How the Indians remain a contender

Justin Masterson, a free agent after the 2014 season, is open to a long-term deal with Cleveland. AP Photo/Mark Duncan

When the Indians clinched a playoff spot on the final Sunday of the regular season, Terry Francona walked through the two sheets of plastic that separated a hallway of sanity from Cleveland’s champagne celebration.

A few minutes later, Francona stepped back through that door, completely soaked, his hatless head glistening, and tried to wipe his eyes with both hands. “I can’t see anything,” he said, haltingly walking back to the visiting manager’s office in search of a towel.

Getting to the postseason was a fantastic achievement for Francona and the Cleveland Indians, and now the challenge for them is the same as it is for every team with a modest payroll -- like Oakland, like Tampa Bay -- i.e., contending consistently.