Tonight on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario something magical happened. One of my best friends is getting married this weekend so he decided to take 4 of the members of his wedding party to the Indians game tonight. We had great seats. Section 136, row G. The only problem with the seats was that we were behind the Toronto dugout, so there were about 12 Jays fans right in front of us. A few of these fans were pretty cool, but most were just annoying. They would stand and cheer for walks and in general were just toolbags (Yes my writing gets "authentic" after 8-10 tall ones at the "Jake"). They chirped for the entire game, until the 9th. My group stayed calm throughout the game no matter what the Jays fans said. This was a gigantic accomplishment for us as most of us are Browns season ticket holders and if you know Browns fans we don't hold back.
For 8 innings of baseball we saw the Indians play sub par defense, leave a small army on the bases, and in general hand a winnable game to the Jays. After the bottom of the 8th my friends looked at me and wondered if we should leave. For some reason I pulled a stall tactic and said we should stick around for the bottom of the 9th because the "Heart" of our order was coming up in Buck, LaPorta, and Hannahan. I cant really explain why I didn't want to leave but I just felt we had to stay.
In the top of the 9th we watched Jose Bautista absolutely defile a Tony Sipp offering deep into the left field bleachers. After the mammoth shot we chatted with a few Jays fans and contemplated leaving again. We decided we had stuck it out this long so we made a bet with ourselves. If Travis Buck made an out to start the 9th we were gone. Buck hit a single to start the inning....
We then said we wouldn't leave as long as LaPorta didn't hit into a double play. Any other outcome was fine. We were trying to make up excuses for us to stay because for some strange reason the four of us felt that leaving would be a bad decision. LaPorta ripped a double to right field....
We then stopped betting on the outcome and just stood and watched as Jack Hannahan drew a walk to load the bases. At this point I think the Jays made a pitching change as we chatted up a few of the Jays fans in front of us. We were typical Cleveland fans and talked about how it was ok and how we would blow it, but you could tell in our eyes each of us were starting to believe we actually had a shot here. As Cleveland fans we are used to the worst happening to us but we Believe anyway. We were down 4-0, but the bases were loaded and you could start to feel something in the air down at the "Jake".
With one out and the bases still loaded Asdrubal Cabrera stepped to the dish. I tweeted this..
@BurnRiverSportsBurning River Sports
ACab promptly ripped a single to left center to bring home our first run of the game. It was now 4-1 and nobody was sitting down except the twelve Jays fans in front of us that had run their mouth all game.
Next up was Travis Hafner. Before Hafner stepped into the batter's box "What If?" flashed ever so briefly on the jumbo tron behind the bleachers. The four of us saw the message. Something was in the air at the "Jake". If you have never experienced something like what happened tonight its hard to put into words. As a fan all you know is that you begin to feel like you were meant to be in that moment. You were meant to bring your energy to that stadium, The score (4-1 Jays) no longer matters. The momentum is 100% on your side. Something good is about to happen...you wait, beer in hand, with anticipation...
Travis Hafner digs in... The runners take their lead... The first pitch of the at bat zips towards home plate... ...... ...... ........................
SWUNG ON.... HIT HIGH!.... DEEP TO RIGHT!..... THIS BALLL.... GOOOOOOOONNNEEEE!
A MOBBING AT HOME PLATE ON A WALKOFF GRANDSLAM BY TRAVIS HAFNER!
@BurnRiverSportsBurning River Sports
Pure unadulterated joy breaks out in the stands. Everyone is jumping as one, people are in shock, I am standing on my seat screaming &$^@ YA! $&@! YA! The 12 Jays fans are sitting in disbelief, no longer saying a damn word. Hugs and high fives all around. They F'n did it. We knew we felt something in the air. We knew, deep down, that we should not have left this game, and by GOD we were right. It was completely unbelievable yet totally believable at the same time.
I don't know what exactly this season has in store for the people and team that resides in Cleveland, OH, but I do know this. The question, "What If?", is becoming more interesting every game.
Now its time to pass out. Go Tribe.