When it comes to Opening Day, all types of fans come to the game. Generally, it is the one game the Indians can count on selling out at least for the last 18 years at Jacobs/Progressive Field. Opening Day is an unofficial holiday in NE Ohio! Many people show up at a local establishment to make their predictions and get pumped for the upcoming season. It is an all day event filled with optimism that perhaps this year we will surprise the world and actually “go all the way” or at least compete and be entertaining.
This was the atmosphere before the game. However this year, someone very dear was missing who will be honored throughout the 2011 season, Bob Feller. The pregame was very moving with a video tribute to Bob along with the baseball placed on the mound by his wife, Anne.
The sun came out hours before the game and filled yesterday with hope for all fans. With God’s blessing, the weather resembled Bob’s life, full of light and warmth. This was going to be a great day. All fans were giving predictions for scores, all of which favored our beloved team.
The first pitch, a called strike, was fitting. Just like Bob. Yet Fausto Carmona, never really seemed relaxed. Juan Pierre got a hit to lead off the game, then another by Beckham. Dunn struck out. However, Konerko hit one into right field and scored Pierre. Quentin added another hit to score Beckham and it was already 2-0 before the Indians even got to bat.
The game was played like two halves to a football game in a football town. However, this was baseball. Still in football language, the White Sox were up by the equivalent to a safety in football early in the first quarter. The second inning it seemed like Fausto settled down and it was going to be okay. The third inning a couple of “bombs” were launched into the stands off the bats of Adam Dunn and Carlos Quentin. After the end of the 1st quarter of the game for the White Sox, the score was equal to the total of two field goals as the White Sox were up 6-0. Remember this is baseball! Things were not looking well. The fourth inning was even worse and the rout was on resembling a 1986 memory where Greg Swindell lost his major league debut, 24-5 as the White Sox added a double factory and Dubble Bubble bubble gum sponsorship was nowhere to be found among the many scoreboard, foul pole and outfield advertisements. The White Sox were up by the equivalent of two touchdowns, 14-0 after 4 innings and remained that way until the bottom of 6. Colt McCoy, the Browns quarterback was nowhere to be found due to the fact that this was baseball and it doesn’t help his league is in a lockout.
The Indians thanks to the effort of of some consecutive singles added what equaled two safeties in football in the 6th and some timely “bombs” of their own cut the score to a touchdown and extra point deficit by the end of 7 innings. It was 14-7 in the 4th quarter of the game. After another run was added by the White Sox making the score 15-7, the thought of tying the score with another touchdown now required the two point conversion. Did we have enough for a two minute, er…two inning drive?
Thanks to the efforts of key hitting by Michael Brantley to get Matt LaPorta and Jack Hannahan home and Matt LaPorta hitting a single to score Hafner in the ninth, the score added a field goal and became a much more respectable 15-10. On the way out, I said to the greeter at the gate who said “Thanks for coming.” Thanks, at least it wasn’t boring. When going to sporting events, if we don’t have the talent to win a lot yet, we fans at least want to see our teams compete. And compete they did. Thank you to the Cleveland Indians for not giving up and competing until the last out. Hopefully they will pull out a W today. This fan can only hope.
Player of the game: Carlos Santana thanks to his key hits scoring the first run as well as another homerun
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Today, March 31st, the snow was on the ground. It looked like winter. Winter, a season where everything appears to be dead, asleep. It was a day of reflection. A day to remember. A day to look back at the life of Bob Feller. We all have our memories of Mr. Feller, some very close, personal. Some very distant, passing. Yet we Cleveland Indians fans are united and very proud people. We cherish our history and pride our conversations with each other and especially Mr. Feller. The knowledge we gained from hearing from Mr. Feller and about Mr. Feller is something that we cherish and we must now pass on from generation to generation. Mr. Feller was and is the face of our franchise. Today, the Indians owner promised Mr. Feller that the Cleveland Indians will carry on.
On April 1st, Opening Day, it will be Spring, we will play on by living and striving to have the winning spirit, the love of God, the love of country, the sacrifice, the youth that Mr. Feller showed every day he lived. In striving to have these qualities, Mr. Feller will never die because his life will be celebrated forevermore and lived on in each kid from the sandlots to the farms to the prospects to the major leaguers. Each person that plays ball shares Bob Feller, shares the dream that the Cleveland Indians strive to live out. Baseball is a game for the family, the community, the state, the nation, the world and should be celebrated whenever and wherever it can be whether it is playing catch with a child or peer or a formal 9 inning game between two teams and cheered by all.
April 1st at Progressive Field, it will be Fausto Carmona vs. Mark Buerhle to kick off the 2011 season, a very special beginning to a very special season. It will be a day to remember a man who threw the only no hitter on Opening Day to date, Bob Feller. I expect tomorrow to be a classic pitching duel, something Mr. Feller would relish between two of the game’s great pitchers.
Whatever the outcome, Cleveland is better thanks to Mr. Feller and the Cleveland Indians. The game that was passed on to me will be passed on to my son and daughter tomorrow and will be the first of one hundred sixty-two and eighty-one at home. It is like this every year. Yet this year I sense will be different for me because it will be cherished more than ever. Thank God for country, thank God for family, thank God for baseball in Cleveland! Mr. Feller would not want it any other way! Amen! Play ball!
A Tale of two Lees: Game 1 Preview for 2009
Location: Arlington TX
Time 205 EDT
It was July 21, 2007 in Arlington, Texas. A dark day for Cliff Phifer Lee. He beaned then Texas Ranger, Sammy Sosa in the head on a night when Sosa was being honored for hitting his 600th home run. This led to an altercation between catcher Victor Martinez and Cliff on the mound during the game and also led to a players’ only meeting after the game. His final line for the game was 7 runs given up, all earned along with 8 hits in 6.2 innings pitched with one walk and five strikeouts. The Indians went on to lose 8-5. Less than a week later after another terrible performance, Lee would be sent to Triple-A Buffalo and only be called up September 1st only to have four calls out of the bullpen, and not as a starter. From July 6 to July 26, 2007, Cliff was in the midst of a stretch prior to Buffalo that had him at 0-4 with an 11.70 ERA. In 2006, Cliff was an 18 game winner. There were some after outings like this that were calling for Cliff to be traded, one year after being one of the best.
2008, a season of dreams for Cliff Lee as it would be for any other major league starting pitcher and a treat for all Cleveland Indians’ fans as Mr. Lee earned a Cy Young award. In one outing last year, Cliff had similar numbers giving up 6 runs, all earned along with 9 hits, walking 2 and striking out 8. Very similar numbers. Face it, its Texas! Nothing looks like a pitching duel here. Yet, with this outing he won 15-9 and was headed to be the Cy Young Award winner that year.
Now the ace of the Indians’ staff for 2009, and coming off a spring training that had him 0-3 with a 12.70 ERA similar to his stats shown above in July 2007. Yes there will be runs scored. The question will lie in the fact if we can match the Rangers in a slug fest whether or not, we can match enough support to help Lee come out with the victory. Also, one might ask will we see signs of the 22-3 “Cy Young” Lee of 2008 or rather the 5-8 Lee of 2007 who was almost traded?
The lineups are out there for all to see. Now all we need is to “Play Ball!” And we will at 2:05 EDT tomorrow, Monday April 6th, 2009, FINALLY! In order for the Indians to win, I believe the offense must keep us in this ball game because as history has shown, runs will be given up by Lee in this ballpark. It will be interesting how our lineup responds to match the Rangers’ offensive juggernaut led by Josh Hamilton. Good luck to Cliff and the rest of the team as they face Kevin Millwood and the rest of the Rangers. I can’t wait!