Back in June, I implored Clevelanders to take the Ghostbusters II Approach to the NBA Finals. It seems acting as if there was a river of ectoplasm under the streets of Cleveland and staying irrationally positive worked because, as we all know, the Cavs won the whole damn thing.
So, with the Indians making their first appearance in the World Series since the days of Manny, Sandy, Omar, and Thome, I think it’s time to draw another weak connection between the success of a Cleveland sports franchise and a movie I loved in my youth, this way I can once again try to take some credit for the accomplishments of other adult men.
When I watch this Tribe team, I don’t see the lineup full of mashers like the World Series teams from the ‘90s. Yes, the Tribe’s starting pitching was outstanding this year, but, unfortunately, injuries have depleted the rotation. The strength of this team this postseason? The bullpen and timely hitting. When compared to Chicago’s lineup of All Stars that won over 100 games this year, the Tribe doesn’t seem to be a intriguing pick to win it all.
So, who does this team and the situation they find themselves remind me of? Jack Burton.
“Jack Burton. Me.”
Played by Kurt Russell, Jack Burton is the blundering hero of John Carpenter’s 1986 classic, Big Trouble in Little China. Often inept and a bit of a blowhard, Burton is not a typical 1980s action movie hero. But, when his pal Wang Chi needs help rescuing Miao Jin and Gracie Law from the evil David Lo Pan, Burton finds a way to get the job done, even though he might not look very heroic in the process.
At one point in the movie, Jack Burton fires his gun up into the air—only to have bits of the ceiling fall on his own head. This is especially apt considering the self-inflicted postseason injuries the Indians have suffered. Trevor Bauer injured his finger fixing his drone and Jason Kipnis rolled his ankle after celebrating the Tribe’s game five win over the Blue Jays.
It has been argued that Jack Burton isn’t even the hero of Big Trouble in Little China, which is appropriate because it can also be argued that the Indians are not the biggest heroes of Northeast Ohio sports fans. In a town where the Cavs are reigning NBA champs, the town’s baseball club is often overlooked—at least until the playoffs, when fans are willing to pay $100 for standing room only tickets.
When he finally has a showdown with Lo Pan, Burton throws a knife at the evil sorcerer, but his throw sails on him and he misses his target completely. Here, Burton doesn’t demonstrate the infallibility that heroes, especially those of the ‘80s action movie variety, usually display. But, when Lo Pan throws the knife back at Burton, Jack catches it—because it’s all in the reflexes after all—and fires it back, hitting Lo Pan right smack dab in the middle of his forehead. This climactic confrontation wasn’t pretty, but Burton got the job done.
Despite all of his shortcomings, good ol’ Jack Burton still finds a way to help Wang save Miao Yin and Gracie Law, just like how this scrappy Tribe squad found a way to get past the the vaunted offenses of the Red Sox and Blue Jays to earn a trip to the World Series. Even though the Tribe’s offensive output in the playoffs has been limited, the Tribe found a way. Even though they have been heavily dependent on bullpen arms, a pitcher making his second career start, and a starter who pitched his way out of the rotation in August, the Tribe found a way.
Maybe the Tribe’s roster pounded some of Egg Shen’s “medicine” at a party at Napoli’s. Maybe Tito Francona pulled some tricks out of the six demon bag allowing the Indians to “see things no one else can see” and to “do things no one else can do.” Whatever caused it, the Indians seem to be “kind of invincible” and appear to have a “very positive attitude” about their chances to win Cleveland its first championship since… 19…19…oh yeah, the 19th of June.
The Indians might not be the favorites. They might not look pretty. They might not be household names…yet. But, they have a hell of an opportunity to do something special and have demonstrated time and again that they are capable of finding a way to win this city its second championship of 2016.
So, when you find yourself doubting the Tribe, “Just remember what ol’ Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big ol’ storm right square in the eye and he says, ‘Give me your best shot, pal. I can take it.’”