Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Tied at the Top

Heading into Tuesday's game with the Rays, the Tribe has tied the A's and the Yanks atop the Wild Card standings (though they are behind in percentage points, due to playing 2 more games). And, watching Monday's game, nobody can argue that this team is peaking at the right time.
Think about these stats from Monday's game:

  1. Grady and Coco each had 3 hits
  2. Jhonny went 2 for 4 with his third hit being robbed by Gaithright in DEEP centerfield
  3. Hafner went hitless (though his sac fly was about as good of an at-bat as there's been this year) and the team still scored 11 runs
  4. The always streaky Broussard hit his second HR in 9 at-bats
The top 5 of the lineup seem to be likely to always produce a few runs, so anything that 6 through 9 can get is gravy. That's why that last point is so important. If Broussard is getting hot and the other Filler B's (Belliard, Boone, & Blake) can produce in the last month, the Indians are looking at a great combination of pitching and hitting for the month of September.

If, in fact, the offense turns the faucet on to a full pour after Monday's game, it may be traced to Grady beating out an infield hit in the 7th. For those who have not seen it, Grady pounded the ball off of the carpet towards second and looked like a sprinter coming out of blocks as he began his trip down the line. About halfway down, the look on his face changed to such determination that, watching later in slow motion, you knew he was going to beat the ball down the line. As he tore down the line, he looked like a halfback putting it into another gear when he hits the secondary. Finally, as Grady barely beat the play out, he reacted as you would expect only Grady to react. He simply clapped his hands once, while his face showed only his constant look of confidence and determination. He didn't go nuts or try to get rah-rah to pump up his teammates. He acted like it was an everyday occurence and sparked the 7 run seventh.

There was a question earlier this year about who the leader of this team is. I don't know if a 23 year old, with less than two years in the majors, can be the leader of a playoff team, but the whole team followed Sizemore's lead and put their collective foot on the throats of the Devil Rays. At the time that he beat out that grounder, the game was still 4-4 and Casey Blake had what could have been a disastrous K in the 6th.

That is what a leader does - he doesn't get up on the top step to lead a hollow cheer - he simply becomes the best player on a team by busting his hump every day, and carries himself in a way that makes other players want to do the same. Isn't that what Jeter does?

A big thanks to Tim for putting his ESPN Insider subscription to use for the common good as he put all of the Tribe articles on ESPN.com in yesterday's comments. Also listed on ESPN's MLB home page was a point that Jhonny has become the OPS leader among SS. But what's even more amazing is the fact that Jhonny has only 2 less HR and 16 less RBI than Tejada in 123 less at bats(!) and 2 more HR and 6 less RBI than Michael Young in 145 fewer at bats!

Omar who? Which leads me to a great comment I heard on the radio today, as WTAM was singing the praises of Jhonny and making fun of the people who are STILL upset that Omar is no longer an Indian. A Vizquel fan made the comment that Omar did more for the city than any other player since Rocky Colavito. The quick retort was that what she meant to say was that Omar had done more women in the city than any other Indian in recent memory. Well played.
Please note in the above link that Omar is 11th in OPS.

As the Tribe tries to pull themselves out of an early Westbrook sink hole (it's 4-2 in the 5th), the feeling that this offense can pull it out is starting to become a regular feeling. Not quite 1995 "we're never out of it" feeling, but it's a start.


Cy Slapnicka said...

I agree, I was never even concerned tonight. I just sat back and waited for the runs. Even with runners on 2nd and 3rd in the 9th, I just sat there waiting for Bobby to do his thing and get the save.

I'm due to resubscribe to the Mag, so I guess I'll be selling my soul to espn so I can read insider articles as well. Of course, I'm sure this will be followed by the debut of the SuperInsider section that I will have to ante again for. Sheesh, I can find more free Internet porn now than I can find free espn.com aricles...

Rockdawg said...

I had to watch the Indians game on the ESPN News scroll last night, and I felt the same as you guys...I was just waiting patiently for to the score to change, when in a fairly short period of time, I saw the score go 4-2, 4-3, 5-4, it was great. How many sportscasters have you heard say "And the Indians, seemingly out of no where, have grabbed a hold of a tie with the Yankees." Funny I haven't heard anyone insulting Wedgie lately. Granted, the team doesn't always display the best baseball fundamentals, but there is one thing that the Atomic one could always do, and that's teach young players how to hit, and the young hitting talent on this team is sick.

Baltimoran said...

finally, the tribe is getting some love from the media. i can truly appreciate Shapiro and Wedge by listening to O's fans rightfully complain about their lack of leadership...mostly blaming the idiot owner (Angelos). I'm just hoping the birds don't roll over the last month with 2 Yankee series and the A's coming to town this weekend. Rockdawg, use gamecast on Yahoo.com, its real time and far less frustrating than watching the bottom of the t.v. while hearing the same 3 sports stories repeated by the worst anchors ESPN has to offer. C.C. is on sportscenter's hotseat tonight.

Baltimoran said...

Elarton was due for a stinker...only 5 runs down though, i think Jhonny has had enough of a rest