I saw my first Spring Training game here, my first baseball game ever, Phoenix AZ. It was also the place I saw my first basketball game. So for me, hearing about the Cleveland Indians and the Oakland Athletics playing here today brings back memories then and now. This year it will bring back memories of the first person I introduced my kids to.
I have always tried to teach my kids to love the game of baseball too like I was taught to love it. The person I said for them to memorize was Coco Crisp. I was thinking “Cocoa Krispies”, “hot chocolate”, this will get my kids to like the game. I think highly of Coco Crisp, more than other Indians, Red Sox, Royals or A’s fans ever did or will. For me, Coco is a person to look up to, a role model. I told my kids, see that Coco run, see that Coco hit, see that Coco hit. Now you cheer for him, he is great. It was not Dick and Jane but it got the pint across. Coco=love of baseball to my 3 and 2 year old then. For me, he was the Indians youth movement then. The interesting thing was when I asked my kids who their favorite players were, Coco Crisp was not their answer, as I tried to spoon feed them this answer. They said “Casey Blake” “Travis Hafner” So much for Coco. Still they love the sport today and it is wonderful to see. Thanks Coco for the inspiration.
Yesterday the Indians were inspired to leave their Goodyear Indian fans with a 2-1 win against the Dodgers. I received updates on MLB.com on breaks at work as they were playing as I was working. Here is what I took away from the box score.
The pitching is doing well. When one sees two hits spread among 5 pitchers this is awesome. Yes I know it does not spell anything in Spring Training except this: consistency in the staff, attacking the strike zone 9 total strikeouts among the staff. Pitches to strikes was an interesting stat. For example, Huff who had 3 strikouts in his two innings of work did not throw 1 ball. The stats showed the Dodgers had 8 walks and the Indians gave up 1 walk. That to me tells more than the score about what the Indians are trying to do in these games:attack the strike zone. Isnt this what Acta preached at the beginning? Keep it up Tribe!
I just returned from the game after working at Progressive Field. Here were my overall observations.
Question off the cuff: Is it just me or does Trey Hillman look a lot like this fellow Royal?
I was very happy to see Victor get 4 hits in 5 at bats including what turned out to be the game winning homer in the 8th.
Also, Grady helped me as I picked him in the MLB.com Beat the Streak contest. For me lately, the contest is one called “Start a streak” He also helped me get a homerun and advance in the HR version of Beat the Streak.
The Indians won so my Survivor streak was lucky enough to increase to six games.
We tied a record for double plays in a game: 6 total in 6 consecutive innings. It was wonderful to see Aaron Laffey keep the ball down and only give up one run in 7 innings of work. He was like the calm water on a clear day.
Then came the 8th.
The 8th inning had our bullpen give up 4 runs to the Royals to cut the lead to 6-5. Thanks to that 6th consecutive double play stated by Jensen Lewis, the Tribe held the lead. Our bullpen is so far the reason I watch like the team is walking on eggshells.
Kerry Wood was firing it in there and holding the lead well until Coco Crisp hit a ball off the end of the bat that made it look more like a cue stick. This was followed by “I betcha can’t hit this up and in” answered by “Yes I Can” by David DeJesus. Luckily the lead was held onto 8-7. However, it was too close for comfort for me and while working I couldn’t turn the channel.
I was very happy to see them hold onto a lead and win. Hopefully, this will build up some momentum as the Tribe continues a 9 game homestand tomorrow. I’ll be working at the game again.
Mark DeRosa had another homer for the second day in a row. Grady matched Friday with another homerun. Asdrubal hit his own version of the Grand Slam. Shin Soo Choo hit a three run shot of his own, also
On his day off, the 2008 Cy Young Award Winner’s life was up in the air in a F-16 Falcon. To get an idea of what this might have looked like, here’s a video.
Meanwhile Travis Hafner was taking batting practice in preparation for yesterday’s March 6th debut along with Grady Sizemore in preparation for this weekend’s action when they are scheduled to share DH duties beginning on Sunday, March 8, 2009.
Both Lee and Hafner were primed and ready to go. However, the results were not as stellar. Remember, the key is health and depth. Today is just a tuneup, not a first real lap. Everyone’s goal is to put the best 25 man roster out there and create depth for the possibility of injuries. Repetition and practice just to get in shape as well as fine tuning for April will just begin the process for Hafner and Lee. This season is going to take all 25 players working together to make this season work. Putting it all on a star player to carry us should not be the mindset for the 2009 season. It is going to take all 25 men working together. The hat may say I but the heart needs to show T-E-A-M.
Hafner went 0-2 with a strikeout and Lee gave up 2 runs in 1 inning of work. One could get discouraged. Yet with baseball being a marathon and not won on paper but in the pace of how the race is run and eventually won, one can only hope that the kinks will continue to be worked out and the lineup will reflect what will be a very competitive Cleveland Indian team on the field. All we can do is hope that tomorrow against these guys
we will win. However, our goal should be to get better so that April 6th will be a very competitive day and set us off on a good pace to the 162 game marathon. Let’s get out there and compete better, boys! Make Wedge and Willis proud!
Good luck, let’s get more focused!
Update-Choo went 1-3 with a walk and a run scored as he led Korea over Chinese Taipei 9-0. Hopefully, he will continue this great effort against Japan later this morning at 5:00 A.M.
This news announced Thursday from Indians MLB.com beat reporter Anthony Castrovince found here was not news to us Tribe fans including this one and me. Andy Marte was released. It was expected. However, it was a story that brought back a lot of memories for me to reflect upon.
The Arrival of Coco Crisp
It began August 7, 2002. On this day, Coco Crisp came to the Indians. At the time, my daughter was 2 and my son just turned 1. I was already a big fan of the game. After watching Coco one night against the Angels, I decided this would be the player I would tell my children to emulate when playing or watching the game. The way he played the game was one i wanted my kids to follow. I kept repeating his name every time I sat down to watch baseball telling my children to watch his every at bat. I remember one such at bat. Coco was up with the bases loaded against the Reds at the time as I recall against their closer at the time, Danny Graves. A shot up the middle from Crisp and the winning run scored. “We came back and won, kids, thanks to Coco Crisp” I guess what helped make him so memorable was that he reminded us all of Snap Crackle and Pop.
The Arrival of Andy Marte
This news hit me hard. It was hard to tell the kids. I think it was harder for me to tell about than it was for them to take. They simply went on to like other players. I, however felt like I lost another Rocky Colavito. Still I was optimistic and moved on. I heard and read many good reports about Andy and was willing to watch him develop into an All-Star third baseman.
We fans expected Andy to be but all we got was Andy had so much potential but just never lived up to his billing.
It was hard for him and hard for us. I was happy to see him go and try to succeed elsewhere. After all I was tired of singing the name game and needing one of these when talking about Marte.
I was also tired of the jokes about K-mart or Wal-Mart and relating them to Andy. It just didn’t work out and needed to change.
The arrival of De Rosa and promise of Hodges
With DeRosa, I feel very confident that we are in good shape. I wrote earlier about DeRosa here and just feel so much better about the situation. Also after seeing Wes Hodges play in Akron, I really believe we have some promise there that could be well worth the price of admission in the future. i know I was impressed with what I saw even though gas was at $4 a gallon. It was well worth the one hour there and back from my house, even at those prices. Perhaps i will need to go two hours to Columbus to continue to see his progress. Hopefully I will see De Rosa and Hodges in some action when I go in a few days to Goodyear. I know no matter what, it will be well worth it.
Image credits: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/fantasy/baseball/news/2003/05/01/nl_report/t1_graves_all.jpg