SEATTLE -- The Cleveland Indians go home filled with a mixture of pride in their season, disappointment they couldn't keep it going and respect for the team that ended it.
|Chuck Finley (right) is comforted by pitching coach Dick Pole in the dugout after he was taken out during the fifth inning of Game 5.
First, the pride. The Indians struggled for much of the season, not pulling away from those pesky Minnesota Twins until September. Few thought they would make this series competitive, let alone stretch it to the limit.
"Any time you can take a team like that and push it out to five games, you're playing pretty well," Game 5 starter and loser Chuck Finley said.
"We have nothing to be ashamed of," Jim Thome said. "Coming into this series we knew that they had a tremendous year and I think that we surprised them a little bit with the way we played. That's why I don't think that anyone in this room should be ashamed or disappointed. We played a very good team and we almost pulled it out and we have a lot to look forward to next year."
Next year is beginning a little too quickly for their liking. That's where the disappointment begins to mix in with a degree of satisfaction.
"Of course it's disappointing, because you cannot advance to the next level and this is it for us, but if you give all you got, 100 percent, then you feel good about what you've done," Omar Vizquel said. "There's nothing worse than losing without trying and I think everybody here tried their best.
"You can't hang your head. They played better than us and they won the game," the Cleveland shortstop said.
Playing hard, playing well, stretching the series to five games -- that provided small consolation for some Indians.
"The end result is the same, whether you lose in three games or five," Travis Fryman said. "I don't think you can take any solace in that. It's disappointing. We had them on the ropes a little bit, but I think, in the end, the better team won."
There's that respect. Everyone in the Cleveland clubhouse was sure to tip his cap to the team in the other dugout.
"I think the series was indicative of them as a team," Fryman continued. "They were composed and they won when they had to win."
Aside from a team letdown, there were also personal reasons for some to feel upset at the outcome.
"With [Indians Manager] Charlie [Manuel], all the adversity Charlie's dealt with, we would've liked to have done this for him," Thome said. "Hopefully we will next year."
That was a common rallying cry for the Indians, that this team can learn from this season, carry it over to 2002 and go further into the playoffs.
"We would've liked to end with the World Series, but we came up short," C.C. Sabathia said. "There were a lot of positive things. Hopefully, we'll build on them. Hopefully, we'll get it done in the years to come."
In the end, it was probably Roberto Alomar who best summarized all of the emotions swirling in the dejected Indians clubhouse.
"A lot of people didn't expect us to go to five games and I think we can feel good about that," Alomar said. "We played pretty good baseball. We could have won, we had our chances, but we didn't capitalize. You can't have success as a group without getting to the World Series and we came up short."
Jonathan Mayo is a columnist for MLB.com.