The city of champions is looking to continue its success this year, but in a different sport. The Cleveland Indians defied many experts’ expectations and won the American League Central division this season, with the Detroit Tigers coming in second eight games behind.
Now, the Indians have won the first round of their postseason run, sweeping the American League East champion Boston Red Sox in three games in the American League Division Series. Next on the list of opponents will be the Toronto Blue Jays.
The 2016 season was full of promise from day one if you ask any Cleveland sports fan. After seeing the Cleveland Cavaliers make history and win the NBA Finals after being down 3-1 to the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland fans finally had reason to believe that great things can happen. Despite a number of injuries throughout the season to starting pitchers Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco, outfielder Michael Brantley and catcher Yan Gomes, the Indians still went on to win 94 games and lose only 67. The only better record in the American League belonged to the Texas Rangers — who are already gone thanks to Toronto.
Now the Tribe goes up against a new opponent: the Blue Jays. Toronto and Cleveland played four games in Canada and three games in Ohio this season. The Indians won two of the four in the Great White North and two of the three back at home, giving them a slight 4-3 edge on the regular season tally. The Blue Jays outscored the Tribe 38-24 in those four contests. However this tally includes the blowout victory from Toronto that saw the Indians lose 17-1. The Blue Jays will be a tough team, just like the Red Sox were, for the Tribe to defeat.
The prospect of making it to the World Series this season is a more than welcome sign to fans in the city of Cleveland. However the list of potential teams that the Cleveland Indians could face is daunting. The Los Angeles Dodgers have been good all season and won their division, and the Washington Nationals had an even better record than the Indians during the regular season. The Chicago Cubs had an astounding record of 103-58, far better than any other team in the league this year, and even their opponent in the San Francisco Giants still looks strong despite their far lesser win-to-loss ratio this season.
Any of those four opponents are more than worthy to face off against this Cleveland team. But if the odds-defying luck of the Cavaliers is any indication, an Indians World Series victory may well be in the near future. This is the best year to be a Cleveland sports fan in over half a century, and a great time is to be had at Case Western Reserve University watching it continue.