Sunday, February 24, 2008

Will We Take A Sa-BATH-ia?

What should the Indians do with C.C. Sabathia?
They have 3 options;
1. Trade him now to avoid losing out completely when he files for free agency.
2. Wait and see how the Indians perform as they attempt to recapture the Central Crown and if they begin to fail, trade him then and avoid the free agency loss.
3. Continue to try to sign him and build on the team’s future successes beyond the 2008 season.
It appears that Indian’s general manager Mark Shapiro is resigned to pursue C.C. and keep him in Cleveland. Other past stars have indicated that they wanted to stay in Cleveland but were swept away by the lure of long contracts with top dollars. What will it truly take to sign C.C. and keep him here? Can the Indians mortgage the future and keep C.C. from free agency?
The fans that care to write in to the local paper or voice an opinion are calling for an immediate trade of C.C. They believe that something now is better than nothing later. Most of the area sports writers seem to agree that the Tribe brass should wait and see how the season goes and if not in contention, put C.C. on the trading block.
The Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto however feels that the Indians can sign C.C. and that they should continue down that road. This is a bit of a courageous stand and certainly against the grain of his peers.
Many fans feel that, although C.C. has indicated that he would like to remain with Cleveland, that it will not happen and we will be left once again with nothing. You can’t help but read into that the “Poor Me” syndrome that seems to dog Cleveland sports fans.
Perhaps Shapiro can break the trend of “also rans” in Cleveland sports by hanging tough and signing C.C. Jim Thome left us after pledging loyalty to the city and the Indian’s organization as did others. But that does not mean that it will happen again and that the trend of “Almost Champs” will continue.
Option #1, trade him now, is a sellout of the 2008 season. It will be most difficult to repeat as Central champs vs. the Tigers, Yankees, and Red Sox without C.C. The Twins traded Santana and did nothing to improve their chances for the immediate future, so it appears.
Option #2, wait and see, seems to be the most sound from a business standpoint. The question is, how long can we afford to wait?
Option #3, sign him, is from the heart and this courageous decision could change the future significantly, either way for the success of the Cleveland Indians.
Sign him now and let’s play ball.
Play ball and let’s sign him at the end of the season.
Either way, we are in for a wild ride by rolling the dice…Let 'em ride!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Question Mark And The Mysterians

96 wins, Not 96 Tears!
Lately, we have been pondering question marks that may appear on the horizon of the 2008 Cleveland Indians. One of those question marks is Cliff Lee. This lanky left-hander has won 51 games for the Tribe since the 2004 season.
Last year, Cliff suffered an abdominal muscle strain in spring training. He never quite seemed to recover, as he appeared to lose control of his fastball and dip his record for 2007 to 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA in 20 appearances. He also allowed 112 hits and 73 runs in 97 innings.
Although Lee claims to be 100% and looking to get straight for this season, there is a lingering concern. Cliff developed a bit of an attitude during his difficulties. Everyone should probably remember when he boinked Sammy Sosa in Texas on “Sammy Sosa Night” and put him out of the game. There was a reported bit of a scuffle in the walkway between the visitor’s dugout and clubhouse between Victor Martinez and Lee after the incident. When calm was restored, the two combatants traded stares until it was time to go back out onto the field, only for Victor to become visibly upset with his pitcher on the field until Lee was removed from the game.
The next time Lee pitched was back in front of the home crowd at then Jacobs Field and when he imploded again on the mound, the fans really gave it to him upon his removal from the game. Lee made a very bush league “salute” with his hat to the fans that caught the wrath of skipper Eric Wedge.
An abdominal strain can be overcome. Possibly a bit more difficult to overcome is a yard of attitude. Here is hoping Cliff Lee can put both behind him and be the excellent pitcher that he is capable of for the Indians. However, a trade may be eminent, as this ball club and its manager do not put up with attitude issues.
Case in point; Milton Bradley
The Cuyahoga Falls Police are glad he is gone.
It's probably a very good thing Milton never applied for work with the Post Office!
…Good Riddance!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

“Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?”

What do you think?
Do the Indians have enough to repeat as American League Central champs?
Are they balanced enough?
Will their pitching be enough to hold off the potent Tigers?
“Do You Believe In Magic?”
Will this be our big “Summer In The City?”
Or, are we just victims of a grand “Daydream?”
Be honest and vote (upper left hand column), and remember, “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice!”

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bill Livingston On Roger Clemens

Cleveland Plain Dealer sports writer Bill Livingston is right on with his analysis of Roger Clemens in his story this morning:

Roger Clemens doesn't have credibility in his arsenal, says The Plain Dealer's Bill Livingston
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Bill LivingstonPlain Dealer Columnist
Roger Clemens lost me after he threw the broken bat at the New York Mets' Mike Piazza during the 2000 World Series, then said he thought it was the ball. He had no credibility long before Wednesday.
Only a shameless dissembler would think he could get away with that, one who has been catered to and fawned on most of his life because he could make a baseball accelerate like an exotic particle in an elaborate physics experiment.
His tactile sensation and cognitive awareness seemingly deserted poor Clemens all at once, leaving him unable to differentiate between the business end of a wooden bat and a spherical, cowhide-covered ball, an object he had spent most of his life gripping.
Either that, or he lied to cover his butt.
Two questions:
Why didn't he throw the bat to first base? And do you usually throw the ball at a runner?
It's a good thing Clemens spent the bulk of his career in the American League, where he didn't have to bat. The possibility that he would stride to the plate some day, batting gloves wrapped securely around an infield practice ball, is alarming.
No questions that came out of the congressional hearing mattered as much as that one incredible example of arrogance, although they were its distant cousins in brazenness.
What was the bat throw? Was it some ridiculous exercise in intimidation?
Possibly. Clemens, especially in the land of the designated hitter, free of retribution, loved to make "chin music."
Or was it 'roid rage?
Ever since Clemens was named in the Mitchell Report as a user of performance-enhancing drugs, I thought that was probably the cause of the Rocket's red glare in the World Series.
Tinker to Evers to Chance.
Hillerich to Bradsby to fat chance?
Before Congress, Clemens also made several statements that rang my Piazza Meter.
He said that informant Brian McNamee, as busy a needler as a tattoo artist, didn't inject him with steroids, although Chuck Knoblauch and Andy Pettitte, Clemens' former teammates, say McNamee injected them.
Clemens said McNamee gave his wife a shot of human-growth hormone without his knowledge, presumably right in her bottom, before the couple appeared in a Sports Illustrated photo shoot.
He said that when Sen. George Mitchell's staff asked to talk to him, his agent never told him. Yet, craziest thing, he still has the same agent.
It was never normal for athletes as old as Barry Bonds (43) or Clemens (45), both of them ancient for sports, to be at their best at such ages. Not without a little help from their friends.
Presumably among the "friends" would be their personal trainers, McNamee in the case of Clemens, and Greg Anderson in the case of Bonds. Anderson went to prison and never talked, which is why Bonds has not had to appear before a similar hearing. Good help is so hard to find these days.
I understand that McNamee has a trail of lies behind him in giving up evidence incrementally. I simply believe him over Clemens.
By the way, how about when the chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman, gaveled Clemens down as he tried to argue? It might have been the first time he had been told no since mommy took the crayons away for drawing on the wall.
The bat/ball thrower had to face the music at last.
To reach Bill Livingston:, 216-999-4672
Previous columns online:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Classy Statement

Associated Press

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- Cy Young Award winner C.C. Sabathia has tabled contract talks with the Cleveland Indians. The Indians' pitchers and catchers reported Thursday to spring training in Winter Haven, Fla. The 27-year-old left-hander, who is eligible for free agency after the 2008 season, said on his Web site that he and his agents have broken off negotiations on an extension with the club. The Indians recently had offered Sabathia a four-year extension believed to be worth $17 million to $18 million per season.
On Sabathia's Web site, he posted this message:
"This off season, through my representatives at Legacy Sports Group, I have discussed the possibility of a contract extension with the Cleveland Indians. At this time, we haven't been able to reach agreement. Now that the reporting date for spring training is here, it is time to put aside contract discussions so that I can focus all of my energies and attention on preparing for the upcoming season. I look forward to a successful 2008 season, both for myself and for the Indians as a whole. I will do everything within my power to help the club to its first World Series appearance since 1997 and its first World Series Championship since 1948. There will be time after the season for the Indians and my representatives to discuss my contract status. I remain hopeful that these discussions will result in a contract extension that will keep me with the franchise for many years to come. In the meantime, in order to avoid any distractions, my representatives and I will not make any further comment about my contractual situation beyond this statement."
Sabathia went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA and led the majors with 241 innings in 2007. He is Cleveland's first Cy Young winner since Gaylord Perryin 1972.

Pretty classy, C.C.!
Indians fans, as well as other baseball fans that have taken the time to notice, have watched this talented young man mature and grow into a great ball player and a fine person. He has taken on a leadership role on the team and supports that leadership with consistent star quality performances on the field.
Obviously C.C. feels a strong sense of loyalty to the Cleveland Indians organization as he has made it clear that he would prefer to remain with the Indians. He didn't have to post his comments on his website but there are many, many of us here in the shadows of Progressive Field that are glad he did.

Does he mean it?

You have to believe that he truly does mean what he says. Remember when the Indians struggled after the All-Star break last season? It was C.C. that stepped up into a leadership role and challenged his teammates to win now, all while he guaranteed the Central Division championship in Cleveland.
C.C. could have easily said nothing and reported to spring training, played out the season, and gone the route of free agency. After all, he is a family man and his large family lives near two west coast teams in the California Bay area.
When the season is over, chances are that C.C. may not remain in Cleveland. But after his statement today, C.C. is putting it all on the line for the 2008 season and certainly posturing himself to stay in Cleveland beyond this year.

C.C., thanks for your loyalty and commitment. Best of luck in the 2008 season. The Cleveland Indians organization, like you, has high integrity. I gotta believe your loyalty and commitment will be returned by this organization.

Go C.C.!

Go Tribe!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Are You Ready For Some B-B-B-B-Baseball?

March 31st is only 47 days away. Presently, Northeast Ohio is rebounding from a huge Winter storm that passed through these parts just 24 hours ago...and the cold weather is expected to continue.
Most people probably are not thinking about sitting in the stands at the newly named Progressive Field. They are still recovering from sitting through a rush hour yesterday that turned what normally would be a 30 minute drive home into a 90 minute free-for-all.
But we can dream of better (warmer) days as we chisel the heavy ice from the windows of our cars.
Dream of the days when a young man's fancy turns to breaking in a new pair of cleats by running around the yard days before the softball season starts.
Dream of the smell of neatsfoot oil rubbed into your trusty mitt while trying to figure out how to hide that nasty, oily stain left on the tablecloth where you only put the mitt down for a minute.
Dream of pulling on a new team baseball jersey with your name and number on it.
Dream while swinging the bat in the garage when you should be running the snow blower. I don't think I know anyone who wouldn't trade snow blowing the driveway everyother day for cutting the grass once a week.
Well, March 31st may be a bit too early for opening day in Northeast Ohio but we will gladly take it, and love it, and worship the tradition that it brings because eventhough our weather bites right now, there is nothing like being at the Jake...I mean the Pro (?) watching the Tribe and eating a dog, even if you have to brush the snow off of it to put some lovely brown mustard on it!
Bring it on!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

48 Days Away...Look Outside!

Hope springs eternal or eternal Spring hopes!
Expecting a heavy snowfall this afternoon really makes one wonder if we will experience the same opening day in 2008 that we had in 2007, 48 days from today.
The time has passed quickly since game 7 of the ALCS in Boston.
It all starts again in 48 days, right here, at the newly named Progressive Field.
What if Mark Shapiro is right?
What if familiarity breeds success as he believes?
With all but two players (Lofton and Nixon) from 2007 reporting for Spring Training over the next week in Winter Haven, the "getting to know you" part will not be necessary. This team is expected to be able to hit the ground running where they left off.
Let's hope Shapiro is right!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Are They "Rip-ping" Us?

Mmmmmm, Don't need to trade
Mmmmmmm, Tigers don't have pitching
Mmmmmmmmmmm, Best bullpen in the game
Mmmmmmmmmmm, One more year with C.C.
Whhhhhhaaaa, Turn off that alarm!
Mark, wake up...your equipment trucks left for Winter Haven Friday.
Mark, wake up...