be putting out opinion pieces, perhaps they should remove you from the press box and give you assignments that don't require you to disseminate factual information and make it crystal clear that what you print is your opinion. You can be negative all you want then and we can all hold your feet to the fire for your opinion and argue with you in that regard. That's a different battle. I'm sure you'd block anyone for that though. You probably don't have the thick skin to be a full-fledged columnist if you can't handle me trying to point out to you that Ryan Raburn can't hit righties.

I struggle with some fans of this team, because they become misinformed very often due to stuff like this. If not misinformed, ill-informed and not equipped with more than just "pitcher wins are the key to identifying who the best pitchers are."

I went to school for the craft that you are completely butchering. I learned a lot about what a credible journalist should and shouldn't do. I learned about objectivity and what your role is as a journalist. Paul Hoynes is a journalist, at least in this role that we are to believe you fill. Terry Pluto seems like a columnist, which takes on a whole new meaning and expectations. Terry isn't interacting with the team on a daily basis, he is an onlooker from afar. He's paid to give his opinion and we know it is his opinion more times than not, even when he isn't giving his opinion.

I stopped chasing the dream of being a columnist because the foot in the door is that of being a journalist. Someone like a Castrovince, who started out as a journalist, covering the team and doing excellent at it, gets there with a lot of hard work. He has transitioned into a role where he is looked at as someone who provides opinion and thought or he does special interest stories. We know when he's dealing with facts and using them to make an argument, even if he doesn't use a pronoun.

You don't use pronouns because you shouldn't be. So when you don't, but should, can you blame someone for being upset?

And here's another part of it, to bring back up that time during spring training when you blocked me on Twitter. You said that "Yes, Raburn can hit righties." To which I said, in a very snarky way (to wit, wasn't your comment snarky towards Tito?), that I was glad you could say that off one at-bat. While snarky, true, isn't it? How can you say that off one at-bat in spring training? So when I pressed it a bit further and pointed out that Raburn is indeed a very poor hitter against right handed pitching, you countered with the point that he didn't get to face them a lot. The snark was off at this point. After being shown a few charts, where your definitive "never faced a right-hander" statement was proven incorrect, you blocked me.

Did you block me because I was annoying? Maybe, probably. I've been annoying to Jensen Lewis for half of this 2016 season, if anyone should have blocked me, it should be him. But has he? No. In the case with you, I was simply trying to understand and argue the point that you made.

But, it's okay, you can do it, and I can't call you out on it, because you're a "legend" who has been at it forever. I'll take my place on the internet and let you continue to misinform a large contingent of fans. It's fine. this is fine, everything is fine. I'll take my place as a troll on Twitter because my opinion differs from that of someone who has any sort of clout. You treat me like a troll, perhaps I should at least live up to the status.

Why does this bother me so much? Because it takes away from guys who do a really good job and who deserve more recognition for it. Colleagues of yours. People that look up to YOU as a writer who has been at this for a long time. Someone who is covering a team and covering a sport that kids growing up kill to cover. It takes away the opportunity to do something that they take pride in because this you are sitting around, collecting a paycheck for it, and not giving two shits about what he puts out there. Can I definitively say that? No, but it's my opinion and it's the feeling I get when I read some of the stuff you write.

I wanted to do what you're doing now. 20-year-old Nino would kill for your job, even though now I'm happy with what I'm doing and content living out my writing passion in increments and when I feel like it, not because I'm on deadline. Hey, I didn't actually end up wanting to do what you are doing as a job. I did it for a bit and decided it wasn't fulfilling my passion. If it's not for you, perhaps you should stop doing it. But to see you doing such a poor job at something that I see others trying to do kills me. I just want someone to take pride in what they are doing, and if they can't, step aside and let someone who will take pride in it do it.

This is why I'm upset. This is why a few others are upset. I know a large portion are upset at you for being negative, and that's their deal. The players and team should definitely be pissed at you, and as I've said, that's the battle you've created for yourself. But fans should really be upset at the fact that you are teetering this line of being objective and not-objective and I'm not really sure where you are supposed to fall. Give us some sort of direction and then maybe half the problem here is fixed.

I know you think I'm a troll, but really, I'm not. I'm a passionate Indians fan who really likes good writing and cares about how the rest of his fellow-fans are informed. We all deserve to be informed and given the information at face value so that we can form our opinions. You don't have to be into sabermetrics or anything like that. You don't have to be advanced, you just have to do the job that we are assuming you are being paid to do and to do it objectively.

Thanks for reading what I had to write. As you may be able to tell, it's all my opinion.