Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Indians blow 7-0 lead and I do what?

As I watched the ball sail over the fence completing an Indians choke of a 7-0 fourth inning lead, there was no anger. I didn't throw anything. I didn't swear. I didn't demand the firing of anyone. I just switched the channel and moved on.

At the bar on Thursday night, someone who doesn't follow sports asked me how the Indians were doing. I told him they were dangerous. They were dangerous because they conveyed hope. Despite having the worst record in the American League, they were only a handful games out of first place. So no matter how bad they looked, there was still the semblance of hope. So my friend says so even if they won the division, it would be one and out in the playoffs. I told him no and that is why they are dangerous. They can hit. And in the playoffs you only need three good starters. We have a Cy Young, a kid who two years ago was second in the Cy Young voting and soon Jake Westbrook will return from injury. By September on paper, we could have three strong starters. We have a real closer. So if things fell a certain way in the rest of the bullpen, there is hope. But ultimately it is a false hope.

You can blame on the front office, the manager, the bullpen or any veteran who is performing below expectations. But the truth is something is rotten with this team. They seem hollow.

The Indians tease you just enough not to give up on them. But something is missing. And maybe that is why Wedge is such a tinkerer. This team seems like it should be able to win in this division. But everyone is just a little off so he slides people around in the field and in the lineup. He is convinced that the pieces are there to complete the puzzle. But they just don't fit. No matter what he tries.

Another friends interjected in the conversation that Wedge needed to just find one lineup. And my first friend asked what was he talking about? I said well for instance at times our catcher plays first, a natural first baseman plays left, a guy who played second base last season we play at third but sometimes he plays first or in the outfield but never second, a guy who was playing second now plays short, a guy who wants to play shortstop is now playing third which maybe they should have done in spring training. And there is guy who couldn't catch so we moved him to first but he sucks there so they are thinking of moving him to the outfield or DH but we have another guy who is now hurt and he can only DH so we have that going for us.

And I could see on my friend's face the phrase this is why I don't follow sports. And I envied him. Because if a miracle happens --and it will take a miracle of biblical proportions-- and the Indians win the division, my friend will be just as excited as me. He will watch the playoffs and take joy in any Indians win. While I feel compelled to continue to watch every single game because of that bastard of all emotions -- hope.

There is really nothing worse. I mean I watched my team blow a 7-0 lead and my reaction was well of course they did. Yet here I am waiting the first pitch of another game. Sports should be about joy and there is no joy in the Indians.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Afternoon game with my dad

One of the board members over at decided to give away two great tickets to an Indians game. They decided to make it a contest asking why you deserved the tickets. I figured I didn't deserve the tickets but then saw it was for a day game on May 13 which happened to be my dad's 59th birthday. So I wrote a quick paragraph and figured I would take a chance.

As sweet as the seats were the best part was telling my dad we won. I handed him my laptop and showed him the post about the contest. Then I scrolled down and showed him my post. He laughed remembering how he put hot dogs in a thermos and cringed when he saw I mentioned we put them in the reduced bread we bought from the old Millbrook factory. He laughed again when I discussed scouring the Municipal Stadium parking lots for bottles and cans to recycle and how we used to sit in the yard listening to Herb Score on this giant radio he saved from the trash working for the refuse department. He would have us kids remove screws from old aluminum chairs so he could recycle them for extra cash that he used to send us to parochial school. When he got to the part where I wrote I had no idea we were lower middle class until I got to high school, his eyes teared up. It was a pretty sweet moment.

He was so excited. He wanted to get there as early as possible for batting practice. I told them they didn't have batting practice on afternoon getaway games but he wanted to get there as soon as the gates opened just like he did when we were kids and we sat along the right field foul poles for a buck. We were all smiles when we went to the will call and as fate would have it-- there were no tickets in our names. It was a very stressful half-hour as I had no idea what the real name was of the generous man who donated the tickets. But the wait was worth it when the tickets arrived. We sat in row BB in section 152 right behind home plate. Neither one us had ever sat that close at the old or new park. Fouls balls were peppered just behind us or to our right all game. We were two rows too close to have a real shot. But man was it fun thinking at any moment we could get a ball.

Martinez homered in the first and Cliff Lee had no-hit type stuff for the first six innings. My least favorite player Ryan Garko blasted a two-run homer and LaPorta ripped the first of what is hopefully many doubles in his career. Betancourt 's one inning of work was trouble free and Wood went 1-2-3 in the ninth. Tribe wins 4-0. The rain held off and it was a great day spent with Dad.

Thanks again to the cool people at The Cleveland Fan for honoring my dad with the tickets. It meant a lot to him and we had a great time.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cavs keep on keeping on

In the final minutes of tonight's Cavs clincher against the Hawks, my mind wandered. Did I really want to wait another week or more to watch more basketball? I thought of all those businesses and bars that could benefit from a game five.


I had to shake myself awake. What the hell was I thinking? Have the Cavs spoiled me that much? You play to win the game. You beat the hell out of anyone that you can. Screw anything else but winning. I will just have to live without basketball for the next several days.

Did you see how Wally played tonight? Did you see how DeLonte played tonight? This team is on a misson. They smelled blood and finished the job. Nothing else matters.

Eight games of wins in double digits. Eight games when even when the score was close there was never any worry. Eight more to go.

Enjoy the rest.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

How does one stay grounded during Cavs playoff run

Over the course of my life more than once I have believed a Cleveland team was going to win a championship and each time I have expressed this belief aloud or in print, something bad has happened. It has gotten to the point, where it seems even my happiness during a single game can lead to a depressing loss. It has become a joke among my friends and family. When Cleveland State had a big early lead over Wake Forest in the NCAA tournament, someone else among our viewing party said,"They are going to win."Another quickly said not to jinx them. And the first person stated, "I don't believe in jinxes." So I said well then want to me to say it. And the whole room screamed, "No!"

During game six against Detroit in 2007, I kept asking my friend if I could call my brother. I knew just the ringing of his phone would drive him insane that I was jumping the gun. My friend made me wait until there was less then a minute to go. Later my brother said his phone rang in the middle of the third quarter and he screamed, "That better not be my brother."

This Cavs season has made it hard on my not to express my innermost thoughts. Many times in conversation, in print or even alone I wanted to scream aloud what could be. It has been hard to stay grounded. And for that I have to thank the Cleveland Indians.

After each Cavs playoff annihilation, I have been sky-high. More than once I had to be careful not to shed a tear at just thinking what might be. But just when I think I have reached my limit of happiness, there is the Tribe to bring me back to earth.

The Indians truly suck. This season has been an even bigger nightmare than last season. Cabrera and Martinez are the only bright spots. The bullpen is mind-numbingly bad. They have been a complete joke. And yet I haven't reached a depressing low because of King James and the boys. It has been a nice balance.

After growing up in this town, it is easy to grow accustomed to believing it can always get worse. And just when all seems lost, a flicker of hope brings you back. You start to believe and then wham the worst happens. Case in point, I started this post in the top of the ninth with the Indians trailing 5-1. When I typed the word "Case" the Indians had made it 5-3 and put the winning run on first base. I thought "Oh my God this can change the whole season." And before I could even finish the sentence, Choo popped up and the game ended.

But what I love about LeBron James is even though he grew up among us, he is not one of us. He believes he will end this city's championship drought. His teammates believe. And that makes me want to believe. But I hold back because I know how much it hurts. I want it so bad.

The Cavs have made it look so easy. My first reaction is to get really nervous. It can't be this easy. It won't be this easy. They will be tested. But man does having LeBron James on your side make you feel safe. It gets me excited. But there is a lot of work left to be done. I need to stay grounded and take it one day at a time. And what better way to stay humble then to watch the Indians.