Sunday, May 27, 2018

PUSKAS: Hot streak answers questions

Published: 6/19/17 @ 12:05

One of Johnny Carson’s most popular bits on “The Tonight Show” was Carnac the Magnificent.

As Carnac, Carson would somehow provide the answers to unseen questions contained in sealed envelopes.

An example:

Answer: Sis Boom Bah.

Question: The sound made when a sheep explodes.

It works for sports, too.

Answer: Expect the worst and you won’t be disappointed.

Question: Eight words that define what it means to be a Cleveland sports fan.

Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, Jose Mesa and other notable moments of anguish contributed to us adopting the mantra.

So did LeCharles Bentley blowing out his knee on the first play of his first practice after signing a free-agent contract with his hometown Browns.

So did many of the Browns’ recent draft performances, particularly the year they took Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden in the first round. That was topped only by the year they drafted Johnny Manziel and Justin Gilbert in the first round.

So did the mega-bucks deal the Indians gave Nick Swisher a few years ago. Everyone wanted it to work out, because Swisher is so darn likable.

What wasn’t likable about Swish? Exactly that — the sound most often made when he swung the bat. Swisher hit .246, .208 and .196 from 2013-15 with the Indians and then was gone.

Admit it: A lot of Tribe fans viewed Edwin Encarnacion’s slow start this spring as another example of “expect the worst” fate when it comes to Cleveland.

But for once — twice if you count the Cavaliers’ unlikely NBA Finals comeback and title drought-ending championship — that long-time mantra of negativity has been disproved.

Encarnacion was supposed to be the big bat that made the Indians the American League favorite to get back to the World Series, but he struggled mightily in the first two months and more of the season.

As Encarnacion flopped with an onslaught of easy grounders, popouts, strikeouts and lazy fly balls, the joy that came when he signed with the Tribe was replaced with some grumbles.

Encarnacion’s struggles mirrored the Indians’ inconsistency and the combination had some fans ready to start talking Browns training camp.

A bit premature, it turns out. Eddie and the Indians have been on a roll of late. Encarnacion has gotten hot — just like the weather — and the Indians have won five in a row. A four-game road sweep of Minnesota allowed the Indians to overtake the Twins for first place in the AL Central at 36-31.

Those comparing Encarnacion to Swisher ignored the former’s history of less-than-impressive starts. His pattern has been struggles in April and even into May, followed by mid-summer hot streaks. Some fans didn’t have the patience to handle the first two months, but those who did — along with the Indians — have been rewarded.

Encarnacion hit two more home runs and drove in all five runs in a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday. He has now hit 15 home runs and has 36 RBIs. And that Swisher-like batting average is now up to .261.

What would Carnac say?

Answer: Patience.

Question: What can we use more of today?

Write Vindicator Sports Editor Ed Puskas at and follow him on Twitter, @EdPuskas_Vindy.

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