Sunday, October 21, 2007

The sun has set on the Tribe

Can one decision by a third-base coach send the best Tribe season since the mid '90s to its grave?

How about a questionable umpire's call at the start of what could have been a two-run rally in the fifth by the Tribe, instead of just a one-run tally?

With the Indians down by a run, struggling to score runs and Jonathan Papelbon warming to throw his lightning in the last two innings, it is unbelievable to me that Joel Skinner held up Kenny Lofton in the seventh inning on what could have been the tying run, at least temporarily.

With Lofton on second, Franklin Guitierrez slashed one down the third-base line on what looked sure to be an RBI double. It took a funny bounce and darted straight toward left fielder Manny Ramirez, forcing Gutierrez to stay at first.
Despite the bad bounce, it looked as though Lofton could have scored. Judging by his reaction in the dugout, it sure looked as though Eric Wedge thought so too. In addition, the ensuing double play that ended the inning would no longer have been in order, as Franklin Gutierrez undoubtedly would have taken second on a throw home.

Lofton was at the center of another controversial moment, as he tried to stretch a leadoff wall-ball into a double in the fifth. Replays showed he made it. The umpire said he didn't. The one-run inning that followed would have been at least two, and who knows how many more.

After the seventh innning failure to score, it was time - and a horrible time indeed - for Raffie Betancourt's only bad outing of the playoffs, as he gave up a two-run homer to Dustin Pedroia to put the Sox back up by three. He got hammered again in the ninth as the wheels came off the bus.

The Tribe made a bid in the eigth, as a Ryan Garko flyout to right-center with two on and two out was just a few feet short of tying the game against Papelbon. But it was not to be.

So, did the two controversial decisions help send an entire season swooshing down the toilet?

Hardly. The Tribe - taking a cue from their two pitching "aces ," CC Sabathia and Fausto Carmona - played games five and six and the first three innings of game seven with fear in their eyes. Jake Westbrook settled things down in the middle innings and the Tribe gave it one last shot.

The bottom line is this: After holding a 3-1 lead in the series, the Tribe had the Red Sox by the throat, but appeared too timid to finish off the dirty deed.

Does playoff experience count in the post-season?

You damned well bet it does.
I can't watch anymore, as the score just turned 11-2. My alarm goes off in less than five hours. I surrender.
Be sure, after your wounds have healed in a few days (months), to check back with us as we will have a lot more to say in the days ahead.
And we'll be keeping our eyes on the Tribe's offseason as well.
The Indians' terrific season has come to an inglorious end, but we'll still be around and hope you will be too.


Jason said...

I plan to wear my Tribe shirt to work as soon as it's clean again. Yes, it was a terrible way to end the season, but it was quite a ride to get there.

They gave us 6 1/2 months of meaningful baseball. It would have been nice to get an extra week, but I still think we got some good value for our fandom.

Ron Vallo said...

First of all, to those of you who read the blog between late last night and early this morning - I apologize.

The typos I discovered this morning were numerous and ridiculous. It must have looked as if I had written either drunk or in a dilerium of anger. Mostly I was tired and disappointed.

Anyway. I corrected them this morning - though I'm sure I still missed one or two.

To jason,

I understand you sentiments. But I'm 50 years old. So, using the average, my race is 2/3 run. I'm getting to the point where I am really starting to believe I'll never see a Tribe World Series Championship. SO I am starting to have less tolerance for the "it-was-a-good-run" sentiment that I -until very recently - espoused myself.

akron expat said...

In the end this team, like so many before it, just wasn't Cleveland-proof.

The Red Sox made all the pitching and hitting adjustments, our boys did not.

Hoping we can finish the job next year.

Ron Vallo said...

Hey expat:

good to see you're still with us. It was a tough few nights.

As I mentioned to Jason, I appreciate your optimism about the future, but I am getting panicky that 25 more years (based average life expectancy) may not be enough time for me.

To paraphrase, or distort, Dr. Martin Luther King- I may not get to the Promised Land with you, but I damn sure hope I do!

Steve J. Rogers said...

Well, at least its not at the Cubs' level yet, or even to the level that both pairs of Socks were at prior to 04-05!

Steve J. Rogers said...

On the flip side though, it really would be unfair (if I rooted for, well currently just the Indians, Cubs and Giants) to watch the 7th team be born after the last championship go on to win a Worlds Championship (and 3 of them twice)

In case you were wondering, those are the:
Angels born 1961, won in 2002
Mets born 1962 won in 1969 and 1986
Royals born 1969 won in 1985
Blue Jays born 1977 won in 1992 and 1993
Marlins born 1993 won in 1997 and 2003
Diamondbacks born 1998 won in 2001

Ron Vallo said...


I'm beginning to think Tampa Bay will get there before we do.

bobbydb19 said...

I prepared for the worst, because I did not feel good after CC’s performance in Game 5. That was the game we needed.

I was very frustrated watching both games, but if you told me at the end of August that we were going to beat the Yankees and then take the Sox to a Game 7 (winner take all), I would have taken it in a second.

Something happened between Game 4 and Game 5. Was it the off day? It looked like the Indians forgot to have fun. They played tight and the players we expected to come up big did not. Pick any player you want.

I am proud and happy of what the Indians did this year and expect bigger years to come. Everyone knows me as a Tribe fan (from Tribe gear I wear everyday to the Chief Wahoo tattoo on my leg (I got it back in March). Everyone I saw at church, in stores, at work told me they were rooting for the Tribe and it made me feel damn good.

We will be back. We are now built to come back year after year.

I am glad I found the blog and will be checking back regularly.


Jason said...

Ron -- my mom is 60 and has the same attitude. She is just angry about the whole thing and still hates Jose Mesa to this day.

The thing I learned in my 4 years living in the SF area and rooting for the A's was that the playoffs are a very fickle animal. No one can tell me that the 2001 Yankees were really a better team than the A's, but Jeter made that unbelievable play. No one can tell me that this year's edition of the Red Sox is better than the Indians either.

In other words, I don't think that the playoffs are necessarily the best judge of who the best team is. I understand that there is a sense of closure that comes with winning a championship and I would like to know what that is like, but I also get immense satisfaction in seeing our $62M payroll beat the Yankees and give the Red Sox all they could handle.

Put another way -- I have a brother-in-law who is a big Red Sox fan. After 2004 (which was the ultimate Red Sox nirvanna in humiliating the Yanks and winning the whole thing), he said that it felt very good, but I also know that the good feelings lasted until maybe Christmas and then it was time to try again.

Maybe this makes me a lesser fan, but I find that I enjoy it more when it is not so much life and death with me. I had a very hard time sleeping last night, but I have since turned the page.

This is coming from an OSU alum who felt wretched the day after last year's National Championship game. It feels like someone has died when it ends like that, but just like when someone really does die I think we just need to mourn the loss and move on.

I am preparing myself for the Buckeyes to get my hopes up again this year only to get crushed by an SEC team. Kind of like the 7th inning last night...

Ron Vallo said...


I sure don't think it makes you less of a fan, probably more of one.

I'm just pointing out there's a difference in attitude the longer you've been a fan, or more correctly, the older you are.

Your mom may or may not remember the relatively good days of the late 50s. But she certainly remembers the black hole that was the 60s, 70s, 80,s and part of the 90s, when we all came to believe that the Indians were some sort of lesser franchise. AAAA maybe.

For those of you who came along in the 90s, you have experienced the normal good/bad see-saw that most teams (except those that can buy new teams every year) experience.

So we need you younger guys to stay positive and keep our spirits up!!!

Jason said...

Ron -- I'll turn 34 in December. I was at the game when Brian Sipe threw the interception, which was sort of an early baptism into what it means to be a Cleveland fan after the "Kardiac Kids" had us so excited with their 11-5 season. It kind of reminds me of this year with the Tribe.

I remember listening to just about every Tribe game in 1994 while I was in college. I was very upset with the strike because I knew that the Tribe could overtake the Sox.

I was an expatriate as I lived in either Florida or California from 1995-2003. I couldn't really follow them closely because we didn't have great things like the Extra Innings package or Gameday. Being on the left coast from 1998-2003 made it VERY hard to follow them. Basically, I wasn't really into them for those years, so I missed out on those great times. I do, however, have every pitch recorded from all 13 World Series games as I scored them at home. My wife (then girlfriend) stayed up with me through Game 7. Talk about love!

My point is that this is the first time I got to closely follow an Indians winner. Perhaps this is why I am able to have a better attitude about the whole thing. I can say that OSU's choke in the National Championship affected me more than this one, though hearing Fausto completely unravel in game 6 was a similar sinking feeling. I almost broke something when Blake hit into that DP in the 7th last night.

I think we all have our process of mourning this stuff. I guess I'm just lucky not to have suffered through quite as many "next years" as some others have.

Keep the faith. This is a team built for a long run at greatness.

And remember -- all winter you will be able to hold on to the fact that the Indians did indeed dethrone the Evil Empire and perhaps break it up as well.

Anonymous said...

I'll respectfully disagree with the thought that the playoffs are not necessarily the indicator of which is the best team. I'm glad that sometimes the richest teams win and sometimes they don't; that sometimes a wild card wins because they get hot at the right time; and that sometimes a little-considered division champ can play well for 3 weeks and get a ring. That the Tribe could have won the series with the Red Sox -- and probably should have -- is painful, but I don't go away from it with the thought that the Indians are the better team. I say the Indians were good, had a great regular season, could be good in the future, and yes, could have beaten the Rockies. Or not. If Colorado wins, it’s the best. If Boston wins, it is. As tired as I am of Red Sox Nation, they put the hammer down when it counted; they’re the American League’s best.