THE TRIBE HAS SPOKEN: A Multi-part Series (4)



A deep dive into the Season 2 Indians, and the franchise that turned a chaotic, ragtag, farcical group of memers into a Superteam.

A Multi-part series written by Kyle Corbett

Part IV: Peace Be Upon Him

Have you ever seen the musical Hamilton? I haven't, because I don't have $300 lying around, but if you do have money to blow aimlessly, I highly recommend it! Anyways, there is one scene in Hamilton where George Washington has to call upon Alexander Hamilton to lead the way at the Battle of Yorktown. The musical portrays the scene as Hamilton being the United States military's only hope for victory in the Revolutionary War. Surprisingly, all of Washington's advisors in the musical agreed that Hamilton, a scribe with little-to-no actual combat experience, was the best choice to lead them in what could easily be their final battle. Thus, Hamilton reconvenes with the military and leads them into battle, and after some interesting strategy from Hamilton, the Americans had won the battle, and the British had surrendered. The United States was free at last, or something like that.

I'm assuming that's what the OOTC wanted to happen when they let Lotus, otherwise known as Brohei Brohtani, become GM of the Cleveland Indians. There is no reason why Lotus was qualified to lead this team. Lotus had been around just a handful of sessions at this point, and was just now getting acquainted with the game of baseball entirely, let alone our game of redditball. Nonetheless, he was the most active candidate, so the OOTC went through. And thus, the Brohtani era was born.

I do think Lotus gets kind of laughed at unfairly in the history books. Sure, Lotus probably had no idea what he was doing as General Manager of the Indians, but he didn't tank the team! It could have certainly been a lot worse. More importantly, he didn't have very much to work with. Let's take a look at the lineup Brohtani trotted out against the Milwaukee Brewers in Session 12 of Season 2.

Let's break this down player-by-player. First, you have Lightning Balls. This is Balls' second team so far in his rookie season, after being trade bait with the Tigers, prime for Bambino to bite on. Thus, Balls became an Indian. Balls has been a regular in the outfield all season, but throughout his 3-season career in the MLR, he's been nothing more than a replacement-level, semi-active player with a funny name. Currently, he's about to enter into his third season with the San Francisco Giants, who are in desperate need of players, so they have no need to cut him. Balls' days in the MLR are numbered, but for the moment, he's a serviceable option for Brohtani.

Next up we have Gil Metz. Metz is one of a little less than 30 players still actively playing in the MLR that have been around since Season 1, Session 1. Similarly to Balls, Metz has essentially been a replacement level roster-filler for the bulk of his career, but in Season 4, he caught fire with the Milwaukee Brewers, and had a career season. He'll start Season 5 as a member of the Oakland Athletics, vying for the starting spot at second base. However, at the time of this game against the Brewers, Metz was simply a hot potato among GM's. Now on his 4th team of the season, Metz is nothing more than dead weight in most people's eyes. But of course, Brohtani has no choice but to start him in the 2-hole.

Following them is Casey Nine, who as I previously mentioned in the series, victimized the the Indians back in Session 1 with the Tigers. Now, Nine will have the chance to be that victimizer, but this time, as an Indian. Nine would eventually make it back to Detroit and had a little bit of a career there, but eventually faded into obscurity and out of the league. Richard Pole in the 4th spot was convinced by Brohtani to come back and play one more game as an Indian. He'll do it batting cleanup.

Filthy Frank at first base stands in as the only position player to remain on the Indians' roster for the entirety of Season 2. After the season, Frank retired. Frank certainly has had a lot of good moments in his 11 games thus far with the Indians, but it is uncertain how much productivity our beloved Brohtani can get out of him. Batting 6th is Austin Schwartz, who would be the longest tenured Indian when the team would move to Cincinnati prior to Season 4. Schwartz, currently a Los Angeles Angel, would go on to become one of just a few players to have played for the franchise both in Cleveland and in Cincinnati. But for now, Schwartz is in the lineup as an unproven rookie with little experience at the dish.

Brohei, of course, has nobody left to put 7th in the lineup but himself. His team is dwindling. He has no other options but to put himself into the lineup and take a chance on both his ability with the lineup card and with the bat. Batting 8th is Ian Pritchard, who played in the MLR for the back half of Season 2 before quitting at the start of Season 3. Lastly, we have Cook Froster, who came over from the Giants earlier that season. Froster, like many others in this lineup, was largely inactive and not a strong contributor. He was out of the league by the end of the season.

Alongside pitcher Tommy Foxconn, Brohei has strung together 9 misfits, including himself to stick out on the field against the Brewers. This team in no way, shape, or form, should be capable of beating a major-league caliber team like the Brewers. Surprisingly, Brohtani's lineup held their own, only losing by 2 to the Brewers in a 10-8 offense party. Seriously. Just look at the scoring plays:

You can't even call this game a slugfest. It was just a mess of two teams that were surprisingly bad at playing baseball. Two of the Indians' runs were walked in by the Brewers' starter, Jameson Poe. Meanwhile, this game featured an inside the park home run off the bat of Brewers catcher Patrick Stump. After 15 scoring plays, the game finally finished, and the Indians picked up their well-expected loss.

At this point, Lotus is beginning to realize just how hard managing a Major League Redditball team is. This isn't like NCBCA, where you just manage a bunch of fictional, non-existent names. Every single player in this game is a real person, and every single one wants to win as much as you do. But we all knew Lotus wasn't equipped to do this. The Office of the Commissioner thought they had found their Hamilton, but it simply wasn't to be. Lotus' career as Indians GM was unfortunately not a success. However, Lotus' attempt should still be respected by all.

We miss you, Lotus. Peace be upon you.

Lotus would still be the GM of the team heading into the Indians' Session 13 matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals. He would be the one to construct the lineup, but he would not finish the game as GM. Lotus, along with the OOTC, had enough of this show. Brohtani would remain on the Indians roster as a player, but it was time for someone else to take the captain's seat in Cleveland. The next man up would be...some guy named Ethan?

I sat down with Ethan Franklin recently to ask him some questions about his time in Cleveland. Let me share one question and answer with you:
KYLE: "Did you ever think you would become GM?"
ETHAN: "Honestly no until I started learning more about it and I thought it was super interesting. I enjoy managing in online leagues and I thought it would potentially be cool to actually manage people."
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Ethan Franklin. He is ready to come to Cleveland and manage some people. And manage he did.

For the first time in the franchise's history, the Indians had a GM who was ready to play some fake baseball. This time, their GM wasn't a ghost. Their GM wasn't a violent keyboard warrior. Their GM wasn't going to walk out on them. Their GM was prepared for this. But at the time, nobody thought any of those things would be true. It was time for Ethan to prove them all wrong.

A little background on Ethan: He originally signed up and joined the MLR as an Indian earlier in the season. After appearing in a game, he was traded to the Phillies, where he spent the bulk of the season. Ethan had joined the game, like Lotus, through NCBCA. In that league, Ethan was known for being chill, yet competitive. Sure, Ethan could be a clown at times and wasn't always someone worth taking seriously, but you couldn't deny that Ethan was good at his job. Ethan was always productive, in everything that he did. But for some reason, everyone forgot that.

So here we are. Saturday. June 24th, 2018. The Indians are in St. Louis to take on the Cardinals, and now the torch has been passed to Franklin. So what did Franklin do in his first game managing the team? He led them to a 5-0 victory, where Foxconn made St. Louis look silly with a 3-hit shutout, where he walked only 1 and struck out 7. Likewise, the offense was firing from all cylinders in this game, with all but 2 players reaching base throughout the game. To make matters even more shocking, Franklin did it against Dan Gerzone, who was one of the best pitchers in the MLR in Season 2 and someone see as a future lock for the MLR Hall of Fame.

In his first game managing the Tribe, Franklin made a name for himself. You may not see it yet, but Franklin has been given the keys, and he's ready to rev the engine as loud as he can. The train of the past is gone. This Tribe has a new edge. They're no longer a steam locomotive. They're a Ferrari. And if there's one thing this Ferrari is going to teach its opponent, it's simple: Don't mess with Ethan.

Just look at him! Who would want to mess with this guy? I sure wouldn't. A menacing name. A menacing profile picture. A menacing four digit number. Ethan was not to be messed with.

The next game on the docket was a rematch against the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox have a lot on the line here, as they can move into 1st place in the AL East with a victory, but Cleveland of course doesn't want that to happen. Our beloved Indians are sitting at 8-5, and really need to win their next few games if they're going to have a shot at the Wild Card or even the division title. This is a must-win game for the Indians. If they fall short, their chances become incredibly slim. Ethan knows it's going to take a lot of offense and pitching to win, just like last game. He trots out a similar lineup, and lets the players do their thing.

Just like last time against Boston, pitching prevailed. Red Sox starter Hudson Quin shut out the Indians, allowing just 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out NINE BATTERS. After the first game, hype was slowly starting to build around Ethan. Now that hype is fading. For the first time all season, the Indians have a relatively normal-headed GM, who might not keep the team in the playoff hunt. For the first time all season, the league has stopped paying attention to the Indians. Nobody wants this outcome. Except Pie, apparently, as seen here in the Post-Game Thread:

For whatever reason, his old GM, Jayson Burdwell, still had faith in him. "Boston was really good at that point," said Burdwell. "The best GMs were losing to Boston. I still had confidence in him." Other players at the time, like Larry Longshot, did not have much faith. ""Being new to the community and league I was just getting used to the faces and names of the community," said Longshot. "When Franklin took over as GM of the Indians, I honestly thought that there was little to no hope for the organization to produce how they had been. Between all that had happened all season long, I did not have high hopes at the time for the Indians organization moving forward."

As stock in Franklin and his Indians fell, that meant teams would be clamoring to make trades with the Indians and try to get whatever assets they could. Likewise, Franklin, a level-headed GM, was more than willing to hear out offers. Franklin knew that while his team had the potential to be "good", "good" probably wouldn't be enough considering the strength of the competition within the AL East. Thus, Franklin got to work. First things first, he went out and signed free agent catcher Rub A. Chikin. Fun fact about Chikin: he would go on to become an essential leader in Major League Numberball, the league Bambino left to go help start. In a sick twist of fate, Chikin's lengthy MLR career begins here under the post-Bambino regime. However, Chikin is quickly bearing the burdens of this team for years to come as Franklin flipped him to the Diamondbacks for infielder Ovaltine Jenkins, who may not have been around for long, but certainly has an 80-grade name.

However, the trades did not stop here. Next, Franklin worked out a deal with Seattle GM Ace Brasco, who also happened to be Eric Lindros. As well as many other players. Look, Lindros had a lot of alts, okay? Anyways, Brasco offered a draft pick as well as infielder Xavier Martinez in exchange for Casey Nine. While this would be a short-sighted move in the long run, this move would actually work out nicely for Franklin, as Martinez at the time was fairly active and was hitting pretty well in his two career games with Seattle. The ceiling was high with Martinez, so Franklin had every right to take advantage of this.

Regardless of how the season shakes out from here, you have to give Ethan a round of applause. Like his predecessor, he too was slowly figuring out the game of baseball as he went, and these trades on paper make perfect sense. He took over a team without much depth, skill, or potential. The entire team had incredibly low floors and low ceilings. He didn't have much to work with, so he needed to create flexibility, and he did just that with the additions of Jenkins and Martinez, as well as the pickup of a future draft pick. Ethan may not have been playing for now, but no wise GM is playing solely for now. You always have to be looking ahead. And Ethan did just that.

I still find it so comical that Ethan came into this position because he wanted to "manage people". Despite what has become of him since his time in Cleveland, there's no doubt that Ethan is a great people manager. He knew what his people needed and he went and fulfilled their needs. He didn't overshoot, going for some lofty expectation or goal, but rather he fulfilled reasonable needs on the team, without going overboard. That is, by definition, the characteristics of a quality leader.

However, there was still one area of need the Indians had still yet to fill at the deadline: activity. While Franklin was active, the clubhouse culture was essentially dead. Any remnants of the mighty fortress that Bambino had come crashing down like the walls of Jericho. There was no more character. No more flavor. Franklin, a level-headed GM, had simply made the Indians vanilla. But, as we all know, that simply cannot happen. They are the Indians. They were never built to be normal or standard, or even fade into obscurity. Something had to change, and like before, Franklin was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen, even if it meant the unthinkable. With the clock ticking on the trade deadline, the time to make a move was running out. The active players on the trading block were all gone, but yet, there still was one player up for grabs that nobody wanted. However, Franklin knew he still owed it to his fans, his team, and the Indians that came before him to get this team out of obscurity, and Franklin knew that this would be the only way to do just that. Everything was on the line for the Indians. Their playoff hopes. Their future. Their legacy. It's time for the unthinkable to happen.

In an 11th hour deal, the Brewers have acquired Gil Metz and Cleveland's 1st round pick in the upcoming draft. Meanwhile, the Indians have acquired two players. One of which was infielder Valentino Rollin...

...while the other was G.H. Morello.


(Special thanks to those who helped me track down Lotus. Also thanks to Ethan Franklin for participating in an interview, as well as Jayson Burdwell and Larry Longshot for supplying a quote for the piece. Be on the lookout for the final edition, Part V, very soon!)

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