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The year was 2007, and the Cleveland Indians were one of the best teams in all of baseball. They had tied the Boston Red Sox with 96 wins in the American League, and many penciled them into a World Series berth out of the American League.
Cleveland rather easily dispatched the New York Yankees three games to one in the ALDS, while the Sox took out the AL West champion Los Angeles Angels.
It set up what was expected to be a classic ALCS between the Sox and Indians. In many ways it was – but sadly not for the Indians, who had a 3-1 series lead when Terry Francona’s squad rallied to win three in a row to win the series four games to three.
One former Indians player who still laments losing that series to this day is Hall of Famer C.C. Sabathia.
He was the Cy Young award winner in 2007 after amassing a mark of 19-7 and a 3.21 ERA. He also threw a league-leading 241 innings, something he took great pride in at the time.
Sabathia did not throw well in the ALCS, falling in Games One and Five to the Sox.
The lefty pitcher would go on to win a World Series with the New York Yankees in 2009 after the Indians traded him in 2008. However, he always felt the Indians not closing out Boston and winning the World Series was squarely on his shoulders.
“I think in 2007 we were the best team in the league, and I always say if I pitched the way I was supposed to, we win the World Series,” Sabathia said.
In his two postseason starts against Boston, he allowed 12 runs on 17 hits and seven walks in 10 1/3 innings. The combined score of the two losses for the Tribe was 17-4.
Following a loss in Fenway 12-2 in Game Six, the Indians were doomed. They were easily beaten 11-2 in Game Seven, ending what many felt was a World Series season.
“That doesn’t ease the pain at all. Having a parade here in this city would’ve been special. It would’ve been something different.”
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) August 21, 2021
The next season, the Indians traded Sabathia to the Brewers after realizing that there was no chance they would have the fiscal flexibility to bring him back with a long-term deal.
To the surprise of no one, he eventually ended up in the Bronx playing for the Yankees, cementing his Hall of Fame career and taking home a World Series ring in 2009. He also had six All-Star Game appearances over his long career.