Sunday, September 30, 2007

One Last Look Back...

It is always better to look ahead and not dwell on the past but for the moment, let's do a quick review on how we got where we are in the 2007 season. Below are some highlights, and a couple of stumbles along the way that helped us reach the division championship:

4/2 Grady Sizemore sets the tone for the season leading off game 1 vs. Chicago with a home run!
4/4 Jason Michaels saves the game with a falling down, against the wall catch in Chicago!

4/6 - 4/9 Home Opener Weekend SNOWED OUT!

4/10 - 4/12 Tribe wins 2 out of 3 from the Angels "at Home" in Milwaukee!
4/19 Yankees turn 6-2 deficit into 8-6 victory by scoring 6 runs in the bottom of the 9th!
4/24 Carmona beats Santana and the Twins 5-3!
4/25 Peralta's walk-off single vs. Texas!
4/27 Sizemore's inside the park home run vs. the Orioles!
4/28 Baltimore is awarded a run from the 3rd inning in the 6th inning!
5/2 Hafner's walk-off double beats Toronto 7-6 in 11 innings!
5/13 Oakland's Jack Cust's walk-off 3-run homer off of Fernando Cabrera sinks Tribe on Mother's Day!
5/17 Fausto's 4-hitter beats Santana again!
5/28 Trot Nixon's welcome back to Fenway!
6/1 Dellucci's walk-off single vs. Detroit wins the game, 12-11!
6/17 Casey Blake's hitting streak reaches 26 games vs. Atlanta!
6/21 Cliff Lee loses control, beans Sammy Sosa on his day, and mixes it up with victor Martinez in the locker room hallway.
6/23 Martinez hits a 9th inning 3-run home run in Washington!
6/26 Cliff Lee loses his control again and gestures to the home fans with his cap.
6/26 Shoppach hits a pinch hit 3-run home run to beat Oakland!
6/29 Ben Francisco hits a walk-off home run to beat Tampa Bay!
7/2 Sizemore hits a grand slam vs. Tampa Bay in 10-2 win, Sizemore's 500th career hit!
7/3 Tom Mastney somehow escapes a bases loaded in the 10th inning as the Tribe wins 5-4 in the 11th!
7/13 Garko beats the Royals with a walk-off single!
7/17 Garko ties the White Sox with a 9th inning home run and wins it in the 11th with a single!
7/27 Lofton returns "home" and helps defeat Twins going 3 for 5!
8/3 Indians beats Santana again!
8/23 Lofton pinch hits in the 10th inning and puts the Tribe ahead in Detroit!
8/26 Hafner singles in the 11th to put the Tribe ahead in Kansas City!
8/27 Triple play in victory over the Twins!
8/29 Sabathia beats Santana!
8/30 Lofton...walk-off walk beats Seattle!
9/3 Sabathia beats Santana again as Indians are 5-0 vs. the Cy Young winner!
9/4 Hafner ties the Twins with a 9th inning 2-run shot, then gets the go-ahead run home with a sac fly!
9/14 Blake has a walk-off home run vs. K.C.!
9/17 Blake has a walk-off home run vs. Detroit!
9/24 Tribe clinches Central Division beating Oakland!
9/25 Lofton hits a go-ahead sac fly in the 12th inning in Seattle!
9/26 Tribe wins "at home" in Seattle!
9/26 Carmona wins #19
9/26 Borowski blows his second consecutive save in two nights!
9/27 Sizemore gets picked-off 1st with 2 outs during a 9th inning rally!
9/28 Sabathia wins #19 vs. Royals and Tribe clinches home field for the first round of the playoffs!
9/30 Tribe ties for the best record in baseball with 96 wins...Joe Borowski earns save #45!

It was a fabulous season! Here is hoping the Indians continue their good fortune right through October!
Looking immediately ahead, we face the New York Yankees in a best of 5 playoff beginning Thursday. Yes, the same Yankees that beat the Tribe 6 out of 6 chances this season. But, is it the same Tribe?
The Cleveland Indians won 96 games this season and absolutely have earned their playoff berth. With a great game plan coupled with their never quit attitude and two Cy Young candidates in the Yankees faces, the Cleveland Indians have an excellent chance of advancing to the next round of the playoffs.
The planning must be aggressive and should include, "Sweep the Yankees!" We cannot afford to give an inch!
Go Tribe!!!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Flush It Out...Now!

Joe Borowski losing saves...

Rafael Perez losing his confidence...

The Cleveland offense losing itself once again...

Late season base running errors...

Cliff Lee...(What possible reason could there be to keep him on the post-season roster?!!)

Aaron Fultz...(Ditto!)


Better to have a few issues now than next week!

Better not to have them at all, but let's get them out of our system now.

This team needs to have zero defects vs. the Yankees next week.

They need to get their offense back on track on Sunday.

Final tune-up, Indians at Royals, 2:10 PM, Sunday...

No doubt many regulars will be rested.

Regardless, no doubt what has to be done!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sleepless in Cleveland, Sleepwalking in Seattle!

Wow! What a buzz kill!
With Cleveland rallying in the 9th, Grady gets picked off first base for the final out of the game! With Shoppach on second and Sizemore on first, Chris Gomez represented the go-ahead run.
Yeah, Gomez was already 0 for 4 in the game, but with a .303 average, it appeared that the Indians were about to find another rabbit to pull out of their hat...empty hat! The rabbit got gunned down at 1st!

Putting that game behind us, we are still tied with Boston for the best record in baseball, looking for home field advantage.
We have an opportunity to sharpen our offensive skills as we play a slumping Kansas City team for the final 3 games of the season.
Even though LeBron James doesn't think much of our Indians' chances vs. the Yankees, I like the underdog position everyone is putting us in. (LeBron is a self-admitted, life-long Yankee fan!)

What's next?
We need to win all 3 games in K.C., own the best record in baseball, and then choose Wednesday, October 3rd as the start of our playoff season, giving us the best advantage for our pitching rotation in relationship with days off.
It starts all over again with the game tonight!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Look What’s Brewing…

Looking at the match-ups in MLB, the weekend promises to be very interesting for the playoff spots still up for grabs.
In the American League, the four playoff teams are all determined. What remains unsettled is the division championship between Boston and New York. Boston is 3 games ahead of New York going into today’s games. Tonight, the Yankees play at Tampa Bay. The Yankees lead the season series 9 to 8. Then the Yankees go to Baltimore for a 3-game weekend conclusion to the season. Baltimore leads that season series 8 to 7. Odds appear to favor the Yankees splitting their last 4 games of the year, finishing with a 93 – 69 record.
Boston begins a 4-game series at home vs. Minnesota. The Red Sox lead that season series 2 to 1. Odds appear to favor the Red Sox winning 3 of 4 games and finishing their season with a 97 – 65 record.
Conclusion…Boston wins the division and New York becomes the Wild Card Team.

In the National League, things are looking pretty wild yet!
In the West, first place Arizona plays Pittsburgh today, then moves to a 3-game series vs. third place (2 games back) Colorado in the Rockies. Colorado leads that series 8 to 7. Odds appear to favor Arizona winning 2 of 4 games and finishing the season with a 90 and 72 record. Second place San Diego begins a 4-game series in Milwaukee. The Brewers are currently in second place in the Central, 2 games behind the Cubs. San Diego leads that season series 3 to 0. Odds appear to favor the Padres taking at least 3 of those games, finishing with a 90 – 72 record. Colorado plays the Dodgers today and they hold an 11 to 6 advantage. The Rockies would finish the season with a 90 – 72 record as well.
Conclusion…With the possibility of all 3 teams tying with a 90 – 72 record, a playoff frenzy takes place. Odds appear to favor Colorado winning the division and Arizona taking the Wild Card!
In the Central, The Cubs lead the Brewers by 2 games. The Cubs play Florida today, then move to Cincinnati for a 3-game series. The Cubs will be lucky to win 2 of their 4 games, finishing the season with an 85 – 77 record, winning the division over the Brewers, who will more than likely finish at 82 – 80.
In the East, The Mets lead the Phillies by 1 game. The Mets finish at home with one game today vs. St. Louis and a 3-game series with Florida. The Mets are 5 and 1 vs. St. Louis and 10 and 5 vs. Florida. Odds appear to favor the Mets winning at least 3 of their remaining 4 games, finishing with a 90 – 72 record. The Phillies play Atlanta today and then host Washington for the weekend. They are 8 and 9 vs. Atlanta and 10 and 5 vs. Washington. Odds appear to favor the Phillies winning 2 of their remaining 4 games, finishing the season with an 88 – 74 record.
Conclusion…The Mets win the division, the Phillies are out of the playoffs, and Arizona and San Diego playoff for the Wild Card spot. Odds appear to favor Arizona taking the Wild Card.
So, long story short, the playoffs may very well look like this:

American League
New York vs. Cleveland
Los Angeles vs. Boston
National League
Arizona vs. New York
Chicago vs. Colorado
Sit back, relax, and drink it all in!

Putz Beats Fultz!

Earlier this morning in Seattle, the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners concluded a 10 inning classic struggle that began hours before, about 30 minutes after their first game of a double header caused by a snowstorm in Cleveland back in April. Cleveland won the first game of the double header by a score of 12 to 4. Fausto Carmona notched his 19th win of the season. Cleveland was the “home” team in game 1.
Game 2 became a pitchers duel between 5 Cleveland and 3 Seattle hurlers. Jeremy Sowers started for the Indians. He gave up no runs on 5 hits in 5 innings with 5 strike outs and 2 walks. Although he was impressive in his first start since being sent to the minors in mid-season, he got into trouble early and often but managed to work out of it each time.
The biggest story was Cleveland reliever Joe Borowski. He entered the game in the 9th inning with a 2-1 lead only to give up a game-tying home run to Jeff Clement pinch-hitting for catcher Jamie Burke with 2 outs. This was Joe Blow’s second blown save in as many nights.
The Tribe lost the game in the bottom of the 10th inning on a walk with 1 out, a hit, the lead runner advancing to 3rd base on a fly to center field, and that runner scoring on a ground ball off the mitt of Jhonny Peralta that was ruled a hit.
Winning pitcher – Putz…Losing pitcher – Fultz!
Chances are, our first playoff opponent will be the New York Yankees. Needless to remind anybody, the Indians are 0-6 against the Yankees this season. Let’s go back to April 19th in New York. The Indians were winning game 3 of the series vs. New York by a score of 6-2 after losing the first 2 games. Bottom of the ninth, enter Joe Borowski, Yankees score 6 times to win 8-6.
When the season started in Chicago, Borowski gave us all a cardiac in game 2 when Joe Crede took him deep with 2 on and 2 out. Somehow, Jason Michaels induced the ball into his glove while falling against the outfield wall. After the game, Joe Borowski kidded the media about how many cigarettes they would smoke in nervousness as he pitched for this team.
Funny? Yeah but it’s time for Joe to get serious. Going into any kind of lead vs. the Yankees in the playoffs, they will eat him alive again if he doesn’t focus now and bear down. 43 saves and a 5.23 ERA is like playing with gasoline and matches.
Yikes! Keep the fire hoses ready!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Wedge-Way!

Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge deserves hardy congratulations for bringing the American League Central Crown back to Cleveland in 2007. Second guessed and criticized for his low key style of management, Wedge had a plan and stuck with it. He demonstrates much patience with his players while leading them daily with a never give up attitude.
Out of character, Wedge admittedly worked hard with his extraordinary bunch to successfully clinch the division title during the final home stand. On Sunday, September 23, the last home game of the season, Wedge delivered that gift to the fans and the city of Cleveland in a classic effort.
Thanks, Eric...We are counting on you to take us all the way!

By The Light Of The Silvery Moon...Stretch, Yawn, ZZZZZZZ, Whoa!

The Indians and manager Eric Wedge began their quest for home-field advantage in the playoffs last night around 10:07 Cleveland time and ensured that they would maintain the best record in baseball sometime after 2:00 AM.
It rained most of the day in Seattle, but come game time, the Mariners were able to open their Safeco Field dome to a cool, clear night.
Not the case back in the game began, thunder, lightning, and a hard rain reminded fans that this game was in another locale. At times, my reception of Sports Time Ohio resembled a slide show instead of live action. As the lights and the T.V. transmission of the game flickered, the game got underway. The Indians began the first inning with a 3-run home run off of the bat of Victor Martinez. They would not score again for 11 more innings.
Soon the rain, lightning, and thunder gave way to clear skies that opened up for a moon waxing to full through the night and the game.
Aaron Laffey pitched five and two thirds solid innings giving up 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 3 while walking 2 Mariners. The Indians received solid relief from Jensen Lewis and Rafael Perez until the bottom of the 9th inning. With the Tribe ahead 3-1, Joe Borowski entered the game and made it a nail-biter, giving up a 2-run home run to Adrian Beltre to tie the game and force extra innings. Just what the fans at home, fighting to stay awake needed.
The moon loomed bright and full, helping to keep Cleveland awake for more drama.
Once again, the relief pitching answered the call with solid performances by Aaron Fultz, Tom Mastny (got the win), and Rafael Betancourt (got the save).
In the top of the 12th inning, Asdrubal Cabrera pinch hit for Josh Barfield who had gone 0 for 4 but made some very slick defensive plays. Cabrera walked on 4 straight pitches. Ryan Rowland-Smith relieved Brandon Morrow. Cabrera drew the attention of Smith as he threw a pick-off attempt into the dirt that bounced past first baseman Jose Vidro. Cabrera did not hesitate as he ran from 1st to 3rd on the throwing error. Cabrera continues to impress with his hitting, fielding, and command of the game. Kenny Lofton, who was 0 for 5 in the game, hit a line drive sacrifice fly to center field that scored Cabrera for the winning run.
Other highlights included Grady Sizemore entering the game as a pinch hitter for Ben Francisco in the 8th inning, keeping his consecutive game streak alive at 352 games.
The Tribe shined on as they picked off another win on their way to home field advantage in the playoffs.
With a double header today under a the glow of a full moon, let's see if the Tribe can continue to gain full advantage for the post season...We will need coffee, lots of coffee, and a bright, bright full moon to see it all...Keep the curtains open!

Cabrera scores the game winning run through his aggressive style of play!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Life Imitates Art...

“Oh my God, the Indians win it! The Indians win it!”
The movie “Major League” debuted in 1989. As everyone knows, it was about a team that had not been to the post season in Major League Baseball in 35 years. The movie climaxes with the Indians in a playoff game with their arch rival Yankees for the division title. As the Indians pull off an unexpected championship victory, the team and a town join together in a glow of unbridled joy and celebration. After repeated viewings of the movie since 1989, a true Indians fan can’t help but wonder and promise, “Someday!”
Is “Someday” here?
Yes, as far as winning the division, but what about going deeper into the playoffs?
Since 1989, the Cleveland Indians were able to achieve going to the post season in ’95, ’96, ’97, ’98, ’99, and ’01.
1995 was very special as the Tribe reached the playoffs for the first time in 41 years by clinching the division on a warm Friday evening in front of a home crowd. Emotions ran high as Orel Hershiser, Charles Nagy, and Eddie Murray raised the divisional flag to the sound of “The Dance,” a favorite song of one of two Cleveland Indians pitchers that died suddenly in a boating accident only one and a half years before.
The following championship seasons all had their special flair and moments but there is something special and unique this year.
The 2007 Indians have risen up from adversity and come together in a very heartwarming style. They have a boyish approach to the game and a never quit attitude. The mainstay and cornerstone of the team is their manager, Eric Wedge who has not been without critics and second guessing, but through it all, he persevered to calmly take his team to a divisional championship.
Through all of the come from behind and close victories, this team has made their mark with a swagger. No one player stands out above the others. The winner of the “Man of the Year” award this year will come from a selection of seven or eight qualified individuals. They have won without a lot of speed, they have won without a high team batting average. They do possess excellent pitching, very good defense, and timely, if not relentless hitting marked by the long ball.
They do not match up as favorably as we may want against the Yankees or the Red Sox so a well executed game plan for either team will be required to compete and persevere, but I love their chances!
Is “Someday” here?
Yeah, I think it’s here.
The words of Lou Brown, manager of the Indians in the movie “Major League” seem to sum things up just right;
“The sports writers don’t think much of our chances. Me? I’m for giving them all a big old shit-burger to eat!”
Go Tribe!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Congratulations to the 2007 Central Division Champion Cleveland Indians!

With a strong performance from starting pitcher Jake Westbrook, timely hitting, and a solid relief effort, the Cleveland Indians clinched a well earned, well deserved Central Division Championship!

The sell-out crowd at Jacobs Field stayed on their feet inning after inning as they sensed the clinching of the championship!

Victor Martinez and Rafael Betancourt celebrate immediately after the final out of the game!

The Indians attained the title with contributions from everyone on the team. The never quit attitude of manager Eric Wedge and his team payed dividends in Cleveland this afternoon!

As they assembled in the locker room, it became immediately apparent that no one was above a champagne and beer dousing, especially as general manager Mark Shapiro was interviewed and received a whipped cream pie in the face!

The victory celebration began to resemble a scene or two from "Animal House."
By veteran outfielder Kenny Lofton's analysis, this was the wildest celebration he has ever seen. Television play-by-play announcer Matt Underwood noted that he had seen much calmer fraternity parties!
Once again, congratulations to the Cleveland Indians and the city of Cleveland on a much deserved championship!

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Let's get it done tonight and be the first team to clinch their division!
A Tigers loss and an Indians win and we're in!

Statue of Steinbrenner!

"Give me your rich, your spoiled,
Your pampered prima donnas yearning to be free agents,
The wretched refuse destroying the very fabric of your team.
Send these, these selfish, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my checkbook beside the brass ring!"

Barry Bonds in Yankee pinstripes next year?

You betcha!

Friday, September 21, 2007

No Choke, Full Throttle!

Read this, from "This Day In Baseball History"...

September 21, 1964 - Manager Gene Mauch's first-place Phillies lost 1-0 to the Cincinnati Reds on Chico Ruiz's steal of home in the sixth inning. It was Philadelphia's first of ten straight losses, a streak that cost the National League pennant.

Are you old enough to remember the "Failed Phillies" of '64? Along with following the failures of the Indians that year, the National League pennant race caught my attention as well as everyone else with a pulse.
Could it happen to Cleveland?
Sure, anything is possible and the mathematics certainly could allow it.
Will it happen to Cleveland?
Absolutely not!
There are quite a few "Rust-Belt" rock throwers who believe nothing good can ever happen in Cleveland. So they build in these defense mechanisms to prepare for the worst so that they can say, "See, I told you so!" The sports talk shows in Cleveland are full of these negative whiners!
Let's shut them up and shut them down!
This team is going to the playoffs and beyond and all of the people that are afraid to commit to that in fear of having their hearts broken again cannot stop this momentum.
Get out to the Jake this weekend and lets help this team clinch at home!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Where are you little fans? (Where are you?)

Whoah oh, oh, oh-uh-oh
Whoah oh, oh, oh-uh-oh

Twinkle twinkle little fans
I don’t see you in the stands

Wish we may, wish we might
Win another game tonight

Searched all over for a crowd
That can cheer the Tribe on loud

Whoah oh, oh, oh-uh-oh
Whoah oh, oh, oh-uh-oh

Maybe it’s the “2005 Swoon” that is making the fans afraid of the last week of the regular season.
Could it be the offensive breakdown after the All-Star Break?
Maybe it’s the fact that we haven’t won a World Series since 1948.
Aw heck, let’s blame Soccer!
The Cleveland Indians announced that they drew over 102,000 fans for the 3-game Detroit series. That’s only a little over 34,000 fans per game. This is the same town that supported their Indians with a Major league record 455 sold out games from 1995 through 2001.
Bruce Drennan, on his nightly talk show receives live calls and reads fan
e-mails on the air. Most of the callers are very upbeat, happy, and pleased with the Tribe. However, there is a disturbing number that still think the Indians are going to choke again in the last week or get creamed in the first round of the playoffs. They are still picking on Wedge, Nixon, Peralta, Westbrook, and even Blake!
Get over it!

This team is the real deal!
They are currently tied for the best record in all of baseball!
“But they can’t beat New York!”
Yeah? Bring ‘em on!
This is a totally different team than the one that lost all six regular season games to the Yankees. No doubt, the Yankees hit…but we pitch and our offense is alive and livin’ for the comeback! I hope we play the Yankees in the first round. We will gain the media attention we so deserve as we methodically come at the Yankees from all sides.
Choke? Come on, this team has no quit in them!
And what if they did lose in the first round of the playoffs? Would you rather have them 16 games behind, spinning their wheels until the regular season is over?
It’s time to celebrate! Lighten up and enjoy the ride!
But know this…the 2007 Cleveland Indians are more than able to hold their own with any opponent and make it to the World Series!
With that said, dress in red, and get down to the Jake for the last 3 regular season home games…I’ll see ya there!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Clinch At Home? "I See It Happening!"

Wouldn't it be great if the Indians could clinch the Central Division at home? with 5 home games left in the regular season and the magic number at 7, it would be pretty tough. If the Tribe sweeps Detroit, the magic number would go down to 3 with 3 games left. Then it could be accomplished with a combination of wins by the Tribe and losses by the Tigers.
Well, I decided to get a little help from Zoltar. I put my 4 quarters in the slot (even Zoltar's prices have gone up) and out popped a card that said, "This feat will be accomplished!" I was thrilled as I walked away, but there was a little snicker from Zoltar that turned into a belly-laugh. So, I reached back into my pocket only to discover I was out of quarters. That's O.K., Zoltar now takes credit cards! Inserting the card with the stripe up and to the left, I asked again, "Are you sure, with only five home games left, will the Tribe clinch at home?" The response was more emphatic..."Do not question the power of Zoltar, your team will clinch during a home game!" Cool! I was happy as I walked away...but there was that belly-laugh again! What was it that old Zolty wasn't telling me? Was he just trying to keep my credit card or did he have some more enlightenment? Well, I had to find out so, once more, stripe up and to the left, I asked, "Which home game?" The response was even more direct, "The last "home" game!" Alright, that pretty much said it, but listening to his laugh again, and looking at the card, I noticed "home" in quotations. Once again, stripe up and to the left, I asked, "Specify the date, please." His response was, "September 26th!....Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Can't Sleep!!!

As the Indians broke Spring Training, if someone would have asked you how comfortable you would be with 2 weeks of the season remaining and the Indians in first place ahead of the Tigers by 4.5 games, what would you have said?
It is and has been a great season but isn’t this killing you?
I gotta know what’s gonna happen now!
OK, let’s calm down, take a deep breath, and analyze this…deep breaths, big deep breaths…good!
With two weeks left, the Indians have 13 remaining games and the Tigers have 12.
The Indians have 6 home games and 7 away.
The Tigers have 6 home and 6 away games.
The Indians record stands at 87-62 .584
The Tigers record stands at 83-67 .553
The Indians play 3 vs. Detroit, 3 vs. Oakland, 4 at Seattle, and 3 at Kansas City.
The Indians are 24-15 .615 vs. these teams this season.
The Tigers play 3 at Cleveland, 3 vs. Kansas City, 3 vs. Minnesota, and 3 at Chicago.
The Tigers are 30-29 .508 vs. these teams this season.
If that same pattern holds true, the Indians will win 8 of their remaining 13 games and the Tigers will win 7 of their remaining 12 games.
That means the Tigers will finish the season at 90-72 .556 and the Indians will finish at 95-67 .586, winning the division!
Feel better now?
I do!
I think!!
Well, the Tigers are coming to town tomorrow!
They are probably here right now, prowling the streets of downtown Cleveland…that could be a good thing!
I’m just trying to figure out how to go to sleep tonight.
Here’s a thought…The Tigers have to win and watch how the Indians perform in the win/loss column.
The Indians just have to win and control their own destiny!
O.K., I feel better, (Yawn)…Goodnight!

Indian Summer...Yes, With Snowballs And Everything!

On Wednesday, September 26th, the Indians and the Mariners will play a double-header in Seattle in order to make up the last game from their 4-game home opener in Cleveland that was snowed out on Monday, April 9th.
How bizarre is this season?
So game one that day (starting at 7:05 PM Cleveland time) will be a “home” game for the Indians! Well, what jerseys should they wear; white, blue, or the softball looking white sleeveless with the blue shirt underneath? Between games they will obviously need to change into their “away” grays.
But, is this the end of the snow-outs for the 2007 season?
Based on this weekend in Cleveland with temperatures beginning at game time in the high 50’s and dipping into the high 40’s at game’s end, the possibility of reaching the playoffs and getting snowed out again is not too remote!
What a fitting punctuation mark to this crazy, crazy season; all 4 games from the 4-game home opener snowed out and rescheduled… three in Cleveland and one in Seattle, the very next 3-game Cleveland home series (April 10th – 12th) vs. the Los Angeles Angels moved to Milwaukee because it kept snowing and the Jacobs Field ground crew couldn’t get dug out, the umpire crew on April 28th adding a run (for Baltimore) to the scoreboard three innings later (right or wrong, it’s still bizarre), Casey Blake getting hit by a pitch but receives a called strike because the ball allegedly hit the bat… what a fun, nutty season! What else can happen?
A snowed-out, or a game hindered by snow in any part of October is not out of the question.
On Sunday, October 8th, 2000, this area was dumped on by a freaky lake affect snow as a cold blast passed over warm Lake Erie. The wet, heavy snow accumulated to 3 inches on the east side of town, knocking out power in many areas for up to 8 hours. Who can forget Omar Vizquel warming his hands in the dugout during the 1995 World Series in Cleveland as light snow was falling and temperatures were in the mid 30’s during one of the games.
However, now that we have talked about it, we will probably enjoy sunny, warm weather in Cleveland through all of the playoff and World Series games…played here!
Indian Summer continues!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Best Get Those Tickets Early!

Were you out there? What's going on at the "Jake?"
Not much, just another come from behind, walk-off game winner for the Tribe last night!
With eight games left in this nine game, last of the season home stand, tickets are becoming scarce.

So, if you were not there, what did you miss?

  • A brilliant pitching performance by Kansas City starter Brian Bannister who held the Indians to 1 run on 2 hits in 6 innings. He struck out 2 and walked 3. His undoing was the Indians' ability to take opposing pitchers deep in the count. The Indians were able to induce 107 pitches from Bannnister over those 6 innings.
  • C.C. Sabathia, going for win #17, threw 116 pitches over 7 innings, 71 for strikes. C.C. struck out 13 Royals only walking 2 batters. His undoing was in the 5th inning when the Royals scored 4 runs to lead the game 4-1. So, C.C. was denied another victory but this time, it wasn't just lack of run support. The big guy was one of the first players on the field to congratulate (beat on) Casey Blake.
  • Franklin Guttierez, who looked a bit lost facing Bannister, hit a 2-run homer run off of Royals reliever Joel Peralta in the bottom of the 7th inning to bring the Tribe within 1 run.
  • Victor Martinez tied the game in the bottom of the 8th inning with a skyrocker to right field that was just missed by Royals right fielder Mark Teahan. The ball appeared to be held up by the wind as Teahan timed his jump and the ball went off of the side of his mitt and bounced into the stands for a solo shot. Victor hit the blast off of old friend David Riske.
  • Joe Borowski, as promised, kept things interesting as he pitched a scoreless 9th inning after giving way to 2 Royals base runners on a walk and a hit. Is this guy going to be a hoot in the post season...Yikes!
  • Then the stage was set. Leading off in the bottom of the 9th inning for Cleveland was Casey (at the bat) Blake. How many time before have we seen this guy gut out a victory for the Indians? I knew he was going to do it and it looked and felt like 35,230 other fans knew it, too. Riske's first pitch was sent deep into the left field stands for the walk-off game winner!

Great pitching, big hits, come from behind victories, pie celebrations, fabulous fireworks, Detroit coming to town, Dollar Dog Night, and a chance to win the division on this homestand...
Get those tickets now!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Season of Dreams!

For every kid who joined up for little league, there were so many firsts that became lasting memories for life.
  • The first uniform shirt, the smell of the printed name on it, a smell that never leaves you.
  • Fighting over your favorite major league player's number. (Of course, it depended on your size because the shirt sizes were numbered low to high.)
  • The first time you are out in the field, the grass is so green and the sky is so blue. You’ve seen the grass and the sky before but on this day, your senses are enveloped by them. Then it happens…the crack of the bat, the infielders turning your way and looking up, you squint to find a little white dot in the big, blue sky, you clumsily and timidly position yourself in the vicinity of where the ball might come down, you raise your glove, your mother screams, and the ball somehow tucks itself firmly into the glove pocket! You have practiced this hundreds of times but this time, it’s for real. are a fielder with confidence!
  • The first time you step to the plate. Yes, you’ve taken batting practice and played with the neighborhood kids so many times before. But this time, it’s real, it means something to so many. You measure your bat to the plate, line your feet on a line to the pitcher, to shake off the nerves, you begin to imitate your favorite major league player. You squeeze the bat handle as you slide your hands up on the bat, you bring the bat even with your back shoulder just like your coach taught you and now you are ready…in comes the pitch and you watch a called strike one. Then you do it all again, then again. This time, they got you, but that’s O.K., there are plenty of hits to come. From now on, you can wait on deck and size-up how you will hit the opposing pitcher. You are playing baseball!

This is the same love affair that generations after generations of kids have experienced and learned that this grand old game would forever be a part of them.
If you were fortunate enough to grow up in a major league city, you kept the game even closer, especially if your team ever got into a pennant race. The best summer of your life was more than likely driven by your team in first place.
You grew up and had less and less free time, but there was always time to play on a softball team or two. Through it all, there is that major league team that you live and die with.
You have children and you get to live it all over again; the uniforms, the parades, and the passion and drama of the game.
But kids grow up and move on to lives of their own.
You still have your major league team. They even get into a couple of World Series!
That same team offers a Fantasy Camp, a chance to play at your team’s Spring Training facilities. But you are fifty-one years old at the time, can you really compete and in hardball?
You go and the experience is first class. The players you worshiped as a teen and young adult are your coaches.
It starts all over again! The uniforms (this time, you get to choose your number!), the big fields, the big Florida sky, it all comes rushing back because for a week you are a kid again!

  • Try-outs, a draft, then meeting your team, what a huge rush!
  • Playing two games a day and drinking with Joe Charboneau each night.
  • Listening to Luis Tiant tell you stories you will cherish for the rest of your life.
  • Playing on a spring training major league field.
  • Being named the MVP of one of the games.
  • Having opposing manager Len Barker give you the “thumbs up” on three straight dig-outs at first base.
  • Batting in a "players vs. campers" game against legendary hall of famer Bob Feller!
  • Playing in a reunion game at the "Jake" 4 months later.

Now your team is approaching the playoffs. Does life get any better than this?

Who could ever forget James Earl Jones' speech (as Terrence Mann) in Field of Dreams,

"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come."

...Gotta get to the "Jake" and relive it again and again, and again...

Who Do You Love?

With 16 games and less than 3 weeks to go in the 2007 season, the Indians find themselves on the verge of going to the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
Although they haven’t won anything yet, your mind can’t help but imagine a first round playoff opponent. Out of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels, who would the Indians match up with best?
Let’s look at some important categories and see how the probable American League playoff teams stack up against each other:

Team Batting Average, advantage Yankees
NYY .289, LAA .286, BOS .280, & CLE .269.

Runs Scored, advantage Yankees
NYY 857, BOS 787, LAA 761, & CLE 735.

Hits, advantage Yankees
NYY 1471, LAA 1429, BOS 1419, & CLE 1364.

Extra Base Hits, advantage Red Sox
BOS 499, NYY 495, CLE 460, & LAA 440.

RBIs, advantage Yankees
NYY 821, BOS 753, LAA 718, & CLE 710.

BBs, advantage Red Sox
BOS 627, NYY 556, CLE 525, & LAA 455.

Strike Outs (batting), advantage Angels
LAA 783, NYY 860, BOS 925, & CLE 1097.

Stolen Bases, advantage Angels
LAA 131, NYY 114, BOS 81, & CLE 69.

On-Base %, advantage Yankees
NYY .364, BOS .362, LAA .346, & CLE .343.

Slugging %, advantage Yankees
NYY .465, BOS .442, CLE .426, & LAA .423.

ERA, advantage Red Sox
BOS 3.84, CLE 4.13, LAA 4.19, & NYY 4.45.

Hits Allowed, advantage Red Sox
BOS 1234,LAA 1320 , NYY 1340, & CLE 1371.

Runs Allowed, advantage Red Sox
BOS 593, CLE 648, LAA 654, & NYY 688

Home Runs Allowed, advantage Red Sox
BOS 131, CLE 134, NYY 135, & LAA 137.

BBs Allowed, advantage Indians
CLE 378, BOS 435, LAA 435, & NYY 512.

Strike Outs (pitching), advantage Red Sox
BOS 1030, LAA 1014, CLE 915, & NYY 885.

This is a real eye-opener. At first glance, our Cleveland Indians appear to be in trouble. However, our fortunes will hinge on who is our first playoff opponent. Obviously the Yankees and Red Sox match up very well with each other. The Yankees have won 7 out of 15 regular season games vs. the Red Sox. Any advantage that the Yankees may hold over the Sox in offense are more than equalized in pitching. Head to head, I would take the Red Sox over the Yankees in the first round.

I would like to play the Angels. They get on base and score fast, being the executors of small ball. Cleveland lives off of the extra base hit with runners on base. Cleveland holds an advantage over the Angels in pitching. We have split 10 games in the regular season with the Angels. If Cleveland hits like they can and their excellent pitching continues, I would take the Indians over the Angels in the first round.

Who would I love to play? Bring on the Yankees!
We failed to beat them in the regular season losing all 6 games to the bombers. I don't think this Indians team is in awe of anyone anymore. I believe that they have the confidence to match up offensively vs. the Yankees and definitely out-pitch them. If we met them in the first round, I gotta believe we beat them based on their inconsistency.

It's the Red Sox that concern me. We have only won 2 of the 7 games played in the regular season. Looking at their stats, they are the most balanced team, hitting and pitching. I would rather face them in round two with the confidence of having won round one vs. either the Angels or the Yankees.

At any rate, we are talking about the playoffs in mid-September!


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Fallen Angels!

The first place Indians met the first place Angels on national television in "La-La-Land" tonight. They will leave with heads held high after splitting a 4-game series and outplaying the Angels in the last two games.

You had to wonder about rookie Aaron Laffey making this start in this situation. Although he had a somewhat rough start (one run in each of the first two innings), he maintained the poise and never quit attitude that have won him the #5 spot in the Tribe starting rotation. Laffey gave up 2 runs on 6 hits with 2 walks and 3 strike outs in 5 innings. Jensen Lewis, Raphael Perez, and Joe Borowski combined for a scoreless relief effort that sealed the deal.

As great as the pitching was, the real story was Grady Sizemore.

In the 4th inning with the Angels ahead 2-0, Grady led off the inning with a perfectly executed bunt down the third base line. He quickly stole second base. Then, when Asdrubal Cabrera smashed a single off of the glove of Angels first baseman Casey Kotchman, Sizemore never hesitated to score, taking the Angels by complete surprise. This ignited a 5-run inning with Ryan Garko's 17th home run of the season with two runners on.

Leading off the next inning, Sizemore laced a line drive to right field, never hesitating going to second base, again catching the Angels by surprise. He scored the 6th Tribe run on a double by Cabrera.

Until Sizemore sparked the offense, they seemed to be mesmerized by Angels starter Jered Weaver.

With this impressive win, the Indians go back to 6 full games ahead of the Tigers in the division. Their magic number drops to 14 and they have won 13 of their last 16 games.

The way the Indians played the Angels over the weekend, you have to not only feel great about their chances to win the division but also about their ability to advance in the playoffs!

Indians' Summer continues!

Hats Off To Carston Charles!

O.K., here’s how the season finishes for Cleveland Indians ace C.C. Sabathia;
With a record of 17 and 7, he is scheduled to pitch on 9/14 vs. Kansas City, 9/19 vs. Detroit, 9/26 @ Seattle, and the season finale on 9/30 @Kansas City. That is four more starts with a chance to reach 20 wins.
But wait, what if the Indians, with a magic number down to 15, clinch the division prior to C.C.’s last start? Manager Eric Wedge has said that if that happens, he will pull C.C. from his final start to have him pitch two games in the first round of the playoff. So, the scenario could become that C.C. fore goes a 20 game season to help his team advance in the playoffs.
This is the same C.C. that has been robbed of at least 3 victories in August because of an offensive slump by his team mates.
This is the same C.C. that has been giving up an average of under 3 runs per game and maintaining an ERA under 2.00 since the All-Star break and when asked about the lack of run support responded that he only cares that his team wins and gets to the playoffs.
This is the same C.C. that has earned even more respect from his team mates with his unselfish approach to helping his team reach the playoffs.
Cleveland is a small market team. They don’t (yet) get the exposure that Boston’s Josh Beckett or New York’s Chien-Ming Wang receive. But when you look at what C.C. has accomplished and what he has and may have to sacrifice, he should be heavily (no pun intended) considered for the American League Cy Young Award.
What a great team player we have in Carston Charles in his fabulous season.
Should he still win 20 games while missing his final start of the season to pitch twice in the first round of the playoffs there should be no question who wins the award.

Cleveland Fans Got A Wedgie!

Sunday, September 9, 2007, Akron Beacon Journal, Sports, "Wedge Knows What He Is Doing" by Sheldon Ocker.

Sheldon Ocker writes that it is time for the fans of the Cleveland Indians to acknowledge manager Eric Wedge's role in the team's success.

Absolutely, he has had a huge role.

That role has been based on a mix of experience, good planning, a strong farm system, a very good relationship with team brass, a very good relationship with his team, and luck.

Wedge and general manager Mark Shapiro have assembled a team that has been in first place in their division for most of the season. Wedge is in his fifth season as manager of the Cleveland Indians. There have been many ups and down during that time that have given Wedge much experience to draw on; the unexpected early success of the team in the 2005 season, the unexpected collapse of that same team, the disappointment in the 2006 team, his timely discipline of players (Milton Bradley, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, etc.), and the handling of this current team.

Last year, the team theme was "Team, One Through Nine" that did not quite play out. This year, the theme is "Win, One Game At A Time." This is a good theme that seems to get clouded by another Wedge-ism, "There are 162 of these games to play." However, the players give Wedge credit for a never-give-up attitude that they all have adopted as indicated by their come from behind victories, their one-run victories, and their two-out, clutch hit and scoring performances.

The farm system has been very generous to these Indians. Ryan Garko, Asdrubal Cabrera, Franklin Gutierrez, Aaron Laffey, and more have all made excellent contributions to the success of this team. Wedge has handled them masterfully, as he has his pitching staff.

Mark Shapiro has constantly endorsed his manager, which for the most part has been well deserved.

The players appreciate Wedge's support and are very dedicated to their manager. They live his never-say-die style. They are disciples of Wedge and his winning plan. There is no griping when a player is rested. Only positive "Team" words have been uttered by C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona when they were the victims of insufficient run support. Casey Blake has played unselfishly in right field, first base, and third base as needed by Wedge and Blake has responded with a strong season.

That brings us to luck. Wedge has been guilty of sticking to his plan despite his team's offensive collapse that lasted almost five weeks. He stuck with his line up and made references that the team would work through the current problems with their chins up. While the Indians were slumping offensively, the Tigers and Twins collapsed.

What if this collapse did not occur? The Indians would be in third place in the division and out of any playoff contention at this point. Wedge's reaction to the slump was viewed by the fans of the team as "missing." Instead of winning and putting the Tigers behind by 10+ games, the Indians struggled to stay close while the Tigers stumbled. Only when the line up was given a shake up late in August did the team respond and come out of their offensive doldrums. Whether the turn around was coincidental or a reaction to the line up changes makes no difference. There was a huge factor of luck involved in arriving at the current five game lead that the Indians now enjoy over the Tigers.

Sheldon, the fans were 100% right to demand the bar to be raised, to expect a change, to demand a reaction of a team that was playing below their abilities and losing out on opportunities to vault ahead to a comfortable lead in the division.

Wedge should be supported and celebrated for a great job to date but acceptance of mediocrity will never be tolerated.

Here is hoping the recent struggles have made Wedge a much better manager than he was a month ago.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Cleverly Conceding?

In an interview with the Detroit Free Press on Thursday, Detroit Tigers Manager Jim Leland all but conceded the American League Central Division title to the Cleveland Indians.
Leyland said, "At this point, I tip my hat to them. They are winning the way division champions win. For the most part, to be realistic, we are playing for the wild card. I'm sorry if people look at that and get mad and say that's negative. It's not negative. It's a fact."
Cleveland Indians Manager Eric Wedge isn’t buying it and rightfully so. Wedge said in response, "If you don't focus on today, the game will kick you in the butt. Our entire focus is getting to the postseason and winning our division."
Not exactly words to go down in history but he has the right idea…cautious optimism with a strong dose of aggression. Thursday afternoon, the Tigers beat the White Sox and the Indians lost to the Angels. All of a sudden, that comfortable 7 game lead over the Tigers is down to 6 games with 3 games left with those same Tigers. Hmmmm… Clever, Jim!
It is a fact that the Indians have been the recipient of Jim’s cleverness and savvy exactly 10 years ago in October. His tongue in cheek pronouncement is premature by design. Is he trying to fire up his stumbling team? Is he trying to relax the Indians by lulling them into a false sense of security? Yes and yes!
The time is right to be cautious, but also aggressive in winning one game at a time. I like the swagger that this Indians team is displaying. During the 10 – 3 loss to the Angels last night/early this morning, it was impossible to turn the game off near 1 AM thinking that this never-back-down-team could rally with 7+ runs in the late innings. Well, it didn’t happen and the team was humbled by a very aggressive Angel’s team. However, tonight is a new game and a new situation. Westbrook ought to be able to keep the ball on the ground and the Indians offense has got to stick it to John Lackey early and often. If the Indians can leave Anaheim with two wins out of the four games, they will set themselves up for success vs. the White Sox and Royals prior to hosting the Tigers on September 17th, thus keeping the monkey on Leyland’s back!