The Cleveland Indians finished in seventh place in the American League East. Sports Illustrated magazine predicted that the Indians would finish in first. Club president Peter Bavasi would resign before the regular season began. Bavasi had joined the Indians in November 1984. As president of the Cleveland Indians, he served on Major League Baseball's Executive Council. During the 1986 season, the team had an 84-78 record, its best since 1968, and attendance of 1.47 million, its highest since 1959. There was a lot of optimism that the team would reach its full potential in 1987.
Sluggers Joe Carter and Cory Snyder were featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated on April 6, 1987, with the headline "Indian Uprising". The Indians were being predicted as the best team in baseball on the back of their two 30+ home run hitters. What sports writers overlooked was that Cleveland had the worst performing pitching staff in the majors, despite the presence of 300 game winners Phil Niekro and Steve Carlton, as well as Tom Candiotti (with Niekro and Candiotti, Cleveland had two starters whose main pitch was the Knuckleball). The 1987 Indians season would go on to be associated with the Sports Illustrated cover jinx.
In 1987, the Cleveland Indians achieved a baseball first. The Indians had veteran pitchers Steve Carlton and Phil Niekro on their roster to add experience. Their most notable accomplishment was appearing in a game together against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Carlton and Niekro became the first teammates and 300-game winners to appear in the same game. Both were ineffective in a 10-6 Yankee victory. It would be Carlton's first and only pitching appearance at the legendary stadium. Neither pitcher would finish the season with the Indians. Carlton would end up with the Minnesota Twins and win a World Series championship. Niekro would be picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays and come within two games of winning the American League East Championship.
July 31, 1987: Steve Carlton was traded by the Indians to the Minnesota Twins for a player to be named later. The Twins completed the deal by sending Jeff Perry (minors) to the Indians on August 18.