Wednesday night's game at the Jake was the closest to playoff baseball that I've experienced since the late 90's. From Jake's no-no until the 6th to Bell-i-YARD going deep in typical Jelly fashion (a swing-out-of-your-shoes effort that he admired as it went deep in the SRO area in left), to Wickman's exciting 9th.
Best scene of the night:
A fan in the right field seats catches the HR that Sticky gave up in the 9th. The fans start chanting, "Throw it back, throw it back". Realizing that throwing a ball onto the field gets you ejected from the Jake, I find the usher to see if she's telling the guy not to. But, she's cheering and pumping her fist to throw it back like everyone else. As the ball flew over Blake's head onto the field, I saw her look up towards the concourse (presumably to another usher), shrug her shoulders, mouth the words "no way", and sit down to watch the final two outs.
The atmosphere was electric, giving high-fives to anyone around you, on your feet for the last 3 innings, giving standing O's to anyone - Belliard, Westbrook after his 5th inning of no-hit ball, Wickman coming out of the pen, Broussard during his PH at-bat in recognition of his two bombs on Tuesday. Even the grounds crew got one for clearing the field after a monsoon reminiscient of the Steve Miller Band Concert in 1992 at Blossom...if you were there, you know what I'm talking about.
21,000+ was pretty loud last night, though I think most of them are the same people who have been there all year, who know and enjoy baseball, and are taking great enjoyment out of seeing a talented team mature in an exciting playoff race. This is going to be a great couple of weeks here, right up to and including the final showdown with the White Sox.
Speaking of the Pale Hose, they dropped a game to KC today, meaning that the Tribe is 4.5 games back in the Central. Ozzie Guillen called out another one of his players, Damaso Marte, for a "questionable injury". The White Sox may be coming apart before our very eyes.
As I looked at the standings this morning, the Tribe has the 4th best record in all of baseball! Then I check out the official site, where this quote appears:
"If we don't sign Jim Thome, it'll erode a significant core [of the fan base], and we need to sign Jim Thome for performance and for that core. But I think the only thing that'll bring fans back to the three million range is for us to build a winning team again. That's what we have to do." -- GM Mark Shapiro, in 2002
Mission accomplished, on your end, Mark. Now it's on the fans to realize it.
Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle said on PTI yesterday that he thought the Yankees would win the Wild Card, but Indians' fans shouldn't fret because the Tribe will be good for at least the next 10 years. Actually Rich, I think we'll take our cake and eat it too this year.
Just got the new SI (with Aaron Brooks on the cover) and there's a 3 page article about the Indians. A great shot of Super Sizemore, Jhon, Coco, The Stick, and Pronk (shown here) starts the article off and, surprisingly for the national media, it almost presupposes that the Tribe will make the playoffs. If you don't subscribe to SI, it's worth the time and newstand price.
We're talkin' baseball...Indians baseball...TALKIN' TRIBE!!!