Cleveland Indians season made for Hollywood, and the script has us winning, but how?
Excerpt from an article by Michael K. McIntyre
on October 22, 2016 at 10:12 AM, updated October 23, 2016 at 11:15 AM
Full article at: Cleveland.com
INTERIOR. CLEVELAND INDIANS CLUBHOUSE, SHEATHED IN PLASTIC. NIGHT. NOVEMBER 1:
Game 6 of the 2016 World Series has just concluded. Cleveland Indians players, wearing ski goggles and World Series Champion hats and T-shirts, gather in a loose circle and spray champagne with abandon as they jump and scream. Burly slugger Mike Napoli, face dripping with Korbel and tears, hoists the Commissioner’s Trophy over his head as team owner Larry Dolan, arm in arm with his son, Indians Chairman and CEO Paul, looks up at the spectacle.
(SHOUTING) Party’s at my house!
CLEVELAND, Ohio – That’s one possible ending to this incredible, improbable, made-for-Hollywood Cleveland Indians season.
Take a look at the drama-fueled summer that got the Tribe to where it is, champion of the American League, about to compete in Cleveland’s first World Series since 1997.
It has the makings of a can’t-miss blockbuster, though the ending has yet to be written.
Some key plot points: The team’s best player, Michael Brantley, out for almost the entire year with injuries. All-star catcher Jonathan Lucroy spurns the team, nixing a trade and opting instead to be traded from Milwaukee to Texas. The slugging first-baseman, Napoli, capitalizes on a fan’s sign – Party at Napoli’s – and sells T-shirts with the phrase, raking in tons of money to help sick kids, who watch and cheer from their hospital beds.
Key injuries fell the starting catcher and several key pitchers, including a freak bone break on a line drive that sidelines pitcher Carlos Carrasco. After that, a sage newspaper beat writer who has followed the team for three decades declares their hopes for a championship are dead before the playoffs begin. The team trades away its top prospect and several other potential big leaguers for a gun slinging relief pitcher from the hated New York Yankees.
And now it just gets bizarre.
A drone accident – yes, a drone accident – before the ALCS results in pitcher Trevor Bauer bleeding all over the mound. And then a rookie who has barely pitched in the Major Leagues, a pitcher who looks like he’s about 15 years old, steps up to help shut out the Toronto Blue Jays to clinch the pennant. Through it all, a steady, regular-guy manager chews bubble gum, sunflower seeds and tobacco and spits out all the right answers as he guides the team to the World Series.
“I don’t think anyone could’ve written this script,” Indians President Chris Antonetti told the media in Toronto.
Well, not just anyone.
But what about actual scriptwriters, folks who write plays and screenplays and make movies? They’d pack the multiplexes with material like this. But what about that ending?
We caught up with some Cleveland writers, Tribe fans all, to get their take. Good news: None sees this production as a tragedy. They’ve all got us winning. The only question is how.
In screenwriter Joe Eszterhas’ version, dominant relief pitcher Andrew Miller would play a starring role. And, as Eszterhas continued to talk it out, so would Tyler Naquin. And Jose Ramirez. Oh, and Napoli (“He’s been unbelievable.”) And Francisco Lindor “(He’s just incredible!”)
Eszterhas is going to need a good editor. But it’s not his fault.
“You’ve got to understand, you are dealing with a real Tribe fan. I used to come back here from California to see them. Naomi (his wife) says I have the greatest collection of Tribe hats in Cleveland,” said Eszterhas, who remembers seeing the ‘54 series on TVs in storefronts on West 25th Street and crying when the Indians lost. His youngest son, who attends Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, dreams of playing center field for the Indians and “doesn’t think it’s necessary to have a backup plan.”
But that’s not finishing this movie, is it? O.K. back to the ending.
“I think Tito (Manager Terry Francona) is the reason for this. He’s bringing the magic together, and the notion that he comes here, and he partly grew up here (His father, also “Tito,” played for the Tribe long ago), comes here and brings the thing together. There’s some great magic in that,” Eszterhas said. “If I were writing this script, I would bring that in. His dad. His own health issues (chest pains). He went through a divorce, and I went through a divorce and it’s worse than death. His canning in Boston wasn’t fair. And then he comes here. It’s a great, stirring, soulful story. And it’s so Cleveland.”
Of course, Eszterhas said, there’s a big celebration when the Tribe wins.
“You’re getting me so excited,” said Eszterhas, “I might actually write this @#$*(%@ thing!”
That salty language is a reminder: The Eszterhas version would no doubt be rated “R” and maybe even worse if it weren’t already settled that the party is at Napoli’s.
“That’s a good thing because with my track record, best not to let me choose where the party is,” said the “Basic Instinct” writer. “God knows where I’d go.”