Indians’ playoff collapse has us wondering: How did they get that far?

Cleveland pox! … Cleveland pox! …

With apologies to “The New American City” — and any of its local transplants — “Rants & Raves” says we shouldn’t be surprised that it was the same old Indians when it came to postseason baseball this year:

• Seven playoff appearances since 1995, but not a World Series title to show for any of them — including this season, after the Boston Red Sox stormed back from a 3-1 series deficit to win the American League pennant in seven games, outscoring the Tribe 30-5 over the final three games.

That’s an ungodly 30 to a stinkin’ five, folks. That’s the Red Sox kicking the Indians’ tail up between their shoulder blades.

When it mattered most, the Indians didn’t hit, didn’t pitch — ace C.”C-ya” Sabathia had a 10.45 ERA while No. 2 starter Fausto “Oust-o” Carmona’s earnie was 16.50 — and they didn’t play smart baseball, with more boneheaded decisions than a full session of Congress.

And these guys actually won a division? How? …

• Taking nothing away from the Red Sox, who did what they had to do to eliminate the Indians, but we anticipate a much tougher World Series showdown with Colorado — and not just because the Rockies have won 21 of 22 games, including a 7-0 run in the postseason.

Nor does it have to do with the Rockies winning two of three interleague games at Fenway Park this season, outscoring Boston 20-5.

No, we’re going with the “Ignorance is bliss” theory, which has us believing the Rockies — nameless almost to an individual — won’t get caught up in the magnitude of the moment.

In other words, they’ll be the innocent antithesis to the too-tense Indians. …

• We’ve addressed this issue before, but it still bugs us like a Cleveland midge on a warm fall evening: When will network television — Fox, in this case — stop sponsoring every aspect of a sports telecast?

Replays during the American League Championship Series were brought to us by a soon-to-be-released movie DVD. Pitching changes were brought to us by an antacid. The key play of the game was brought to us by a brand of high-definition TV.

What’s next? Dugout spitting sponsored by Mucinex? …

• While we’re on the subject of product placement, does every sports telecast have to accept commercials for, um, uh, male inadequacy?

We’re not prudish, but not every father wants to sit with his 10-year-old son during a game and watch a commercial that warns — how shall we put this delicately? — use of the product could cause a four-hour “game.”

At the very least, can’t we read the disclaimer ourselves on the product box? Wait. Not that we need the product. No, no, not us! Him! That other guy! …

• Weighing in on the New York Yankees-Joe Torre mess: Who do the Steinbrenners think they’re going to hire that’s as good or better than Torre has been as manager?

We’re pretty sure Casey Stengel is dead. …

• After seeing highlights of the dust-up between Nextel Cup drivers and Roush Racing teammates Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth following Sunday’s race at Martinsville, Va., we’re wondering if this isn’t a UFC Octagon smackdown begging to happen.

Just curious, but where did that formerly endearing Edwards go? His persona changed faster than that of a professional wrestler’s. …

• As the New England Patriots keep chewing up opponents and picking the remains out of their teeth with bettors who dare to challenge their double-digit lines, their coronation as resurgent Super Bowl champions awaits.

The real fun is watching the king-of-the-mountain scrap in the NFC, where everyone is fighting for the opportunity to be that skewered pig with an apple in its mouth come February. …

• Did you hear the one about UNLV football’s 48-23 loss Saturday night to previously winless Colorado State?

Yeah, both Rebels fans are up in arms. …

• Seriously, for a program that has had too many losses to count over the past two decades — OK, we counted: 158 over the past 20-plus seasons — Saturday’s homecoming defeat to the Rams, who had dropped 13 straight games dating to last season, might be one of the most humiliating in school history. Right up their with the Rebels’ 69-0 loss to Houston in 1989, we say.

“Make us your team,” UNLV’s marketing slogan asks? Well, how about meeting the fans halfway, fellas, by giving them something worth supporting?

Joe Hawk is the Review-Journal’s sports editor. His “Rants & Raves” column is published Tuesdays. He can be reached at 387-2912 or jhawk@reviewjournal.com.

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