Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Spring training is here!!

The Tribe's pitchers and catchers report to Winter Haven - for the last time - tomorrow

It's the place where some of the Tribe's most successful teams have trained during - perhaps - the Tribe's most successful period in history.

It is also the the site of
Little Lake Nellie and the sadness and numbness that that still brings to mind today.

I don't have any in-person memories of Winter Haven since I never went to spring training there, nor did I ever get to that fantasy camp I thought I might one day attend.

My new goal now is to visit the Tribe often in Arizona - starting in about 10 years or so, when I retire and vacation in Arizona three or four months out of the year.

We all have dreams.

Back to the hear and now.

I saw
Paul Hoynes' story in today's PD. The 10 questions thing.

I know it's popular in the blogosphere to knock the "print" or "old media" guys, but since my roots are there and I actually knew Paul when he was still covering the Tribe for one of the suburban papers (I think the Lake County News Herald) I am not going to knock him.

Mostly, I think he does a pretty good job.

But there's no sense in me just re-doing the same questions - will Hafner turn back into Pronk this year, will Joe Borowski get anyone out etc...

Instead, I have my own questions. I'm not sure how many yet. I'll just keep writing until I run out.

1.Why, on the day before spring training starts, do we have to see the sports news led with a story about steriods, HGH and investigations?

The best part about this fiasco is that some of the Bozos on Capitol Hill who have nothing better to deal with - like a war in Iraq, a deteriorating economy, health care etc...- my have put themselves in legal jeopardy over this.

The New York Times reports today that certain Congressmen and staff may have violated federal law and Congressional ethics rules by asking somone with business before the body (Roger Clemens) for a thing of value (his autograph).

2. Why does everyone keep saying (including Hoynes) that the Sabathia contract extension hold-up is not about money, but about length?

The Tribe is reluctant to give him that extra year not because if he hurts himself and is relegated to cheerleader in the final year they don't have a seat big enough for him on the bench. It's because they would still have to PAY him. Probably about $23-$24 million by the time you get to the far end of the contract. So it IS about money. Money they don't want to take the chance of having to shell out for nothing.

3. How many more times will we still have to shovel the driveway before Opening Day.

3b. How many times will we still have to shovel the driveway AFTER Opening Day?

4. How long into the season will it be before the fans start to use the new name for Jacobs Field?

5. Why is it the Tribe's season series against the Yankees is over by the first week of May and why are the Yankees making their only appearance in Cleveland in April?

5b. Do Lake Erie midges come out of hibernation or their cocoons or wherever they come from by April?

6. Will I get my rebate check FROM the IRS in enough time to send my tax bill check TO the IRS? And won't that stimulate the economy?

6. What are some of your favorite, or most-random, spring training memories?

Here are a couple of mine, random as they may be.

In 1991, the Indians pushed back the fences considerably to accommodate the "talents" of Alex Cole, a flash-in-the-pan, speedy centerfielder who - the Indians thought - would give them an advantage because of all the ground he would cover.

I remember reading story after story out of Florida about the new dimensions back home and all the thought that went into the move.

That year the Tribe was out-homered at home 41-22 and finished the year at 57-105.

Can you imagine a f
ranchise so sorry they would make Alex Cole the centerpiece of ANY strategy they would employ?

For some reason I also have this vivid memory of lying in the bath tub (sorry for that mental picture) listening to a game out of Tuscon and hearing - live - the play where the Tribe's next superstar, the great Hawk Harrelson - who had been acquired from the Red Sox the previous season - slid late into second base and ripped his ankle apart, missing pretty much the entire season.

That was 1970.

The year before he had hit 30 homers for the Red Sox and the Tribe.

Those are two spring training memories that just sprung to mind as I wrote this.

What are yours?

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