With all due respect, it’s hard to decide which is less believable: that Joe Borowski was once a top-flight closer, or that Joe Borowski is still treated like one. Demotion by (and eventual departure from) the Cubs in 2005, 36 saves despite a 1.378 WHIP in 2006 in Florida, and notching 45 saves despite a 5.07 ERA for Cleveland last year. Ups and downs, promises unkept, roles undefined, competition uncertain – while tonight was only one game and is surely too small a sample size, could it be that Joe Borowski isn’t so much a member of the Cleveland Indians but that Joe Borowski actually is the Cleveland Indians?
1995: Rookie Borowski dazzles in limited action for Baltimore; talent-laden Indians briefly dazzle in the playoffs.
1997: Borowksi’s Yankees knocked out of the playoffs by an Indians team that in turn waited until the absolute worst time to lose.
1998: Borowski appears in eight regular season games for the Yankees, receives World Series ring; Jim Thome, Sandy Alomar, David Justice, Travis Fryman, Omar Vizquel, Richie Sexson, Brian Giles and Kenny Lofton, all in their prime and all members of the 1998 Cleveland Indians, do not.
1999/2000: Borowski disappears; Indians hand over 1999 ALDS and 2000 AL Central title to the Red and White Sox, respectively.
2001: Borowski’s ERA is 32.40; Indians score 27 in a series against Mariners, August 3 through 6, and still lose three of those four games.
2002: Borowski number of innings equals the number of games his Cubs lose (95); Jim Thome hits 52 home runs on his way out of town.
2003: Borowski shines but the Cubs tank in grand fashion come October; Cleveland goes 7-18 in September.
2004: JoBo’s ERA swells to 8.02; Tribe reliever Chad Durbin anchors the middle relief corps with a super-evil 6.66 ERA.
2005: Borowski struggles in the first half, then picks up the pieces in the second half but ultimately still falling short; Ditto Cleveland.
2006: Meh all around.
2007: 5.07 ERA, 1.4 WHIP, yet saves 45 games until third base coach/interim 2003 Tribe manager Joel Skinner etches his name into the history of two-word Cleveland sports disasters alongside The Fumble, The Drive, The Shot, and The Mesa.
July 1, 2008: Sox win!