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A huge late-season collapse led to frustration in Cleveland. Sounds familiar, right? The Indians are responding by firing their manager.
Of course, all this should sound at least somewhat familiar. On June 15, I wrote this in response to a question about what to expect in the Pirates' series against the Indians over Father's Day weekend.
A plague of killer locusts, probably followed by the end of the world. But if fate can keep these events at bay until Sunday evening, three baseball games will be played, after which fans of one of the two mediocre teams playing them will have a misguided sense of confidence about their team’s playoff chances. The divisions in which these two teams play will remain well below average, but the two teams will still not be good enough in the long term to keep pace with divisional rivals to the west, let alone to withstand long and painful deaths by tens of thousands of tiny locust bites. Nonetheless, fathers and sons will attend the games and awkwardly attempt to bond, and sons will try and fail to find meaningful ways of telling their fathers that they love them, and broadcast crews associated with both teams will show footage of young men holding up signs reading, "THANKS DAD," in big block letters. Perhaps the broadcast crews will do so cynically, or perhaps they will do so because they are vapid. But in the end, the universe will not care, for the end is nigh, and the cardboard upon which these signs are written will merely become fuel for millions of deranged insects. Cleveland, I shall miss your Pere Ubu, your burning river, your faecally-themed football team. Au revoir.
That pretty much came true. Well, except the plague of locusts. Both teams collapsed badly down the stretch. The difference was that the Pirates, who were 32-31 at the time, rode a hot streak through June and July before falling apart. The Indians never got much of a bump -- they tread water for about a month, and then their descent began.
The problem with both teams, of course, was that despite the weak competition in their divisions, they just weren't very good. Of course, Chris Antonetti, who took over the GM job in 2010, still had a "fire the manager" bullet, so he and the Indians used it. Team president Mark Shapiro apparently is staying around, even though the Indians have only had two winning seasons since 2001 and Shapiro was GM for much of that time. I've always liked Acta as a manager, and my impression is that hardcore Indians fans also think he's decent, but I don't think competence has anything to do with it. Based on what I know, I'd much rather have Acta than Clint Hurdle.
The Pirates, of course, aren't going to fire anyone. This move doesn't have much bearing on whether they should, but I think the contrast is interesting, given that both teams collapsed in late summer.