First, there were the years with Manny and Jimmy, both now on the Dodgers.
Then came the years with C.C., Victor, “Raffy right” Betancourt, and Cliff Lee.
Now? Uh…um…well…65-97 leaves us fans with years of definite uncertainty. Everyone I built hopes on for our return to October glory left except for Grady Sizemore. With the Dolans in charge, the thought of Grady becoming one like Robin Yount or Tony Gwynn are highly doubtful. Where is this franchise going? I have no clear idea at the moment.
Still the thoughts of the teams remaining in the October fun give me players to choose to root for as the playoffs begin in about fifteen minutes.
Before I begin to comment about the players involved in October, one person asked me to comment about last week’s dismissal of then manager Eric Wedge. Personally, I loved the guy. I worked on occasion for the club and loved the fact that whenever Eric would greet you, he would talk to you and with you, not at you or down to you. To me, it appeared that I was someone important to Eric, even though we never talked past the occasional “Hello” or “Good Luck”. He always showed me respect and he shared this respect for his team, his players and his opponents. He respected the game of baseball and I will miss him.
Still I will not miss the slow April starts that the team showed under Eric in general and the lack of playoff appearances except in 2007. I remember the week I spent in Arizona so very well. I remember one game in particular when we sat right behind Eric and were upset throughout the game. There was a lack of urgency or effort on the Indians, or so it seemed. This was what I saw with Eric running the team, a lack of urgency to come out and win from the start. This was what I saw in Eric Wedge, a lack of urgency, excitement and it affected many of my friends and co-workers’ decisions to not attend games.
Now onto October.
Looking into October, I see several Indians players and one Indians division rival in the mix which should make these playoffs worth watching. I will try to comment about each matchup focusing on these players and teams.
First leading off, we have the Rockies and Rafael Betancourt against the Phillies and Cliff Lee. I really like how the Rockies fought back to earn the wildcard spot. However, as much as I don’t like the Phillies, I do love Cliff Lee. Cliff Lee gives a franchise so much hope. His leadership and presence on the mound are hard to write about in so many words. His leadership is so valuable. It does not surprise me why he leads off the NLDS series in Philly attempt to repeat last year’s success. Good luck Cliff! I like the Phillies in this series.
The Dodgers have Manny, Jim Thome and of recent Indians’ past, a man named Casey Blake while the Cardinals have Mark DeRosa. Two former third basemen for the Tribe. I love the matchup here. Where do I begin? So much to write about just about this series alone. We could start with the fact that Hall of Fame managers and players on on both these teams. (At least I think this to be the case) I like the Cards to edge out this series even if it is taken to the limit. Due to time deadlines I have set, I will end the talk here.
The Red Sox have Victor now. Boy I still am upset about this. He will go up against the Angels. I sure want Martinez to do well here. However one would believe the Angels would have enough to pull out this series. However, I have said this so much before and the Red Sox still pull it out. I want the Angels to win this series. Personal reasons. Sorry Vic!
Oh the Yankees and the money they spend for a man named C.C. I like to say these initials stand for “choke choke” I will be cheering for the Twins. After all, of all the former Indians, “Choke choke” is my least favorite. Perhaps it was the way he treated the fans when we asked for an autograph. He always acted so standoffish. After my experience with A-Rod in this same fashion, I can see why New York fits for C.C. Go Twins, be the David to their Goliath!
I may win, I may lose with these choices. However, I will definitely have fun watching while I steam about what the current owner had to let go in talent!
Yesterday, the Phillies won with a series of “bombs bursting in the air” started by Jimmy Rollins followed by a Pat Burrell three-run shot followed by an additional round tripper by Jason Werth making the score 5-0. Pat Burrell then added another shot later giving the Phillies a chance to paint the town red by defeating the Brewers 6-2, and 3 games to 1, thus, advancing to play the Dodgers in the 2008 NLCS.
So it will be Casey’s and Manny’s Dodgers against Charlie’s Phillies. I was looking forward to seeing CC and Casey face off while thinking about how both were on the same team for most of their careers. Instead, I will turn my thoughts toward Charlie against Casey and Manny.
I never did like Charlie Manuel as a choice for the Indians’ manager. His style never did rub me the right way. I thought the Indians should have done much better with him under the helm. The talk back then was that Charlie was going to take “us to the next level.” History showed that Charlie did take us to the next level, the next level down. However, the rebuilding process also started and so Charlie never could see if the “next level” was going to be a reality.
Manny’s bravado and arrogance never rubbed me the right way as a fan, either. However, signing him for the Tribe was going to make it unaffordable for the team to do a lot of what it has done like make a run in 2007 at returning to the World Series. This is well-documented in the 2006 book Dealing: The Cleveland Indians’ New Ballgame: Inside the Front Office and the Process of Rebuilding a Contender by Terry Pluto, a local columnist currently for The Plain Dealer, Cleveland’s newspaper.
Casey, however is one I look up to. He comes to work and strives to play team ball. I was sad to see him go but I understood why the Indians had to do it. Who knows, perhaps Casey will return to the Tribe? Right now, however, he and the rest of his Dodger teammates have to prepare to go to Philadelphia on Thursday, October 9th, 2008. This series will be interesting.
My interests will lean toward the Dodgers for this series. I started out a distant Dodger fan as a little boy while living in Arizona since there were no D-Backs. I want to see Casey get a chance at a World Series ring. However, it will be tough! The Phillies are a team that are a formidable contender. I just hope that Joe Torre, Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez are able to perform well enough to win the National League. Time will tell if this can come true.
My perspective for the 2008 playoffs are clearly centered around the (former) Tribe personnel. Each profile will tell all readers why the teams are where they are today going into Friday.
1. Milwaukee- Clearly Milwaukee was carried heavily by the effort of CC Sabathia to earn the 2008 National League Wildcard Playoff Winner or best of those in second place. CC needed to come up big for this Brew Crew with them down 1-0 going into today. What I saw today showed me that he can’t come through in the big game, ie. 2007 in the ALCS all over again. Thus, Milwaukee is down 2-0 and now has to take the Phillies in the next three games just to make it to the NLCS.
2. LA Dodgers- When Manny came from Boston to LA. I heard rumblings that said “not AZ but LA would now win the NL West.” Sure enough, this leadership continued for Manny, His presence in these playoffs in both Game 1 and 2 have been a big reason why the Dodgers have themselves 1 game away from a sweep of the Cubs. When Manny was with the Tribe, he as well as many others could hit with the best of them, this NLDS is no exception. Casey Blake also added a run scoring hit of his own to make the score 10-1 at the time. LA Dodgers lead 2-0 in their series.
3. Tampa Bay- The coaching of a young team can be challenging and sometimes feel overwhelming. However, if Brian Anderson has any influence on the young pitchers of Tampa as he did when he pitched for the Tribe in 1997, he will teach them to stay enthusiastic, hungry and within themselves as he did when he pitched so well for us against Baltimore in the 1997 ALCS. They find themselves up currently 1-0 in their series with the White Sox..
4. Boston- Experience under pressure means something and Terry Francona has this along with John Farrell. On the brink of elimination, they fought back to beat the Tribe and win the 2007 World Series. They did not stop there. They continued to show that same leadership in a quest to repeat as champions once again as they took a 1-0 lead in their series with the LA Angels.
Who will step up or disappoint as former members of the Tribe in the future has yet to be seen? Good luck to all former members of the Tribe in the coming games. More thoughts as the ALDS and NLDS continue.