During the heart of what he previously considered an "unfathomable" accomplishment, Paul DePodesta wasn't able to grasp the magnitude.
Only a decade later or so was the Browns chief strategy officer able to fully appreciate the magical, 20-game winning streak he experienced as an assistant general manager with the Oakland A's in 2002.
"We were so focused on just trying to win that game each and every day and then maybe trying to win that series that it really didn't even feel like much of a streak in terms of the streak itself," DePodesta said Thursday. "I knew we were winning a lot of games but that's not what the focus was."
DePodesta carries a unique perspective as he watches the Cleveland Indians go after baseball immortality with their record-breaking winning streak. As simply a fan of baseball and the Indians, DePodesta could only applaud Wednesday as the Indians broke the A's American League record with their 21st straight win.
"I think it's phenomenal what they've been able to do. It's almost unfathomable to think a team could win that many games in a row in that sport," DePodesta said. "Having been through it, it was surreal. It still doesn't even feel real to me all these years later and I imagine it's similar for them. A real tribute to not only their players but also their organization. You have to have such a deep team and such a strong culture to even have a chance at it.
"It's just really, really impressive to see from the outside."
DePodesta began his MLB career with the Indians, serving as an intern in player development in 1996 before becoming the Major League Advance Scout for the 1997-1998 seasons and later the Special Assistant to the GM. The Indians won the AL Central in all three seasons and advanced to the World Series in 1997.
Now, DePodesta gets to enjoy the ride as a fan while playing a key role in the Browns' reshaping.
"Certainly watching them this year has been a lot of fun. I think they've always been a galvanizing force in this city," DePodesta said. "I know when I had a chance to experience it first hand 20 years ago when we were in the midst of our run with the Indians, there was nothing like it in terms of the fan support and city support. It really felt like you were a part of something much much bigger than just a sports team. That's always been a special feeling for me. I'm sure everyone at the Indians feels that way right now."
A number of the wins Oakland collected during its streak were dramatic and down the wire, including the 20th and final one that ended in extra innings with a walk-off home run. The Indians' run, meanwhile, has been characterized by its overall dominance, as Cleveland has outscored the opposition by 104, trailed for just five innings and hit more home runs (41) than the total runs it's allowed (35).
What stood out most to DePodesta was the six shutouts recorded by Indians pitchers, a total many teams don't achieve in an entire season. The only football equivalent he could put on the same level was inside his own organization, as veteran left tackle Joe Thomas enters Sunday's game against the Ravens with 9,996 consecutive snaps played.
"Baseball is just a little different. You play day in and day out, you have a different starting pitcher every day. There's a reason why high school teams and little league teams don't win 20 games in a row," DePodesta said. "There's so much randomness in every single game and things you just can't control.
"It's almost unfathomable that a team at any level can win 20 or more games in a row."