Saturday, June 30, 2007

Only In Hollywood?...Not!

The following in a excerpt from the Sports section of the Akron Beacon Journal this morning, 6/30/07:

Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez is going to his first All-Star game. Gonzalez received a phone call Friday from St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, asking whether he was available as coach for the National League next month.

Asking whether he was available?!

The following is an excerpt from the 1989 movie, Major League:
[The Indians General Manager calls minor league coach Lou Brown at Tire World to offer him a position with the Indians]

Charlie Donovan: "How would you like to manage the Indians this year?"
Lou Brown: "Gee, I don't know..."
Charlie Donovan: "What do you mean, you don't know? This is your chance to manage in the big leagues."
Lou Brown: "Let me get back to you, will ya, Charlie? I got a guy on the other line asking about some white walls."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Prediction At 8:05 PM, Wednesday, June 27th!

OK, the score is 9-1, Oakland...
I say the Tribe comes back and wins this game!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


An unfortunate injury has sidelined Miguel Tejada of the Baltimore Orioles. His broken wrist ended his consecutive game streak of 1152 games. Juan Pierre of the Dodgers now has the longest streak of active players at 349 games followed by Grady Sizemore of the Cleveland Indians at 272 games.
Indians manager Eric Wedge has been quoted as saying he would never let a player reach a streak as long as Tejada’s. “That shouldn’t be a focal point for a player,” said Wedge. “Players should concentrate on going out there every day and playing the best they can.”
Say you what did?! Hear I didn’t that tell right me!
You’ve got a superstar player that refuses to sit down. This guy plays his guts out every pitch of every game and constantly produces. If anyone concentrates on going out there every day and playing the best he can, it’s Grady Sizemore!
Is it just sheer stubbornness on the part of Eric Wedge that is frustrating his players as well as the fans?
If Grady Sizemore keeps a consecutive game streak in tact, it is a product of his dedication to the game and his desire to play. To sit him down because he has a streak going is poor management and misguided judgment.
Stop holding back your best players. Play your top players. Let these guys loose and your team may start running away with the division!

On the flip side…
Wedge has developed a strong talent for late game offensive substitutions. Tonight, in using practically the entire bench in the game vs. the Oakland A’s, He utilized Mike Rouse and Ben Francisco as pinch runners and then pinch hits backup catcher Kelly Shoppach with two outs and two on with the score tied in the bottom of the ninth…Home Run! That move puts the Indians back into a first place tie with the Tigers!

Come on, Eric…Start your best every night. If you do, you may not need all of the last of the ninth heroics but know they are there if you need them!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Putting It All In Perspective!

The Cleveland Indians arrived in Washington DC this past Thursday for their 3-game series vs. the Nationals over the weekend. Friday morning, many members of the team were treated to tours of the White House and Capitol Building. Saturday morning, many players and coaches took the time to visit wounded soldiers at Bethesda Medical Center and Walter Reed Army Hospital.
At the hospitals, they found many baseball fans and even some Cleveland Indians fans as well. Paul Byrd told one of the wounded that the team would try to win the game for them that night. The soldier, who is recovering from a gunshot wound by a sniper in Iraq, said, "It's a done deal! I survived a bullet to the head so you guys will win!" Victor Martinez, the eventual hero of that game that evening, shook the soldier's hand.
This was a very unselfish and classy gesture on the part of these ball players to visit the recovering soldiers. The player that put it most into perspective was C.C.Sabathia, showing much wisdom beyond his 26 years. He said, "Last weekend, I got upset because I gave up a few hits. That was just about the time many of these guys got wounded!"

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What, Me Worry?

As the Tigers continue their winning ways, the Indians will find themselves two games down in second place behind Detroit. But there is little, if any worry on the part of this organization. While we maintained some part of first place in the American League Central for 54 days this season, we were able to overcome most obstacles with timely, solid hitting. As the hitting slowed and then stopped, away went 1st place.
The lack of hitting appears to be viewed by the Tribe brass as a minor setback that will work itself out. Have we overcome so much this season that we take it all for granted and assume that something will change by itself?
Detroit is on the verge of pulling away from us. They swept the Nationals who just beat us two games out of three (and our only win was ugly). And if the Wild Card is our new focus, forget it! The Twins are starting to put it all together again.
This edition of the Cleveland Indians will never make anyone forget about some of the greatest teams in baseball, but they have enough talent and are well rounded enough to win the division. But it will not happen by accident. It is well past time to ignite a fire under these guys.
When Cliff Lee came back from the disabled list, he had a lacluster pitching performance his first time out. Manager Eric Wedge chastised Lee and the flavor of that one-sided conversation was well documented in the daily paper. Lee got back on track.
If the recent sub-par hitting is accepted or excuses are offered, it will no doubt continue. This team is developing a habit of only getting up to the level of the team they are playing instead of playing the brand of baseball they are capable of.

It's time to worry.

The Indians take on a pretty good Oakland A's team over the next four days. Hopefully, the memory of the last meeting between these two teams will stoke the fires of revenge in the heart of this team. Perhaps Eric Wedge will see to it.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Braves Lose With Cox Out!

The Detroit Tigers secured sole possession of first place in the American League Central for at least another day by defeating the Atlanta Braves this afternoon by a score of 2-1. Atlanta manager Bobby Cox tied John McGraw for the all-time baseball lead in getting thrown out of games at 131.
The Cleveland Indians find themselves in a "must-win" situation vs. the Washington Nationals tonight to stay one game back of Detroit in the standings.

Eric The Red (Faced)!

The Washington Nationals played well last night in a 4-1 win. Unfortunately, they played the Cleveland Indians who resembled a team needing a challenge as they have had has some part of first place in the American League Central since May 24th. Not no more! The "Tired Tribe" was listless and practically hitless (OK, they had 8 hits) as they allowed the Nationals to boot them out of 1st place with very little resistance.
The Tribe partook in a much needed day off on Thursday but manager Eric Wedge felt compelled to rest some of his key players prior to that respite. Apparently they enjoyed the down time as it continued through last night's game.
Eric Wedge was quoted as saying, "It came down to us not taking advantage of our opportunities." ...Ya think?!!!
Here is a suggestion:
In the future, instead of taking the day off before playing a last place team, how about stopping over in Lake County for a pick-up game with the Single A Captains to better judge the commitment needed to get by a "junior" team.
Looking on the bright side, this team has been trying very hard recently to lose their hold on 1st place. Perhaps now, like Avis, they will try harder to get it back!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tigers (and Twins) Gain As Indians (ZZZZZZZZ) Rest!

Your team is one game ahead of the Tigers in a battle for first place. Your team is playing the Phillies with a very potent offense but a weak bullpen. Your pitcher is making his second start of the season but is still unproven.
The Tigers are playing the Washington Nationals who they “ripped a new one” the night before.
So, your #2 spot hitter’s streak comes to an end at 26 games, what do you do?
(Keep in mind he is also your most reliable infielder)
Do you play him in a critical game as Detroit will no doubt win over the Nationals and tie you for first place if you lose to the powerful Phillies?
Or, do you rest him and put in weak hitting utility infielder Mike Rouse with a .122 batting average because he is a lefty and will face right-handed pitching?
Hindsight is 20-20 but some of this is just so predictable.
Hindsight – Rouse opens the scoring door with an error in the 1st inning and a poor play later on.
Predictable – With a .122 batting average, does it matter if he bats lefty, righty, or at all? (Yes, he did go 1 for 3, even a blind squirrel yadda, yadda, yadda…)
Predictable – Casey Blake hits righties and lefties.
Predictable – Everybody gets a day off on Thursday.
Hindsight – Jason Stanford has a poor performance in a second start.
Predictable – Aaron Fultz fails in relief.
A better question is, how bad does this organization want to win?
The outcome of a division title is determined by one team winning more games than the rest of the teams within that division.
The outcome of a game of baseball is determined by one team outscoring another.
You win games by paying attention to each and every detail, looking for any and all advantage. Those situations and opportunities arise and change with each and every pitch count, swing (or no swing) of the bat, play or misplay, etc.
The last thing Casey Blake needs is a day off. He thrives on everyday play. Instead, Wedge loads up the lineup with lefty hitters and sits one of his hottest bats.
Predictable - Blake is hitting .274 off lefties and .280 off righties.
News Flash – Blake hits righties better than he does lefties!!!!!
Hindsight – David Dellucci goes down with a leg injury running out a grounder and there are no more lefties on the bench anyway.
Wedgy, what happened to your motto from the beginning of the season, “Win, one game at a time.”
It appears to have changed to, “Survive, one season at a time!”
This team is capable of winning the division but they can’t do it unless their manager adapts a “never give an inch” attitude.
Spring training is over…play to win…NOW!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Young Guns Are Banding Together To Form The A.L. Central Posse

They’re comin’ right down Main Street.
They’re armed and dangerous. Hide the women and children…better yet, buy them tickets ‘cause they should had ought to see what’s gonna happen.
They’re stingy, firing the fewest walks in the league.
They’re 3rd in wins, 4th in saves, and 3rd last in losses.
They’re 7th in ERA, but they have a potent offense behind them that outscores all comers.
They’re led by C.C. “The Kid” Sabathia with 9 wins and 2 losses.
They’re kept honest by Fausto “The Rattlesnake” Carmona with 8 wins and 2 losses.
They’re kept outta trouble by Paul “Cherokee” Byrd who is the veteran member of the gang with only 4 base on balls all season and a winning ‘tude.
They’re backs are covered by Cliff “Lefty” Lee, wounded in action but back in the heat of things.
They’re righted by Rafael “Dead-Eye” Betancourt with a 1.17 ERA.
They’re rescued by Injun-Joe Borowski with 20 saves, second in the league.
They’re the Young Guns of the Cleveland Indians and they’re comin’ to town.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Make No "Mistake" on Our Lake!

The following story from Fox Sports on MSN can be accessed at the link provided below:

Seattle star Ichiro is going to be a free agent at the end of the 2007 season. But it's reasonable to guess that he won't end up a Cleveland Indian next year. According to a report in the Seattle Times, the Mariners outfielder said he would punch himself in the face if he ever caught himself saying he would enjoy a trip to the city once derisively referred to as "the mistake by the lake." Seattle had to make a side trip to Cleveland for a make-up game on Monday, where the Mariners blew a seven-run lead before winning, 8-7. "To tell the truth, I'm not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to," Ichiro proclaimed, through an interpreter. "If I ever saw myself saying I'm excited going to Cleveland, I'd punch myself in the face, because I'm lying." Monday's game was a makeup for an April matchup that was part of an entire series with the Indians wiped out due to snow. The Mariners were originally scheduled to have Monday off before what was originally scheduled as a six-game road trip beginning in Chicago on Tuesday night.
Me thinks he doth protest too much! Cleveland would personally be a great fit for "Itchy" and he knows it. The fact is, he probably would love how this city would embrace him. Despite his little "dis" to Cleveland, the fans would forgive and forget...hell, they'd probably put up a statue on Public Square to him if he was even remotely successful on the shores of Erie.

But wait, let's not fall in love with another Wayne Garland...or Keith Hernandez...or Hawk Harrelson! Let's take a look at what "Itchy" has left to offer:

  • "Itchy" will be 34 years old in October.
  • When he loses a few more steps in the field, he would not have the physical attributes to become a designated hitter.
  • Cleveland teams thrive on "Team Players" like Casey Blake, Victor Martinez, Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner, Trot Nixon, and the likes.
  • The Indians' minor league system has some extremely talented outfielders with big sticks on the verge of going to the "Show" right now.
  • When speedy Josh Barfield becomes more comfortable with American League pitching, he will be a great candidate for the lead-off spot in the line-up, putting the left-handed bat of Grady Sizemore in the second spot, batting behind the runner.

So, "Itchy," your point has been made and well taken. Thanks for the sobering comments on your future anywhere but Cleveland. You more than likely saved the town from yet another "Mistake on the Lake!"

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

June Swoon? Say It Ain’t So!

In the great baseball movie, The Natural, the New York Knights are mired in last place. As manager Pop Fisher said, "Now look at me. I'm wet nurse to a last-place, dead-to-the-neck-up ball club, and I'm choking to death!"

Enter Dr. Knobb, the straw-hatted shrink who's intention is to stop the team from losing. "Losing is a disease. Losing is contagious…as contagious as Polio…as contagious as Syphilis…as contagious as the Bubonic Plague…attacking one, but infecting all."

Where is Dr. Knobb when you need him? Granted, we are still in first place, tied with Detroit. Minnesota and Chicago are currently playing the part of "also-rans."

Better yet, where is Roy Hobbs when you need him? Victor Martinez is trying to carry the team on his back. He is leading the team in RBIs, home runs (tie with Peralta), and second in hits. Casey Blake has a 21 game hitting streak, leads the team in doubles, and is the cornerstone of the defense at third base. C.C. Sabathia is carrying the pitching staff with a 3.09 ERA, a 9-1 record, 89 strike outs, and 99 innings pitched.

It’s time for the rest of the team to step up and stop the all too familiar “June Swoon!” What is with all of the called third strikes? We seem to be complaining about the strike zone for 8 innings and then in the 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th inning, with two strikes, we fail to protect the plate on pitches that have been called strikes all game long. I love the fact that we make opposing pitchers go deep into pitch counts because our batters are disciplined but come on, after your lineup has gone up against the starting pitcher a couple of times, isn’t it time to be a little less disciplined and a little more of a student of the pitcher? Let’s see, he struck me out twice on inside and low pitches. Do I watch another one and hope it’s a ball or do I go down and pull it? Our pitchers are struggling with any part of the strike zone except for “down Broadway!” Byrd and Lee, you guys are crafty. Stop pitching in the heart of the plate and make ‘em swing where it ain’t. This team has come too far and has too much talent and fight in them to roll over for Detroit.

As Pop Fisher said to Roy Hobbs, “Well, you're better than any player I ever had. And you're the best God damn hitter I ever saw. Suit up.”

Suit up, Tribe, you control your own destiny!

Friday, June 8, 2007

June 10th Is a Memorable Day in Indians History!

  1. On June 10th, 1959, Cleveland Indians slugging outfielder Rocky Colavito hit four consecutive home runs against the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore Municipal Stadium. He was the sixth player in baseball history to accomplish this feat at that time. The “Rock” propelled the Indians to an 11-8 victory that evening (drawing a base on balls his first time up). Rocky, who led the American League in home runs that year with 42 blasts, was a fan favorite on a team that was embroiled in a blistering battle for the pennant with the Chicago White Sox until the final week of the season. The daily newspapers glamorized the popular slugger and he always accommodated his fans by staying after games to sign autographs. During the season, there were many homemade signs to cheer on Rocky draped throughout the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. One of the most memorable was “Rocco Socko!”
    On a personal note, I was fortunate to see and speak with Rocky at almost every Indians home game in 1959. A pastor at our neighborhood church befriended Rocky in 1958. In turn, Rocky left the priest 4 tickets to all of the home games for the 1959 season. The priest, my father, another parishioner, and I made it to almost all of the home games that season. We would begin each home game with dinner at a downtown Cleveland restaurant that provided a free cab to and from the game for dinner patrons. The smart entrepreneur knew his patrons returning from the game to his parking lot would come back into the restaurant for drinks. Each night there was a home game, we would always have dinner and, after getting to know the waiters over time, they would make up stories about Rocky being traded or injured earlier in the day to see how a nine-year-old diehard Rocky fan would react. Then, they would ask me what I thought the score would be that evening. Chances are if they were betting on the Indians, they made some cash because the Tribe won many more than they lost that year and I wasn't about to predict anything but a win. We would get into a cab and ride the short distance to the stadium. Each night, the excitement of going to the games was almost too much to contain as the familiar sites along the way let me know just how close we were. Entering the old stadium, your senses were bombarded as you walked out of the dark entrance tunnel to see the beautiful green grass, the bright evening sun shining blindingly over the left field stands, the smells of hot dogs, mustard, popcorn, an occasional waif of Lake Erie blowing in over the bleachers, and the sights of the ballplayers finishing up their pre-game warm-ups.
    As we took our seats in section 26, across from the Indians dugout, a familiar figure would stand up on the top step and look our way to see if we were in our seats. Across the field would walk the tall slugger wearing the familiar number 6 on his uniform. He would wave to the cheers of the fans as he crossed the field. When he got to the stands, a security guard would open the gate for him and he would leave the field and walk up to our row. Rocky would respectfully kneel in front of the priest who would give him a blessing. As Rocky rose making the sign of the cross, the old priest took that opportunity to give batting tips and ask for a home run. Sometimes the priest would say, “Rocky, keep your back elbow up. Will you hit one for me tonight?” Rocky always smiled and nodded in agreement. He would shake hands with my father and the other man, have a brief conversation with them, and begin to walk away. Then, knowing my opportunity to talk with Rocky was escaping, I would finally speak up and say, Hey Rocky, did you forget me?” He would turn around with that familiar smile on his face and as he was pulling a ball out of his back pocket to autograph for me, we would discuss my little league batting average. I felt like the luckiest kid in the world because this bigger than life hero of mine asked how I was batting, handed me an autographed ball, and shook my hand. As he walked away, I would always blurt out something like, “I know you guys are gonna win tonight!” and they usually did. He would continue to walk away, give a hand wave, and slowly become part of the show again. I had a closet full of those autographed balls!

  2. On June 10th, 1966, Sonny Siebert pitched a 2-0 no-hitter for the Cleveland Indians vs. the Washington Senators.
    Another personal note:
    I took my final exams for the year that day as a junior in high school. Hitch hiking home that afternoon, my buddy and I discussed the junior prom that we were going to that night. He wanted to blow off the dance and go to the Indians’ game. I felt that there would be other games and that it was important to go to the dance because we committed to it with our current girlfriends. The ride from the dance to the restaurant was pretty painful as we listened to the final outs of the no-hitter! Oh, and please don’t ask if either one of us got to first base.

So, what wonderment and amazement will June 10th, 2007 present for the current Cleveland Indians and their self-appointed #1 fan?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Close doesn't count as the Tribe comes up short by one run tonight, losing to the Royals by a score of 4-3. Cleveland starter Paul Byrd gave up all 4 Royals runs in his 6 innings pitched. The Tribe bats were once again all but silent until late in the game when they almost….shoulda pulled the game out. With the score 4-2 with 2 outs and bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Casey Blake was hit by a pitch with two strikes. That was unfortunate. Casey increased his hitting streak to 15 games earlier in the game with a single. He is batting .275 vs. right-handed pitching. Instead, he gets plunked, goes to first base, and the third run crosses the plate. That brought up Tuesday night’s hero, Franklin Gutierrez who pinch ran for Travis Hafner in the eight inning. Franklin is batting .200 vs. righties.
Gutierrez hits a chopper to short to end the game on a fielder’s choice to second.
Here is hoping that a game like this is not remembered as, “If only we just could have won one more game, like the one against the Royals at the Jake in early June, we might have won the division.”
You have to beat the bums and split with the good teams as Lou Boudreau designed and laid out back in ’48. In that case, Thursday afternoon’s get-away game vs. the Royals is a must win!
We face lefty Odalis Perez with his 5.74 ERA Thursday at High Noon vs. Fausto Carmona. Wedgie, gun down Perez with your hot hitting righties (they'll be there again) and let’s start pulling away from the rest of the division!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Put Me In Coach, I'm Ready To Play!

Eric Wedge is developing a knack for putting in a substitute player who steps up and makes the boss look good! Tonight, right-handed hitting outfielder Franklin Gutierrez (inserted into the lineup to face lefty Royals pitcher Jorge De La Rosa) not only provided all of the Tribe's offense with a solo home run in the bottom of the 3rd inning, he also came up with a great sliding catch in the top of the 9th inning to help C.C. Sabathia preserve his 5 hit shut out victory over the Royals. Josh Barfield and Ryan Garko turned in a few web gems as well and Victor Martinez cut down 2 runners attempting to steal second base. This was definitely a team effort but the masterful pitching of C.C. and the H.R. and outfield play of Gutierrez were the standout performances. Last week, Wedge sat his #1 RBI guy Martinez and Shoppach goes 4 for 5 with a home run vs. Boston. (Shoppach catches for Paul Byrd. Martinez can DH or play 1st base.)
I must admit that when I saw Gutierrez in the line-up tonight, I scoffed. Although one game does not make a season, Franklin Gutierrez can play this game and good for us that he came to play tonight. My hat is off to him and the skipper, Eric Wedge.
Wedgie, you got this one perfect without sitting a hot or streaking hitter. Tonight, you da man!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Hold Your Horses?!

Second Job For Tribe Manager Eric Wedge, Holding Back Horses?

Cleveland Indians Manager Eric Wedge could find work driving harness races. In fact, I thought that was him holding back the second half of my daily double a few seasons back. Sunday, he sat Casey Blake who owns a 12 game hitting streak and does very well against right-handers. Saturday night when lefty Cliff Lee lost control of the game, Wedge replaced him with another left-hander (Perez) with the Tigers hot-hitting righties on an offensive roll. During the critical10 games with Detroit and Boston, he sat his #1 RBI guy and switch hitter Victor Martinez and again, Casey Blake, the day after Casey was named American League Player of the Week. What was a well rested pitching staff has truly gone through hell over the last 20 games/20 days in a row. But the starters had trouble getting past the 5th inning and the bullpen, facing the two best hitting teams in baseball, continued the collapse being saved Friday night by a miracle comeback-comeback-comeback! Playing the best of the best, why not play your top talent? Even though the bullpen was weary, why replace a lefty getting shelled with a another lefty vs. the hottest hitting group of right-handed hitters in baseball Saturday night? What does Casey Blake have to do to stay in the line-up? Do we have another "Marte project" (let's hope not) in Franklin Gutierrez?
Once again, the team was very successful over the last 10 games vs. Detroit and Boston with a 6-4 record. We are 2.5 games in first place on June 4th. 3 out of our 5 starting pitchers go deep into the games and give this potent offense an opportunity to win every game. The bullpen has been successful with the top closer in baseball and some strong performances by the likes of Betancourt and Mastny.
The team is having fun. No one comes into a clutch situation looser than Ryan Garko. This guy is having the time of his life as he continues to bat in the top 10 of the American League and play good defense. The game-winning pies in the face are evidence of these guys playing well together and enjoying it.
I like Eric Wedge and I want him to be very successful. However, spring training is over and so should be the experiments. To win the American League championship will take a "Play To Win" attitude everyday.
Let your horses loose, they are chomping at the bit!

Eastern Champs!!!!!!!

The crowd on the plaza outside of the Jake and the "Q" tonight!
Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers on winning the Eastern Conference Championship. A great organization with great leadership has provided a great coach and team with the opportunity to play the San Antonio Spurs for the NBA League Championship! A fabulous team effort combined with incredible fan support has given this great town just what it deserves!
Here's hoping the best is yet to come!!!!
The City of Cleveland says "Thank You!"

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Don't Look Now, But That Cloud Over Cleveland Sports Teams Appears To Be Moving On!

Cleveland outfielder David Dellucci is mobbed in a victory celebration after driving in the winning run last night!

Was it the prettiest game ever played? Not by a longshot. Was it the most exciting game I ever saw? I would say it was right up there with the best of them. The Cleveland Indians pulled out the stops last night in drawing out every emotion possible in a freaky, intense, come-from-behind victory vs. division rival Detroit. The game was sold out and forty-one thousand plus fans were taken on a wild ride of disappointment, elation, frustration, and salvation on a night when hot dogs were one dollar each and everyone stayed until the end and was rewarded with an exhaustingly gratifying victory!

The Cavaliers are on the verge of going to the NBA finals when they defeat the Pistons tonight at the "Q" arena. The Browns had a very solid and promising draft, fulfilling their wishlist. Best of all, the Indians have assembled a team mixed with aggressive young players and crafty veterans that are winning and having a great time at it.

Yes, it appears that the cloud that has been hanging over Cleveland sports for 43 years is moving on and the sunshine of champions is shinning through!