Friday, August 31, 2007

Another Night, Another Win, and Another JoBo Debacle

First off, nobody has a better brother than I do. The state of Michigan's #1 Indians fan kept me abreast of the situations via text messages through my business dinner last night. I read the articles and saw the highlights online here at Midway Airport in Chicago - yes, holiday weekend travel has already cost me another classic two-hour delay. But I digress. A few weeks back, the Indians were slumping badly and MD had written me an email saying "its time to get back on the blog - they've gone into the tank since you retired." Well look back at it. Could it be Asdrubal Cabrera's spark (now 11-3 since he was moved into the starting lineup) or my mad writing skills (9-2 since the blog) that have pushed the Tribe? Regardless, The Tribe is hotter than Christina Aguilera (I love her).

Last night, rookie Aaron Laffey pitched well again, but lost his chance for a W thanks to an off night from Raffy Perez. After Ryan Garko's big two out RBI double to give the Tribe a 5-4 lead, Tribe fans were lucky enough to witness the crazy train that is a Joe Borowski ninth inning blown save. That was the bad news - the good news was that thanks to three walks and a hit batter, the Tribe came out with a 6-5 win. Mariners Reliever and former Indian Rick White brought his gas can out for the ninth and handed the Tribe its sixth straight win. Make sure you follow the link below and listen to Tribe play by play man Tom Hamilton's call of the bases loaded, game winning walk by Kenny Lofton. His quote was "The Indians win, and Rick White hasn't changed."

Classic Hamilton

So being in Chicago, I was able to have an eye on the TV in the bar which was playing the Browns pre-season tilt against the Bears. You know how I feel about pre-season football, but since this is a blog about all of my four teams, I have to give you a couple of Browns takes and links.

1. I'm now convinced more than ever that Derek Anderson is going to go from the leader to start the season at QB to released by next week. Brady Quinn will be #2 and the well-liked Ken Dorsey #3, thanks to Dorsey's professionalism and the fact that Quinn views him as his mentor. I'm very disappointed in Anderson - I loved his arm, but if you can't beat out Charlie Frye, you don't belong in the NFL.

2. Josh Cribbs returned a punt 70 yards for a TD. Looks like he has locked up that job. Mark my words - that won't last all season. He is a great Kick returner, but he is too afraid to get popped awaiting a punt.

3. There is serious depth in the secondary. #2 pick Eric Wright is going to start opposite Leigh Bodden at CB, Daven Holly is very solid as a nickel corner, veteran Kenny Wright was brought in but has been hurt, giving draft pick Brandon McDonald the opportunity to show what he can do. He snagged a spot last night by picking off two passes. Add in budding All-Pro Sean Jones and his ready for primetime cohort Brodney Pool and you've got the best unit on team.

4. I'm ready for real games. I'll be at the opener. Wouldn't miss it. My fantasy football draft is next Wednesday night. I pick #5. I'm taking whomever falls to me between Frank Gore and Joseph Addai.

5. Tim Couch has recently said he took HGH to try to recover quickly from his various injuries. Obviously, i didn't work - he got cut by the Jaguars in Training Camp. Don't feel too bad for Couch. I wouldn't mind his life. Being the #1 pick got him about $35 million guaranteed after the Browns picked up all of his options at the end of his run and he is married to Playboy Playmate of the year Heather Kozar.

6. I went to the Akron Beacon-Journal website to see if Terry Pluto had written anything about the games last night. Not only was their not any columns of his, but his name and archives have been removed. Sunday is his first day at the PD.

7. The Browns put hard-luck Center LeCharles Bentley on the PUP list. This buys them more time to see if he can get himself fully back. I hope he can. Nobody wanted to be a Brown more than Bentley and then he goes out and blows out his knee on the first play of the first practice last year. Not to mention his additional surgeries thanks to a staph infection.

Browns Win, Quinn Sharp
Browns Make Move With Bentley

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Detroit Panic City

I won't get greedy, but man am i loving this. After last night's 5-0 shutout loss to the Royals, the Tigers are 4.5 games behind the Tribe in the Central and the horse seems to be out of the barn. Panic is setting in in The D and the media and fans are piling on. Check out these examples:

Their young jewel left-hander Andrew Miller couldn't get out of the first inning, and according to Tiger schill Lynn Henning, Miller is on his way to being "re-assigned."
Tigers' Loss is Royally Frustraing

Ah, those Kitties, their position players are looking older by the minute. Gary Sheffield is on the DL and may not return the rest of the way, Kenny Rogers still has a sore elbow, but may try to test it tomorrow in a simulated game, and ole suck boy Lynn is jumping off the Pudge bandwagon.
Rogers to Test Sore Elbow
Is Pudge Worth It?

I'm shocked at this reaction. While the Indians are hot, winners in 10 of 13 since Asdrubal Cabrera took over second base, their jerseys still say "Cleveland" across the front. You know that means a monumental collapse could always just around the corner. C.C. Sabathia disagrees and is very confident in his team. He says "we're here to stay."

Four Times a Johan

I know that the Tribe didn't just beat the best pitcher in baseball for a fourth time, did they? That's right peeps, with tonight's loss, Johan Santana is now 14-10, and four of those losses are at the hands of your Cleveland Indians. If you missed the first inning (I watched it over a homemade Turkey Taco Salad which was the whup), than you missed all of the Tribe offense. Grady Sizemore lead off with a single and the phenom that is Asdrubal Cabrera, facing Santana for the first time in his career, treated Johan as if he was Jason Johnson and drilled a two run pizza to the left field bleachers. Just like that, its was 2-0. Two batter later, Vic Martinez crushed a solo pizza of his own. With two down, Franky G hit the first of his two doubles and was singled home by Kenny Lofton. Those for runs were all C.C. Sabathia and three relievers needed (or scored for that matter) to hold off the Twins 4-3 for a three game sweep.

Numbers and Notes to Consider:
  • The Tribe has won five straight and 10 of 13

  • Thanks to the Tigers mini-meltdown and if the Royals can hold a 5-0 7th inning lead (this was written before the game ended), the Indians could enjoying their largest lead of the season at 4.5 games.

  • Joe Borowski didn't give up a run tonight with a one run lead to notch his AL leading 39th save. If you would have told me in April that Borowski would be carrying a 5.53 ERA in late August, I would have said he'd be the long man.

  • Speaking of Jobo, per our stat guru Matt G: JoBo has 9 saves when he has given up a run. The reason is because Rafael Betancourt and Rafael Perez have handed him over two or three run leads by being lights out.

  • After over-using Raffy Perez, Eric Wedge was forced to go a different way for his 7th inning reliever as C.C. just didn't have his "A" stuff. Jenson Lewis responded with a 1-2-3 inning. Very encouraging.

  • AC played shortstop tonight giving Jhonny Peralta the night off. he made a play going to his right to start a 6-4-3 DP that was Omar-esque. This kid is something special. How many more days do I stroke this guy? Oh yeah, he went 2-4 again.

  • We are halfway done with my most important work week of my career. So far, so good. Tomorrow is the big meeting so I won't see any of the makeup game between the Tribe and Mariners. Aaron Laffey takes on Horacio Ramirez in a huge game for Seattle.

  • Vintage ESPN - Baseball Tonight led with a good 15 minutes on Yankees/Red Sox again. Such an old bit. The Mariners and Angels are in the middle of a huge series as well. I know, not sexy enough for the East Coast.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Riding the Borowski Roller Coaster

Since I'm in Toronto and was out with clients for the last six hours (classic of my boss once again), I didn't see a second of the game but was getting texts from MD and K and messages from Fritzer and Jer to keep me in the loop. The following text came from K right after the Tribe score two in the eighth to extend their lead to 6-3:

Thank God we got two there. We'll need that three run lead with Borowski coming in.

A win is a win, but why is it that Borowski continues to give up runs every single time? You think that's gonna fly come October? I certainly don't. But we are stuck with him people. How about he has 38 saves? 38! I don't know how he does it. The Tigers lost to Kansas City and the Tribe holds a 3.5 game lead now in the Central. Their biggest lead in ages. As Ags wrote to me in an email "Just when you think the Indians have fallen into the abyss, they go out and win 9 of 12."

Since I didn't see the game - here is some fill-in analysis from my stat guru Matt G:

Co-MVP's, Betancourt and Perez without hesitation.

Combined: 19 runs, 71 hits, 124Ks, 18 walks in 110 2/3 innings. (They do an advantage of only having to pitch partial initial innings on many occasions, but those are phenomenal numbers).

Please note that Borowski has given up 33 runs in 52 2/3 innings. But hey, we shouldn't be complaining, should we?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hand Chuck The Keys and More Random Musings

Ready for my Browns analysis? Well here it goes.... I can say I actually watched some of the Browns/Broncos preseason game after dinner Saturday night, strictly for blogging purposes of course. Mainly, I wanted to see what all of the fuss was about regarding our fair haired boy QB Brady Quinn. I watched his first two possessions and I have to admit, I came away very impressed. Facing the Broncos first team defense that includes all-pro corners Dre Bly and Champ Bailey, he showed a much better pocket presence than the other two schwag QB's who preceded him (Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson), a deft touch (especially on the over the middle pass to Kellen Winslow and the should-have-been TD to Joe Jurevicious), and a calm demeanor. I am not ready to drink the Kool-Aid yet, but he was much better than I anticipated.

The good news was that Charlie Frye allegedly looked good in his two first half drives, one leading to a Jamal Lewis TD run. Frye is starting to distance himself from the strong arm, weak-minded Anderson. He should get the nod for the opener against the Steelers September 9th, although the clown of a coach Romeo Crennel still won't anoint him #1. "Nothing's changed," Crennel said. "It's still a competition. It looks like we've got three quarterbacks. I like all three guys. It gives you more options." Lets call it what it is, Frye and Anderson are two guys who are lucky to be in the NFL, let alone vying for a starting spot. They are clearly just keeping the seat warm for Quinn.

The best sports writer in Cleveland,
Terry Pluto of the Akron Beacon-Journal (for 6 more days until he moves to the Cleveland Plain Dealer), wrote a spot-on column discussing the need for Frye to stay within himself and to use a determined Jamal Lewis as much as possible. He has looked faster than he has in years, and is motivated, playing on a one year deal and trying to jump-start his somewhat sputtering career. But as Pluto says, "With the Browns, it's always all quarterbacks, all the time."

I'm still sticking with my 5-11 tops prediction for this team, but is it possible they are moving in the right direction?

A few quick sports takes:

1. So Michael Vick plead guilty today and held a press conference. I have to admit, I thought he came off pretty well all things considered. He had me until he went to the "I've found Jesus" card. What a joke! Hey Mike, you and Jesus can have fun together in jail trading cigarettes for toilet paper.

2. Big turning point game tonight for the Yankees and Tigers tonight. The Yanks are fading fast in their chase of the AL East and are falling further behind the Mariners. Mike Mussina is pitching for his job tonight. The aging Moose has had only one good start in a month and that was against the monster bats of our beloved Cleveland Indians. The Tigers need this game to stay within two of the Tribe. Their pitchers are dropping like flies - with phenom and Tribe killer Jair Jurjjens heading to the DL with shoulder stiffness. LETS GO YANKEES.

3. Is anyone paying attention to Team USA in the tournament of the Americas basketball tournament? Me neither. All I know is that they are winning every game by 40 because they have two huge additions - Michael Redd and Jason Kidd. Talk about the two ideal players to put next to Lebron on the Cavs. Could you imagine having Redd instead of that scrub-dog Larry Hughes or having a point guard like Kidd running the show?

4. More baseball - how long before Ozzie Guillen fully implodes and quits on old man Reinsdorf?

5. The Tigers official scorer is an absolute clown. Last week with two out and nobody on, Sean Casey hit a grounder to first base and it was completely booted by Tribe First Baseman Victor Martinez. He was given a hit. WRONG. After a walk to Placido Polanco, Carlos Guillen crushed a Paul Byrd pitch for a three-run homer and all three runs were earned. Byrd deserved a better fate. But even a bigger joke was that Polanco's record-setting errorless streak seemingly came to an end Friday night after a first inning error. Unfathomably, the official scorer changed the error to First Baseman Marcus Thames THE NEXT DAY. Is that a joke? The guy should be fired for being such a homer. Yet another reason to hate that organization.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Royals Cooled by A.C.

That's right baby, when you are down to your last out, the tying run is on second, who would have thought the guy you want at the plate would be the kid Asdrubal Cabrera. AC has been up for a little over two weeks and has become not only a fixture at second base, but the spark this Tribe team has been sorely lacking. His energy is contagious. His hits are timely. His glove could be golden, and he may just be saving the Indians. Listen to manager Eric Wedge: "Asdrubal has given us a big boost. He's right in the middle of everything." Today, with the prospect of losing two of three to the last place Royals staring them in the face, AC came up huge again. His two out RBI single off of KC closer Joakim Soria scored Grady Sizemore to tie the game at three apiece. The Tribe later won it in the 11th thanks to two more big two-out hits by Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez to seal the 5-3 win. Even Joe Borowski obliged with a 1-2-3 11th for his 37th save. But i'm all about AC right now. The kid is hitting .318 and is currently hitting second between all stars Grady and Pronk. I love his short stroke and patience at the dish. Josh Barfield must be wondering about his future right about now.

  • Lost in today's win was once again a lack of hitting in the clutch. Yes, the Tribe had 14 hits, but 12 men were left on base, led by Kenny Lofton stranding four.

  • In the car on my way home from the "Taste of Legacy" (what a joke, I know), Casey Blake stepped up with a man on second and two outs. I turned to my wife and said "I'll bet my life he doesn't get a hit here...and FAKE DELIVERED! The good news, to quote Eddie Vedder, is that "I'm still alive."

  • Speaking of full disclosure, I won't lie - I wouldn't watch JoBo pitch the bottom of the 11th. I went outside and hung with my family on a blanket in the front yard. I checked my Blackberry for the final. Who needed to watch that?

  • I'm guessing you are looking for some Browns pre-season analysis after last night's game. You'll get some tomorrow when I get the chance.

  • The Tribe didn't gain any ground on the Tigers today as they beat the Yankees 5-4, but did you catch "The Savior" Joel Zumaya's act in the 8th after striking out A-Rod? What a punk ass loser - Screaming and fist pumping after doing what he is supposed to be doing. Don't worry Savior, you'll get yours soon enough.

Wedge Must be Reading This Blog

Do you think its possible? Sometimes I think I should be managing the Tribe. Almost as if he was listening to my suggestions, it looks as if Eric Wedge has found a lineup he may stick with for what he calls "a while." Moving Grady back to his customary leadoff spot paid immediate dividends when he doubled to leadoff the first. My main man AC - Asdrubal Cabrera, in the two spot where I asked for him to be, followed with a single and advanced to second on the throw home. Pronk was back hitting third and walked. Vic Martinez flip-flopped back with Hafner, doubled in the clean-up spot. After Ryan Garko's fly out (#5), Jhonny Peralta and Kenny Lofton followed with singles of their own. Putting Kenny in the 7 hole is akin to having a leadoff man at the bottom. With two out, Franky G doubled to score Peralta and Lofton giving the Tribe 5-0 lead before they even took the field. Shockingly enough, guess who made the last out of the inning with a man in scoring position? Our favorite whipping boy Casey Fake. The cherry on top of the sundae is that Casey the Dog was hitting ninth. So to recap, the new lineup (for now):

Franky G

No Need to rehash the rest of the game other than these quick notes:
  • Rookie Aaron Laffey got his second win as the new fifth starter. He went six innings allowing two earned runs. Ask me if I saw him make a pitch last night? Nope. I was at Sara's Place in Gates Mills taking my mother to dinner for her birthday. So any analysis of how he looks would be straight bullshit.

  • AC in the two hole is a great call. He is a contact guy and since he has been up has been in the middle of seemingly every big rally.

  • Josh Barfield has become the new Ben Francisco - he plays as a pinch runner and that is about it. Trot Nixon has also become a ghost - thank god.

  • Poor Tom Mastny. The guy was pitching in the seventh and eight innings in April and May and has basically become the long man or mop up guy out there. Last night he pitched for the first time in over a week and he gave up two runs in the ninth. Luckily, the Tribe was up 9-2 at the time. He was once "Thomas Nasty" to me because of his effectiveness. Now he is Nasty for another reason.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bench This Man...NOW!!!!!!

I can't take it anymore. It's brutal. It's painful. No, I'm not talking about the Indians offense as a whole (although, I could be). I'm talking about Casey F'ing Blake. Where's Jeff Gillooly and his Henchmen Shane Stant with the tire iron when you need them? Every single night, we are stuck watching this stiff come up in key situations and fail miserably. Does he EVER come up with a big hit? Ever? Nope. Take tonight for example. While the Tribe offense was in its usual futile mode, a couple of times they actually put runners in scoring position with a chance to tie the game. What did our boy do you ask?

With two out in the 6th, and Asdrubal Cabrera on second after a single, Casey The Dog shockingly struck out.

In the 8th inning, Asdrubal Cabrera tripled with one out. After Kenny Lofton K'd, Fake stepped to the plate in a big spot. Guess what he did? Got behind in the count 1-2 and weakly grounded to second.

With those two failures under his belt, take a look at his stats as a whole and in the clutch this season. Keep in mind, somehow unfathomably, Fake had a 30 game hit streak earlier this year. (STATS provided by stat king Matt G)

Season: .260 Batting Average, 15 HR, 59 RBI

With Runners in Scoring Position: 21-130 - .161 BA

With Runners in Scoring Position and 2 outs: 9-72 - .125 BA

Is that a joke? Eric Wedge's blind loyalty to this guy defies logic. Its not like he is a 10 year all star, Fake has been this way for four years! Remember how bad he was in 2005 in these situations? Nothing has changed except in '05 he was hitting 8th and in '07 inexplicably Fake rests in the 2 hole EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. What's even more laughable is that at points this year, Wedge had him hitting third! The Ags-imposed moratorium on bad-mouthing Casey Blake is officially over. He should personally apologize to C.C. Sabathia for being responsible for ruining another great start by the big left-hander. Poor C.C. has only one win in his last seven starts, yet has an ERA of 2.13. If Casey isn't sitting tomorrow night, I may fly to the home of the technique, Kansas City, and strangle our manager.

Note: This column was dedicated to my father and sportstalk host Les Levine, best friends who had many things in common, one of which was their deep hatred for all things Casey Blake.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thoughts From The Runway

Thanks to the crazy storms in the Midwest, I have been sitting on the runway at Midway Airport in Chicago for the last 90 minutes with no end in sight (EDIT - My flight took off 2 hours and 50 minutes late). Thank goodness for an exit row seat, my laptop, and the inventors of the wireless card on cell phone frequency. All of this sitting and thinking about the sports weekend:

Tribe at Kansas City

1. There is no excuse to take anything less than two out of three this weekend with co-aces C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona and his bad-ass sinker going Friday and Sunday. Rookie Lefty Aaron Laffey makes his triumphant return to the rotation Saturday after three weeks of dominating his competition in Buffalo. I was thrilled to see Laffey get the call. I am not a Cliff Lee fan - I don't like his demeanor on the mound. He fought openly with Victor Martinez late June in Texas. He was the king of the five-and-fly. His attitude seemed to rub many the wrong way. According to today's Plain Dealer, The front office pushed for the return of Lee to the 5 spot in the rotation, but all of the scouts agreed Laffey was the man for the job. We will see if he is worthy Saturday night.

2. I expect to see three straight nights of Franky Guttierez in Right Field this weekend. If he isn't doing it with his bat, his glove is too valuable to sit behind creaky Trot Nixon. You think old man Trot makes that catch of Curtis Granderson's ball in the 5th yesterday? Negative. Just give him the every day job and call it a day.

3. Give me Asdrubal Cabrera in all three games as well. Put him at short one night and give Jhonny the night off. He needs one badly. Give Barfield one last shot one night at second. Please, I beg of you Eric Wedge, sit Casey Blake for one game. Just one. Its painful to watch him in the 2 hole.

4. Lets all be big Yankee fans this weekend - Four game set with the Tigers in the Motor City could be huge for the Wahoos.

Browns at Denver - Preseason Game #3

1. Lets see if Brady Quinn can do it against real first team competition. There is no point to giving Derek Anderson and Charlie Frye all of the time against Denver's first team defense.

2. I don't know why I care, but I'd like to see Chris Barclay beat out Jerome Harrison for the third RB job.

3. You think the Browns WR's not named Braylon Edwards can get involved in the game? It's a good thing Travis Wilson dubbed himself "the best WR in the draft" two years ago, yet couldn;t catch a cold naked in Minnesota in December.

4. How many yards do you think Denver's running game can go for on the pathetic Clowns D line? I put the over/under at 150. Bang the over. Even in a preseason game.

My computer battery is dying or else I'd hit you with more commentary!

Who Else Misses Mike Rouse?

What a joke! All year long, the Tribe has suffered from a lack of depth and all of a sudden they have it. Today's game looked like another vintage June/July/August Tribe offensive snooze-fest. They couldn't touch Tiger lefty Nate Robertson. Then in the 10th inning, in a scoreless tie, and the Central Division lead in the balance, the Tribe depth won the game.

Desperately needing a left-handed outfield bat to replace the injured and sub par talent that was David Dellucci, GM Mark Shapiro went back to the well for the third time with Kenny Lofton. Until today, #7 hasn't shown much other than a surly personality and his trademark speed. But today in the 10th with the bases loaded, two out and Jason Michaels scheduled, Eric Wedge summoned Kenny to pinch hit. He greeted flame-thrower and Tiger "season savior" Joel Zumaya with a single back up the box to score pinch runner Josh Barfield.

The non-waiver trade deadline is July 31st. At the deadline, the Indians did not make any deals to improve their single biggest and least talked about weakness - it's infield utility spot. We have been sitting through four months of the Mike Rouse era. Lets call it what it is - The Rousenator may have been the worst player who has stayed on a roster more than a month in major league history. It defied logic that this sad sack last four months, let alone four days. Josh Barfield struggled with his bat at second. Jhonny Peralta went into a skid of his own at Short. Casey Blake is Casey Blake and needs days off. Yet Wedge was stuck running these three into the ground because the Rousenator could not be used - he was that bad. In 41 games and 67 at-bats, The 'Nator hit .119 with only 4 RBI.

August 7th would have been my father's 65th birthday. I woke up, it was pouring rain. I grabbed my son from his crib, fed him, and headed to my computer. On I came across this headline: "Rouse Designated for Assignment." Just like that, my day improved. The sun came out. It was like a miracle from above. Three days later, Shapiro put in a waiver claim on Orioles utility man Chris Gomez, a veteran who carried a .305 batting average and a solid glove at all four infield positions. He has played first, second, and third, and his natural position is shortstop.

Fast forward to today - With the bases still loaded with two out, Go Go Gomez lined Zumaya's first pitch into the gap in right field scoring two and giving the Tribe a 3-0. In the process, Gomez sent The Savior to the showers where he chucked his glove into the wall of the dugout on his way. He's been in Cleveland just two weeks and has already done more the Rouse did in four months. It's a good thing Gomez came through with that big two out, two RBI hit, because as we are all to aware - any ninth inning Joe Borowski pitches in is a roller coaster ride.

It's almost becoming comical the way JoBo does it. He seems to get the first two guys out and then watch as the wheels fall off the wagon. Today was no exception. Before you could say "Bob Wickman," It was 3-1 with the tying run at second and the winning run at the plate. Luckily for JoBo, that one-time steroid using phony Pudge Rodriguez bailed him by swinging at ball three and popping out to end the game. It wasn't pretty, but he got the save and the Tribe is up 3 games in the loss column on Detroit, who now has to play without DH Gary Sheffield indefinitely and welcomes the New York Yankees for four games. The Indians are off to "the home of the technique," Kansas City.

An extra props for today's win goes to GM Mark Shapiro for acquiring not only Lofton and Gomez, but for having the guts to promote Asdrubal Cabrera and throw him right into the fire. He pinch ran for Ryan Garko in the 10th (another example of the improved depth) and moved to second base, sliding Gomez to first. Do you believe I wrote this whole article without mentioning the gem outing by Jake Westbrook or the masterful relief pitching of The Realtor Raffy Betancourt and Raffy Perez? That K of Curtis Granderson in the 9th was MONEY.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Browns Fan LOVES Them Some Backup QB Action

Never fear, this blog is not just for the Red, White, and Blue; you'll get some Brown and Orange as well. Its Day 21 in Berea and we still have no Quarterback. Frye/Anderson isn't exactly reminiscent of the days of Vinny/Bernie, but it is as intriguing. It is confusing, if not comical.

Let's look at the timeline of the saga that is the Browns QB Derby:

After mini-camps in May (OTA's they are called now for some reason), Derek Anderson and his rocket arm seemed to have the lead over Charlie Frye, who's value (allegedly) can't be viewed on a practice field. Of course DA would look better when the players aren't in pads. He's a pocket passer who is bigger and stronger than the more mobile Frye. "Bernie Junior" aka "The Savior" Brady Quinn was inaccurate and flustered, but said all the right things as he took his spot 4th on the depth chart behind Ken Dorsey and his Coco Crisp-esque arm.

Training Camp arrived with Anderson and Frye now neck and neck, Quinn unsigned and losing ground at a rapid rate, and Coco Dorsey holding steady at third.

The first preseason game against the Chiefs was about as fun to watch as a screening of Schnidler's List with the Anderson and Frye taking turns one-upping each other with bad throws and decisions. Frye started, Anderson followed, Quinn never saw the field, and the Lemmings at the Stadium chanted his name all fourth quarter.

SIDE NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, I don't attend preseason games. I don't watch preseason games. I am from the school of my father, the great Bobby D, who viewed preseason football at full regular season prices as nothing but a scam. I don't believe preseason games have any sort of bearing whatsoever. Remember the great Ben Gay who dominated the preseason a few years back for the Browns? What about Madre Hill? Luke McCown looked like a stud QB as well two preseason's ago.

The second preseason game against Detroit gave the Lemmings everything they've been wanting and more. Anderson started, fumbled his first snap, and threw a bad pick in the end zone after burning two timeouts inside the Lions 5 and producing no points. Frye was equally as pathetic, wildly overthrowing Steve "the best backup Tight End in Football" Heiden for an interception. Like the man he is "battling" for the starting job, the pride of Willard, Ohio led the offense to as many points as Elvis Presley, 2 Pac, John Wayne, and the Pope did combined. Dorsey played a nice quarter or so and then came the moment - BRADY TAKES THE FIELD!!!! Woo Hoo!!! Down 20-3 against nothing but guys who will be cutting hair and mowing lawns in three weeks, Quinn led two TD drives and a rock star was born.

I've had to endure almost a full week of typical jamoke Browns fans calling for Brady to start game one against Pittsburgh. There's a good idea. Let's throw the QB of the future to the fire with essentially no time against real NFL competition into the pressure cooker that is the Pittsburgh defense with a banged up offensive line which hasn't had time to jell. He isn't exactly known for his accuracy. Why screw with his confidence now when we all know this is at best a 5-11 team. You want him to start right away and have to face The Steelers, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and New England in the first six games? Frye has two years of starts under his belt. Let him get pounded and let Quinn learn the offense. The bye week is week 7. Is there a better time than that to hand over the reins to man already up for sainthood down at the Lakefront?

Finally, John Clayton from weighed in on the pathetic state of the Browns QB situation: It's pretty clear in Cleveland that no one seems to know how to handle the quarterback situation. Coach Romeo Crennel used a coin flip to determine the starter of the first preseason game. After that, Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson made mistake after mistake. Heads or tails, no one looks like the winner there. Then there's Brady Quinn. He came off the bench on Saturday to lead a frantic fourth-quarter rally against the Lions that excited the fans. His reward was being tabbed as the No. 3 quarterback in this weekend's preseason game. Folks, Quinn isn't ready to start, but the Browns aren't doing much to push the process. The new offense is taking time to mesh with the talent that's there. It looks like the Browns are in for a long season.

My advise costs nothing. You're welcome Romeo and Phil.

You know what else drives me crazy? The fact that this town has a first place baseball team fighting for their lives and the people in this town are more concerned with why Brady Quinn isn't starting now. WHY? The Browns still own this town and it's a friggin joke. The Tribe/Tigers first pitch is in 30 minutes. That's a real team folks.

It's Alive....ALIVE!!!!

Could it be? The Indians offense actually gave it's starting pitcher some run support? Yes, it's true, the Tribe gear has been stuck in neutral for months but punched the gas, and Tiger starter Justin Verlander, for 11 runs on 16 hits with my brother in the stands representing. See Cleveland fans, miracles can happen. I called out Kenny Lofton last night and he responded by being the catalyst we've been waiting for since he was acquired from Texas in late July with two hits and two runs scored. Every starter had at least a hit. My guy Franklyn Gutierrez was the key - his three run pizza in the fifth blew the game open, after his fourth inning double started a two out, four run rally.

Memo to Eric Wedge - Play Franky G EVERY DAY the rest of the way. I've said it before, I'll say it again; there is zero reason to play Trot Nixon in right field. Zero. He's old. He's slow. He covers no ground in right. He has no power. You need any more reasons? Trot is great in the clubhouse - he gets credit for the "Rally Pie." Make him a coach and call it a day.

Thank goodness for Rafael Betancourt. Where would we be without The Realtor (feel free to use that nickname at your leisure. Across the street from Ags' pad in Chicago is Betancourt Realty. We saw it three years ago, and a nickname was born) and his left-handed partner in crime Rafael Perez? Once again, they saved the day when Paul Byrd couldn't make it out of the sixth. I almost threw my arm out doing my best Tiger Woods-style fist pump after The Realtor K'd Carlos Guillen with two on and two out in the seventh.

They never want to make it easy though do they? Up 11-6 in the ninth, Jenson Lewis played the role of gas can and as I turned my TV to start watching Newport Harbor on MTV, I flipped back to see it was 11-8 with two on and Joe Borowski had been summoned from the pen. I couldn't bear to watch. Chrissy's father was calling her again ruining her chances with Clay and JoBo got Guillen and Pudge out to seal the deal and a game and a half lead in the AL Central for the Tribe.

Asdrubal Cabrera rules.....

Day game tomorrow: Nate Robertson vs. Jake Westbrook.

Did the Rangers really put a 30 spot on the Orioles tonight? I know I didn't really hear that "To See" Ramon Vazquez went 4-6 with 2 HR and 7 RBI did I?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wanna Throw Up, Tribe Fans?

Here is the game article from today's Detroit News courtesy of Tiger suck boy Lynn Henning:
Magic Comes Back For Tigers

Or how about this gem from Mitch "last night was the first Tiger game I have attended all year" Albom. Vintage Mitch - a great writer, fiction writer that is:
On a Zoom Zoom night, an island gem

Bob Wojonowski is a respected Basketball and Football columnist in Detroit. He should stick to those sports after penning this column. This too reeks of a guy who only follows the team when its convienient:
Tigers Boosted by Double Shot

Top lines from the great Tribe beat writers after last night's one hit debacle:
Paul Hoynes, Cleveland Plain Dealer - "Remember this night. It will be an amusing subplot when you tell the grandkids about how the Indians' pennant drive of 2007 withered and died because no one could swing a bat in support of some of the best pitching in the big leagues. This was the 15th time in the last 31 games that the Indians have scored two or fewer runs."

Sheldon Ocker, Akron Beacon-Journal - "It's time to stop resorting to euphemisms to describe Indians players who carry bats for no apparent reason. Just call them position players (yes, even designated hitter is a position). It is unnecessary and patently false to call them hitters."

Jim Ingraham, Willoughby News-Herald - "Stunningly, they are still in first place. Flabbergastingly, Fausto Carmona on Tuesday night pitched a 77-pitch complete game three-hitter - and lost. Preposterously, the Indians were held to one hit in a game started by a pitcher one week out of Class AA."

Oh What a Night!

...Or not. My beloved Cleveland Indians have officially became an offensive disgrace. I don't know how much more of this I can take. One night after another, the second place (not for long) Detroit Tigers hand us a chance to grab another game lead, and the Indians offense acts as if they don't want it. Tonight was another prime example and has driven me back into blogging. With ace Fausto Carmona on this hill and the Tigers trotting out 21 year old, never pitched above AA, Jair Jurrjens making his second major league start, I dubbed this "must-win night" in Detroit. The Indians could take a 2.5 game lead in the AL Central and put the pressure on the Tigers to take the next two games at home to stay within a game and a half of the Tribe before welcoming the sizzling hot Yankees this weekend.

But no...the Wahoo sticks decided to stay asleep against the rookie. How many hits did they have you ask? five? nope. six? Guess Again. four? Getting Warmer. one. That's right. one. To quote the great Harry Doyle from Major League "one hit. that's all we got, one goddam hit." You are correct Harry. Only Jhonny Peralta's 6th inning Solo Pizza kept the Indians from getting no-hit. Kenny Lofton has provided nothing since his first night in the Red, White, and Blue when he went 3-5. His at bat in the 9th was sad. You cannot K looking against Todd Jones, who usually does his best Joe Borowski/Bob Wickman impersonation in big games. #2 hitter Casey "The Dog" Blake is back to being what he is - an unclutch, below average utility man. To quote my friend Ags - "you get what you pay for." Fake is still well below .200 with Runners in scoring position and is "raking" at a .234 clip with 1 HR and 10 RBI since the break (Thanks Ari). Travis Hafner has been asleep for months, Victor Martinez seems to have caught Pronk's disease, and nobody else has come to the rescue, save for Asdrubal Cabrera, who has seven hits in his eight games since being recalled from Buffalo. When you are counting on contributions for a 21 year old rookie who has been up for one week, that is usually a sign that panic time is here. The good news is that Eric Wedge has been extended for three years, so we can welcome years more of "taking it one game at a time" and "grinding it out." Don't even get me started on how Wedge continues to be loyal to a fault to the ancient Trot Nixon when you have a far superior and younger Franklyn Gutierrez sitting on the bench.

Poor Carmona - the guy has been an absolute beast since they all star break. Tonight was no different. He dominated the Kitties with his power sinker. He made two mistakes - back to back jacks from Mags Ordonez and Carlos "E-6" Guillen in the 5th. How would you like to pitch a complete game, three hitter, with no walks and five strike outs in a tidy 77 pitches and lose? It seems to be the same fate every start for Carmona and his partner in crime C.C. Sabathia. They pitch their balls off and come away empty thanks to the gang that can't hit straight. Here are some great stats that go along with tonight's debacle:

Fausto Carmona's record since the all star break: 4-4.

Carmona's ERA since the all star break: 1.87

Travis Hafner's numbers over the last month: .192 BA, 2 HR, 7 RBI

Victor Martinez's numbers over the last month: .227 BA, 1 HR, 11 RBI

Tomorrow the Tribe must face Tiger ace Justin Verlander. If they couldn't hit Jair Jurrjens, what makes you think they'll hit Verlander? I don't know how many nights over a two month period I can say to myself this was an absolute killer loss, but it seems like every night. We'll see if they can bounce back tomorrow night as Paul Byrd takes the ball for the Tribe.