Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tomahawks in the Heat

As the heat we’ve been watching for the last few nights has apparently settled up on the North Coast, let’s open up the cooler for some…what else…tomahawks:

Is this Texas Rangers squad a John Hart built-team or what?
Don’t tell me that Jon Daniels is the GM and not Hart, because Hart is somewhere on a golf course, pulling the strings on his marionette in the offices in Arlington.
Texas averages 5.54 runs a game, while the next most potent AL offenses, Boston (almost a full ½ run less at 5.06) Minnesota, and Detroit (both nearly a full run behind the Rangers at 4.69 runs a game) simply pale in comparison to the output of the Texas lineup so far this year. Meanwhile, their pitching has posted a team ERA of 5.10, far and away the worst in the AL.
Sound familiar, Tribe fans? It should.

After watching three games in the bandbox in Arlington, with the ball shooting out of the park or pushed by a blustery wind from the Texas plains, how terrifying would it be if this was the team (playing in this stadium) that you had to watch every night? No lead is safe as every ½ inning you spend enjoying offensive fireworks is followed by gut-wrenching ½ innings where you just sit and hope that the opposing team doesn’t put multiple runs up on the board. Say what you will about how some people feel that a 2-1 game is “boring” (I don’t), but the stress of watching your starting pitcher get blown up night after night by the 3rd inning, followed by seeing the bullpen douse the flame in gasoline is something my stomach simply couldn’t handle.
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As one who was openly critical of Mr. C.P. Lee last year as he (gasp) went after Victor in the tunnel and doffed his hat to the booing crowd in his last start last year, I know that it is hypocritical to say that I was loving the fire in his belly last night...but I did. In case you missed it, he got squeezed on a few pitches by the umpire in the 5th, which ended up with the Rangers being able to plate their 6th run, tying the game before Cliff got the third out of the inning…effectively ending his night.

On the way off the mound, though, Lee had some choice words for Home Plate Ump Tim Timmons, saying them in the fashion that Kevin Garnett made famous – staring straight ahead, screaming obscenities directed at the target while not looking specifically at the target. Getting to the dugout, though, Cliff showed that he was just getting started in on Timmons, pacing the dugout like a caged lion, alternating between muttering to himself and stepping back up to the top step to share his thoughts with Timmons. To say it was not a PG-rated affair would be an understatement as the rest of the Indians kind of sat there like the crowd of kids around Ralphie in a “Christmas Story” wailing on Scott Farkas, vitriol spewing from his mouth.

After Lee decided briefly that the drink cooler would be his sparring partner, The Looch pulled him aside and had some words with him, which settled him down…to a degree. The camera continued to cut to Lee, with his eyes wide and his expression one of incredulous anger that Timmons could do that to him. It was like Lee’s lunch money had been stolen and he was just pacing the schoolyard trying to come to grips with what had just happened to him.

My first thought was that the Indians’ offense had better do something to get Lee’s mind off of this or Cliff was going to go George Brett-Pine Tar berserk on Timmons (yes, he looked THAT upset). Now, not to rip off the old play-by-play or anything, but here’s how the Indians’ offense (admittedly helped by some sloppy Rangers’ defense)reacted in the top of the 6th:
Carroll reached on infield single to second.
Sizemore flied out to center
Francisco singled to left, Carroll to second.
Carroll to third, Francisco to second on wild pitch by Ramirez
Martinez walked
Garko singled to center, Carroll and Francisco scored, Martinez to second
Peralta flied out to left
Dellucci homered to right, Martinez and Garko scored
Blake singled to center
Choo struck out swinging


And the death blow was struck.
Around the time that Garko hit his single, the camera cut to Andy Marte mugging with the Caged Lion, trying to get him to smile…somewhat unsuccessfully. After the Dellucci dong, the camera caught a calm Lee pleading his case to C.C. on the top step, decidedly more reserved and rational than he had been mere moments earlier.

What’s the point of all of this, other than that C.C. is the calming presence on this team, all 300+ cuddly pounds of him? Not having any idea of whether emotional outbursts like this have happened behind closed doors, this meltdown came in full view of the cameras and lent an idea as to how a group of players can feed of the emotion (however unstable that emotion may be) of one player to get some life back into a tenuous situation. Obviously, the Tribe offense had been experiencing success in the Rangers’ series prior to that moment, but it seemed that Lee’s emotion spurred the team onto putting the game ostensibly out of reach (no matter how hard the wind was blowing out).

Regardless of whether it was a mere coincidence or there is some relation between the two events, emotion has seemed in short supply on this team (publicly at least) and seeing the emotion of Lee (which had seemed so erratic in years’ past because it was triggered by his failure, not the failure of others…in this case the ump) was a welcome respite from watching a team that looked like it was going through the motions, convinced that they would simply emerge from their doldrums by “grinding through it”.

Whether or not the moment represented something more than just an isolated display or emotion or it becomes a turning point in the season to rally around will be determined in the coming weeks; but for last night, it was good to see the flame of Lee’s temper light a fire under the team.
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Realizing fully that the Indians are playing the Rangers in a stadium with what seem to be Little League dimensions and a stiff wind at their back, how do these numbers strike you for the last 7 days for the Tribe offense:
Frank the Tank – 1.345 OPS
Lacey Cake – 1.340 OPS
The BLC – 1.250 OPS
The Looch – 1.165 OPS
SuperSizemore – 1.156 OPS
The Ben Francisco Treat – 1.059 OPS
Asdrubal – .957 OPS
Gark – .915 OPS
Small sample size be damned. If everyone’s going to complain about the Indians’ offense being in a tailspin for weeks, nay months, at a time…can we just sit back and enjoy those numbers instead of playing the “Yeah, but…” game?

I’m really enjoying this Chootierrez kid in RF, by the way.
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Does anyone else feel an irrational amount of optimism that Rick Bauer is coming to save our bullpen? I know that he’s failed to stick on teams desperate for pitching (Baltimore and Texas) and that Jack Bauer of “24” fame is a fictional character so they couldn’t be related, but I can’t help but let my imagination fly.

Stay with me on this – Bauer dominates hitters, moving further and further into the back end of the bullpen, culminating in his ascent to closer. After he thrusts himself in to the closer role, the scene is set at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. As the bottom of the 9th starts, the JumboTron says (in “24” style) “Previously in 2008”, followed by the montage of highlights (that will be supplied in the next few weeks as Rick Bauer becomes a beguiling combination of Trevor Hoffman and Mo Rivera), ending in “The Following Takes Place Between the 24th and the 27th out” (whether or not Kiefer Sutherland would say that is up in the air), closing out with the digital “24” on the scoreboard.
My heart is pounding already…
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Off to Detroit this weekend for Saturday’s game. As I’ve never been to The D (unless you count driving through en route to some bachelor parties in Windsor), I'd appreciate any input as to places to go or places to eat. I’m staying at the Downtown Marriot (which I understand to be a couple of miles away from Comerica), and I figure that the casinos are a given, but anything else is appreciated.

By the way, had the Red Wings not pulled off Game 6 last night, Game 7 of the NHL Finals was scheduled for Saturday night in Detroit...let’s just say, I was disappointed by the results as the general debauchery I was looking forward to has already occurred.

Nevertheless, the “Suggestion Box” is open.

11 comments:

Rockdawg said...

One of the best observations I've seen on Baseball Tonight in recent memory--As Cliff Lee turned and unloaded a nice, swift left hand on the cooler in the dugout last night (which, by the way, in a boxing match would have been a vicious body shot), one of the Baseball Tonight crew said, "Not with the left hand!" The fact that he used his left hand and absolutely pummeled that poor cooler shows that his fire is REAL...I never thought I would say this, but where would we be without Cliff Lee?

Can we PLEASE stop talking about trading CC?? I'll never understand why so many Cleveland fans are so anxious to trade our BEST PLAYER. Maybe we should look into trading Lebron before he goes to New York for some D-Leaguers, or perhaps get rid of Braylon while he still has value??

Rockdawg said...

Also, couldn't help notice that Peralta left NINE runners on base last night. Maybe he should pull the old Rudy Stein and just lean into one when runners are on.

rodells said...

rock,

Nobody is anxious to do anything. If Shapiro and the gang are not doing their jobs (preparing in every way for every situation), then I say show them the door. Most of us on the innernets are couch GMs trying to accomplish these things (forecasting, analyzing, etc) on a MUCH smaller scale. Should they hang up the phone when an inquiry comes in from another org regarding CC? Or delete an email from a left coast GM when the subject is Sabathia? I sure as hell hope not. So let's talk about the possibilities, that's all.

BTW, podcast reborn yet?

t-bone said...

PC, I'm heading up too. Let's do this.

Jon said...

Detroit resident / Tribe fan here with a couple of recommendations for you. Your hotel is close to Greektown (where one of the casinos is) and there are some good restaurants along there (Fishbones, pretty much any of the Greek places). Jacoby's on Brush is a great bar with live music upstairs. It's right up the block from Sweetwater Tavern which has good bbq. The best bbq I've found is at Slows on Michigan a few blocks past old Tiger Stadium, which is worth a trip to see before it's (finally) torn down.

Other places that are good:
Tom's Oyster Bar (Jefferson), Small Plates (on Broadway) next to Detroit Beer Co which is also good, Oslo for sushi (Woodward), American Coney Island (Michigan). Hockeytown (woodward across from the park) can be fun sometimes. Fifth Avenue (in the stadium) can be good for postgame celebrations.

There are a bunch of bars and clubs between your hotel, Greektown and the stadiums. The weather should be nice this weekend so there will be a good number of people around and you'll be able to tell which ones look worthwhile or not.

Have fun!

Paul Cousineau said...

Jon,
Thanks for the feedback. We'll definitely take you up on some of those suggestions.

Looking forward to it!

Rockdawg said...

Listen, I'm not saying we shouldn't always "listen" to offers from other clubs (that would just be igonrant). But CC is the heart and soul of this ballclub, and there is no telling what the value is on that. As PC correctly pointed out, C.C. is the calming presence on this team, and he's given us SO much for so long...I just don't see why we would ship him out so early in the year. All of the constant media attention (and blogger attention alike) has got to have some impact on the Big Fella, much like CSU's "positive vibe theory". That is why I don't like constantly discussing it.

Cy Slapnicka said...

agreed, can we talk about something else...anything else? its pointless to talk about now the first week of june.

csusi said...

Lets talk about bettancourt and how much youd pay to take a swing at him.

Chris said...

Wedge and Shapiro do not like players with emotion. They prefer hypnotized or -- preferably -- lobotomized players who "trust the process" quietly and without display.

rodells said...

Rock...again, nobody is anxious to do anything. You are not seeing my point.

Cy...pointless, I'll disagree.

We'll wait till July 9th to appease the masses here.



Time to go get out of that 2.5 month rut. Let's go!