Sunday, June 26, 2005

Ohio is, Apparently, Ours

The Tribe completed a series win against those lowly Reds today to move to 39-34 heading into a tough stretch of games (Boston, Baltimore, NY) before the All Star Break (with at home series vs. Detroit mixed in). The Tribe used the homestand to its favor moving to within 1 1/2 games of the Twins and staying in the midst of the Wild Card (though it still isn't even the All Star Break).

I heard something on the radio the other day that I thought was interesting. They were talking about how 2005 was the target year when the rebuilding project began. A caller said that this is a farce because of the way the White Sox are running away with the Central. But, let's look at where the team is, almost to the halfway point: 5 games over .500. Nobody said that the Indians were going to win the World Series in 2005, just that they would be in contention, and that's exactly where they are. The Indians can't control that the White Sox are on fire, they can't make other teams beat the White Sox. They can only control the games that they play, and recently, have been doing a great job at it. I'm cautiously optimistic about this East Coast trip. I think they will win one of the series against the AL East, but not get swept in any of the series. I'd like to see them go 8-7 leading up to the All Star Break, which would leave them at 47-41 to start the second half. I'd take that.

Some thoughts over the weekend:

  • Is there a difference between what Alex Cora is doing for us and what Brandon Phillips could do for us? Cora can't seem to hit but seems to play good defense when called upon. I realize the argument is to have a veteran to help out Peralta, but Phillips seems to have finally turned a corner in Buffalo (named to the IL All Star Team).
  • With so many teams looking for relievers and Fernando Cabrera tearing it up in Buffalo, is anyone expendable? What about moving Howry (who's a FA after this year), and bumping Riske into the Howry role, Betancourt into the Riske role, and Cabrera into the Betancourt role? If Cabrera continues to dominate at the ML level, you move him accordingly in the pen. I know that you're not supposed to mess with a good thing, but Cabrera is becoming impossible to ignore.
  • Couldn't Casey Blake fill the Jose Hernandez role (1B, 3B, occasional OF) better than Hernandez. The 2 HR night notwithstanding, Hernandez does nothing for me on this team.
  • With all of those thoughts, what is the problem with moving 2 of those guys for a RH stick (Kearns) or even throwing in a AAA starter (Cruceta, or even Tallet/Traber) to get a Wily Mo Pena? RF needs to become a productive position, and its not happening with the Gerut/Blake platoon.
  • Other possible trade partners could be the Dodgers (they would love Howry, but have little to offer), the Rangers (who would eat up Cruceta or Traber/Tallet, but again have only Kevin Mench to offer) or the Orioles.
  • I would like to see Moises Alou added to this lineup (we can black out the 1997 Series from our memory banks, if we haven't already), but I don't know what the Giants would want.
  • Nice to see a sellout on Saturday. A 12-7 game in front of 42,000? Did Assenmacher pitch?

As you can see, I've taken a much more optimistic approach to the season. After a conversation with a non-Clevelander who goes to a lot of games (my bride), I realized that I was getting too high and too low as each game was played.

After Thursday's game I was told that, "It's a long season, and it's not even July. The Red Sox are World Champs for a reason, they were better than anyone last year. The Tribe played 2 close games against them and you come home, freak out, say that everyone stinks, and that Hernandez couldn't play in a rec league softball game (I'll stand behind that comment). Just relax. That's what's wrong with Cleveland fans, you WAIT for things to go bad almost like you want them to, rather than focusing on the positive and just saying, 'Oh, well that was a great game. We'll get 'em next time'."

Good advice.

Tribe Record on the homestand with me there: 1-4

Tribe Record on the homestand without me there: 7-0

Anybody want seats in the Mezzanine for the rest of the year?


Cy Slapnicka said...

"Oh, well that was a great game. We'll get 'em next time" Don't let her pollute your mind! That is bordering on rational behavior. stop the madnses before its too late. when your children are playing in leagues where they don't keep score and declare everyone a winner, don't come crying to me. before you know it, battleball in gym class will cease to exist.

can't get too into individual games, but the "aw shucks, we'll get 'em next time" doesn't fly here, Flanders. unless you are treating these games like browns games and entering weeklong funks, i think you're fine.

we don't wait for things to go bad. i wasn't waiting for byner's fumble. i was waiting for his TD. i didn't wait for the drive, i waited for the big defensive stop that never came. i didn't wait for Tony Fernandez's error either.

lastly, i don't care if people mock me. i participate. a friend sent me this Teddy Roosevelt quote the other day referencing his sweet moped jumps in put-in-bay:

"...the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if
he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and
timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Anonymous said...

Saturday, June 25, 2005
Kinsella character actually played 100 years ago
Associated Press

His big league career lasted all of one game, a few fleeting moments in right field.

He stood out there on a summer afternoon so long ago, on a patch of grass since paved over in Brooklyn.

Yet many folks are certain Moonlight Graham was a made-up character from a movie, not a real-life ballplayer for the New York Giants.

" 'Field of Dreams' was before my time," said Willie Mays, the greatest Giant of them all. "That was a real thing? How come nobody told me?"

Yet the tale is true, at least most of it. Because on June 29, 1905 -- exactly 100 years ago on Wednesday -- Archibald Wright Graham made his lone appearance in the majors.

He never got to hit. Instead, he was left on deck. A late substitute in a lopsided 11-1 win, he played only two innings and there's no proof he ever touched the ball.

"Graham went to right field for New York" was his only mention in the local Evening Telegram's play-by-play account. And, just that fast, the 28-year-old rookie described in the sporting press as being "quick as a flash of moonlight" was gone.

No wonder it took quite a while for his story to get around -- and for author W.P. Kinsella to make Graham such a part of the poetry and romance that celebrate the lore and lure of baseball.

More than a decade after Graham died in 1965, the prize-winning author was leafing through the Baseball Encyclopedia that his father-in-law had given him for Christmas a few days earlier. Among the listings for every player and their lifetime stats, Kinsella came across something that stopped him.

"I found this entry for Moonlight Graham. How could anyone come up with that nickname? He played one game but did not get to bat. I was intrigued, and I made a note that I intended to write something about him," he said.

A few years later, he did. His 1982 novel "Shoeless Joe" was adapted into the 1989 film "Field of Dreams," and Moonlight was reborn.

Eventually, there was a band called Moonlight Graham, a couple of Web sites were dedicated to him and a scholarship fund established in his honor.

"I didn't anticipate this happening," Kinsella said in a telephone interview from his home in British Columbia.

In the movie, Graham mystically flickers onto the scoreboard at Fenway Park. Seeking one at-bat in the bigs, he asks: "Is there enough magic out there in the moonlight to make dreams come true?"

Veda Ponikvar knew Graham for almost a half-century in Chisholm, Minn. He arrived around 1912 after the town placed a newspaper ad for a school doctor, and Ponikvar said he never boasted about his ballplaying.

Or explained his enchanting nickname.

"I think it was because by the light of the moon, he practiced his game," she guessed. "But some people said it was because he moonlighted as a doctor."

No matter, she said, Burt Lancaster's kindly portrayal was perfect.

"I remember probably in the third grade when he inoculated me for scarlet fever," she said. "I still have the mark on my arm. Growing up, I thought it was the most horrible thing. Later on, I thought, 'Oh, Doc Graham, you're pretty precious. You left your mark.' "

Now in her mid-80s, she'll be at the Metrodome this Wednesday to throw out the first ball before Kansas City plays Minnesota on Moonlight Graham Day.

All because of sheer luck.

When Kinsella thumbed through the Baseball Encyclopedia, he could've easily turned to the pages for Twink Twining, Goat Cochran or Steamboat Struss. Of the more than 16,000 players in major league history, they're also among the 900-plus guys in the Elias Sports Bureau registry who got into only one game.

"I had no backup," Kinsella said. "My approach to fiction writing is that when I need facts, I invent them. So I would have invented a background for Moonlight Graham, but I'm sure nothing as wonderful as the truth.

"It was a gold mine."

OK, so what if he really didn't play on the last day of the 1922 season, as in the movie? Or that he batted left-handed, rather than righty in the film? Or that he got sent down after his one big league game and spent three more years in the minors?

Those blue hats he bought for his wife, Alecia? "Absolutely true," Ponikvar said. And the way he patted children to clear food stuck in their throats? "He did it to me," she said.

Oh, another fact: His younger brother, Frank Porter Graham, was a U.S. senator from North Carolina.

In all, it's a story that fans everywhere embraced. Well, most everyone.

"I didn't see 'Field of Dreams.' I don't watch movies about what I do," San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds said.

On the other hand, Los Angeles Angels star Darin Erstad estimated he's watched it 20 to 30 times.

"It's a special thing because it's a dream of a lot of kids out there, to have the opportunity to put on a big league uniform for just that one time. And that part of the movie really summed that up," he said.

"When you see guys who are career minor leaguers who get an opportunity to come up -- and even if they're not up for a long time -- they can always say that all that hard work they put in was worth it."

It was for Bob Hegman and Gary Hargis.

Hegman's one big league game came in August 1985, when he replaced George Brett in the Kansas City infield for the ninth inning.

"You wait so long, all your life for that moment. Just running on the field, it was surreal," said Hegman, now an advance scout for the Twins.

The Royals went on to win the World Series that year, and they remembered him. Sort of, anyway.

"Everybody asks, 'Did you get a ring? Did you get a ring?"' he said. "Heck, all I got was a $100 check. I wish I'd kept it and framed it, but I needed to eat."

Called up in September 1979, Hargis made his lone appearance as a pinch-runner for Pittsburgh on the next-to-last day of the season.

"You keep thinking, 'Just let me get in one game so my name can get into the book,' " he said. "When you do, it's just like the movie. Your eyes light up, you never want the night to end. You just want to play ball, like you did when you were a kid."

At least Kevin Morgan got to bat. After "floating to the plate," he popped up in 1997 for the New York Mets.

"I definitely thought there would be more opportunities," said Morgan, the Mets' director of minor league operations, "but as it turned out, that was the only one."

Which is more than Mickey Harrington got in his one game with Philadelphia in 1963.

"I was expecting to at least get an at-bat," he said. "I was 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and it was disappointing to be used as a pinch-runner. I figured someone else would pick me up and I'd get another chance, but I never did."

Archie Graham never got to bat in the majors, either.

A pretty good hitter for three years in the minors, Giants manager John McGraw invited him to spring training in 1905, but Graham declined because he wanted to finish medical school. According to extensive work by Bill Moose for the Society for American Baseball Research, Graham finally joined the Giants on May 23.

Five weeks later, he made his debut at Brooklyn's Washington Park -- built before Ebbets Field, it's now a depot for the Con Edison power company.

In a game against the Superbas -- the forerunners of the Dodgers -- Graham replaced George Browne in right field for the bottom of the eighth inning. Nothing was hit his way.

Then he was left on deck in the ninth when pitcher Claude Elliott flied out. In the bottom half, Graham may have gotten a play.

Switch-hitter Charlie Malay singled -- presumably, he was batting lefty against the righty Elliott -- and perhaps he pulled it in Graham's direction. But there's simply no record of where the ball went.

"It's possible that maybe he touched it," Moose said. "No telling for sure."

Paul Cousineau said...

I WAS living and dying in Brownsesque fashion with every Tribe win and loss, going into some serious funks, so it was time to take a step back.

To show you if my heart is out there or not, check the link on the right sidebar for Depth Chart, which I spent the weekend compiling.

Let me rephrase my comments on the way Cleveland deals with big events. Clevelanders have almost grown to EXPECT snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I WAS waiting for Mesa to blow Game 7.

This pessimism is built in. I'll quote Cy, who last week said in an e-mail that "LeBron is gone the moment his contract is up."

I'll take some dirt and cuts on my face for putting it out there. But I'm getting awfully roughed up.

Cy Slapnicka said...

TB, nice post. If you haven't seen the intern's link to it and comments on the SG's page, check it out. Funny stuff.

So how 'bout Kyle Denney? Somehow he's the unluckiest man alive, yet he is lucky to be alive...if that makes sense. First he gets shot while dressed as a cheerleader and then his skull gets cracked by a comebacker? I think its safe to say this will end badly. I wouldn't stand too close to him in a lightning storm. 5 to 1 odds a paino falls on him.

Get well soon Kyle.