A Cleveland Indians fan reacts during the sixth inning of Game 6 of the Major League Baseball World Series against the Chicago Cubs in Cleveland. ASSOCIATED PRESS
CLEVELAND — With their season suddenly on the brink, the Indians will enlist ace Corey Kluber to save the season in tonight’s deciding Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the Yankees.
What could go wrong?
Cleveland fans, of course, know not to answer that.
In light of the Indians’ now-vanished 2-0 series lead and the city’s tortured sports history, we have no doubt Fox is getting the tried-and-true Cleveland heartbreak montage ready as we speak.
The guess here is it won’t be necessary. But just in case, we’ll save the network the legwork. Here is an unneeded reminder of the biggest sports collapses in Cleveland history:
1. The Drive: Need more be said? With the Browns ahead by a touchdown in the dying minutes of the 1986 AFC Championship game, John Elway and the Broncos set off on a final drive that began at their own 2-yard line and ended in history — and Cleveland infamy. Denver went on to win 23-20 in overtime in what would prove Cleveland’s last best chance at a trip to the Super Bowl. Well, at least until The Fumble a year later. That was the last chance. Maybe ever.
2. Game 7: It was former MLB commissioner Bart Giamatti who said baseball is designed to break your heart. In the most wrenching of a series of near misses for the Indians, Cleveland fans learned this the hardest way in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Jose Mesa blew a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning and the Indians’ dreams shattered in the 11th.
3. Indians blow a 3-1 lead Part II: The undermanned Indians made Cleveland proud last fall, giving the juggernaut Cubs everything they had to the final out in a classic World Series. But while this fell more into the heartbreak than collapse category, losing a 3-1 series lead is a stomach punch any way you cut it.
4. Indians blow a 3-1 series lead Part I: With a 3-1 lead over the Red Sox in the 2007 ALCS, the Indians sent ace C.C. Sabathia to the mound for a potential clinching fifth game at Jacobs Field. The Yankees’ starter tonight? Yep, Sabathia. Cleveland can only hope this clincher goes the same for its old star as his last one in town. In that Game 5, Sabathia allowed four runs in six innings in a 7-1 loss, and the Indians went on to lose the series in Boston.