Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to the Bad Old Days

Isn't that just like the 2008 Cleveland Indians? They played with packages just for fun, winning 10 in a row. They got us so excited as if maybe, even though late, they had finally turned the corner? They found themselves a closer to fortify their biggest problem area (by a mile by the way); they started hitting one through nine, they way their leader, The Grinder himself, has always wanted it? Victor Martinez is back from more than two months off.

What else could we have asked for from this lost season?

The worst team in the American League, the lowly Seattle Mariners of course show up for a three game series, and promptly return the Indians to what they really are; a team that cannot score runs to save their lives, and strand runners as if it was it was their job.

How exactly did this happen? Well, first off, we witnessed a seemingly endless string of putting runners on first and second with less than two outs, following up with a tailor-made double play ball. We saw trademark 2008 Tribe luck. In yesterday's extra-inning 4-3 loss. Closer Jensen Lewis allowed a run to put the M's up 3-2 with a men on first and second and one out. A DP ball heade right to second basemen Asdrubal Cabrera. The runner, Adrian Beltre, reached his hand out as to be hit ball the ball intentionally, causing a dead ball. A sure DP should have been ruled by the umps otherwise. With the extra out, backup catcher Jamie Burke single home a second run, to put the Mariners up two.

Naturally, The Indians countered with one in the bottom of the 10th, and lost 4-3.

The same thing occurred today; extra outs killed the Wahoos. The Zack Attack was struggling enough with his command, but a wild fielding error started his trouble in the five run fifth. The Attack's pick off attempt by Martinez at first allowed a run to score, moved runners to second and third with one out. In typical form, Yuniesky Betancourt hit what have would have been an inning-ending DP, but instead got an RBI single out of it, moving the Mariners to a 3-1 lead.

But there was still one more out to get thanks to the bone-headed mistakes by The Attack and Victor. Zack didn't get it. The biggest 2008 Indian killer, Raul Ibanez hit the next pitch right up the middle for an RBI single, and Beltre's two run shot ended Jackson's day for all intents and purposes.

You want more of a C-tease? The Red, White, and Blue rewarded you gladly in the seventh, eighth and ninth. In all three innings, the Tribe loaded the bases. In the seventh, it was Victor popping out with two out. In the eighth, all the boys had to show for a bases loaded, nobody out situation, was a Franky G fielder's choice and subsequent Jose Lopez throwing error scoring two.

The ninth was the ultimate. Down two with the bases loaded yet again and one out. Ryan Garko smacked one that looked like it was going right up the middle to tie the game, but reliever Roy Corcoran reached back and got a bare hand on the ball, deflecting it right to Betancourt at short, who started the game--ender. Just your garden variety 1-6-4-3 inning ending DP.

For the weekend, the Indians left 26 men on base, went 3-29 with RISP, and lost three games by a combined four runs. Wedge put it best after the game: "it seemed like all weekend we were one hit away."

Just when I got all excited again, this weekend blows like a hurricane (no pun intended) and its as if the team forgot everything they did over the past two weeks.


One bright spot has to be the play of Shin-Soo Choo, who like Kelly Shoppach is forcing his way onto the field with his stellar play over the past month. He hit .309, with 4 HR, and 16 RBI in 81 AB's. His projections over a full season you'd take all day; around .275 with 44 doubles, 20 homers and 80 plus RBI.

The more he plays, the less DD does. And that is always considered a plus.


Meanwhile, it seems like as much as I didn't want to have to deal with it, the last month of the season is meaningless. Wedge has been quoted as saying he'd like to go to a six-man rotation with Aaron Laffey joining Fausto Carmona, Cliff Lee, Anthony Reyes, Jeremy Sowers, and the Zack Attack.

Speaking of Cliff Lee, he goes for #20 tomorrow night against the White Sox. It's been said 1000 times, but Cliff is trying to become the first Indian since 1974 to win 20 games. I was -2 at the time. Maybe even more amazing, is that no Indian since 1982 has even started a game with a chance to win 20. The fact that it's Cliff Lee doing this makes even more astounding after the year he had in 2007 and how he was dangled all winter as trade bait.


Imagine if Cliff was this good last season? Would there have been any doubt we'd all be ring holders right now?

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, and if Mesa doesn't shake off Sally (I know its Sandy, but I think he is the most overrated player in Indians history)....If Fernandez doesn't make that error.....If Dave Burba doesn't get hurt in game three of the '99 series with Bosotn.....If Hargrove pinch hits for Jim Poole.....If Cory Snyder and Joe Carter hadn't been on the cover of SI....If Willie Mays doesn't make that catch off the bat of Vic Wertz....

And if my grandmother had balls, she'd be my grandfather....

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