Monday, July 30, 2007

What? No Game?!!!

Hmmm, Monday night and no game.
The good guys are enjoying a much needed rest.
But what about me? What am I supposed to do?
Well, let’s see…
Cut the grass?
Watch “The Natural?”
Paint something?
Watch “Major League?”
Clean a bathroom?
Take a walk?
Ask the neighbor’s kid to play catch?
Stay at work?
Stop on the way home at
a little league game?
Watch “Bull Durham?”
Clean out the garage?
Watch PBS?
Wash and wax the car(s)?
Fix something?
Watch “Pride of the Yankees?”
Read a book?
Build a pond?
Write a book?
Polish the silverware?
Make a salad and hate it?
Watch the 7th game of the '97 World Series?
Sweep the porches?
Go fishing?
Try not to be grumpy?
Have a conversation with my
Naw! I’m going to bed!

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Let's Go Streakin'!
It is July 29th and the Cleveland Indians are one half game behind the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central Division. Over the last ten games, the Indians are 4-6 and the Tigers are 3-7. It appears that neither team can hold on to the division lead, and Minnesota keeps trying to keep things interesting at 7 games out.
What a great time for the Indians to put together a winning streak. Their longest streak this year is 6 wins and they have accomplished this twice. Looking at the next 10 games on the Tribe’s schedule, the timing is right for the good guys to try and break away. Off on Monday, the Indians host Texas (46-59) for 3, go to Minnesota (53-51) for 4, and go to Chicago (48-57) for 3.
Sure, we had some bad luck over the weekend and Minnesota out-played/out-pitched us 2 out of 3 games. However, the Indians have been getting some great pitching from C.C., Fausto, and Byrd, and it appears Jake Westbrook has worked out his problems. The starting pitching question mark will be who replaces Cliff Lee in the rotation since his demotion to “AAA.” This is too good of a hitting team and they surely will start to support their pitching staff again very soon. Hafner is hitting again and the return of Kenny Lofton appears to be putting a new spark into the lineup.
So, let’s go streaking!
Come on guys, whip up 10 cream pies and have some fun!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Welcome Back! Your Dreams Are Your Ticket Back!

July 27th, 2007 marks the return of Kenny Lofton (for the third time) as a Cleveland Indian. Sitting in the left field stands, I had not heard yet that Kenny was back, although there had been much speculation over the last two weeks that a deal may be in the works. As I viewed the players sprinting on the outfield grass as the ground crew put their finishing touches on the magnificent Jacob’s Field infield, I heard a huge roar of the crowd for a speedster in uniform #7. I looked and saw a very familiar, smiling face. The buzz in the stands was that Kenny was back and we practically stole him in the deal. I immediately pulled out my PDA and searched for the official word. There it was, Lofton returns in exchange for single “A” catcher Max Ramirez. Ben Francisco was optioned to “AAA” Buffalo to make room while Cliff Lee also was shuffled off to Buffalo and Edward Mujica would temporarily take Lee’s spot on the roster. Whew! People come and go so quickly around here, especially when you are self-removed from the media for a good part of the day.
But it’s all good! Lee will get straightened out and be back in fine form, good luck Cliff. Ben Francisco will be back for sure to help this team, although he has drawn much attention from other teams with his immediate heroics upon being called up weeks ago.
Kenny Lofton is back!

As the starting lineup was announced, K-Lo (as he has quickly been nicknamed) received a huge roar from the crowd. As he took his place in left field, he received another huge ovation. Then, upon his first at bat in the first inning, the crowd rose to their feet and wouldn’t stop screaming until he took off his batting helmet and gratefully acknowledged his fans.
Lofton went 3 for 5 in his debut. His second at bat ignited a 6 run rally with a high chop bunt that loaded the bases. He looked very sharp in left field. Between innings, he could be seen arm in arm with Grady Sizemore and lightly rough-housing with prankster Trot Nixon. Lofton seemed to ignite the entire team with his high energy approach to the game. Nixon went 3 for 4, Sizemore 1 for 2 with 2 walks, Hafner 2 for 4, Peralta 2 for 5 with 2 homers, and Blake and Barfield both 2 for 4. Then when the game was well in hand, Franklin Gutierrez replaced Sizemore in center and Lofton appeared to be sharing his experience and wisdom with the young star. At the end of the game, Kenny was interviewed in the post-game show and was quickly initiated with a strawberry cream pie by Nixon.

The best part of all of this is the fact that Lofton missed Cleveland. This is where he became an all-star center fielder, golden-glover, league leading base stealer, and .300+ hitter. Lofton has made it clear that his dream is to finish his career with a championship ring. Kenny Lofton’s dream fits all of our dreams. Kenny Lofton is a great fit for this team…buckle up!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fans Salute Cliff And He Salutes Them Back!

Well, that was special! Cliff Lee gives up 7 earned runs in 5 innings. As if he were not in there long enough, when Wedge finally "relieves" Lee, he takes his hat off to a booing crowd in another immature gesture. At least he didn't throw the hat and his mitt into the crowd as he did last year vs. Toronto.

To some extent, maybe Cliff doesn't understand that his performance is unacceptable, at least to the fans. Obviously his performance is acceptable to Eric Wedge, otherwise why would he be allowed to stay long enough to dig such a deep hole that is nearly impossible for the team to climb out of?

Before he is allowed to take the mound again for the Indians, Lee needs two things; mechanical help on his pitching because he is still a good pitcher who should be able to return to winning form and psychiatric help on his temper and emotions before he becomes another Milton Bradley or Albert Belle.

Westbrook and Lee have got to get back to winning pitching if the Indians are to contend. C.C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona, and Paul Byrd cannot be expected to win all of their remaining starts while Westbrook and Lee find themselves. At the same time, the bullpen needs to be held accountable as well. The performances of Stanford and Cabrera are just as unacceptable.

The good news is that Detroit, who could have begun to run away with the division, has been playing just as badly. Both Detroit and Cleveland are 5-5 in their last 10 games.

Here is where we are at in the "Indians' Summer" plan:

Games in July

Plan ...Actual
2 of 3 from KC...Yes, we won 2 of 3!
2 of 3 from CWS...Only took 1 of 3!
2 of 4 from TEX...Yes, we took 3 of 4!
2 of 4 from BOS...Only 1 of 4!
2 of 3 from MIN
1 of 1 from TEX

11 of 18...currently 7 of 14

Must win all 4 remaining games in July to get back on track with the plan!

It starts tonight with Paul Byrd (8-4 4.43 ERA) going against Boof Bonser (4-5 4.53 ERA).

I will be there, with high expectations. Let's hope Eric Wedge has the same expectations.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Will The Real Cliff Lee Stand Up?

Tonight, much maligned left-hander Cliff Lee makes a critical start for the Indians. Since suffering an oblique muscle pull during spring training, he has been a mostly ineffective pitcher as he quite often shows his frustration. However, after giving up an insurmountable number of runs early on lately, he has settled down as if to be a different pitcher for the rest of the game.
Cleveland needs a victory and a strong start from Lee tonight…from the first inning on.
But, what if he gets into trouble again early?
Eric Wedge cannot allow Cliff Lee to experiment and settle down, especially with the anemic offensive output of the last three games. The Indians have scored three runs in their last 26 innings and have managed to win a game despite this lack of output. During these three games vs. Boston, the Indians have batted .157 and have left 16 runners on base. If Lee gets into trouble early, he needs to get out of there early. The team apparently cannot overcome the Red Sox running up a score while Lee tinkers physically and emotionally.
Here is hoping that Lee can return to his winning form tonight and continue to be the successful pitcher that he is more than capable of being.

C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona have pitched brilliantly in games 2 and 3 of this four game series vs. Boston. The defense has been excellent as well, keeping the Red Sox in check and allowing these pitchers to work out of trouble.
However, another concerning statistic bears out a problem that has been visually apparent during this series, as well as through the season. In the past 3 games, the Indians have struck out 23 times while walking only 6 times. At an 80-20 percent fail rate, they are unsuccessful at protecting the plate with 2 strikes. The object in taking pitchers deep into a count is to get the pitch you want to hit, but lately many Indians hitters are swinging at a head-high ball four or watching a close pitch called for strike 3. Fix this, and fix the .157 average vs. Boston!
Let’s take game 4, split the series, and stay on the “Indians’ Summer” plan to win the division!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Carnac The Magnificent, Please Enlighten Tribe Fans Everywhere!

It is time for Mark Shapiro to don the “Carnac” turban and give some psychic guidance to his “co-host” Eric Wedge and the rest of the Tribe faithful. The plethora of envelopes, all of which are hermetically sealed, have been kept in a mustard jar on the Home Run porch since midnight.
Enter Mark “Carnac” Shapiro to the media room where he invariably trips on his title and crashes head first into a whipped cream pie, strategically placed on the podium. Wedgy brings him the questions that he and the Indians’ loyal fans so desperately await to be answered. Carnac holds each envelope to his head, divulges the answer, then rips open the edge of the envelope, blows it open, pulls the question out and reads it aloud:

A. “Casey Blake!”
Wedgy repeats, “Casey Blake!”
Q. “On the team charter, if the pilot took ill, who would fill-in and land the plane?”

A. “C.C. Sabathia!”
Wedgy repeats, “C.C. Sabathia!”
Q. “If he doesn’t start to get some run support ASAP, who will be impossible to sign to a contract, keeping him in Cleveland where he belongs?”

A. “Casey Blake!”
Wedgy repeats, “Casey Blake!”
Q. “If Rosanne Barr fails to show to sing the National Anthem, who can fill-in?”

A. “Rest your best hitter, Victor Martinez!”
Wedgy repeats, “Rest your best hitter, Victor Martinez!”
Q. ‘Our offense is sputtering and we are about to begin a very important 4 game series with Boston, how should we proceed?”

A. “Leave him out there until the game is completely out of hand!”
Wedgy repeats, “Leave him out there until the game is completely out of hand!”
Q. “What should we do if Cliff Lee gets hammered in the first inning again?”

A. “Leave him out there until the game is completely out of hand!”
Wedgy repeats, “Leave him out there until the game is completely out of hand!”
Q. “What should we do if Jake Westbrook gets hammered in the first inning again?”

A. “Casey Blake!”
Wedgy repeats, “Casey Blake!”
Q. “If the Smoothie machine breaks down in the club house, who can fix it?”

A. “Lee, Westbrook, Cabrera, and Hafner!”
Wedgy repeats, “Lee, Westbrook, Cabrera, and Hafner!”
Q. “What four guys, if they got on track immediately, would pretty much ensure the Indians would win the American League Central and negate the need for a risky, last-minute-to-the-deadline trade?”

Monday, July 23, 2007

Take It To The Bosox Early And Often!

Cleveland needs a big win tonight and that will not come without an aggressive offense and a huge pitching performance from Jake Westbrook. Jake is 3-1 with a 4.23 ERA lifetime vs. Boston. In his last outing, a 5-1 loss to Chicago, Jake barely survived the first inning but then righted himself for the rest of the game. Jake is a sinkerball pitcher who who has built a successful career on inducing batters to hit ground ball outs. During that last outing, Jake had trouble with his release point, it was actually a little too low and the walks got him into trouble early. Then he adjusted and pitched well, only the damage was already done and the Indians could not overcome a 5 run deficit, especially scoring only one run.
Tonight they face an emotional hurdle as well. Coming off 6 chemo therapy treatments since being diagnosed with Lymphoma a year ago, Jon Lester will be starting for the Red Sox.
Here is hoping Jon Lester pitches well enough to stay in the Red Sox starting rotation but just not good enough to beat the Indians.
Once again, the Indians can control their own destiny by taking the first of four with Boston.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Back On Track With The Plan!

We are back on track with the "Indians' Summer" plan after beating the Rangers three of four games this weekend!

(Games in July with winning plan)

2 of 3 from KC...Yes, we won 2 of 3!

2 of 3 from CWS...Only took 1 of 3!!

2 of 4 from TEX...Yes, we took 3 of 4!!!

2 of 4 from BOS

2 of 3 from MIN

1 of 1 from TEX

Let's get at least two from Boston. We are in Cleveland so advantage - Tribe!

It's All About Control...Pitching And Self!

Congratulations to Cliff Lee for yet another sterling performance again last night. Oh, and it wasn't just about pitching this time. It appears maturity and selfishness played a major part in the spectacle that cost the Indians their 40th loss of the season and put them to 2 back of Detroit.
Cliff Lee got into immediate hot water in the first inning by allowing the first 3 batters he faced to hit safely. Then it just got worse. By the end of the inning, with Jason Stanford being hurried in the bullpen, Lee left the mound with a 5-0 deficit.
However, manager Eric Wedge's kumbaya approach to letting Cliffy "find himself" at the expense of 5 runs turned Lee's performance around as he went 6 more scoreless innings. But the turnaround was not as easy or painless as it might have been. As the Indians began to climb back into the game, Lee continued to struggle with control, culminating into an embarrassing situation.
It was Sammy Sosa Day at Arlington Stadium and a great tribute was paid to Sammy by the Rangers organization, as well as the fans and many dignitaries. The pre-game parade and festivities were highlighted by Cliff slamming Sammy squarely in the batting helmet in the 3rd inning. Sammy went to the ground, regained his senses, but then left the game for precautionary reasons. Of course, no one believes that the HBP was anything other than an unintentional loss of control but when things went bad for Cliff, they went bad.
So bad that he and catcher Victor Martinez had an obvious disagreement on the field as well as in the dugout. Eric Wedge could be seen talking to each separately in the top of the 4th inning as the Indians batted. It was at this point that the camera caught Lee in an expression of attitude. All of this culminated into a loss and a 27 minute closed team meeting after the game. This was not the first altercation between Lee and Martinez as they had issues in Kansas City one day last year.
It will be very interesting to see what takes place between now and Lee's next start.
Lee has recently publicly apologized for poor pitching to date this season. Perhaps he needs to address his attitude, selfishness, and maturity coming before the team in his next apology.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Time Is Tight!

Don’t look now, but somebody has a cake schedule ahead of them.
The Tigers are up against the Royals over the weekend. Then they square off vs. the White Sox at the beginning of next week.
All the more reason why winning 3 games from Texas is only acceptable, but winning 4 games is necessary.
Who comes to the Jake when the good guys get back in town after this weekend?
We square off with none other than the Boston Red Sox for 4 games. Then, division rival Minnesota comes in for the weekend…tick…tick…tick…
However, this is what makes good teams better. We have heard Eric Wedge say many times that we cannot be concerned with the performance of any other team but our own. Trot Nixon was interviewed last night on the Indians’ Post Game Show. Television announcer Matt Underwood asked him, from an experienced playoff perspective, what does this team need to do to continue their playoff hopes? Trot reiterated the feeling of his manager by saying that they couldn’t get caught up in what other team are doing. If they put a strong focus on winning each game, one game at a time, they will control their own destiny and make the playoffs. Trot is right, if you keep winning, you can’t miss. However, every team hits tough times; it is just a matter of how tough.
The Indians have been very fortunate this season that their longest losing streak to date has only been 3 games. That is a testimonial to the entire club.
Conditioning must be a huge part of this as the Indians have been very fortunate to have no more that two players on the disabled list at a time. (C.C. Sabathia’s weight and the oblique pulls that Lee and Westbrook experienced are a concern but injuries have been minimal to date.)
Another credit to this team is the “hands they have been dealt” since the beginning of the season; the snowed out opening weekend, playing home games in Milwaukee, some very questionable umpiring calls, and more, but this team continues to fight back.
Speaking of fighting back, the 8th and 9th inning heroic comebacks are just another testimonial to the never give up spirit of this team and their manager.
So, let’s get it on with Texas, Boston, and Minnesota. Win 7 of these 11 games and remain in contention. Win eight or more and control the division as well as your own destiny.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


We are off track for the “Indians’ Summer” plan to win the division!
By losing two games out of three to the White Sox, we are off the pace.
To get back on track, we will need to take three out of four games from either Texas or Boston.
There is really no reason why we cannot take four out of four from Texas and have an extra win in our hip pocket!
This would be a difficult task, but it certainly would be a sign of a championship caliber team to start a winning streak.
Let’s look at the pitching match-ups:
Game 1, Thursday, July 19th;
C.C. Sabathia (12-4, 3.78 ERA) vs. Kameron Loe (5-7, 5.49 ERA)
Game 2, Friday, July 20th:
Fausto Carmona (11-4, 3.77 ERA) vs. Brandon McCarthy (4-6, 5.59 ERA)
Game 3, Saturday, July 21st:
Cliff Lee (5-6, 5.67 ERA) vs. Jamey Wright (3-2, 4.31 ERA)
Game 4, July 22nd:
Paul Byrd (7-4, 4.50 ERA) vs. Robinson Tejeda (5-8, 6.68 ERA)
We absolutely have the pitching advantage in wins vs. losses and ERAs!
The time is right for our pitchers to keep their offense in the game while that offense flexes their hitting muscles!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

How Do You Feel?

Your team, the Cleveland Indians, just played a three game series with the Chicago White Sox. The Sox are in 4th place in the American League Central, 14.5 games behind Detroit. Cleveland is struggling to stay within a game of Detroit. The White Sox handily went ahead of the Indians on Monday night, leading at one point by a score of 11-2, only to see that lead diminish to 11-10 by the end of the game. On Tuesday night, the Indians came from behind to tie the game in the ninth and win it in the eleventh inning. Wednesday afternoon saw the Tribe’s offense sputter while their starting pitching failed again. The Tribe lost two of three games with Chicago.
As an Indian’s fan, how do you feel?
Television commentator Rick Manning related the following during the Monday night game. He said that fans of the home team see both the good and the bad of their team and generally only see the good of the opposition. Consequently, the hometown fans are very critical of their own team and their own manager.
Good point, but as an Indian’s fan, how do you feel?
Boston got the tar beat out of them by the lowly Royals last night. We look at the Red Sox as if they are baseball gods. At the same time, their fans are probably quite disgusted by their poor showing vs. the Royals.
Maybe so, but as an Indian’s fan, how do you feel?
The Yankees have had one of their most dismal starts to a season ever. Slowly they are putting it back together and creeping back into contention. The fans of the Yankees were furious with the team’s performance and will not be satisfied until the team emerges as the leader of the American League East because the fans expect no less.
Good for them but, as an Indian’s fan, how do you feel?
Is your confidence shaken because this team only plays to the level of their competition?
Wouldn’t you love to see the Indians blow out another team, any team?
Don’t you crave for a middle reliever to hold the opposition scoreless?
The come from behind wins (and almost wins) are very exciting but can’t we start winning some games from start to finish?
As an Indian’s fan, how do you feel?
Based on the Chicago series, I feel nauseated!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad!"

Tonight’s games offer a mixed bag of results…
Detroit leads the American League Central by 1 full game over our Cleveland Indians and 6 games over Minnesota. Cleveland plays Chicago tonight while Detroit plays Minnesota.

Best Scenario?
1. Cleveland beats Chicago - Good!
2. Minnesota beats Detroit - Good?
3. Cleveland ties Detroit and Minnesota advances to 5 games back - Eh!

Second Best Scenario?
1. Cleveland still beats Chicago – Good!
2. Detroit beats Minnesota – Good?
3. Cleveland remains 1 game behind and Minnesota goes to 7 back – Eh!

Worst Scenario?
1. Cleveland loses to Chicago – Bad!
2. Minnesota beats Detroit – Bad?
3. Cleveland goes to 2 games out and Minnesota advances to 5 games back – Very bad!

Very Best Scenario?
Cleveland beats Chicago and doesn’t care whatever else happens!

Monday, July 16, 2007


The Cleveland Indians signed their manager Eric Wedge to a three-year contract today. Wedge, in the middle of his fifth season as the Tribe skipper, was given the pat on the back despite not making the playoffs to date.
The timing was right for the signing as many of this popular manager’s key players have been signed to contract extensions. Eric has shown the ability to successfully move players in and out of the lineup while staying in contention of the Central Division. Over the first four seasons, Eric Wedge has increased the Indians total wins by double digits three out of the last four seasons. His managerial record is seventh in Indians history at 373 – 367.
So, how do you celebrate your contract extension? At one point tonight, Chicago was ahead 11 -2. The final score was Sox 11, Tribe 10! The point is that Eric Wedge has been credited, and rightfully so, by his players as having a never give up mentality. Anyone who had the stomach to watch the entire game tonight, and it was hard, saw a manager that did not get frustrated with the runs scored by Chicago and actually focused on a rally that came up one run short!
To win the division, and we can, this team will need to raise their team batting average, get Cliff Lee and Jake Westbrook back on track, Get Hafner and Barfield hitting to their potential, turn a middle reliever loose, and exceed a .600 winning percentage.
This team can do it and Eric Wedge can lead them to do it.
It is time to get behind Eric Wedge 100%.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"What Are We Waiting For? Take Us!"

The Cleveland Indians took a major step forward today in securing not only the future of the team, but also in improving the chances of the current season as well. They signed their star designated hitter Travis Hafner to a generous contract extension through 2012. Contract negotiations between the Indians and Hafner stalled during Spring Training and were tabled indefinitely. The fact that the contract was not completed by April seemed to be weighing heavily on Hafner as he has been struggling to reach the offensive numbers he is capable of. Now, he can put that out of his mind and get down to the business of helping the Indians in winning the Central Division of the American League. Hafner, with improved offensive numbers, will play heavily in the immediate futures and successes of this team.

So, a famous line from the movie, Rocky II rings ever so true as we put this contract behind us and prepare for the second half of the season. Adrian comes out of a coma and tells Rocky that she wants him to win in his rematch vs. Apollo Creed. When she utters the words, "Win, Rocky, Win!" Rocky's trainer and manager Micky Goldmill jumps to his feet and yells, "What are we waiting for? Take us!

Indians' Summer

On the eve of resuming our “Indians' Summer,” our best chance to make the post season is to exceed a .600 winning percentage and win the division outright. Currently, we are at 52 – 36 with a .591 winning percentage. So, we are close…one more win in the first half would have gotten us to .602, another win would have put us ahead of Detroit at .614. For the caliber of team that this club is displaying, this is most definitely not out of the question!

Does anyone remember Birdie’s “Rocket to the Pennant” in the 1966 season? It appeared at the top of the Cleveland Press Sports page each evening, tracking Cleveland manager Birdie Tebbett's winning plan, until the season and the rocket blew up.

How about Lou Brown's "Rachel Phelps Show Girl" plan to win 32 of the remaining 41 games and the division in the movie "Major League?"

This plan however is much more realistic and attainable. Let’s call it “Indians' Summer!” Here it is...

There are 74 games remaining. We must win or tie every remaining series to reach a better than .600 winning percentage:

There are 18 games remaining in July. We must win the following:
2 of 3 from KC
2 of 3 from CWS
2 of 4 from TEX
2 of 4 from BOS
2 of 3 from MIN
1 of 1 from TEX
11/18 = .611, Season to date would be 63 – 43 = .594

There are 28 games in August. We must win the following:
1 of 2 from TEX
2 of 4 from MIN
2 of 3 from CWS
2 of 3 from NYY
1 of 2 from DET
2 of 3 from TB
2 of 3 from DET
2 of 3 from KC
2 of 3 from MIN
1 of 1 from SEA
1 of 1 from CWS
17/28 = .607, Season to date would be 80 – 54 = .597

There are 28 games in September. We must win the following:
1 of 2 from CWS
2 of 3 from MIN
2 of 4 from LAA
2 of 3 from CWS
2 of 3 from KC
2 of 3 from DET
2 of 3 from OAK
3 of 4 from SEA
2 of 3 from KC
18/28 = .643, Season final total would be 98 – 64 = .605

48 of the remaining 74 games are with Central Division rivals.
This plan would require defeating Detroit 5 out of the 8 remaining games with them. Season to date we have defeated them 6 out of 10 games…5 out of 8 is certainly attainable!
This plan would require defeating Minnesota 8 out of 13 games. Season to date we have defeated them 3 out of 3 games…8 out of 13 is certainly attainable!
This plan would require defeating Chicago 8 out of 12 games. Season to date we have defeated them 4 out of 6 games…8 out of 12 is certainly attainable!
This plan would require defeating Kansas City 8 out of 12 games. Season to date we are even with them at 3 and 3…should the last place team in our division offer us so much of a challenge? 8 wins out of the remaining 12 games with KC is not only attainable but mandatory!

Although the plan seems difficult, it is merely a continuation of what the Tribe has already accomplished, with more focus on the importance of each and every game. We cannot let one game get away from us without making up for it the next series.

This team can win the division. By doing so, they will gain the confidence necessary to defeat the Red Sox , Tigers, and Angels that may stand in their way from playing once again this season in a National League Park!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly!

Here we are at the All-Star break, eighty-eight games played, seventy-four remaining, and the Cleveland Indians are 52 -36, one full game behind the Detroit Tigers. We own the fourth best record in the American League, which is also the fourth best record in all of baseball. Three divisional winners and one wild card team will go to the playoffs. Right now, we make the playoffs as the wild card team.
It is true that we have had a great first half. There have been many standout performances to compliment those 52 victories, 27 of them noted as come-from-behind.
So, the Indians can rest for 4 days satisfied that they are on track to make the playoffs for 2007. Or, they can examine their needs, work out a plan to improve, and be confident that they can raise their winning percentage to +.600, because that is what it is going to take to win the division and ensure a playoff spot.
Let’s look at the good, the bad, and the ugly…(anything not in the top 4 of the American League is either bad or ugly!)

The Good!
Home Runs – 109, 1st
Runs Scored – 471, 2nd
RBIs – 456, 2nd
Total Bases – 1348, 2nd
Slugging % - .442, 2nd
Bases On Balls – 333, 3rd
On Base % - .350, 4th
The Bad!!
Hits – 831, 5th
Triples – 14, 5th
Batting Average - .272, 6th
Doubles – 162, 7th
The Ugly!!!
Stolen Bases – 45, 9th
Caught Stealing – 19, 10th
Strike Outs – 655, 12th

Selectivity at the plate may be taking pitchers deeper into their pitch count earlier, but it appears to be causing more strike-outs and less hits.
Leading the league in home runs may be causing us to strike an admiring pose when we should be running on hits that don’t quite make it over the fence!
Waiting for the big hit may be costing us runners in scoring position as we lack aggressive base stealing. When we do run, we get caught!

The Good!
Bases On Balls Allowed – 220, 1st
Complete Games – 4, 3rd
Saves – 25, 4th
The Bad!!
Save Opportunities – 30, 7th
The Ugly!!!
Strike Outs – 556, 8th
ERA – 4.47, 9th
Runs Allowed – 414, 10th
Home runs Allowed – 92, 10th
Earned Runs Allowed – 390, 11th
Hits Allowed – 845, 12th

We are showing an inability to convert 2-strike counts into strike-outs or put-outs. This one problem could be affecting all of our pitching Bads and Uglies!

The Good!
Passed Balls – 2, 1st
Put Outs – 851, 3rd
The Bad!!
Caught Stealing – 21, 5th
Errors – 54, 7th
Fielding % - .983, 7th
The Ugly!!!
Double Plays – 84, 8th
Stolen Bases Allowed – 56, 10th

Although our “Caught Stealing” has improved, there is still room for more improvement.
We must reduce the errors and increase our double plays, especially now that we have a set infield.

Nothing comes to those who wait...resting for 4 days and hoping to hold on to our playoff aspirations won't get it done. It's time to celebrate the good while whooping the bad and prettying-up the ugly!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Congratulations To Our Three All-Stars!

12-game winner C.C. Sabathia, clutch hitting Victor Martinez, and a guy sometimes confused with Superman, Grady Sizemore will be representing the Cleveland Indians in this year’s All-Star Game in San Francisco.
Dependant on whether or not C.C. Sabathia starts the midsummer classic, what are the chances that our three stars could be in the field at the same time? Detroit manager Jim Leyland must have played that scenario through his head as he no doubt has begun making managerial plans for the game. Something that many Indians fans take for granted every five games... imagine a solid All-Star defense anchored by Victor behind the plate, C.C. on the mound, and Grady patrolling center field…Awesome!
Good luck guys, we know you will do Cleveland proud!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Young Guns Become Big Guns!

Fausto Carmona's 10th victory today marks the first time since 1956 that the Indians have had two or more 10-game winners at the All-Star break. Bob Lemon (10-6) and Early Wynn (10-4) did it 51 years ago. Carmona (10-4) joins C.C. Sabathia (12-3) in the double-digit win column!

Friday, July 6, 2007


It's July 6th, where are we at?

4 days away from the All-Star Game

21 days away from the Hall of Fame Induction

25 days away from the Non-Waiver Trading Deadline

35 days away from the Larry Doby Honorary Day in Cleveland

57 days away from the active major league rosters expanding to 40 players

86 days away from the final regular season game of the 2007 season

109 days away from the first game of the World Series!


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Righty-Tighty, Lefty-Loosey!

Most major league managers live and die by the Righty-Lefty Theory. Those on the offense make changes so that their batters are turned around opposite and those on the defense counter with bringing in a reliever matching the batter. Former Cleveland Indians manager Jeff Torborg believed so strongly, he wrote his college graduate thesis on the theory.
However, the current version of the Cleveland Indians has some team members that are out to dispel the success of the theory. Best of all, they have converted and convinced their manager Eric Wedge to play them, or leave them in against the same predilection of arm vs. bat. Let’s look further:

Player________Bats_____Batting Avg._____Vs. Lefties_____Vs. Righties

Victor Martinez_Switch____.326___________ .330_________ .323
Kelly Shoppach _Right_____.363___________.350_________.367
Josh Barfield___Right_____.257___________.215__________.271
Casey Blake____Right_____.271___________.267__________.273
Ryan Garko____Right_____.294___________.293__________.294
Jhonny Peralta__Right_____.276___________.288__________.272
Ben Francisco___Right_____.450__________.000__________.450
Travis Hafner___Left______.257__________.264__________.253

Victor Martinez switch hits and does it very successfully, but it is necessary to see how close in average he is to either righty or lefty pitching.

Kelly Shoppach bats right and hits 4 percentage points higher against righties than his .363 average. He has proven to be a strong hitter whether starting or pinch hitting.

Josh Barfield bats right and hits 14 percentage points higher against righties than his .257 average. He will play every day as the second baseman receiving a day off from Mike Rouse very infrequently.

Casey Blake bats right and hits 2 percentage points higher against righties than his .271 average. This guy does it all and exhibits huge confidence against right-handed pitching.

Ryan Garko brings it either way!

Jhonny Peralta is the every day short stop and it is worth mentioning his consistency, especially with the good season he is having. He only gives up 4 percentage points to his average facing righties.

Ben Francisco has not touched down to earth yet since being called up from the minors on June 20th. He bats right and all of his heroics have come against right-handed pitching!

Travis Hafner bats left and only gives up 4 percentage points batting against lefties. He just needs to get on track as he is hitting blistering outs and pressing too hard.

Most of the players mentioned above have become the nucleus of the current Cleveland Indians. Grady Sizemore’s at bats vs. lefties are improving as he has begun to bunt successfully against them. He is batting 21 percentage points lower than his average vs. lefties currently.
These guys are making Eric Wedge’s job as manager more difficult as they continue to hit outside of “The Theory.” But that’s OK, Wedge isn’t about to complain about such “difficulty!” It is interesting and fun to see these guys come to the plate night after night and dispel the right-lefty theory.

Larry Doby, It's Your Day!

On June 5th, 1947, a talented and courageous ballplayer gained worldwide attention by becoming the first black ballplayer in the American League. Although his debut with the Cleveland Indians was in the shadows of Jackie Robinson who had broken the color barrier less than 3 months earlier in the National League, the situation was little if any easier to bear. Much like Robinson, Doby handled history in a professional manner.
I got to know Larry Doby years later when he became a coach for the Cleveland Indians in the mid 70's. He was extremely approachable and polite as he would stand outside the old stadium and chat for what seemed hours at a time. He was especially good to my youngest brother who pestered Larry after each home game. My brother, who was about 10 years old at the time, quizzed Doby about anything and everything going on with the Tribe. After answering a very sensitive question one night about the strained relationship between manager Ken Aspromonte and player Frank Robinson (who replaced Aspromonte as manager at the end of the season), Doby looked at my brother and said in a booming voice, "John, please go to college and study political science and you will be very successful!" It was excellent advice as John is very successful!
Larry Doby was a great ballplayer, a courageous human being, and all of us who were fortunate to know him are better people for the wonderfully unique experience.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Tigers And Tribe Don't Disappoint!

The Cleveland Indians won a fiercely fought game tonight vs. the Detroit Tigers. The victory increased the Indians win streak to 6 games, but better than that, it increased their lead over the Tigers to 3 games.

This was a game of adversity that the Indians had to overcome through 11 innings. Home plate umpire Derryl Cousins drew the ire of both teams with a very inconsistent strike zone. When the Indians refused to fold, the Tigers began to nitpick and attempted to distract the Indians from their destiny. Complaints about Travis Hafner's batter's box stance to how long Raphael Betancourt took between pitches (he had two balls called on him as a result) failed to unnerve the Tribe.

The Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning but failed to score, thanks to a gutsy pitching performance by Tom Mastny.

Then, with two outs in the top of the 11th, Casey Blake buried a hanging curve into the left field stands to go ahead by a score of 5-4. Joe Borowski pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the 11th to earn save #25.

It is important to mention how Indians' manager Eric Wedge was a driving force in this victory. From pinch hitting Ben Francisco (drove the first pitch out of the park) to vehemently defending his players (especially standing up for Betancourt), Wedge was focused on the win pitch by pitch, play by play. There were many heros in this game, including an unbelievable catch in right field by Franklin Guttierez in the bottom of the 10th, but the game ball should go to manager Eric Wedge.

Eric, thanks for a hard fought, entertaining, and intellectually stimulating win for Cleveland tonight!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Mike Hargrove Calls It Quits!

Seattle Mariners manager Mike Hargrove has resigned his position effective today. The former manager of the Cleveland Indians (from 1991 through 1999) stated that his “passion has begun to fade” for baseball as the reason for his resignation.
It is bitter—sweet to see Hargrove retire for Cleveland Fans. From 1995 through 1999, the Indians dominated the American League Central Division, winning the division all 5 seasons. Hargrove took us to our last two World Series appearances in 1995 and 1997. As a player, he was a career .290 hitter with 80 home runs and 686 RBI in 1666 games. He was the 1974 American League Rookie Of The Year and a 1975 All Star. Hargrove was referred to as the “Human Rain Delay” for his deliberate routine at the plate before each pitch, stepping out of the batter's box after each pitch and starting his routine, which consisted of adjusting his helmet, adjusting his batting glove, making sure it was tight on his hand and especially the thumb, pulling each sleeve on his uniform up about an inch, and wiping each hand on his uniform pants before finally settling in the box.
He may have lost some passion for baseball, but it didn’t show this year as he was pretty much responsible for rescheduling the snowed-out opening day game at Jacobs Field this year. In that game, he aquired the nickname of "Human Snow Delay!" He always was a fierce competitor vs. his old team and appeared to be very focused on victory.
Mike Hargrove was extremely talented in building a strong lineup that became a powerhouse for most of the 90’s. His late inning offensive and defensive substitutions were sometimes psychic as his Indians delivered some of the most dramatic victories that seem to still echo in the hallows of Jacobs Field to this day. No one was better at guessing when an opposing runner would attempt to steal second base. Grover would call for a pitch out and catch the runner flatfooted and out.
However, there were times when Hargrove appeared to be losing his passion even back then. 90% of his job was in preparing his team for games but the long haul of the season took a toll on Hargrove and it became apparent near the end of his managerial career with Cleveland. I had a feeling and an indication that Hargrove was fading again and made a joke in this blog back in April that he wouldn’t make it to the All Star Break.
Good luck to Mike Hargrove and his family. He and his wife Sharon made an impact in Cleveland with some great charity work and they continue to do so. Hargrove should be remembered in Cleveland sports for being the engineer that built the Indians back up from the early 90’s non-contenders to where they are now through patience, determination, and innovation.