Saturday, April 08, 2006

On the Haf-Pipe

So, this is what the 1 to 9 approach looks like when the Tribe is going on all cylinders? I can live with a lot of games like the home opener, an 11-6 trouncing of the Twinkies.

The Indians responded in the bottom half of every inning that the Twins scored, and did so in style as Hafner went yard twice (as he debuted his new Pronk candy bar, the first Indian to do so since the Albert Belle Bar), and Casey Blake (note the C, not the K) hit a grand slam that fought its way through the raindrops and fog to end up on the Home Run Porch.

Paul Byrd had an unimpressive debut, but (like a veteran pitcher) allowed the Twins to put the ball into play once he had the lead, which contributed to the 5 runs he gave up in 6 innings. The highlights, pitching-wise, were Matt Miller and Fernando Cabrera. Miller looks to be that change-of-pace type reliever who thrives in a bullpen full of flamethrowers. His sidearm delivery and funky wiffleball pitches offer a nice contrast to the fastballs of Betancourt, Mota, and Cabrera. Speaking of Cabrera, it was nice to see the youngster shake off the bad Chicago outing to blow away the Twins in the 9th. After one bad outing, there were some media members panicking that Cabrera was out of options and couldn’t be sent to Buffalo to work out his problems. What problems? He made the last two batters look completely overmatched with two punchouts.

All in all, it was a great start to the home season. I’ll be bundling up (Browns-game style) for tonight’s 5:05 start.

Off the field, Brandon Phillips was traded to the Reds for the famous PTBNL and cash. The PTBNL doesn’t have to be decided on until June 15th, so I’m wondering if the Reds will give the Indians a couple of lists off of which to choose prospects at that time based on Phillips’ plate appearances to that point. That is, if he has 200 plate appearances, the Indians pick from List A, if he has 100 to 200 PA’s, they choose from List B, and so on. Remeber that Coco Crisp was the PTBNL in the Chuck Finley deal, so you never know.

How far did Phillips’ star fall in 3 ½ years? He went from being the main component of a trade for a 20 game winner to being traded for a PTBNL to a team that has a glut of middle infielders (Felipe Lopez, Ryan Freel, Rich Aurilia, and Tony Womack). Why the Reds made this trade is beyond me. I guess that they are trying to accumulate as many middling middle infielders that they can to go with their awful starting pitching and all-or-nothing outfielders.

The best comment that I’ve heard on the trade is an e-mail I got this morning from my buddy, who’s a big Reds fan and whose father covered the Big Red Machine for a Dayton paper. His comment? Simply, “UGH”. He, like most, wonder how the trade helps the Reds and where new GM Wayne Krivsky thinks he’s going to find AB’s for Phillips. Looks like the dawn of a new era for baseball in the Queen City. No wait, it doesn’t.

This MLB Extra Innings preview is phenomenal as I got to watch Jon Garland get pounded by the Royals (!) last night to the tune of 9 runs in 5 1/3 innings as the White Sox lost to the Royals(!), and Joe Blanton and Felix Hernandez square off in the late game.

The true comedy comes, though, from watching the advertising campaigns for teams that don’t really have a lot to get excited about on their local telecasts. My favorite so far is the Baltimore commercial to introduce the game that highlights Leo Mazzone and how he’s going to bring the glory back to the Orioles’ rotation. The ensuing first inning included Daniel Cabrera walking 6 (yes, 6) batters in the first inning, en route to giving up 14 runs to the BoSox. You can’t make stuff like that up.

Incidentally, Las Vegas currently lists the Tribe as a 12-1 bet to win the World Series behind (in order) the Yankees, Cardinals, White Sox, Mets, Red Sox, and A’s; they are slightly higher than the Angels.

In lieu of the chores I should be doing prior to the game today, you can find me at Malley’s, loading up on Pronk candy bars.

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