Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shame on Wedge

We are now starting to see what we thought we should have seen back when it counted. Young players making an impact, receiving playing time and confidence, and subsequently, some wins. Nobody is a bigger backer of the Grind more than I am, but fingers must be pointed at Eric Wedge today. The Indians once again won another series, and once again are showing that they are not a pathetic doormat in the AL. Is it too little too late? Absolutely. The club is buried behind weak sisters Detroit, Chicago, and Minnesota, and it is a shame because this division is the worst in baseball history and so winnable for any one of the five teams that reside in it. Eric Wedge has a big hand in this and could have done things differently back when it counted.

The Grindpa of the RWAB could have phoned his boy Mark Shapiro earlier this year and told him to recall Matt LaPorta a lot earlier in the season. Wedge also should have played "Gator4God" every single day when he was recalled in early May. Instead, he played sporadically, got rusty at the plate, and sat behind the likes of Ben Francisco and Dave Dellucci. Unacceptable. The kid can hit, we all see it now (5 for 15 with 4 RBI this week), and in watching him in Columbus last weekend, he clearly has "it". Wedge also should have sent his GM a note and told him to send Kelly Shoppach down. It is clear that Wyatt Toregas has paid his dues, and I'd much rather see him behind the plate and at the plate than "Sloppach". Shop stinks and Shappy should have dumped him this off-season when his stock was as high as it will ever get. Not only is "K"elly a strikeout machine, but did you watch him catch on Friday? He cannot catch the ball, which is paramount for any backstop going back to.. uh.. fourth grade! Shoppach is sort of like Ralph Cirella, all or nothing. His hits are loud and big, just very sporadic and rare. These are small moves, but, manuevers that could have given this team a needed jolt back when it counted.

One other GrindMaster flash note: His handling of the young arms in the bullpen in April and May were atrocious. We are now seeing that he was not handed a lot of material, but, the likes of Tony Sipp and Jensen Lewis were not put in good spots. Lewis needs a defined role and Wedge needed to match Sipp up better his first time up with the big club. He overused him early, knowing full-well he had arm and confidence issues in the past. Now Sipp looks like a definite keeper. In defense of Eric, Kerry Wood barfed all over his carseat and Joe Smith and Raffy Perez also stained the sheets when the big lights were on. That is not on Wedge.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Trip To Columbus

It was time. Time to make a trek down 71 to see how our Columbus Clippers and also check out the new stadium, Huntington Park. With most of the AAA Wahoos already on the big club, my buddy J and I utilized saturday night to both get away from the grind and also hope to see something out of Matt "Gator4God" Laporta and Michael Brantley. Going in, we picked August 15th as the perfect day to drive down, but didn't realize we would miss both Carlos Carrasco and Hector Rondon. Turned out, we missed a lot more than just those 2 players.

So I get down to C-bus and arrive at the ballpark at 6:30 and for some odd reason (to me at least) it is PACKED! People all over the streets, especially in between Nationwide Arena and Huntington Park. I park the car across the street and on a beautiful, but, humid night, I did not realize that this spot was, as The Maestro would say, is "the place to be". J is running late, so I stroll over to the box office to purchase my seats and I see a sign: "Tonight's game is sold out. Standing Room Only". Huh? Sold out? It is minor league baseball! I was floored. Some dude sees that I am stunned and offers me up a couple of $6 lawn tickets. We chatted for a while and he alerted me that weekend games are always like this and I still could not believe it. I guess Columbus is a hot town right now, but still! Plus, the Clippers are not exactly winning a lot of games. Anyways, it is now 6:45 and the guy ends up giving me the lawn seats for free. I had those in my back pocket as a back-up. But I did not drive three hours to sit on some lawn.

I dialed up J and told him the situation and he had one message for me: Go to work. The last time J and I "had to" scalp for tickets was years ago in New York city and I got snookered into buying fake Knicks/Kings seats by some guy in an alley of a train station. I walked across the street from the ballpark and evidently it is okay over there to purchase seats from a scalper. There were cops everywhere, but none of them were looking in the scapers' direction, so I knew we were good. The first guy I talked to had a bunch of tickets in his hand and tried to sell me a pair of reserved seats for $25 each. Yeah right. Plus, these tickets looked like something my four year old would scribble together on a piece of paper. I walked away. Headed down to the corner where I parked the car outside of the left field gate and got two box seats for $15 each. I waited the guy out a little bit, because he asked for $20 each originally. It was now 6:55 and the guy knew he had to get rid of them soon. We were in!

The ballpark is just beautiful. When we walked in, Matt LaPorta was up to bat in the first and we watched him draw a walk from the left field porch. I glanced at the lineup on the big scoreboard, only to see no Brantley, no Jason Donald, no Lou Marson, no Jordan Brown. Ugh. Not exactly what I wanted to see. Good news, though, we sat third row behind the Indy dugout. I felt like I was on the field. We were on top of the action!

So with the scrubs on the field for the Clippers, Indianapolis torched Mike Gosling and crew to the tune of 7-0. LaPorta is a stud. You can just see it in his at-bats. He drew two walks and ripped a single to right center. Wes Hodges is not a major league baseball player. You can just see it in the way he moves at third, and there is something missing with him at the plate. I did like Frank Herrmann. He throws hard and his defense did not help him much at all on Saturday.

All in all, a quality night at the yard. They had a wide variety of t-shirts in the team shop out in left field, which made yours truly very happy. I really like how they label the food areas and the sight lines are fantastic. The right field wall is cool and the bar stool seats they have to the right of it add some intrigue too. There was even a hot dog race as well. I was impressed. With everything but the team.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Please Stay Quiet

''If every four or five years we can have a shot at the World Series and contend for the playoffs at other times, that's as good as it gets for a team in this type of market.''

Paul Dolan. Today.

Please sir. Please. Stop. Talking publicly. Don't. Just don't.

You are a bright guy. But. Stop. Please.

What more needs to be said? Shut up. Stop. Don't feed your fan base rat poison one week and then spit on their family's mac and cheese at the viewing the next. Please don't.