Slow start doesn't dampen faith
The Indians home opener is always special, even if there is snow and freezing cold temperatures. We were lucky this year to have bright sunshine. That wind was a little brisk, but all in all, you could not ask for much more from the weather.
Before the game, it was a thrill to see athletes from the Cleveland public high school baseball and softball teams on the field. While this is not the time to debate car allowances and other questionable school district spending, it was good to see the Indians bail out the sports programs for at least this year. The Cleveland Indians Charities donated $250,000 to the Cleveland Schools to ensure that city kids could play ball this year. That makes the Indians’ overall commitment to the scholastic baseball and softball programs at the million-dollar level. That is money well spent when you consider you can't even get a decent utility player for that much.
Unfortunately, there weren't many highlights on the field during the game. It looks like we are destined for lots of low-scoring, one-run games this season. That is what happens when you put a priority on pitching.
That makes the Indians' recent defense even scarier. And maybe I have drank the kool-aid, but I believe Eric Wedge when he says over the course of the year we will have a better defensive team than last year.
While we have not played stellar defense or hit yet, I still have a good feeling about the season. It is strange that as of Monday, we have lost three of four to the White Sox and lost two of three to the Tigers, but Detroit still scares me more. I love their lineup.
The good news is the play of the bullpen. Other than Bob Wickman's blow-up, the pen has been outstanding up and down the line. It has kept us in games.
The thing about baseball, however, is everything can change very quickly. Think back to last Wednesday around 5 p.m. The ink was barely dry on my column and the Tribe was one strike away from being 0-3. The White Sox would be 3-0 and doom seemed ready to set in. An hour later, emotions were reversed and the season saved.
So who knows? By the time you read this, Wednesday will end up a 15-11 game. And everything will be turned upside down again. It is the beauty of playing every day.
In the press box at the game, it seemed many were ready to give up on Jhonny Peralta. Four errors in four games with .789 fielding percentage will do that. But before the game, Wedge said this to the overflow of reporters in the dugout, "We have to think about what will help us the most over 162 games. You can't just think about today. You have to think about yesterday and tomorrow."
A little different from the old take “it one game at time” but then again not really. You have to go pitch-by-pitch and inning-by-inning and Wedge knows that. He also knows the goal is the big picture. They won't give up on Peralta, but a youngster with his talent is going to have his ups and downs. That is why talented major league veterans like Alex Cora and Jose Hernandez were brought in. They can fill a gap. Losing any one player on this team will not sink the ship. Mark Shapiro and his staff have built a team that can compete every single night.
Wedge can come off very dry and very boring in his interviews. He seems to repeat the same mantras over and over. That is why it was so great for me to see him on the field before the game. This guy loves the game. He had his mitt out and while his team took BP, he was out playing catch with Buddy Bell. The two were laughing and having a good time.
When the game was over, Wedge was disappointed but he wasn't down. He believes in his team. He believes his team will hit. He believes in his bench and his bullpen. He believes he and his coaching staff will help the players get it done.
He believes and so do I.