Thursday, May 31, 2007

Take Me Out To The Ball Park Mustard!

Is there anything better than a hot dog with Ball Park spicy brown mustard at Jacob’s field? Combine that with the sights, smells, and sounds of major league baseball and a winning team with the best home field record, there is nothing better offered on the planet. It took a lot of work and effort for Bertman’s to be “Mustard Monarch” in Cleveland. Being a former member of the grocery industry, I have heard wild and crazy stories from food suppliers of the great “Mustard War” that took place years ago at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. From fistfights and sabotage to alleged death threats, we have these architects of free enterprise to thank for the celestial concoction of condiment that we enjoy today.
Here are some hot dog facts that you may or may not be aware of:

Marlene Dietrich said one of her favorite meals was hot dogs and champagne.

Babe Ruth once ate so many hot dogs during a double header with the Yankees that he was rushed to the hospital for indigestion. Rumors of his death were exaggerated and premature.

Actor Bruce Willis proposed to his actress wife Demi Moore at a hot dog stand.

In 1995, 3 Seattle Seahawk football players were fined $1000 each for eating hot dogs on the sidelines of a pre-season game. The smell of the hot dogs wafting down from the stands was just too irresistible to the hungry players.

Do people take their spicy condiment seriously?

You have to “Cut the Mustard” in life to be successful.

“As Keen as Mustard” was a phrase from 1672!

Mustard Plasters are an age-old remedy for many illnesses.

“You shall see a man as hot as Mustard against Plot and Plotters." This is a phrase from F. Smith's Clod-pate's Ghost, 1679.

How about this tongue in cheek (probably searching for that last taste of mustard) excerpt from the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum:

Under the new Condiment Abuse Prevention Act of 2007, ketchup and mayo eaters will be required to register themselves as known condiment offenders. Decent Americans can then search the National Registry of Condiment Lowlifes to identify any food perverts that happen to live in their neighborhoods.
Mustard Museum Curator Barry Levenson hailed the measure as “long overdue” and “a valuable tool in our nation’s war on sandwich predators.” Citing a recent government study that identified ketchup as the leading cause of childhood stupidity, Levenson predicted that he would soon be committed to the Wisconsin Home for the Criminally Absurd.

Enjoy your hot dog with the proper mustard and Go Tribe!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

30 Years Ago Today, Dennis Eckersley Earned Baseball Immortality!

On May 30th, 1977, Dennis Eckersley, then a starting pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, pitched a 1-0 no-hitter against the California Angels. That same year, Dennis achieved 14 victories, had a 21-inning hitless streak (which was the second longest next to Cy Young's 1904 mark of 24), and it was also his first All-Star appearance.

To Rest Or Not To Rest…That Should Not Be A Question!

Good Times In Boston
Ask Casey Blake if he would like to sit out a game. What do you think he will say? He would probably protect his Wichita State buddy and manager Eric Wedge and say something politically correct like, “I come to play everyday, but I understand the skipper has to juggle the lineup on occasion. I’ll be ready if he needs me.” What a crock that would be! We have gone through the “Marte Experiment” at 3rd base. Casey has been asked to play 1st base, right field, and 3rd base. He has responded with a strong season. So he continues to fine-tune his game, gets named the American League Player Of The Week, and on the same day, Wedge sits him in the middle of a series with the Boston Red Sox. Casey Blake hits right-handed pitching almost as well as he hits left-handed pitching. It appeared that he may have been hit by a pitch on the hand in the top of the ninth inning Monday night while allegedly swinging at a third strike, according to 1st base umpire Chuck Merriweather. “You better sit tonight and rest that hand, Casey. Which hand was it, anyway?” Come the 8th inning and 3rd baseman Mike Rouse, who hasn’t been seeing the ball well at all since spring training, has gone 0 for 2. Casey gets a pinch hit single. “How’s the hand now, Casey?” Kansas City is in town next week, rest him a game then if he has to rest. If I am Grady Sizemore who has played every inning of every game so far this season, I make sure Wedge doesn’t see me limp away from 2nd base while breaking up a double play. If I have to sneeze or cough, I make sure Wedge is out of ear-shot. Last week, Ryan Garko wins a game for the team and sits the next night. Who takes his place in the batting lineup? Another right-handed hitter…brilliant!
Little league may have a “two inning minimum” for all players but at the major league level, play to win! And where is it written that Travis Hafner, who’s sole job is to hit baseballs (except for an occasional fill-in at 1st base) and is mired in a terrible slump, has to bat 3rd? Why isn’t Victor Martinez (.308 AVG, .380 OBP, .503 SLG, switch hitter) batting 3rd and Hafner 4th?
With Detroit on our heels and Chicago and Minnesota are busy deciding if they want to join the division race, this series vs. Boston is very important. We can’t lay down for 3 games and expect to put any distance between ourselves and the rest of the division. The Red Sox will be our biggest roadblock to the World Series if we make it to the playoffs. This team needs to know that they can play and beat them. The “mission statement” for the season has been coined as “One Game at a Time.” How about, “Play To Win Every Game, One Victory At A Time!”

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

You Can’t Always Get What You Want…Or Can You?!

Sister Assumpta Keepin' Score!

Cleveland Indians outfielder David Dellucci had been in a batting slump for most of the month of May. On a recent phone call to home back in Baton Rouge, La., David’s aunt had an idea. She advised David that she would have a friend of his call him with some advice. This friend is a Catholic Nun by the name of Sister Dulce. David befriended her while doing volunteer work for the parish that the sister is assigned. Sure enough, the call came through and this is the advice the Sister gave to David; “Stop pressing at the plate, you are putting too much pressure on yourself. Relax and take God to bat with you.” That evening, David hit a triple and a home run to help the Indians defeat their division rivals, the Tigers, and increase their lead in first place to a game and one half. David claims to have taken Sister Dulce’s advice.
Everyone has seen the movie “Angels in the Outfield.” It is believed that the Notre Dame University Football Team has been the recipient of “Divine Intervention” regularly. The Cleveland Indians have a Nun that has adopted the team as her own. Sister Mary Assumpta even starred in the movie about them, “Major League.” In that movie, slugger Pedro Serrano worshipped multiple Gods, determined by whichever one could help him hit a curve ball. Then of course, there is the “other side” represented in “Damn Yankees.”
So, whether you believe in help from beyond or not, what is the harm in taking advantage of that help? Many players make thankful gestures skyward upon a successful hit, play, pitch, etc. Many players make a religious sign or gesture before such plays.
However, the question remains, are they asking for enough? Are “favors” being left on the table? What if there is more available? Can specific favors or indulgences be requested? Can we get a “group rate?”
For example;
Requests must be balanced with a solid and achievable commitment.
During the last inning of the seventh game of the 1997 World Series, I was overheard by my family as committing to, “Get us out of this inning and I will go to church everyday for the rest of my life!” As it turned out, Edgar Renteria obviously made a better deal. Besides, I look at that moment as a very weak negotiating attempt on my part. I was obviously viewed as a “flight” risk for way over committing.
Requests, especially those made in the heat of the moment, must be specific in desired results. Players will be served first.
“God help me!” …help you what? “Please God, no!” …no what? That’s what time outs are for in baseball. Take full advantage of them. Step out of the batter’s box, off the mound, etc. and take the time you need to negotiate for specific results. Here is a suggested format to use:
“Please, __________ (insert the “God” of your choice), help me turn this ___________ (0-2 count for batters, 3-0 count for pitchers, etc.) into a ___________ (home run over the center field wall, inning-ending double play, etc). Furthermore, my current team will win this game by a score of _________ (remember to be reasonable). Additionally, as long as I am a part of this team for the remainder of this season (this is your exit clause in case of a trade), we will win our division by 5 or more games, cruise through the playoffs never to lose more than one game per playoff series, and win the World Series in _______ games (again, be realistic, keep in mind commercial endorsements, advertising dollars, etc.). I agree to ____________________________ (carefully lay out your commitments specifically, reinforcing that all of the above must take place in the proper sequence).”
God is a busy man…or woman, limit your requests to avoid the “nuisance” moniker that could jeopardize future requests.
There are 30 major league baseball teams with 750 players and millions of fans, not to mention minor leagues, softball leagues, all the way down to T-ball. Because of the high volume between 7 pm and 10:30 pm, rates have been reduced during off times. So, get your requests in early for best results and to take advantage of the “reduced obligation” special.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Andy Marte Experiment?

The Indians have fought back and regained first place by beating the Tigers by a score of 7-4 tonight. The game was a nail-biter as the Indians jumped to a lead in the first inning and continued to build that lead through nine innings, while the Tigers kept clawing back into the game. The Indians accomplished this with an unusual twist to their line-up. Practically each night since Andy Marte has returned from the disabled list, they have found a way to start him at 3rd base. This meant sitting the number 10 hitter in the league, Ryan Garko who also bats right handed as does Marte. With Byrd pitching and using Kelly Shoppach as his catcher exclusively, Martinez was moved to 1st base. Casey Blake took over in right field. All of this presents a problem, but a very good problem. How do you work all of the hot hitters into a potent line-up?
Marte is batting .180 this season with 4 errors and he had a poor spring training. He went 1 for 4 tonight and failed to produce with a runner on third and less than 2 outs. He did have a couple of nice plays at 3rd. The night before, he went 0 for 5 with a ground out and 4 pop-outs. He owns a poor strikeout to walk ratio.
The Indians are in first place despite not having a set infield and outfield. Marte obviously represents untapped talent but can we continue to be successful playing the league leaders (Detroit and Boston over the next 9 games) while experimenting? Michaels, Blake, and Garko are on fire. All bat right handed as does Marte. The question becomes, is Marte getting playing time based on his talent, is he being showcased for a trade for a reliever, or is he out of options?
Here is the scouting report on Marte from 2006:
Scouting Report: Blue chip third base prospect with all star potential. Excellent power (40 HR potential), drives the ball well to all fields. Above average fielder. Great plate discipline. Below average speed on the basepaths.
(We saw that below average speed tonight.)
At any rate, Wedge may have his hands tied somewhat in selecting his lineup.
It is up to Marte to produce to the level that he is capable of.
It is up to Wedge to get the most out of his lineup.
It is up to Shapiro to provide Wedge with the best talent available.
It continues to be a great season and grows more interesting minute by minute!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Spirit Of Cleveland!

Our winters are too long and too cold, our springs come too late and stay cold and wet too long, and our summers go by in the blink of an eye, but when the Cleveland Indians take the field, you will never find more loyal fans than the people who get behind the Tribe in this crazy town. Snow on our opener, take home games away from us, even add runs on the scoreboard against us three innings later, and the Indians' fans are there, day in, day out, all season, all year long. Our home opener was snowed out one pitch away from victory. Opener #2 was held in Milwaukee. Opener #3 took place last night at Jacobs Field. There was snow again! But this time, the snow was produced for the "enjoyment and entertainment" of the fans. Snow machines were positioned at the entrance to remind fans why Mike Hargrove and his Mariners were in town to make up a game on what would have otherwise been an off day for both teams. There were 25' snowmen and writing in the manufactured snow that read, "Play Ball!" McDonald's McFlurry coupons were handed out to fans. Snow removal contracts for next winter were given away as were snow throwers. Additionally, a leaf blower that was used to blow away the snow back on April 6th during the original opener was given away!
The fans loved it all and truly got into the spirit of the night. They came to their feet many, many times; for C.C.'s 1000th strike out, Barfield's throw to the plate and Victor's block to prevent a go-ahead run, Casey's home run, and Barfield's run scoring double. When it appeared Hargrove may get the "thumb" during an argument at home plate, the crowed roared!
A spirited team effort snatched the game away from the Mariners with a score of 5-2 on a night when Indians ace C.C. Sabathia just didn't have his best stuff. The Indians own the best home record in baseball and have matched their own best home wins vs. losses record with the Indians' team of 1995. Playing at home, the Tribe enjoys tremendous support from their Wahoo Faithful.
There is a new league leader in this group. Josh Barfield leads the league in GWPF. That is game winning pies in face for the player interviewed on the post game show for being the game winner.
This is my town (despite the weather). The Cleveland Indians are my team. This is our year...come into our house and we will show you why!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Be Afraid…Be Very Afraid!

It is May 18th and the Cleveland Indians are in first place by one full game in the American League East. Their fielding continues to improve and their hitting is really heating up. It is evident that the team has benefited most from great starting pitching and a much improved relief corps. In fact, the starting pitching has been so effective, we have sent Fausto Carmona down to Triple A after a stunning victory over Baltimore almost two weeks ago just to bring him back when Jake Westbrook went on the DL. Fausto has wowed baseball with a great record (5-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his last five starts and hasn't given up a run in 15 innings), capping that with a 4 hit shutout of the Twins just yesterday. Jake is almost ready to come back from the DL. Another very encouraging tidbit is that our minor league pitchers are performing very well led by Adam Miller. The team brass has been very creative in protecting their pitching depth. When asked what they will do when Jake is ready to come back, they have replied, "Something will come up!”

So, if you are a starting pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, what does all of this mean?

It means;
  • Don’t change ceiling fan light bulbs at home

  • That home improvement project can wait until November

  • Don’t play pepper in your yard with your kids

  • There are “people” who can change the blade on your chain saw

  • Forget it! That wind-blown, rolling Target shopping cart will probably “just miss” your "Beamer”

  • It’s a good time to grow a beard

  • Don’t change your own automobile oil

  • Stay out of the kids’ tree house

  • A pick-up basketball game should be limited to “H.O.R.S.E.”

  • Call the cable guy to re-aim your satellite dish

  • Attempt the “Triple Lindy” high dive after the post season

  • When “Dancing with The Stars” calls, you are not interested

Hang on, it just keeps getting better!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

May 17th, A Very Strange Day In Cleveland Indians Baseball History!

The following odd occurrences took place on May 17th, all involving our Cleveland Indians!

Due to Sunday restrictions in Cleveland, a major league game is played in Columbus, Ohio with the "hometown" Indians defeating the New York Highlanders, 9-2. (…And we thought this season was unique!)


In a 2-1 loss to the Senators, Indians' outfielder Tris Speaker singles off pitcher Tom Zachary to reach the career 3000-hit milestone.

Every game on the American League schedule is rained out for the fourth consecutive day.

Tom McCraw hits perhaps the shortest home run in baseball history. The 200-foot round tripper is the result of three Indians colliding trying to catch the ball, a short pop fly over second base.


With the first 10 pitches he throws as a major league, 22-year old Ervin Santana of the Angels allows a collective cycle to the first four Indian batters he faces; a triple by Grady Sizemore, a double by Coco Crisp, a single by Travis Hafner followed by a home run blasted by Ben Broussard.

What oddities are on the horizon?!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


26 years ago tonight, Len Barker pitched a perfect game for the Cleveland Indians at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Because of a steady but light rain all day, there was much speculation that the game would not be played. However, at 7 pm, the familiar voices of Joe Tait and Bruce Drennan came on the air to deliver the pre-game show. Len Barker was masterful in not allowing any batter to reach base and not pitching more that 2 pitches outside of the strike zone to any batter!
20 years later, I had the pleasure of meeting Len Barker at the annual Cleveland Indians Fantasy Camp in Winter Haven, Florida. Len loves to talk about the perfect game, as well as his major league career. His first question to anyone discussing the May 15th, 1981 event is, “Were you at the stadium for my perfect game? There were only seven thousand people there that night but since then, over one hundred thousand people have told me they were there!”
No, I was not there, but I did not miss a pitch on TV. I was watching my children that night and had put them to bed before the game was over (the games started at 7:30 pm in those days). Before the commercials were over prior to the start of the ninth inning, I raced upstairs to bring my 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter down to witness Baseball history. They were just happy to be back out of bed after 10 pm at night. We (probably just me) held our breath with every pitch until the last fly ball of the night, off the bat of pinch hitter Ernie Whitt, went sailing to medium left-center field. Sure-handed center fielder Rick Manning snatched the fly ball for the last out and the celebration began!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Is Eric Wedge Yet A Force To Be Reckoned With?


Man-age - to bring about or succeed in accomplishing, sometimes despite difficulty or hardship

Coach - to train intensively (as by instruction and demonstration)

Mo-ti-vate - To provide with an incentive; move to action; impel

Dis-ci-pline - activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill

Eric Wedge is in his 5th season as manager of the Cleveland Indians. Under his leadership, the team posted their 8th highest win total in 2005 with a record of 93 and 69. Going into this season, his managerial record with the Indians is 319 and 329 for a .492 percentage. 2006 was a disappointing season for the team, as well as Wedge as there was much speculation on the club winning the division.
Wedge appears to have a somewhat “laid-back” style of management, displaying great patience with the development of his younger players. He has recently improved on game-time reaction to his pitchers in distress.
The question is, can the Indians compete and make the playoffs this season with Eric Wedge at the controls? As upper management has been diligent in signing talented players to contract extensions and attracting additional talent, can this organization afford not to win now? If this current team fails to make the playoff this season, will it lead to an exodus of coveted players that are at the end of their contract and desire the spotlight of post season play with the end goal of winning the World Series?
The Indians must win their division and strongly compete for the World Series this year. Injuries have weakened the other teams in the division, although Detroit continues to be the biggest hurdle standing between the Indians and the division championship. The team has yet to measure itself against the Red Sox who appear to be the other team in the league that poses a threat to reaching the World Series. The Twins, Yankees, White Sox, and Angels are sure to improve themselves by next season and looking beyond next year, the Devil Rays are building what appears to be a strong and dominating team that is in immediate need of maturity and a solid pitcher or two.
Wedge needs to step it up right now. This team has shown signs of being able to play with and beat the best teams in the league while putting together winning streaks. What they need is discipline to overcome let downs, slumps, and fatigue due to the number of games to be played in consecutive days with the schedule ahead. That discipline needs to include a strict training and exercise regiment to avoid the nagging oblique and leg muscle pulls that have plagued this team year after year.
They need coaching before, during, and after each game. The combination of veterans and new talent is a very good balance. However, the team appears to lose focus and needs constant reminder of the long and short term goals and what is and is not acceptable to reach those goals. Today’s game was highly unacceptable and a gut check is in order immediately. The Indians left 10 runners on base, scored only one run in the first two innings while leaving the bases loaded in both innings, failed to fully capitalize on 3 Oakland errors, and gave up a 5-1 lead eventually giving up 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning and losing the game by a score of 10-7. (Here's hoping closer Joe Borowski does not become known as "Joe Blow!")
They need motivation, whether that be from the manager and his staff or from the individual, a call to action apparently will not take place by itself.
They need a manager who is engaged in holding the individuals accountable for their actions that will bring success to the team.
The schedule is favorable to the Indians in the next couple of months if home-field advantage is a true advantage. From now through July, the team will enjoy 44 out of 71 games at home. During that stretch, the mix of average to very good opponents will certainly test the make-up of this team.
It is time for Eric Wedge to raise the bar of expectations for this team. Can he do it? Will he do it? I can’t wait to read the morning paper and see the reaction of today’s sloppy and disappointing loss to the A’s.
Wedge needs to get fired before he gets fired!
He CAN do it but WILL he do it?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Real Deal Has It Covered!

Cleveland Indians premier centerfielder Grady Sizemore graces the cover of Sports Illustrated!

From his timed leaping catches,

dramatic diving game-savers,

12 for 12 steals,

to an inside the park homer,

Grady is the "Real Deal" and he keeps getting better!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Cleveland Indian Hall Of Fame Pitcher Bob “Rapid Robert” Feller To Come Out Of Retirement!

The following story is a fictional rendering of events yet to unfold. Any similar circumstances that should take place in the near future are purely coincidental.

"Rapid Robert" Feller leaves a press conference where he announces that he is coming out of retirement!

On Sunday, Roger Clemens announced that he was coming out of retirement (again) to help his old team, the New York Yankees, due to their injury-ridden pitching staff and their poor performance to date.
Baseball legend and Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller has made a similar decision to make himself available to the Cleveland Indians to replace Jake Westbrook, who has gone on the disabled list. The 87 year old Feller, who still pitches (from the rubber) and fields his position with the campers at the annual Cleveland Indians Fantasy Camp each January, had this to say;
“I have always been, and always will be a Cleveland Indian. This team is in first place and by golly, I’m gonna make sure we keep ‘em there!”
On Monday evening when the announcement reached the team, who was busy sticking it to the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 10 -1 in Camden Yards, they had the following reaction;

Said Mark Shapiro, “We love having Bob back and we know what a great asset he will be to our season. Best of all, Bob is a huge bargain as his pension prohibits him from collecting a salary! We are working out contractual arrangements with Geritol and Ben Gay!”

Eric Wedge said, “We’re glad to have Bob’s leadership and experience on the team. We’ll give him the ball and see where Bob can take us. Knowing Bob, he will probably want to take his swings in inter-league play situations!”

Trot Nixon had this to say, “I’ve read stories about this great man and seen his likeness in Cooperstown. I think it’s great he can still contribute to this team. Will he get too pissed off if he gets hit with a "player of the game" cream pie?

Fausto Carmona said (through an interpreter), “I ween another game and I go down to Booffalo ageen to make room for heem? Oh Noooooooo!”

Wins = Cream Pies!

The 2007 edition of the Cleveland Indians has been exciting to be a part of. Despite many setbacks in this young season, this team finds itself on top of the American League Central Division.
While all of this winning has been going on, a mysterious “ritual” has emerged. During post game “player of the game” interviews, the player becomes a victim of cream pie assault. Believed to be sharing the hit and run missions are Trot Nixon and David Dellucci, who also share right field. Recently, Grady Sizemore was being interviewed for his game-winning heroics. During that interview, Grady’s defense came into play once more as he avoided “peer-pie pressure!”
This camaraderie reminds me of the ’95 Indians who always had a bubble gum balloon for any team-mate that took part in a television interview. That team went all the way to the 6th game of the World Series!
As the winning is a recipe for success for this group, victory will continue to be sweet!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Fire In The Hole…(On Deck)!

Cleveland Indians outfielder David Dellucci gave the team and the city something to fight for last night! As Josh Barfield attempted to score the tying run on a dropped Grady Sizemore liner to center field, he tangled with Blue Jays catcher Jason Phillips who was blocking the plate. As Barfield was called out, Phillips turned and “jawed” at him. Dellucci, who was on deck, went after Phillips in defense of Barfield’s clean but aggressive scoring attempt that ended in the third out of the inning. That seemed to be just the fire the Indians needed. At the top of the next inning, Dellucci made a sensational catch in left field and then he led off the bottom of the same inning with a double. The Indians won the game with an RBI ground rule double off of the bat of Grady Sizemore. Grady somehow avoided the pie in the face that has been the game-winner's fate as of late as they are interviewed in the post game show.
This team has won 10 of their last 11 games, 4 in a row, and they reside in first place of the American League Central by two full games. Pitching is their strong point with great depth and a powerful bullpen. But what will happen when these guys heat up and start hitting like they are capable of? All signs are there that the hits, timely ones at that, are on the way!
Despite some of the adversity that this team has faced so far this season (snow storms, opener called one pitch away from a complete game victory, playing home games in another stadium, getting tagged for a run three innings after the fact), first place is a great place to be while this team provides fabulous drama and entertainment each and every day! Go Tribe!!!

David "Rocky" Dellucci!