Friday, August 31, 2007
After the Tribe managed only two runs off of White Sox starter Mark Buehrle in seven innings, the White Sox bulpen took over with a 5-2 lead. That in itself was the Tribe's first bit of good fortune.
When the smoke cleared four relievers later the Tribe was up 8-5.
With two down and the score a bit closer at 5-3 Ryan Garko came to the plate with runners on first and third. He hit what looked like a routine grounder to short, but - with a big stroke of luck - it hit just the right spot on the cut of the grass and took a forty-five degree turn away from, and a six foot hop over the head of, Sox SS Juan Uribe. That mde it 5-4 and with some really lousy pitching by Mike MacDougal (7 strikes in 25 pitches) and a clutch three-run double by Casey Blake - yes that Casey Blake - the Tribe put six on the board to take an 8-5 lead.
During the rally Kenny Lofton got a game-tying RBI, and just like last night's game winner he did it with has bat on his shoulder, taking a bases-loaded walk from MacDougal.
Some other thoughts:
It may just be coincidence, but the Tribe rallied again just as Asdrubal Cabrera came into the game. Maybe those beads he wears around his neck are as lucky as he thinks they are.
Right fielder Franklin Gutierrez seemed to have been preoccupied on a routine grounder through the 2B hole that turned into a double thanks to the rookie's late break on the ball. The misplay, in the sixth inning, allowed Darin Erstad to score from first and resulted in a gift double and RBI for Juan Uribe.
Did anyone else feel like Wede went too long with Fausto tonight? He clearly lacked control, was not getting the ground ball outs and seemed spent by the sixth. He probably should have been removed right after Uribe's double (described above), but certainly after he allowed the fourth run of the game later that inning. It speaks volumes about the confidence Wedge does not have in his middle-inning guys.
On that topic, Aaron Fultz threw two scoreless innings tonight, facing just seven batters and picking up the win. Fultz has had four consecutive scoreless outings. Maybe it's time he and Jensen Lewis, who has also showed some recent success, get a chance to prove their worth, now that the Tribe has at least a little breathing room with the Tigers. They've got to come up with a couple of more usable guys and this would be a good time to find out if Fultz and Lewis can help.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
How about two out walks?
Tonight the Indians used both to push their current winning streak to six.
The winning run was scored in the bottom of the ninth as Ricky Gutierrez walked to load the bases with two out and Kenny Lofton took a free pass for the game winning RBI.
But what happened earlier in the game is the major difference between this week's Cleveland Indians and the team that has been so inept at the plate for most of the last month or more.
The Indians banged out 10 two-out hits in 18 at bats tonight. Four of those hits knocked in the first five runs for the Tribe in a game they won 6-5.
Lofton's bases loaded walk will get the headlines, but it was all of those two-out hits -- with batters intent merely on driving the ball somewhere rather than taking it deep -- that led to this win. A change in approach is bringing better results.
A couple of other things:
I guess Wedge finally read my blog. He put Chris Gomez in at 3B tonight, giving Casey Blake what we can only hope is the first of at least a few nights off.
Gomez was two for four, with an RBI in the Indians' three-run second. Gomez is 8 for 21 (.381) since joining the Tribe and has a hit in every game in which he's had more than one AB.
I'm not saying Gomez is an everyday player. But I am saying they should find a spot for him in the infield every day until he cools off. Since Casey Blake has shown himself to be unable to hit in the clutch, 3B seems like a good spot for Gomez for now, with Jhonny Peralta taking a seat once in a while too.
Three Tribe runners have been picked off in the last two nights. Actually, Grady was picked off twice and Jason Michaels once. Needless to say you can't have that on a team that has trouble pushing runs across the plate,
One last little note -- on stadium "noise." The Tribe was on a five-game winning streak. They had just blown a lead in the top of the ninth but loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning. Things were pretty exciting all on their own. Do we really need that sing-songy recorded voice to say "everybody clap your hands." Duh!@!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Five times Santana - perhaps the best lefty in the game, though Cleveland fans will disagree - has come away empty.
Four of those five times, including tonight at the Jake, Santana has had to wear the "L". The Twins did win one of Santana's starts, on July 28, but Johan was not the winning pitcher.
I haven't checked it out, but since he has only six other losses all year, it's safe to assume no other team has beaten Santana the way the Tribe has in 2007.
The reasons for the Tribe's success against Santana this season are twofold; The lefty has run into both CC and Fausto twice, and the Tribe hitters are better against the Twins' ace than their counterparts around the league.
In five starts this year against Cleveland, Santana is 0-4 with a 4.09 ERA. Against the rest of the league he is at 3.06 - a full run lower. Given the Tribe has beaten him 5-3, 2-0, 5-2, and 4-3 that one run difference has made all the difference.
Neither Santana nor CC were at their best tonight, and it seemed like the Tribe might knock Santana out early, having scored four runs on six hits in the first inning.
But both vets sucked up their control problems and gutted out six innings each.
Some other observations:
While the Tribe swept the Twins, I'm happy to see them move on. They seem to consist of Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau and about a dozen annoying, unnamed gnats. But those gnats get on base, run the bases, play terrific defense and generally are a huge pain in the ass. They play the game the way it used to be played, which is fun to watch unless they are doing it against you. We'll see what style they play when they finally move out of that ping-pong palace they play in now.
It was terrific to see Asdrubal Cabrera get up there against Santana and hit him (homer, single and sharp ground out back of third) like he were Joe Schmoe. Cabrera clearly wasn't intimidated. Ditto Franklin Gutierrez (two doubles in three tries against Santana).
It was also great to see Jensen Lewis have a trouble-free seventh when he was sorely needed. In fact, Lewis has very quietly had a nice month of August. He has not allowed a run in seven of his last eight outings, dating back to August 4.
And let's not forget Joe Borowski, who finished his job in three batters tonight - though he was helped by a 3-6 double play started by Ryan Garko.
One final thought. Chris Gomez, starting at second and moving Cabrera to short to keep Jhonny Peralta out of the line of Santana's fire, had two more hits tonight. I've said it before. I'll say it again. Maybe it's time for Gomez to give Casey Blake (0 for 3 with four runners left on base) a nice week off.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Not only that, but they actually scored more the two runs in each of the three games. In fact, they scored 22 runs while I was on my road trip.
Not coincidentally, at least in my mind, Casey Blake did not bat second in any of the three games. He batted ninth twice and sixth in one other game, going six for 11. Of course he left five runners on base over the three games, so things haven't changed completely. But at least he's hitting a little again.
The flip side of that is moving Asdrubal Cabrera up to the No. 2 spot. While I've been saying for weeks they should get Blake out of that key spot in the order, I never would have guessed Eric Wedge would have entrusted it to a very raw rookie.
Carbrera has gone 3-for-15 with two ribbies and NINE guys left on in three games in the No. 2 hole.
I didn't see one pitch of any of the games, so Cabrera may or may not have been instrumental in sparking the Tribe in other ways. I really don't know.
I'm just glad Blake, who is a good guy, a decent defender and a very streaky hitter who's lousy in the clutch, is finaly batting where he belongs - in the bottom of the order.
I'll probably have more on tonight's game either late tonight or in the morning.
Just writing to let you know I'm back.
Thanks to those who continue to check in regularly.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
We won't be updating TFYL again until Tuesday night (or Wednesday morning if the drive is too much of a pain).
Things can hardly go worse than last year when we dropped off a very sad, somewhat nervous freshman at a huge school in a different country, blew the transmission on a van we had already agreed to sell while driving in the middle of a French-only speaking part of Quebec, did minor damage to the rental car we used to get us back home and then shelled out $2,000 when we drove back up three days later to pick up the van with its rebuilt transmission. Add a dark drive in the rain through the Adirondacks and you've got serious fun.
We'll be in Montreal, so I'll be lucky to get anything more than the scores of the Tribe games between now and Tuesday. That might just be a good thing. I think the Tribe and I "need to see other people" for a few days anyway.
Don't forget to check out our new Tribe Fan Poll on Bob Wickman.
I'll leave you with this one very minor news item from USA Today about an Indians farmhand named Juan Valdes who was suspended for 50 days for violating drug rules. Perhaps Juan should have stuck with the coffee beans. (No one under 40 will get that joke.)
See you Tuesday night.
Friday, August 24, 2007
While there is plenty of blame to go around, in my mind the game was lost in the eighth inning, thanks to two veteran batters (let's not call them hitters) who failed to get a runner in from third with just one out.
To refresh your memory, with one out Asdrubal Cabrera hit a shot to right field that Kay Cee's Emil Brown helped turn into a triple.
Up steps Kenny Lofton. Leadoff man. The guy who is up there just to slap the ball around and make things go. He strikes out on four pitches. Not even a sniff. With two down, my favorite No. 2 hitter hits a weak grounder to second.
I've asked this before - a million times - but I'll ask again. This is NOT a rhetorical question. Does anyone out there have any clue what Eric Wedge sees in Casey Blake that would make him think Blake is an effective two-hole hitter. Maybe I'm missing something.
The Tribe had their chances in the ninth as well, putting runners on first and second with one out, only to see Ryan Garko pop out meakly and Jhonny Peralta bounce to short.
Peralta, back to his swing-for-the-fences ways, left four runners on base to lead the way down the tubes. Garko and Blake left three.
Nine Indians hitters K'd tonight. I guess not getting into double figures is progress.
This team is way too tolerant of Sizemore's Ks. The same goes for Peralta and for Hafner.
The new-schoolers say Ks aren't such a big deal, but when you put the ball in play things happen. When you don't, they don't. It's that simple. Shorten up your goddamned swing and put the ball in play.
A TRAVESTY OF A DIFFERENT KIND
I started to write this at 11:05 EDT. At the very minute I was typing my first word, the first pitch in the Yankees-Tigers game was being thrown in MoTown.
That is a full four hours after the game was scheduled to start.
It's just another example of how the fan counts for absolutely ZERO in baseball.
There was a full house. Call the game you lose the gate. These damned people will want rain checks.
Better to keep everyone out in the rain for four hours, spending extra money on concessions since they will now be at the ballpark for at least seven hours instead of the expected three. Any ticket holder who leaves loses the $10-$65 he shelled out for each seat. (Price range listed on the Tiger Web site).
Yes this is the last trip for the Yankees into Detroit. But there are still three days remaining.
In the old days, the Friday rainout becomes the Sunday single-admission doubleheader (if there wasn't one already scheduled). At the very least they could have scheduled a seperate admission day-night doubleheader - another modern day invention to screw the fans.
Instead, six-year-old kids will either miss what might be the only game they have tickets for all year, or will be around 'til 2:00 in the morning. Ditto the guy who works on Saturdays and has to get up at 7:00. Or the guy who had to be in tonight for the midnight shift. It's wrong, and it sucks and baseball could give a damn.
FLICK MY WICK
Could the Wick be that additional seventh or eighth inning guy the Tribe needs so badly?
They don't dare use Jensen Lewis, Aaron Fultz or Edward Mujica in any game that is closer than three runs.
And when exactly was the last time Tom Mastny pitched?
They have four guys right now simply taking up space in the pen. If they should limp (as in limp offense) their way into the playoffs we're going to actually have to see those guys in games, and it won't be pretty.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I'm not sure what team I watched tonight but some guys in Indians unies score 11 runs on 16 hits.
There was a point when five out of six of those guys banged out base hits one after the other, and put up four runs in just one inning.
Wasn't it fun watching the Tribe in the fourth, as they would say, "staying within themselves," pounding out singles and doubles in droves and not flailing away looking for the elusive homerun? How about seeing Hafner spray one down the left field line for a change, instead of trying to beat the shift or just plain beat the tar out of the ball?
For the first time in a long time the Tribe offense gave a starting pitcher a win he might not have earned tonight. Lord knows Paul Byrd and the others have been cheated out of too many wins to count due to the whifffle-bat attack the Tribe puts out there most nights.
The four-run fourth was a major kick, but with the Tribe up only 5-3 afterward, the key hit - to me at least - was Franklin Gutierrez's three-run shot in the fifth. You'll notice it came against a righthander, Zack Miner. His first hit of the night, a ground-rule double to start the rally in the fourth inning, also came against a righthander - starter Justin Verlander. You may not remember, but he also robbed Maggs of a double in the gap in the third, helping to keep the lid on what was then a 3-1 Tiger lead.
One offensive outburst does not mean the Tribe's offense is suddenly back on track. This team clearly needs a spark to keep things going.
Asdrubal Cabrera hasn't set the world ablaze since being recalled. But he has provided some key hits since being installed as the starting second baseman, including an RBI single during the fourth inning hit parade tonight.
It's time for Eric Wedge to make a similar commitment to Gutierrez. He's more than earned it. He provides juice at the plate, on the bases and in the field. Gutierrez MUST be the everyday rightfielder. It should have happened a month ago. It needs to happen NOW!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
M Ordonez homered to right.
C Guillen homered to right.
J Peralta homered to left.
At least the torture was over quickly tonight. 1 hour 59 minutes.
The game went by so fast I can't remember whether it was Mickey Lolich, Denny McClain or Jack Morris who pitched for the Tigers.
Oh! It was THAT Jair Jurrjens!
Are you kidding me?
One hit. That's it. The Tigers had three times as many. Futility on both sides.
107 pitches thrown by four Tiger pitchers. Really workin' it tonigh eh guys? At least they only struck out twice.
What is there to say about tonight's game that hasn't been said 100 times before during this season of frustration.
Another outstanding pitching performance by Fausto Carmona wasted.
It's the same old song. (those of you over 40 will catch the Motown reference.)
You can mention Lofton's brain fart on the bases, but Granderson had one too.
I could ask once again why it is that Casey Blake continues to bat second, but Wedge will still run him out there.
I could ask why Trot Nixon ever takes the field when Franklin Gutierrez is available. But there'd be no point.
And what about Chris Gomez? Is he hitting too well to break into this lineup? Maybe he should see a little time at 3B and the No. 2 hole.
So we now find ourselves 1/2 game ahead of the Tigers and staring at Justin Verlander tomorrow night. Thursday's matchup, based on recent outings by both pitchers, favors Cleveland as Jake Westbrook is due to square off against Nate Robertson. But then again I thought tonight's matchup tipped rather noticeably in the Tribe's favor.
As I write this the Mariners appear to be on their way to another win tonight over the Twins. That would make them 17-6 in their last 23 games, and put them 3 1/2 ahead of the Tribe in the wild card race, if/when the Tribe finds itself out of the top spot in the Central.
It may be that before long we won't need to worry about the wild card race and it'll be the Central title or bust.
Oh by the way. One bit of news tonight. Aaron Laffey was chosen over Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers to be the next victim of a lack of run support. The rookie, who made two starts for the Tribe early this month has been chosen to start Saturday against Kansas City in Kay Cee.
Why, beyond the obvious, is this a key decision? Playoffs rosters are set based on who's on the team on Sept. 1. So it could be that Laffey would be and Lee wouldn't.
Monday, August 20, 2007
We're all on vacation.
I guess the Tribe has a better union though. I've got two weeks off, but the Indians offense has been on holiday for about two months now.
I didn't see much of the weekend series in Tampa. I was out Saturday night and Sunday's game was not on the Dish. I presume the Cleveland broadcast was on Channel 3, which never gets picked up by DirecTV, and the Tampa stations didn't care enough to put the game on TV. So there was no feed to take from there.
I did happen to catch a few moments of the live, online, pitch-by-pitch update while co-hosting my daughter's birthday party. (Only one serious Yankee fan in the bunch. He's low key, but his needle is pretty sharp). I also saw the game summary on ESPN.
Two things struck me about Sunday's game.
I've been slow to criticize Joe Borowski. Closing is a tough job, especially when you don't throw 98. But there was no excuse for yesterday. As I watched the pitch-by-pitch of the tenth, things seemed to be going well. Two batters. Two Ks. Only Dioner Navarro -- a two-oh-something hitter -- to go. Three pitches later, Borowski is in a 3-0 hole. You can not, under any cricumstances, walk that guy to bring the top of the lineup to the plate. Lay it in there. Give him a chance to hit it. The odds are in you favor.
The other question I have is about the final play of the game. Not much is being said about this, but I just don't understand. Johnny Gomes doubles. Joel Guzman shoots a reasonably well-hit ball through the middle. The replay on ESPN shows Gomes heading BACK TOWARD SECOND as the ball is skipping past the bag. (I presume he was making sure it went through). How is it that a line shot is hit just to the left of second base, the runner on second reverses direction twice and still scores without a challenge? What was going on in the outfield?
Bottom line -- the Tribe took two out of three but should have put a little more daylight between themselves and the Tigers, with three games coming up in Detroit this week.
They may have scored eight runs Saturday, but the offense is still in its funk.
Friday, August 17, 2007
In what is being viewed as a hometown-discount signing, the Cubs announced they signed their pitching ace Carlos Zambrano to a five-year, $91.5 million contract to keep him off the free-agent market.
That's $18.3 million a year.
It's also only $300,000 more per year than Barry Zito got from the Giants, so this contract is being viewed as somewhat of a bargain. Some were expecting Zambrano to fetch more like $20 million per, for a longer term.
Which brings us to Sabathia, who has the same number of years in the majors as Zambrano (7), more years in the rotation (7-5), more career wins (95-78) and more years as his team's "ace."
Zambrano has a better lifetime ERA at 3.37 versus 3.89, but he pitches in the National League, where the lineups are a little easier to navigate.
Sabathia, at 14-6 and 3.48, is having a slightly better year this year than Zambrano (14-9 and 3.86) this year.
Just as importanly, if Sabathia does hit the market, he'll be doing so not this off season, but next, so there will be a two-year contract inflation factor to add in.
Plus, Johan Santana will be on the market at the same time. The law of supply and demand would seem to dictate that that would keep C.C.'s price down a little. But in this case, with so many teams out there, the market is more than big enough to drive the price of each up, especially if egos get involved and each tries to out-earn the other.
The Tigers, in NYC to continue their four-game series against the Yankees, have undergone a roster shakeup.
They've DFA'd outfielder Craig Monroe, a major bust at the plate this year, and sent utility infielder Omar Infante to Toledo.
The Tigers promoted their top hitting prospect outfielder Cameron Maybin from Double-A Erie. The 20-year-old outfielder has had only six games of experience in Double-A, having spent most of this season at Class-A Lakeland.
To replace Infante, the Tigers recalled slick fielding Ramon Santiago.
The Detroit Free Press is reporting that both Monroe and Infante have cleared trade waivers and these moves might be a precurser to a resurrection of the trade talks the Tigers were having with the Pirates about SS Jack Wilson prior to the July, 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
One person not on the move for the Tigers is rookie pitcher Jair Jurrjens, who made his major league debut against the Indians on Wednesday. He is expected to challenge the Tribe and Fausto Carmona to a rematch when the Indians head to Detroit on Tuesday night. Reliever Joel Zumaya is expected to be back from the DL Tuesday as well.
And in a not very surprising move, the Blue Jays have already sent former Indian Hector Luna to Triple-A. Luna was 0 for 9 since being claimed off waivers from the Tribe nearly two weeks ago.
Along with genius, as we’ve seen with Van Gogh or Michael Jackson, comes a little craziness, or at least a minor mental condition.
For Yankee fans, it is wild mood swings.
With the Yankees in the depths of a lengthy three-game losing streak, Yankee fans want blood. This from the same people who, just last weekend, were seriously contemplating the idea that the Yankees might never lose again this season. The same people who took great joy in telling me that I’d better start rooting against the Red Sox, since the wild card would likely come down to the Sox, the Tribe and Seattle.
It’s Joe Torre, the man who has led the Yanks into the playoffs in all 11 years he has managed them, who has raised the ire of Yankee fans this week. His crime? Relying on perhaps the most reliable closer in the history of the game – Mariano Rivera.
Rivera had a minor breakdown against the Tribe on Sunday, nearly letting them close a 5-2 gap in the ninth. On Monday, Rivera blew a one-run lead against Baltimore in the ninth, in a game the Yanks came back to win in the bottom of the inning. It was Rivera’s first blown save since April 20. Rivera followed that performance on Tuesday by handing back a lead to the O’s in the tenth that Shelley Duncan had erased with a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth.
The astute Yankee fans – at least those who called talk radio shows yesterday – could see BEFORE Rivera was brought into the game, that his arrival would mean disaster. Rather than rely on the man who has been their closer for the past 10 years, Yankee fans knew it would have been a better move to bring in rookie Joba Chamberlain – who has pitched all of five innings in his major league career. Five scoreless innings – with eight strikeouts - don’t forget. How could the old man let that obvious move elude him?
This is not to say that New Yorkers have a corner on irrationality. There are irrational fans in every city. Hell, I think I’m probably one of them myself.
But every time I listen to Yankee fans matter-of-factly acknowledge that they indeed are the most astute in baseball I marvel at just how much they don’t know how much they don’t know.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Opportunity appears to be along for the ride as the Indians make their way to the tropics, although some would say it has been banging at the door knocker for a month now with no one bothering to answer.
The Tribe’s Central Division rivals, the Tigers, find themselves in the early phase of a 13-game stretch which will see them play Cleveland and New York exclusively, first on the road then in Detroit.
As we well know, they find themselves 1-1 so far in this rough stretch. Plus, they picked a really bad time to have a team-wide outbreak of the flu.
During their next nine games, the Tribe, in addition to three games in Detroit, will be playing Tampa Bay and Kansas City on the road. They then come home to Minnesota and the White Sox, with one game against Seattle thrown in.
The Indians have blown a chance to put daylight between themselves and the Tigers over the past few weeks, and squandered the lead they had over the Yankees for a wild card spot.
The schedule makers have given them an opportunity for a do-over. Let’s hope they get it right this time around.
Someone's knockin' at the door,
Somebody's ringing the bell,
Do my a favor,
Open the door and let 'em in -- Paul McCartney
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
By 1984 Rizzuto had already moved from the radio booth (where he called Roger Maris' historic 61st home run) to the TV side. He worked with several other announcers in the booth, but his schtick went best with the deadpan of Bill White and the country boy charm of Bobby Mercer.
I can recall Rizzuto opening one broadcast saying "Welcome to New York Yankees baseball. I'm Bill White. Um ......."
In his later years he had a reputation of not keeping his eye on the ball at all times in the booth, talking about pretty much anything but the game. But his banter was so entertaining you didn't really care.
One of his partners (I think Bill White) once asked Rizzuto what the "WW" stood for in his scorebook. In a very matter of fact way, Rizzuto replied "wasn't watching."
It may be that I liked Rizzuto so much because he reminded me a bit of my late father-in-law. Both were Brooklyn gentlemen, and gentle men from Brooklyn.
Or it may be that Rizzuto kept alive the spirit of our one-time national pastime into the '90s, while others were busy doping, primping and counting their money.As a kid in the '60s and '70s, with the Tribe out of the race by mid-June, I would turn my radio dial to Ernie Harwell out of WJR in Detroit. Or on a good night I could pick up a game out of St. Louis and listen to Jack Buck, who's pipsqueak of son, now heard on FOX, couldn't carry his dad's microphone chord. I'd also tune in on Harry Caray in Chicago when the wind blew just right. And Harry Calas in Philadelphia or Bob Prince in Pittsburgh.
Cleveland also had some top-shelf broadcasters in Jimmy Dudley, Bob Neal and - - in an almost Rizzuto-like way -- Herb Score.
Phil Rizzuto could hold his own with all of them.
Holy cow Phil! What will we do without you.
Monday, August 13, 2007
First let me say that the Yank-O-Meter is offcially obsolete and now absent from this site, thanks to the inspired play of the Tribe this weekend.
What a disaster !!!
You could virtually see them cowering at the sight of the big bad Yankees.
This is a team with no guts. They first gave us a hint of that in 2005, losing the entire final week and missing the playoffs. It was the offense that went silent then, as now.
Last season, with the national media expecting big things, the entire team fell on its face.
This year, as the Yanks (and Seattle) began breathing down their necks, the Tribe once again folded without a whimper.
Yes, as I write this they are only 1/2 game behind the Tigers and 1 1/2 behind the Yankees and Seattle in the race for the wild card.
But do you see any life in this team?
The New York Post headline from today put it best. Tribe Put To Sweep.
Actually it would be more accurate to say "Tribe fans put to sweep, Indians left for dead!"
Paul Hoynes' article in today's PD paints a picture of a team without a backbone, and bereft of any confidence. A team ready to accept losing.
These comments by Casey Blake were the closest thing to optimism the Tribe could muster.
"These are big games coming up. It's mid-August. Hopefully, we can maintain some focus and energy and come to the ballpark ready to win."
"Hopefully" we can come to the ballpark ready to win, he says. Can we hold out for "probably."
Contrast that with Andy Pettitte's comments today in the (NY) Daily News:
"I feel like we're the team, so it doesn't surprise me. I'm going to be extremely disappointed if this team doesn't get to the playoffs."
Perhaps the most galling moment of an utterly disgusting weekend was Jhonney Peralta getting picked off of first with the bases loaded in the seventh inning of Sunday's game. No need to dwell on how stupid it was. More important was the reaction to Peralta's stupidity.
Eric Wedge, who appears as clueless about righting this current slump as he was in the final week of '05, had this strong reaction to Peralta's boneheaded play.
"Obviously, it shouldn't have happened."
Gee! Do you think so Eric?
Peralta should have been pulled from the game immediately. Instead he made his way out to play shortstop in the eighth.
Is it any wonder Peralta plays with his head up his ass so often?
This would have been an opportune time to send a message to Peralta, and to the team. It's time to stop quivering, it's time to stop dogging it. It's time to play ball.
We have a so-called nucleus and a manager locked up for years to come. It appears to be a gutless group. I don't question the desire (save one or two - especially Peralta) but I do question the guts.
Maybe they'll make me eat my words in the next few weeks, but I just don't see it.
MY NIGHT AT THE JAKE
Now that I've gotten that off my chest, let me talk a bit about my one and only trip to the Jake this summer, on Friday night.
I get to see one game a year (sometimes two if things break right) at the Jake. One night to leave all the sneering, arrogant Yankee Stadium fans behind and be at a place where I'm rooting for the right team for a change. Except of course when the Yankees happen to be visiting Cleveland at the same time. Then it's Yankee Stadium West.
I'd say it was about a 60-40 split in favor of Cleveland fans at the Jake Friday night and that in itself says something about Cleveland's fans and the faith they have in this team.
Of course my tickets put me right behind eight, twenty-something, beered-up Yankee fans, and sitting next to a Tribe fan who was so negative and so annoying it was like spending the evening with Mimi from the Drew Carey Show. (I'm not Mr. Sunshine myself, but this was really bad.) I might as well have stayed in the Bronx.
And what is up with all the annoying crap that goes along with the game at the Jake?
I've gotten accustmed to being bombarded with ads at every turn.
I can't stand the pounding music as each batter comes to the plate, but I've learned to live with it.
But now we have the hot dog race (a ripoff from Milwaukee), "The Prize Is Right" and about three dozen other pointless, moronic distractions.
And whoever that blond emcee was for most of these bits - - please send her back where she came from. A-N-N-O-Y-I-N-G.
I have not seen so many cheesy bits of "entertainment" at a ballpark since I attended a New Jersey Cardinals class-A game several years ago.
This is the BIGS! folks. Not indoor soccer. The Tribe's promotions people don't seem to get that.
And could 43,000 people sitting in one place make LESS noise. Yes the team has sucked for more than a month now, but the Jake was morgue-like Friday night.
Between the horrible play, the lousy support and the minor league atmosphere, I'd say the $10 I spent to get in was about $10 too many.
P.S. To my immediate family and the family and friends I visited in Cleveland, the non-baseball parts of the weekend were great!
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
The series I had been waiting for, but am now dreading.
The series that might render the Yank – O- Meter obsolete much sooner than I thought.
I’m heading to Cleveland for a long weekend, to visit family and to see the Tribe take on the Yankees Friday night.
When I bought these tickets six weeks ago, I bought them with much glee in my heart, knowing full well the Tribe was likely to prevail or that it wouldn’t really matter if they lost because they’d be so far ahead of the Yankees in the wild card chase.
My kids, Yankee fans all, lobbied to go to all three games, but in my effort to shield them from a weekend of discouraging losses I used the old “we don’t have the money” gambit. I threw in the “grandma will be offended if we come to visit her and spend the whole weekend at the ballgame” yarn.
Six weeks later – whomp! Reality. Right in my face!
As I write this, before games are played Wednesday and Thursday, the Yankees trail the Tigers in the wild card race by ½ game. They trail the Tribe, should the two find themselves jousting for the back-door prize, by 1 game.
At the All-Star break the Yankees were 8 behind the Tribe and 9 in back of the Tigers. Not long before that they trailed Cleveland and Detroit by double digits.
The Yanks have turned it on and turned it around since the break. Here’s the breakdown among possible wild card contenders and the Yankees division rival - the Red Sox:
Team W L GB
Yankees 20 7 --
Red Sox 15 11 4.5
Indians 12 13 7
Mariners 12 13 7
Tigers 11 15 8.5
(note to our faithful reader Moose: I know about the Twins. But MLB.com allows you to only compare five teams at a time on their on-line stats page.)
Here’s what Tribe fans have waiting for us as the Yankees hit town for the weekend.
Since the break, the Yankees have scored 210 runs in 27 games. That is exactly twice as many runs as the 105 runs the Tribe has scored in 25 games during the same period. In the last 27 games the Yanks are hitting .328. The Tribe - .253 in 25 games.
Pitching-wise, the Tribe has done better than New York since the break, with a 3.68 ERA compared with 4.13 for the Yankees. The Tribe has given up 103 runs in 25 games while the Yanks have allowed 120 runs in 27 games.
Put another way, since the break New York has scored 7.77 runs/game compared to the Tribe’s 4.2. The Yankees have given up 4.44 runs a game compared with 4.12 runs a game for Cleveland.
The Yankees, in fact, are absurdly superior to all the wild card hopefuls and division rival Boston on offense since the break, but are in the middle of the pack in pitching.
What that means for this weekend, we’ll know soon enough.
NOTE TO READERS: Because of my weekend-plus trip to the Promised Land, we are unlikely to be updating this blog again until Tuesday, Aug. 14. We’ll be visiting my mom, where the Internet has not been invented yet. I expect the Yank – O- Meter to be out of whack by the time I get back. Hopefully it will still be serving a purpose.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
The next time someone gets the urge to bitch about Joe Borowski, they should think about tonight.
The Tribe's closer was forced to get five outs in the ninth as Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko put him in a viper grip.
First Victor let a perfect third strike bounce off the end of his mitt to the first batter in the ninth, Jerry Owens, who scampered to first without much of a challange by Victor, who stopped to pound his glove in annoyance before chasing after the ball.
Then Victor and Garko, with two outs and RBI machine Paul Konerko at the plate with Owens on third, did the old I-got-it-you-take-it on what should have been the third (fourth) out of the inning - a foul pop in front of the dougout.
You really have to wonder about the position players on this team, and their ability to play in the clutch. In the past ten days or so they kicked away three games with bad D and came damn close a couple of other times, including tonight.
With Seattle and the Yankees bearing down on them and the Tigers giving them every opportunity to pad their division lead, the Tribe's starting staff has been dominating. But the team's hitting has been awful, especially with runners in scoring position. (We did all the numbers the other day. They didn't get any better in the the past two nights).
This is the same pattern this team followed in the final week or so of the 2005 season. Despite good pitching, they didn't hit, or field, and pissed away a shot at the playoffs.
Last year, with fan excitement running high and the pressure of heightened expectations from the national media, the team fell flat on its face from the outset.
There's a lot of talk about how the nucleus of this team (except for CC) is assured of being together for several more years. With the way this team seems to handle pressure, I'm not sure if that's good news or bad.
Ya, the Tribe won tonight. But if they play like this over the weekend against New York and early next week against Detroit they might just as well bend over and kiss themselves goodbye.
It's time to get it together.
No word yet on who will replace him, but Rotoworld is reporting that former Blue Jays shortstop Royce Clayton, who was DFA'd a few days ago, has been given his release by the Jays. No idea if there is a connection and we shouldn't jump to conclusions. But it is a possibility that Clayton may be heading to the Tribe. Again, all I'm doing is adding 2+2 and sometimes when I do that I get 5, so take it for what it is worth.
Asdrubal Cabrera was recently promoted to Buffalo and has gotten some work in at 2B there, although his regular position is SS. So that may provide some clue about the Indians' plans as well.
Russell Branyan is back with the Tribe. Or at least in the organization. He was signed today and sent to Buffalo.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Is anyone getting tired of watching games on the pool table the Twins accept as a baseball field?
Byrd's masterpiece: But he's been coming close to that all year. You knew this one was coming sometime.
More important: Jhonny Peralta hitting the ball the opposite way three times tonight, twice for singles and once for a fairly loud out. Then he turned on one for a single in his last at bat. Maybe it's a sign he's put his "homerun swing" to bed and will start getting after it again.
Also good: Hafner hit a heat-seeking missile for his 18th homer. I'd trade that for two solid singles and a double in the gap though. School is still out on Pronk.
If you saw the play Twins 2B Alexi Casilla made - throwing out fleet-footed Grady at the plate from the seat of his pants at second base - you understand a little bit more about why the Twins felt they could deal Luis Castillo to the Mets.
Glad this series is over for another reason. I got the Twins announcing crew for all four games on the dish. Bert Blylevin is a little bit funny at first, but after four games he just comes off as a sarcastic smartass.
Now it's on to Chicago, which likely means the White Sox crew for at least two of the three games. Dumb (Hawk Harrelson) and Dumber (Darrin Jackson). The worst homers of any announcer team in the league and extremely stupid to boot.
Speaking of stupid. I spent a lot of time in between innings of the Tribe game tonight switching over to check on the Tigers. They don't come any more stupid than Tigers' color man Rod Allen. Except maybe for Rex Hudler with the Angels. Guys work all their lives to make a living as baseball broadcasters and dumbass jocks who can't string two words together get the jobs. (Rick Manning is excluded, since he often successfully fulfills his role as expert who has played the game and knows what it's about and often covers for the inept Matt Underwood).
Anybody have any thoughts why the Yankees cut loose Mike Myers? The fans here in NYC don't and there's been some grumbling. It might have made some sense had they brought up the highly touted Joba Chamberlain, but they brought up Jim Brower for God's sake. Reasonably effective left-handed specialists don't come out of the woodwork. I'd say Myers got shagged.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
In the first three games against the Twins the Tribe has left 46 runners on base. They are 3 for 22 with runners in scoring position. Jhonny Peralta has left the most runners on in this series - 10, followed by Josh Barfield at 8 and Trot Nixon at 7. You've got to cut Nixon some slack though, since he only played in two of the games. If he had played in three, he no doubt would be in the lead. The Tribe is 22 for 96 in the series so far in Minnesota. That's roughly .230. (it's too late and I'm too tired to do the precise math).
Lest you think the Tribe's woes are limited to the Homer Dome, they have scored two runs or fewer in 8 of the last 12 games, having lost 1-0 in two of those games. They also won a 1-zip game in that stretch.
During the period the Tribe's starting rotation has a 2.91 ERA, but the team has a 4-8 record. The Tigers during that stretch are 2-10. Talk about your wasted opportunities.
Meanwhile, the Yankee, who many had given up for dead - myself and many of their own fans (if they're honest) included - are now only 1/2 game behind Detroit for the wild card spot. And, only 1 game behind the Tribe should the Indians slip behind the Tigers.
The Yankees have scored 149 runs in their last 15 games. You don't even need a diploma from Parma High School to know that is, for all intents and purposes, 10 runs a game. They are 12-3 in that stretch. They are coming to town this weekend.
Just a little something to make the Cheerios go down a little easier.
I don't usually get involved in questioning every managerial decision that comes along (Eric Wedge is not hitting .095 with RISP), but this one strikes me as legit and I can't just let it go. In the eighth, when running for Trot Nixon, why send in Jason Michaels rather the Franklin Gutierrez? Gutierrez is faster on the bases and a better defensive replacement than Michaels, no?
I guess it doesn't much matter since Peralta bunted into a double play anyway. But if the players need to do the "little things" right to win the close games, isn't it necessary that the manager do the same?
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Thursday, August 2, 2007
When I started this blog, the Tribe was 52-36, one game behind the Tigers and - more importantly to a guy living in NY and taking Yankee-fan crap for 24 years - eight games ahead of New York in the wild card race. Some 20 games later - as you'll note on the Yank -O-Meter - that lead is down to three (it was as small as two as of last night).
The Blue Jays are said to be ready to designate SS Royce Clayton for assignment tomorrow. This is interesting to Tribe fans for a couple of reasons. First, it means old friend Johnny Mac has - after all these years - claimed the shorstop job for the Blue Jays. More importantly it gives Tribe management an option to replace Mike Rouse as the utility infielder. Clayton has always been a .250 hitter, but he does have 110 career homers and, from what we've seen lately out of Rouse, seems also to be a superior fielder. I doubt the Tribe would have to give up a whole lot to get Clayton in a waiver deal. At a time when it looks like every game is going to count, even small upgrades are important upgrades.
In New York, Johnny Damon isn't playing every day any more and he's not happy about it:
"As a player, you always want to know what your role is and what's happening," Damon said. "If I'm still out there on the margin, especially with Jason coming back . . . Anything's possible. I know a lot of teams are interested. With Jason (Giambi) coming back and a number of outfielders going down, the Yankees could probably get a better player now than what they probably got offered July 31." -- Damon quoted by Newsday.
In Seattle, some of the veterans are more than a little upset at the recall of super-prospect Adam Jones, an outfielder. Among the most vocal is Jose Guillen - oddly enough an outfielder himself:
I don't know what they're trying to do. I hope they don't do something stupid to mess with the lineup that we have. Because I believe we have a pretty good one.''--Jose Guillen quoted by the Seattle Times' Mariners Blog
And, of course we've all heard about the Twins' unhappiness with the trade of Luis Castillo. It's seen by many in the clubhouse - especially pitching ace Johan Santana - as a sign of front-office surrender.