Thursday, August 28, 2008

“A Little Help?”

As Major League Baseball prepares to unveil instant replay for home run calls, you have to wonder, what are the boundaries? No, not the boundaries for the home runs, that should be clear now, but what I mean is, what are the boundaries for usage of replays?

Also, what's the rush? Why start the replays now, in the stretch run of a season?

Commissioner Bud Selig promises that the replay will not expand beyond;

1. Did the ball go over the fence?

2. Was the home run fair or foul?

3. Was there fan interference on the home run?

"Not as long as I'm commissioner" was Selig's promise on the possibility of further usage of replays beyond home runs.
But are they starting something that could get out of control?

You gotta love Cubs manager Lou Pinella's take on the issue;

He said, “I’d love to be able to throw a red hankie or a green hankie. Imagine being able to throw something on the field and not be ejected. I shouldn’t say it’s not going to work, but this could turn into a little bit of a fiasco initially.”

Lou has always been a visionary in this game. It's too bad he wasn't there for the All-Star "Tie" game!

So put your umpire hat on and get ready for the fun!

Perhaps a far-fetched ruling as demonstrated below is really not that far-fetched...

"After further review, it has been determined that clear and convincing evidence exists that the play, originally called a home run, was actually a live ball that was in play. So the ball will be put back in play and play will resume from that point. The outfielder will be allowed to drop the ball over his shoulder and prepare to field it. The runner will go back to three giant steps from first base towards second base, where he was when the ball struck the wall, and when I count to three, the play will resume."
(Actually, the rule states that the crew chief is responsible for the placement of baserunners where they should have ended up had the correct call been made but it is more fun to imagine the possibilities.)

What's next, the winner of the hot dog race between innings will become a determining factor in the outcome of games?

"Mustard wins by a squirt and therefore, the American League will have home field advantage for the World Series!"

...Shoulda left well enough alone!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Perfect “10”

The Cleveland Indians have won 10 games in a row.
They beat the Angels at home on August 17th and swept all 9 games on their just concluded road trip.
The Cleveland Indians are the hottest team in baseball.
The last time the Tribe won 10 in a row was in the 2002 season.
Grady Sizemore becomes a 30/30 man and his Indians become a 10/10 team, that is, they have won 10 in a row and lost 10 in a row in the same season. They are the only team in MLB to do this 3 times…1931, 1979, and now 2008!
Congratulations to the Tribe on a fabulous team effort winning 10 in a row, 16 of their last 19 games, and 18 wins vs. 7 losses in August!
Keep it going!


After accomplishing 30 stolen bases and 30 home runs by August 25th, is it possible for Grady Sizemore to finish the 2008 season as only the 5th 40/40 man in MLB history?

Yes, here is how...

Going into tonight's game, Sizemore has 34 stolen bases and 31 home runs in 127 games. He is stealing a base every 3.735 games and hitting a home run every 4.097 games.

At that rate, providing he plays the 31 games the Indians have remaining, he is on track to steal 42 bases and hit 38.5 home runs for the season.

So, he needs to pick up the pace slightly on home runs to one in every 3.444 games.

If the Indians continue their winning ways, it will afford Grady a few more at bats to make this more than possible. What a great accomplishment this would be. What a tribute to this team if Grady makes 40/40, Cliff Lee wins the A.L. Cy Young, and CC Sabathia wins the N.L. Cy Young!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Go Figure!

Prior to the conclusion of this evening’s games, most teams have between 30 to 32 games remaining in this season. It is time to start wondering; who has the best chance to make the wild card playoff spots? Who has the best chance to surprise everyone and make a late season challenge for either their division or the wild card?
Last year, the Yankees took the A.L. wild card with 94 victories and the Rockies took the N.L. wild card with 90 wins.
This year, the Red Sox are on track to take the A.L. wild card with 94 wins as are the Brewers on track for the N.L. wild card at 94 wins.
As it looks now, the A.L. divisional champs will be the Angels in the West, the Rays in the East, and the dog fight will continue between the White Sox and the Twins in the Central.
In the N.L. the Cubs should hold on in the Central, the Diamondbacks and Dodgers are too close to call in the West as are the Mets and the Phillies in the East.
To reach 94 victories and ensure a playoff spot, the following teams must finish their remaining games as noted below:

LAA 15 – 17 A shoe-in to win the West with 99 wins
T.B. 15 – 18 They should win the East with 99 wins but the Red Sox could get hot!
CWS 19 – 12
BOS 20 – 12
MIN 20 – 11 Of CWS, BOS, and MIN, someone will be the odd man out!
NYY 24 – 8 Not this year!

CHC 13 – 18 They will win the Central with 100 victories
MIL 18 – 13
NYM 21 – 9
STL 21 – 9
PHI 22 – 9 Of MIL, NYM, STL, and PHI, two teams will be on the couch in October!
ARI 26 – 5 Their only chance is to win the West outright!
LAD 29 – 2 Ditto!
COL 32 – 0 They can’t do it, they only have 31 games remaining…They need to stay hot and hope the Dodgers and Diamondbacks fold!

It looks like a wild, down to the wire finish for 6 of the 8 playoff spots…buckle up!

Grady Becomes A 30/30 Man!

Congratulations to Indians’ center fielder Grady Sizemore on becoming only the second 30 home runs/30 stolen bases man in team history. Grady led off last night’s game with his 30th home run of the season. He followed that with his 31st homer in the 3rd inning. Combine that with his 34 stolen bases to date and we have our second 30/30 man since Joe Carter back in 1987.
Grady is the kind of player and talent that is coveted by MLB teams. Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has nicknamed him “Superman” based on first hand experience. Grady is an outstanding talent, has a great attitude, has quickly developed as a leader, and comes to play hard every minute of everyday. Grady resists sitting out any part of a game. He had the longest active consecutive game streak in the majors until he twisted his ankle earlier this season going for an extra base. On the rare occasion when he is forced to rest, he settles for being the DH for a “break.”
Once the Indians find a lead off hitter, they plan to better utilize Grady’s power in the 3rd spot in the lineup.
In this disappointing season for the Indians, there have been bright spots that hold much hope for the near future. Grady is having an excellent season. Cliff Lee has emerged from last season’s “re-tooling” to winning 18 games and a leading shot at the American League Cy Young award. Ben Francisco, once he was promoted from AAA, has played very well both offensively and defensively. Jhonny Peralta, although he started out slowly, has put together a very solid season. Others that began with disappointing seasons have recently begun to put it together; Ryan Garko, Franklin Gutierrez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jensen Lewis, Rafael Perez, and Rafael Betancourt.
So, it is time to take consolation in this team as they begin to gel into a contender once again. The nucleus of the team is reforming, but they still have some needs that must be addressed before Spring Training 2009.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Another Sweet Sweep!

The Cleveland Indians completed a 3-game sweep of the Texas Rangers Sunday night and in so doing, have won 7 games in a row and have swept 3 out of their last 5 series, splitting 4 games with the Orioles and taking 2 of 3 from the Angels. This is a huge turnaround for a team that has been hurt by first, a lack of off-season acquisitions, early injuries to key players, and then trades of three key players eligible for free agency at the end of the season. This recent run of success has many Cleveland fans, as well as baseball fans in general scratching their heads wondering what enabled this team to play with such enthusiasm when they could have easily folded for the season. When Manager Eric Wedge was asked, he stated, “Every year we have a run like this.” Eric, this is not the time for humility. As a matter of fact, even though I hate to admit it, Wedge has actually had a hand in this “run” as he calls it. He has engineered a number of well executed come from behind/tie breaking rallies to keep this streak in tact. For example, last night, after the Rangers tied the game in the bottom of the 8th inning, the Indians faced Eddie Guardado in the top of the 9th. Ryan Garko led off the inning with a single. Wedge inserted Andy Gonzales to pinch run. As play by play man Matt Underwood noted, “The only way Garko scores from first on a hit is if it’s a home run!” Kelly Shoppach executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Gonzales to second. Gonzales then scored the eventual winning run on a single by Franklin Gutierrez. This combination of timely hitting with “small ball” has not been a big part of the Indians’ repertoire under Eric Wedge. The manager cannot execute a bunt or a timely hit, but he certainly can call a play and set expectations from his group of players based on their talent level. Earl Weaver was blessed with good to great pitching, built defensive strength up the middle of the field, and lived and flourished via the 3-run home run. Those Oriole teams never wanted for an explanation of expectations. What this Indians team has lacked is consistency for an entire season (post season included) during the Eric Wedge years. That consistency begins in expectations and lives and breathes through execution. A young Tampa Bay Rays team is experiencing untimely injuries but don’t expect them to fold. Expectations with accountability are extremely clear to this talented bunch.
I like this Indians team. They have the talent to play good baseball everyday. They certainly have some needs that must be addressed but you wouldn’t know it over the last 16 games, winning 13.
It is all about respectability now in finishing the 2008 season.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sweet, Sweet Sweep!

The Cleveland Indians completed a 3-game SWEEP of the Kansas City Royals this afternoon as Cliff Lee earned victory #18 in his impressive season! Center fielder Grady Sizemore led the 10 run attack as he went 4 for 5 at bat and capped his day with a three run homer run, his 29th of the season. He is one home run away from having a 30/30 season in home runs and stolen bases. Sizemore had two singles, a triple, and the home run, all accounting for 7 RBI's.

Cliff Lee improves his record to 18 - 2 on his quest for the American League Cy Young award, whether or not he wants to acknowledge it.

Final score, Cleveland 10 - Kansas City 3. You gotta love the enthusiasm this team is playing with lately. For some reason, everything is coming together. They are playing at a level that was expected of them, despite losing catcher Victor Martinez and DH Travis Hafner to injuries for most of the season. Also, when things got their bleakest, three free-agents-to-be were traded; CC Sabathia, Casey Blake, and Paul Byrd. However, the guys remaining would have all had to experience strong seasons for this team to repeat as divisional champs again. There is hope for the future when you think of the possibilities;
Grady Sizemore CF
Ben Francisco LF
Franklin Gutierrez RF
Ryan Garko/Victor Martinez at 1st (with Matt LaPorta coming fast)
Josh Barfield at 2nd
Astrubal Cabrera at SS (where he belongs)
Jhonny Peralta at 3rd (where he belongs)
Victor Martinez/Kelly Shoppach at C
Travis Hafner/Victor Martinez
Pitching (biggest need/biggest questions)
Cliff Lee LH starter
Fausto Carmona RH starter
Rapael Perez LH relief
Raphael Betancourt RH relief
Jensen Lewis RH relief
Jeremy Sowers LH starter?
Jake Westbrook RH starter?
Adam Miller?
Aaron Laffey?
Other Question Marks
Michael Aubry P
Trevor Crowe OF
Jeff Stevens P
Brad Snyder OF
Wyatt Toregas C
General Manager?
Off-Season trade(s)?

Yow! The question marks are big! However, the nucleus appears to be solid. We need to trade for a RH starter and we need a minor leaguer to step up to the starting rotation. We need to trade or develop a closer. Jensen Lewis appears to have the talent and the poise for the job.

Bring back Mike Hargrove to manage this bunch and we make the playoffs in '09!

Go ahead, laugh!

I called the Indians stretch run in 2005 that came up one game short.

I called the Indians' magical 2007 season from the start last year! (I also called it for this year too, but with very guarded optimism.)

3 years ago, I called the T.B. Rays becoming a playoff team by 2009. (They surprised me by a year, but ya gotta love 'em now!)

I called the Yankees making the playoffs last season when they were 14 games out of 1st! Don't you just love 'em this year? (Watch out for them, they want you to believe they are toast...I am not buying it!)

And I will call it right now...The Kansas City Royals are building for the somewhat near future, say 2011!

Give us Grover!!!!!!

Oh, What A Night!

A scary moment for Royals rookie outfielder Mitch Maier who was hit in the face by Indians' starting pitcher Zach Jackson. Maier was attempting to bunt with runners on first and second base. Maier was treated for three broken facial bones. He will go on the disabled list. Good luck and hurry back to your team.
Franklin Gutierrez connected on a three-run home run to put the Tribe on top for good in the eight inning, 8-5.
Then, with two out in the ninth, Gutierrez made a diving catch in right field to end the game! what a great night for Franklin Gutierrez and the "new, never quit kids" wearing Cleveland Indians' uniforms.
Cliff Lee (17-2) goes for the sweep of the series today at high noon!
Respectability is within reach for 2008!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Don’t Look Now, But…

The Cleveland Indians find themselves in a familiar place once again this season. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games. They join the ranks of the hottest teams in baseball right now;
Tampa Bay 1st place
Chicago White Sox 1st place
Chicago Cubs 1st place

New York Mets 1st place
Boston 2nd place
Minnesota 2nd place
Houston 4th place
Cleveland 4th place

The Indians are back to 10 games under the .500 mark. That’s the familiar yet scary place. Each time they reach 10 games under .500 (since their May Sway and their June Swoon), they have imploded and fell victim to a lack of offense and pitching, particularly in the bullpen. Tonight, they play the last place Royals at Progressive Field in game 2 of a 3 game series. The Indians won the first game handily with some solid pitching and a 9-run team effort. As we look to reach respectability in this season gone bad, we need to get over this hump at 10 games under and make our move. With 2 games with the Royals here, 3 games in Texas, and 3 in Detroit, there is no reason that this team cannot pull within 6 games of .500 by winning 6 of these 8 games. This team is playing very good baseball right now, the kind of ball they are capable of playing despite injuries and trades. It is time to tell Jobu, “Forget you, I do it myself!” (This line is from the cleaned-up version of the movie “Major League.”)

We have 8 games in the next 8 days vs. 3 teams with a combined winning percentage of .473.

The table is set!

Anybody hungry?

"There's No Crying In Baseball!"

Nate Schierholtz is safe (again) and gives the USA a 4-2 lead in the 11th inning today vs. Japan in Olympic competition. Team USA won in 11 innings by that same score of 4-2, putting them in the 3rd seed of the semi-finals.This is our game.Note to the rest of the world…“There’s no crying in baseball!”

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Baseball, American Style!


Schierholtz safe on a hard play!


LaPorta safe on another hard play!

Dude's just sticking up for "his guys!"


Scary moment...

Checking him out...

LaPorta took his licks...

...and toughed it out!

Can't wait to get him to the "bigs" in a Cleveland uniform!

Bottom line is,

America 9 - China 1...USA in the semi-finals!

Go for the gold...American style!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Let's Cut The Crap In Cleveland!

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District leaders said last week that plans to replace half-century old furnaces at the East 49th Street sewage treatment plant will now include steam-powered electricity generators - fueled mostly by the solid human waste.

This town of Cleveland, Ohio is a constant source of awe and amazement. We continue to fuel "Cleveland Jokes" and then laugh the loudest at them. In 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught fire due to high pollution. We are situated only 90 minutes from the "Cradle of Football" in Canton, Ohio yet our Browns have never won or even been to a Super Bowl. A mayor's hair caught fire a short time before his wife turned down an invitation to the White House from the First Lady because it was her bowling night.

I love this town!!!!

What, you can't recall any Cleveland jokes? Oh, here, I can accommodate you;

Q. "What's the difference between Cleveland and the Titanic?"
A. "Cleveland has the better orchestra."

More to come.

In 1971, I was in the service and sitting in a bar, the guys in my outfit were talking about their hometowns, feeling a little homesick. A few guys were from Los Angeles and they were very proud of their sports teams. Others talked about civic pride while others spoke of great entertainment venues. I waited to go last, knowing that there were so many reasons to be proud of Cleveland and I wanted to mention them all. Soon one of the guys said, "Well, what about you? Aren't you from Cleveland?" As I smiled and prepared to boast about my hometown, I was interrupted by a segment on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In that was playing on the TV above our heads. They were doing a court scene and Dan Rowan was the judge with Dick Martin playing his bailiff. Rowan banged his gavel and sentenced a criminal to 30 days in jail. Martin, in a low voice, cautioned the judge that the jails were over-crowded and there was no room for this law breaker. Rowan paused, considered his options, and then stated, "OK then, 3 days in Cleveland!" The laughter in the bar was deafening. There was no point in my continuing about my home town.

"Who says you can't surf in Cleveland? Just do it before the brown water freezes!"
From Jay Leno;
"Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had another Democratic debate last night. This time it was in Ohio. The big winner, of course, Fox’s American Idol. In fact, they’re saying this is the biggest thing to happen in Cleveland since — ever, I guess."

From Johnny Carson (1974);
"They had 10 cent beer night in Cleveland last night that resulted in a riot. That will teach them to lock the restrooms!"

"Latest news reports advise that a cell of 4 terrorists has been operating in one of the neighborhoods in Cleveland, Ohio. Police advised earlier today that 3 of the 4 have been detained. Police Officials have detained the following terrorists on civil unrest issues:
1. Bin Sleepin
2. Bin Drinkin
3. Bin Fightin
The Police advise further that they can find no one fitting the description of the fourth cell member, Bin Workin, anywhere in the neighborhood. Police are very confident that anyone who looks like Bin Workin will be very easy to spot in the community. No further information available."

So, back to the topic of the story that appeared in the morning paper. Cleveland will be building electric furnaces to convert human waste into energy. Why wait for other places to make up the jokes? If we plan now, we can make this a huge marketing success...

"Cleveland Public Utilities, when it comes to your energy, we cut through the crap!"

"Cleveland's got the power, no shit!"

Just think, we could be the first city to reverse coin operated restrooms and pay you per visit!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Have We Found Our Closer?

It's early but Jensen Lewis is 3 for 3 in close situation over the last 8 Indians' games. Lewis got into a little trouble in the top of the ninth today but he didn't flinch as the Indians won, 4-3 over the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels came to town on Friday night with the best record in baseball. This hot and cold Indians' team took 2 out of 3 games to win the series. Total runs scores in the series; Indians 10, Angels 9. The Indians always play the Angels very tough. Winning 2 of 3 from the Angels is more like what this Indians team is capable of, injuries or no injuries...

Mike Hargrove as manager of the Cleveland Indians back in the day...upright, breathing, engaged in the game...what a welcome change that could be!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ok, So We Got Him Down On The Field...

Congratulations to Mike Hargrove on his induction into the Indians' Hall of Fame this afternoon. Hopefully, the Tribe brass was measuring the big guy for a uniform while he was in the clubhouse. This current team would be a great fit for Hargrove to manage. At one time, he had his hands full with Albert Belle, but Belle performed well as an Indian. So well that Hargrove named Belle to his all-time best team when asked to name each by position. However, this current Indians team does not have a player so difficult to handle as Belle. John Hart, who was the Indians' GM when Hargrove managed here, once said of Mike Hargrove, "Mike Hargrove can walk into a clubhouse that's in total confusion and 15 minutes later, everything is fine." This young bunch has some untapped talent and Grover has a great knack of creating a team of over-achievers out of such talent, as he did in 1997.
Meanwhile, the Indians could not overcome their early errors today (3) and lost a heart breaker to the Angels, 4-3. The Tribe left 13 runners on base and wasted many scoring opportunities, in particular, a no out, bases loaded 7th inning. Kelly Shoppach came to bat and struck out looking. He did this three times today and each time he got rung up, he jawed at the umpire. Replays showed each 3rd strike pitch was too close to let go. In the 5th inning, he threw his bat and started jogging to 1st base when he caught the ire of Angels pitcher John Lackey. With one out in the 9th, Shoppach came to the plate with Peralta on 1st base. Down by one run, Shoppach had the opportunity to redeem himself. He grounded out for out #2 and Ryan Garko looked at strike 3 to end the game.
This is one area where Hargrove could make a huge impact on this team. Of the 7 strike outs by the Tribe today, 6 of them were called 3rd strikes. Grover does not stand for this poor discipline.
Here is hoping Grover is inking a contract now to make a difference in this team being managed on cruise control.
If GM Mark Shapiro stays, he needs to learn important lessons from this season gone bad that truly began last October.

Grover in Indian’s Hall of Fame

This afternoon, former Indian’s player and manager Mike Hargrove will be inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame in Heritage Park at Progressive Field. This career .290 hitter won the American League Rookie of the Year award in 1974. He was known as the “Human Rain Delay” because of his compulsive routine of stepping out of the batter’s box and adjusting his batting gloves, sleeves, helmet, etc. after each pitch. As manager of the Cleveland Indians, Hargrove holds (as in "to date") a record of 721 – 591, guiding the Indians to 5 consecutive American League Central Division titles and two American League pennants in 1995 and 1997.
When reflecting back on those days, I find the 1997 team to have been amazing over-achievers. The team consisted of 1st baseman Jim Thome (.286), 2nd baseman Tony Fernandez (.286), short stop Omar Visquel (.280), 3rd baseman Matt Williams (.263), outfielders Bip Roberts (.271), Manny Ramirez (.328), Marquis Grissom (.262), Brian Giles (.268), catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. (.324), and designated hitter David Justice (.329).
Pitchers included Charles Nagy, Bartolon Colon, Orel Hershiser, Chad Ogea, Jarred Wright, and Jose Mesa. This team eventually lost to the Florida Marlins in the World Series in 7 games. It would be great to return to those days when a championship was not only possible year after year, it was expected.
Mike Hargrove, being interviewed last night by Rick Manning and Matt Underwood during the telecast of the Indian’s game, expressed his desire to manage again.
He wants to manage again!
He wants to manage again!!
He wants to manage again!!!

Meanwhile, congratulations to Indian’s starting (and finishing) pitcher Cliff Lee in attaining his 17th victory of the season last night. This was an excellent game against the Angels, who own the best record in baseball. The Angels took an early 1-0 lead. The Indians tied it in the 4th, the Angels went back ahead 2-1 in the 5th, and the Indians retook the lead for good in the 6th, 3-2. The Angels kept the game under control with some excellent plays in the outfield but it was the Indians infield prowess that kept them within striking distance and eventually preserved the win for Lee. Astrubal Cabrera is an incredible fielder and playmaker.
This game kept even the casual fan riveted to the action from start to finish. I love playing this team because they are such a good team. Vlad is so strong at bat and his throws from the outfield are dramatically accurate. Garrett Anderson can play for me any day. He brings a great work ethic to the ballpark everyday that just further enhances his exceptional talent. There is the ever dangerous Torii Hunter. Figgins and Teixeira round out this run and gun team. This was a very intense game and I was exhausted after 9 innings just watching.

Did I mention that Mike Hargrove wants to manage again??????

Thursday, August 14, 2008

They're Ba-ack!

With their victory last night, the Dodgers are finally in (a tie for) first place in the National League West. They did it on the bat of Nomar Garciaparra as he hit a 9th inning home run for the 7-6 victory, capping off a 3-game winning streak.

With an infield average age of 34 years and an outfield average age of 30 years, this team has a mixture of seasoned veterans that just might have the horses left to last through the stretch run and into the playoffs.

Taking a kind of behind the scenes approach is veteran manager Joe Torre. He has his team 8th in the league in batting average at .259, tie for 5th in fielding at .984, and 1st in ERA at .368. Three very familiar players to Indians fans are 3rd baseman Casey Blake, 2nd baseman Jeff Kent, and left fielder Manny Ramirez.

I can't help but wish for good things for Joe Torre. Even though he managed our arch rivals, the New York Yankees, he did it with class and respect for the game of Baseball. In this season gone bad for the Cleveland Indians, it is great to see some of the past Indians performing so well and possibly headed to "The Show" with a great manager.
Good luck, Joe, Casey, Jeff, and yes, even Manny!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August 13th and We Are 54 - 64!

Some things are evident.

Other things just defy logic.

And then there are some things that just don't jive.

But clearly, these two guys gotta go!

A step towards progress!