Though that title may lead you to believe that I’m finally going to weigh in on the dismissal of Manny Acta from Thursday, it actually refers to someone else exiting stage left, as I’ve decided to walk away from writing about the Indians on these Interwebs on a permanent basis. While I know that I took some “time off” last off-season and there will be those that will only believe there will be permanence to this when they fail to see 3,000 words from these fingers flying at them every couple of days, the time for me to move on from this endeavor has arrived.
Maybe you could posit that this is the product of the apathy that has set in around the fanbase regarding the organization, particularly after seeing a fanciful alternate universe presented (tongue firmly in cheek) this week by AC , but the greater truth is that I’ve reached a point in my life in which this no longer fits neatly – or even messily – into any part of it. I suppose that I could continue on in some fashion on a part-time basis, but (as you may have noticed) I generally either go all-in (inexplicably finding 4K words on bullpen usage) or simply pull the band-aid right off.
So as the band-aid is torn off, the end has arrived for me, some 7+ years after sending out the following e-mail to 11 of my buddies, prior to the 2005 season:
That question of “Too much time on my hands?” is particularly fun to look at in hindsight as each of those 11 people (plus me) have seen their lives change drastically from that time and the evolution of my life and the involvement of this website is something that I need to stop intertwining. Interestingly, that missive was saved by the person who set up this site (Tim Bennett…or “t-bone” as he’s known in these parts) on a laptop over beers and wings one night at the Lakewood Winking Lizard and, after a site redesign a few years later by Joe Popa (a Tribe fan in Chicago who worked in Graphic Design with my sister), this place evolved into a corner of the Internet that I hope attempted to inject logic, analysis, and humor into following our Cleveland Indians. Starting with the days in which I used to write as “Pat Tabler” as my nom de plume (before a cease-and-desist request from Bob DiBiasio, who was somehow afraid that people would think that the REAL Pat Tabler was pounding out thousands of words on Ben Broussard and Jason Davis on a bi-weekly basis) through the evolution of this site through these last 8 seasons, we’ve had happy days and sad ones, hopeful days and dark ones, but as Tribe fans we always soldiered on, connected by our complicated collective love of baseball and our (sometimes misguided and often unrequited) love of our Tribe.
Realizing that this is a place that many come to parse through the happenings at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario, with a particularly major announcement coming earlier in the week, you can read this enlightening piece from B-Pro’s John Perrotto, in which he interviewed the now-deposed Manny Acta for some insight. In it, Acta says (in part) that, “When people say pitching and defense wins championships, it doesn’t mean bullpen and defense…when people talk about pitching and defense, they mean starting pitching, too, and our guys haven’t stepped up and gotten it done this season.” Or you can read the piece from SI.com’s Jay Jaffe that listed Acta as on the “hot seat”, with Jaffe positing that, “there’s little debate that a team with a young core featuring Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo should be more competitive”, then going further to say that, “Antonetti and club president Mark Shapiro bear some of the blame for the dismal showing, but it’s not on them to keep players engaged on a day-to-day basis…such a slide may suggest that the players have stopped responding to Acta.” And that last bit is something that’s interesting to consider given Castrovince’s nugget that “several hours after the news of his dismissal had gone public, Acta had only heard from one of his players offering condolences” as it goes back to whether the talent on hand was flawed on the development of that talent was lacking or both. But that will all come out in the wash, as will the new manager for the Tribe – be it Sandy Alomar without the interim tag or with Terry Francona stepping back into the managerial fray – and I’m not going to be doing the one doing the laundry anymore. Because my days of dropping block quotes between run-on sentences flush with too many parentheticals and dashes that would make my any English teacher I’ve ever had shudder have ended.
That said, realizing that this place has evolved into something that I have grown very proud of and want it to continue as a small corner of logic and thoughtfulness in an ocean of overreaction, vitriol, and worse, The DiaTribe will continue as Al Ciammaichella has agreed to captain this ship on a full-time basis, with the idea that some other people may come on to help Al from time to time because…well, because this is a lot to handle for just one person at any stage of their life. Be assured that Al will continue the high level of analysis and writing (spreading his wings from just writing about the Minors) that he’s exhibited here in the past and – if others were to hop aboard – they would be equally impressive as I’m not about to water down the level of discourse that I like to think that has been achieved here.
This has been an amazing experience as I’ve met countless people through my writing that I now count among some of my closest friends and I’m constantly humbled when I meet (in real life) a reader who recognizes my name, casually asks if I’m the Paul Cousineau that writes about the Indians, then spends the next 20 minutes talking Tribe with me. Whether it’s happened at a wedding (in front of The DiaBride, who stood there…mouth agape) or at a tee-ball game for my oldest son, where his coach professed to be a regular reader, I’ve been nothing but amazed that me putting my pen to paper – so to speak – those 7+ years ago allowed me these opportunities and this experience.
Though I’ve never been the most…um, interactive writer (and even in the Twitter Age, there is something about limiting my thoughts to 140 characters that I still am unable to do) on the Internet, the contributions of the serial commenters and the e-mails that I get from readers brought me great pleasure as it afforded me the opportunity to engage with a very smart, very tuned-in faction of a fanbase that I’ve lost hope in too many times to count, thinking that they’d been dumbed-down by the coverage by the mainstream media of this team and the blood-sucking vapidity of sports talk radio, too eager to focus on the negative and not to enjoy baseball for what it is – a diversion that is meant to provide an escape and some level of enjoyment, even if the performance on the field makes that difficult at times.
Ultimately though, sports – and specifically for me, baseball – is something to enjoy and to appreciate. And while disappointment is burned into our DNA as Tribe fans, that sense of enjoying a game as simply a place to lose yourself for a short time is at the heart of my love for this game and for this team. And that enjoyment, that love, that passion that I think came across in my writing, is the same love that I hope to pass on to my children, the way that my parents did to me. And that’s where my true passion is – and always has been – with my wonderful and growing children and with my loving and lovely wife (who has been called The DiaBride to her face too many times for me to count), who encouraged me throughout this endeavor, never asking that I take a break or that I stop writing about the Indians (still) because she knew how much I enjoyed it. With my children getting older and getting (more) involved in their own sports and with my (real) job growing in wonderful ways that I would have never dreamed possible, the time has come for me to get my enjoyment from the things that please me most – my family and then…somewhere WAY down the line, the Indians.
That’s not to say that I’ve given up on this team or this organization as others have (particularly as of late), just to say that I won’t be banging out thousands of words as my catharsis for watching this game. Those thousands (maybe hundreds) of words will instead be articulated with my family down at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.
So I hope to see you there sometime soon, I thank you for reading the thoughts of a slightly-obsessed (never at a loss for words) former member of the Little Indians Fan Club, and, as always, Go Tribe…