Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Good, The Bad, And The Predictable!

Going into the Cleveland Indians’ Opening Day 2010, the 110th opener celebrated on the shores of Lake Erie, this club had established a record of 2 wins and 4 losses. That record could easily have been 4 wins and 2 losses due to a costly error and two predictable bullpen failures.
Anyway, there we were at opening day, a new beginning. The town looked sparkly driving in from I-77. The snow was gone, the weather was great, and Progressive Field welcomed us from far away. Soon we were in the stadium in the Club section where it was all you can eat. Most people seemed to have forgotten the blown game the day before and were ready to greet their team.
As we moved into our Club seats, the park looked great. The grass was so green and manicured as the Rangers took batting practice. There was a buzz in the air.
For me, the true highlight of the day was seeing 92 year old legend Bob Feller purposefully make his way to the mound, toe the rubber, and throw out the first pitch to Sandy Alomar Jr. 70 years earlier, Bob Feller had pitched a no hitter on an opening day that he still remembers like it was yesterday.
When the teams were announced, something occurred to me. After we had to endure the introductions of the guy who shines the shoes, the guy who cleans the toilets, etc., etc., etc., finally the players were announced by radio voice Tom Hamilton. Where were the applause and cheering? The biggest ovation seemed to come for past fan favorite Sandy Alomar Jr. who is now a coach. Grady Sizemore sat this game out and as concerning as that is, he received a somewhat mild reception. As the team took the field, there was much milling around by the “fans” that lasted throughout the game. There was a total lack of respect for the action of the field as well as people sitting in seats they did not have tickets for. Most disturbing was people coming in late and prying others out of the seats that they paid for. A group sitting next to me was apparently enjoying mass quantities of Bud Light out of the safety bottles allowed for sale within the park. Many times during the game, mostly during action on the field as I stood up repeatedly so they could go get more beer, I was tempted to ask them what the score was. I am sure they didn’t know who was playing much less the score. The “ASS Parade” continued throughout the game making it impossible to see such plays as in the 6th inning when Travis Hafner tried to score on a single by Jhonny Peralta and was apparently thrown out at the plate…I saw the replay at home.
Sportswriter Bill Livingston wrote the next day that there was very little fan recognition for the players, especially the newer players because of the lack of ovation when they were announced. Bill, had you been down in the throng, you too would have discovered it was amateur day at Progressive Field. Most of the people who were there Monday will not be seen again in the later months of the season unless the fortunes of the Indians change abruptly, they find themselves in contention, and these so called “fans” will benefit from company perks or just buy cheaper admission and look for empty party seats in a better location.
So, that aside, the game started out good, went bad, and became predictable. Shin Soo Choo put us ahead with a 1st inning home run. He had a great day until he lost count of the outs and was doubled off 3rd base, aggressively advancing from 1st on a Hafner pop-up with only 1 out. How do you not know there is only 1 out?
The bullpen wasted a very good effort by Fausto Carmona who appears to have regained his control and command. This same bullpen wasted a great effort by Jake Westbrook a day earlier in Detroit.
OK, so they are 2 and 5 instead of 5 and 2 as they really should be. New Manager Manny Acta vowed to play to win and stressed the importance that wins in April are as important as wins in September. Time to review your notes and quotes, Manny.
I still maintain that this is a good team. If Manny Acta and Tim Belcher can put together some kind of bullpen or bring up a prospect or two, this team will score runs and be very interesting. Two of our losses so far are very troubling, forgetting the one Peralta blew with a huge error Friday night, I am much more concerned with the bullpen. React now and revive the confidence in these young players and they will win some ballgames.
Let’s see what happens tonight and what adjustments Acta will make as well as what he will allow between the foul lines going forward.
This is my team, I like what I see in offense and defense, we just need to fix the bullpen again. Adjust and fix it now and we are in for some fun. Wait the obligatory Shapiro 40 games into the season and the bargain basement trading will soon begin.
Manny…be the man!

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