Tuesday, May 27, 2008

As Good As It Gets?

After spending a weekend away from Cleveland and only seeing the Tribe slip to 4 ½ games out of the lead from afar, The DiaBride and I lined up the babysitter and headed down for some good old fashioned American fun on Memorial Day – a baseball game with dollar dogs and fireworks. With the Indians scuffling as they had and with answers at a premium, I thought I’d just sit and enjoy the game, regardless of the outcome and revel in a beautiful night at the ballpark.

The game started innocently enough with Byrd working his way out of a jam, giving up only one run early after loading the bases with no outs and Dellucci evening the score with a 1st inning bomb. The Indians were hitting and playing good defense (thankfully, I was out of town for the Francisco “through the wickets play”, though being the glutton for punishment that I am I watched it on the replayed game on Monday afternoon) as the Tribe mounted scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity, only to come up that ONE hit short from breaking the game open. It would come, though, right? The law of averages almost dictated that somebody (ANYBODY) had to poke a seeing-eye single at some point to plate some runs.

But, alas, they didn’t…and as the frustration mounted over the amount of runners being left on base (they finished with 13 team LOB after stranding 11 runners on Sunday), an awful feeling crept into my head – the one I’ve been trying to avoid for about three weeks now. That nagging thought that I’ve buried in the deep recesses of my brain kept popping back again and again as the Indians squandered chance after chance and the crowd of 31,006 sat quietly, waiting to erupt.

After the 8th inning though, with runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out when Cabrera then Sizemore whiffed to go meekly into the night, the thought finally passed through my lips:
“What if this is as good as it gets?”

What if these players aren’t going to trend back to their career numbers?
What if platooning is not the answer to get some of these guys back into the groove?
What if the offensive deficiencies on the ballclub are just that – deficiencies, and not aberrations?
What if Pronk simply doesn’t exist anymore and Garko and Peralta never take that next step as hitters?
What if Grady is what he is, and doesn’t have that “next level” in him?
What if the toll on Victor’s body after years of catching have robbed him of his power, leaving him only with the quick hands of the OBP machine he seems to be?
What if the youngsters that we had high hopes for (Cabrera and Gutierrez) are nothing more than defensive specialists?
What if Francisco and Aubrey arrived from the minors hot, something that won’t last forever?

My head was spinning as the Tribe stranded two more in the 10th…all the analysis that this offense would perform at a league average level (which is all they need to do), all of the patience that I’ve been preaching that this team is built on pitching and a marginal offense was going to be undone by an offense that would struggle to be characterized as “marginal” on their best day…with no obvious answers or easy fixes.

The DiaBride saw my bewildered look, reminded me of the time (it was a school night for the sitter and it was creeping up on 11:00 PM) and convinced me to hit the road…which surprisingly didn’t take much convincing given the pit in my stomach. As we exited the park (around the area cordoned off for fireworks), the groans emanating from the park told us all we needed to know. Back at the car, Hamilton laid out the ugly turn of events and we drove home in a much more somber tone than we would have liked.

While I’m not ready to throw in the towel (did I mention my affinity for punishment and disappointment?), this team wide offensive mediocrity (if it can even be called mediocre) has reached the breaking point. The Indians began what looked like a favorable stretch of their schedule a few Fridays ago in Cincinnati, playing the Reds, the White Sox, and the Rangers to start it…and have responded by going 1-9 in their first 10 games of that stretch? Now they find themselves in the middle of the White Sox series, looking as helpless and toothless as they have for weeks, if not months, now offensively.

That nagging question that is now out there, like a word balloon in a comic strip, continues to hang in the air – what if this IS the Indians’ offense and that the in-house players are simply incapable of “grinding” through this or mounting any kind of semblance of an offense on a nightly basis? The question is a scary one, that’s growing sharper teeth with each passing day.

If this truly is “as good as it gets”, the Indians are going to find themselves buried in a hurry in an AL Central, regardless of what the calendar says, where the White Sox look ready for a run (thanks to continually playing the Tribe) and the Indians’ hitters looking more pathetic by the day.


Cy Slapnicka said...

here's a thought, maybe lee didn't sell his soul to the devil at the crossroads? perhaps he was offered this deal: you get a cy young season and the bats don't hit. it won't matter for you, as you'll be giving up zero runs and pitching complete games. your team may not win, as all of their collective karma will be used up by your fastballs on the black, however you will have a season to remember.

based on how his career was trending, his attitude last year, and the fact that victor martinez has zero home runs, i can only assume this is completely plausible explanation.

you know its bad when my white sox fan coworkers have stopped making fun of me...

Les Savy Ferd said...

looking at the standings, all i can say is that i'm glad the scufflings are in the AL Central. although, if we were not, would things be more dire/would changes be made earlier?

also on a completely non-baseball topic, watching the game last night on chicago sports network (and i realize the camera-dude wasn't just filming blindly) but there is something to be said for the aesthetic pleasantries of fair sex in the crowd. Cleveland, you are doing well for yourself.

csusi said...

Paul, you shattered my heart. Youve always been one that i can retreat to and grasp an encouraging word from, boosting my spirits and causing me to "keep on keeping on". And then this. sigh......

with that, i make these bold predictions:

1. tonight, we score at least 8 runs.
2. victor has his first homerun
3. we win
4. this game will mark the turning point of the season.

laugh it up and say im crazy, but ive got my reasons.

let it begin.
48&08- the wait is over.

get ya head in the game PC. get pissed. its go time.

Joshua Whitman said...

I just got an email from indians.com asking me to vote for All-Stars. Any suggestions on which Indians I should vote for?


t-bone said...

Josh, at the game Sunday I wrote Francisco in twice... then the ball went through his wickets. I was almost tempted to bust open the ballot box to rescind my vote.

Off to the Jake for the 3rd time in 4 days. Optimism shrinking here as well...

Cy Slapnicka said...

thats funny, i get those emails too. asking me to buy stuff, vote for indians, telling me about ticket promotions, etc. in fact, i just forwarded one to our fearless leader last week. maybe they should set up their email server to notify me when they start hitting, b/c i stopped checking box scores.

and speaking of that all star voting email, vote pronk? seriously? i know mlb controls a lot of the .com environment for teams, but someone's (either mlb or indians) marketing department deserves an award for that one.

Paul Cousineau said...

Even I have my limit and last night was it. The frustration was just too much for the feeling not to overcome the optimism and hope that I cling to.

I bleed too, man.

Les Savy Ferd said...

grand slam! on the tv! just a moment ago! by the indians! also, double plays and solid defense and heads up baseball...

man, this feels good.

Cy Slapnicka said...

paul, i think something is wrong with your blog. comments from 2007 suddenly started appearing in the comments section.

Joshua Whitman said...


Powerball is at 25 million tomorrow. I need five numbers and a Powerball number. Any suggestions? Keep in mind I'm in PA.


csusi said...

Ill take 3 of 4 on the predictions. But you cant tell me that when victor came up in the 6th with a guy on 2nd and 3rd, you didnt think it was gone. The season is turned around fellas. Dont tell me you dont feel it.Get pumped. Its go time. Champions.


Paul Cousineau said...

Color me impressed csusi.
Your patience and foresight are what I needed to see before I sat down for the game.

Let's hope you're right about the turnaround. The looseness of the team and the fact that they benefitted from the crazy plays sure felt good.

BTW, I did think Vic was going yard in the 6th.

csusi said...

Atta boy PC. Re-focused and ready. Out of all the good that took place tonight, what felt the best was seeing everybody smiling in the dugout, looking loose and excited. I know it sounds a little mushy, but it was a good sight. Alright, ive used up my time on this post and ran my mouth plenty. Until tomorrow.

Lovin it

Anonymous said...

How freaking many more times are we gonna lets these goons bean us before we get some serious retaliation? Gut is now listed day-to-day from the nasty whack he took on the knee. Our pitchers need to take some back...and soon...

Joshua Whitman said...

Hey is that JoeBo in header graphic or did my wife spike my coffee?

Halifax said...

OK, in honor of Adam Miller being done for the year (again), I need a baseball genius to figure out how we can trade the oft-injured one to the Rangers for their oft-injured Hank Blalock, who appears to no longer be in their long-range plans according to some reports.

Can we deal Andy Marte (before he gets DFA'd), Trevor Crowe and a PTBNL for a Rangers' PTBNL (Blalock) so we can actually deal these two jokers and include Marte in the deal?

Sounds great to me, I am now convinced that Miller will never make it. Seems to me damaged goods and disappointments all around, how can either team lose that deal?

Rockdawg said...

How does Victor not get that call at home...I think we can take SOME positives out of this series though.

Baseball "guru" Steve Phillips when asked about the race in the AL Central, "The Indians and the Tigers need to win some games to keep pace with the White Sox, or else the Sox are going to run away with the division." I'm sorry, that is simply not analysis. Just when I was thinking about giving Baseball Tonight another chance.

csusi said...

The white sox cant make it. There is nothing impressive about their team besides Quentin and Crede's glove. They're where they're at because of how pitiful the rest of the division is playing. And im a believer that where the division is right now wont have the same look at seasons end. BUT, if the division was to for some horrible reason stick this way, they would be crushed in post-season play. The wont make it.

in addition:

The worst is watching Ozzie, sit back with his arrogance spitting sunflower seeds thinking he's a re-incarnation of sparky/lasorda/and la russa rolled into a package.

He's got it coming.

Ryan said...

"Several minutes after talking to reporters, Betancourt could be heard screaming in the showers. It sounded like furniture was being thrown around."

At least I wasn't the only one doing some remodeling after the game.

Les Savy Ferd said...

well, at least the past sequence of games can be described as somewhat of a roller-coaster instead of a flat out crap-coaster.

(my word verification is 'frive' or 'how many games the indians are back in the Central')

Halifax said...

Interesting tidbit:

To make room for Wandy Rodriguez's return from the DL tonight, the Astros designated reliever Dave Borkowski for assignment. They also signed righty Jorge Sosa to a minor league deal.

Borkowski, 31, makes $800K this year. His 2.67 K/BB (21 innings) this year wasn't bad, but he allowed too many hits and home runs.

So the Tribe could pick up Borkowski "The Set" to tag team with "The Close" and we can have two guys who let too many guys on base and give up too many homers.

So JoBo and DaBo combine with the "Fist of Iron" and the "Fist of Furniture Tossing" to comprise the league's most dangerous bullpen.

Les Savy Ferd said...

that is hilarious.

Anonymous said...

If you want to get real Dickensian about it, we're poor and getting poorer. As a result of the aggressive prospect promotion schedule, this team doesn't really have any position player talent to speak of due before mid-2010 at the earliest, save Jordan Brown -- and he's not going to save the team, even in a best-case scenario. Whatcha see is whatcha get ... for 3 more years. An arms-and-gloves ballclub: It's like all those years of making fun of the Twins have caught up with me.