Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lazy Sunday at the Precipice

Anyone else feel like the calendar just flipped to December 24th, with Opening Day merely a day away? With said Opener scheduled (the forecast looks a little wet, but not too cold) to start at 3:05 tomorrow, let’s leap headlong into a Lazy Sunday full of team previews and predictions from “All the News that’s Fit to Link”:

We’ll start out with the WWL’s Preview of the Tribe, with the Indians getting lots of love from the Boys in Bristol. Interestingly, the writers whom I have the most respect for (Olney Kurkjian, and Gammons…not shown on this page because it’s probably an Insider thing) all have the Tribe winning the Central.
Double huzzah for Steve Phillips not picking the Tribe to win the Central…despite having the “best LHP in MLB, Cliff Lee” (something Phillips said not 2 ½ years ago, to which Harold Reynolds correctly responded that he wasn’t even the best LHP on his TEAM) filling the 5th spot in the rotation.
For kicks, check out Stark’s Detroit preview and try to figure out how he has the Tigers finishing 1st in the Central with 92 wins and the Indians 2nd with 93 wins. He must know something that is being grumbled and rumbled about that allows the Tigers to finish first despite fewer wins.

If the Stark thing didn’t give you a chuckle, check this out to see how ESPN has no idea how to get a handle on this whole blogosphere idea and how to harness the opinions of the masses, putting forth their “fan preview”.

Lindy’s has an exhaustive look at the Tribe roster, including some sort of grading scale that I have no interest in learning…but the compilation of statistics is excellent.

Anthony Castrovince of has a nice, succinct season preview that I have to agree with on most, if not all, accounts.

Jay Levin of the LGT correctly identifies the potential pitfalls of the 2008 Tribe in the frighteningly titled, “Why We’ll Lose” with a phenomenal #10 reason. I promise to add “Why We’ll Win” (and, we will) as soon as it is posted...and here it is.

Ken Rosenthal picks Pronk as his AL Comeback Player of the Year…you can read for yourself which NL player he feels will be the best player traded at the deadline because that horse has been beaten to death, buried, exhumed, and beaten to death again.

Rosenthal also has a pretty unorthodox World Series pick and doesn’t go with the Tribe as he feels that the 2007 innings will take their toll on C.C. and Fausto and that the bullpen is unlikely to duplicate their success of a year ago. Certainly a valid concern, as are all of his points about every team having some flaws, but the Braves to win it all? At least Rosenthal has a sense of humor about it.

From the local fishwraps comes the PD’s preview, which they’ve been touting all week as an 18-page preview of the Tribe season. On my doorstep this morning, however, was an 18-page excuse for advertising multiple car dealerships, with a bit of baseball thrown in. I’ve wondered this before, but why do they compile all this stuff in one day…is it really to sell ad space for a special section to sell to Brunswick Auto Mart, Bob Serpentini, Lifestyle Furniture and the like? Maybe it just upsets me as it contains such a cursory look at the Indians, but perhaps that’s what Joe Six-Pack wants…if he can get a deal on a car in the process, all the better.

Off my soapbox, the PD preview does have some quality from the usual source (steady-as-a-rock Terry Pluto) and a surprising source (an excellent column from Bud Shaw), while Paul Hoynes identifies players that need to step up for the Tribe to win a World Series. How many players does he identify? Try 10, or 40% of the roster…can we just say that the whole team needs to step up with a straight face?
Finally, Hoynes hits up his AL and NL team capsules, with his Phillies capsule starting out that “If Manuel could find another starter or two for the rotation, behind #1 starter Freddy Garcia…” with a picture of Garcia to the left, to which I would direct Hoynes to the news that The Chief isn’t on the Phillies roster and went 1-5 with a 5.90 ERA for the Phils last year, who somehow went to the playoffs DESPITE Garcia’s absence.
Does this oversight completely throw anything that Hoynes writes about teams not named the Indians into question…or does it force the inclusion of anything that he writes about the Tribe as well? You can decide for yourself.

From the ABJ, Pat McManamon debunks the “window is rapidly closing on these Indians’” myth that has been making its rounds in some Tribe previews, most notably by Ben Reiter in Sports Illustrated.

A couple of cubicles away from Pat McManamon(I assume), Sheldon Ocker takes the opportunity of more eyes on his writing (due to Opening day being a day away) to once again cement his position as the President of Pettiness and the King of Condescension in his mailbag.
Another sparkling Season Preview (I’m not linking it, by the way) for Socker.

If you’re interested, “60 Minutes” is doing a feature tonight on the Godfather of Sabermetrics, Bill James, which (if you’re unfamiliar with it) will likely open your eyes to a movement and a line of thinking that’s embraced in the Tribe Front Office, among other places. The commercials during the NCAA tournament, though, about the piece being about “the man who helped the Red Sox win the World Series” just pour salt into a wound that was healing quite nicely.

Finally, my thoughts and prayers go out to the Diamondbacks’ Doug Davis, who has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Having an intimate knowledge of the prognosis, I’m hoping that his progression and recovery from the diagnosis is as good as the one that has been experienced by others.

It’s getting closer…tick, tick, tick.
I hope I can sleep tonight.

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