So much for the Tribe's players believing in any kind of SI cover jinx.
That was the general reaction within Cleveland's clubhouse in the wake of the news that this year's Sports Illustrated Major League Baseball preview not only includes the Indians on a regional cover, it predicts the Tribe to win its first World Series since 1948. Cleveland's cover boys are Corey Kluber and Michael Brantley, who knew during the photo shoot that it was for the front of the magazine.
Asked if he believes in any kind of cover curse, Kluber was his typically succinct self.
"I don't," he replied.
After Snyder and Carter posed for the cover of the 1987 SI preview, the Indians went on to lose 101 games. The Tribe was also featured in the '96 SI preview, which had Manny Ramirez on the cover with the claim that "Cleveland's stacked lineup will roll over everyone -- including the Braves." The Indians won an AL-best 99 games, but lost in the AL Division Series to the Orioles. It was the Yankees who beat the Braves in the World Series.
On the latest cover -- one of four, along with features on the Royals, Mariners and Nationals -- the magazine reads: "Why Cleveland? Why not Cleveland? Why the Tribe will win its first Series since 1948." Kluber (the reigning AL Cy Young winner) is standing with his arms folded, grinning wide. Brantley, who won a Silver Slugger Award and finished third in MVP voting last year, is throwing his head back in laughter.
Neither player is known for smiling much for photos.
"We took serious pictures at the end, but I guess they didn't use those," Brantley said. "I hope the fans like the picture, because I don't know how many more smiles like that that they're going to get."
The Indians are fine with the attention.
"We prefer to be under the radar," Chisenhall said. "After a few Cy Youngs and Silver Sluggers, you can't hide anymore."
The players also know the cover means nothing once the season begins.
"Nobody is going to roll over because Sports Illustrated thinks you're a better team than they are," Kluber said.
Indians manager Terry Francona is extremelely familiar with perceived curses, considering he managed in Boston. In 2004, which was Francona's first season managing the Red Sox, he led the team to a World Series, ending the famous Curse of the Bambino.
"I used to tell the people in Boston," Francona said, "I didn't think it was a curse. I thought it was a lack of pitching. And then all of a sudden you've got guys like [Curt] Schilling and the curse ends."
Cleveland has Kluber and Francona was thrilled to see him and Brantley featured.
"I'm glad they're on the cover," Francona said. "It doesn't really mean anything, besides the fact that they'll get to take some copies home and give it to their families and stuff, which is kind of cool."