I try to write from an objective point of view. I try to look at the facts, good or bad as they may be for my vested rooting interest, and make educated comments and provoke thoughts among my readers as to the who, what, where, when and why of such a situation occurred. I try to make you see my point of view, but not by jamming it down your throat or trying to bully. And, hard as it may be, I never want to write from of a point of anger. But sometimes it just happens, and things like this get written.
As with most Northeastern Ohioans, my summer allegiance falls to the Cleveland Indians. In my youth, the team was a mess. A pure calamity. The laughingstock. In the mid 90's, something changed. Coinciding with the opening of a new ballpark and new ownership, my baseball team, yes that major league baseball team, the team so consistently terrible they made a movie about them winning, that's how far fetched an idea it was, was actually making moves and looking good. We all remember the mid-late 90's and the first few years of the 2000's. Close but no cigar. Typical Cleveland crushing defeats at the pinnacle moments. But, through it all, you can't blame the effort or the front office being willing to go the extra mile or spend the extra dollar to try and get over that hump.
Then suddenly for a few years it was back to below .500 summers, empty seats at the yard and scalpers giving away tickets. After nearly breaking out in the year before, the 07 team kicked in the door, crushed the division and steamrolled into the playoffs. That season would end with me sitting stunned, again, as my guys lost game 7 in Fenway Park during the American League Championship Series. One win shy of the World Series.
This season, despite preseason talk of "hoping for a .500 team" and prognosticators predicting an all but assured last place finish, the Erie Warriors jumped out to a 30-15 record and first place in the Central Division. Even as I write this, after being swept by the world champion San Francisco Giants over the weekend, they sit a mere half game behind Detroit in the Central pennant race. So why am I not optimistic and excited for a summer run that should leave us tuning in to our radios and checking scoreboards all season long? Maybe it's because Bobby Valentine's comments during the ESPN broadcast Sunday night ring true to me: The Indians look like a team that is going to be content playing out the string and seeing what they have, getting ready for next season.
Of course, and I hate to keep going back to this, but maybe it has to do with that 07 team again. Jog back a few years and make a stop in July 2007. The Indians were solidly set on the hill with CC, Fausto emerging, Jake Wesbrook and Paul Byrd. All that was missing was a bat in the lineup to protect Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez. And not just a stick, they needed a bat, someone who came to the plate with dinger potential. They needed Adam Dunn or Jason Bay. Both were available.
I remember being at work and the text messages started rolling in. "Indians made a trade!" and "Indians made some kind of move!" and "World Series!" In my state of pure excitement, I clicked on to the internet, searched around to see who had the story first, and there it was on Cleveland.com. The Indians had done it... they acquired 40 year old Kenny Lofton to help with the playoff push. What about Dunn? When is the Jason Bay announcement? Kenny Lofton... as if it were 1995 all over again.
To his defense, Lofton performed like a champion. He mentored the young guys, made plays on the basepaths, he looked good for 40 years old! It's no slight to Kenny, but he just was not what the team needed to get that coveted World Series ring... but damn if he didn't try! And I still owe Joel Skinner a shot in the jaw for holding Lofton up at third during game 7 in Boston... talk about stupid.
I guess my anger, actually there is no guessing, it is full on anger, is that the Indians are a half game out of first and I can't see them doing anything about trying to get back into first and making waves in the playoffs short of promoting some farm players. And what really gets me boiling is the excuses I hear from other fans. "They can't trade top prospects, they have to think about the future. The idea is to build a team that wins now and in the future." Alright, listen, maybe you're not keeping up with the score here, but how about we win A championship before we start planning out our dynasty?! You know, a championship, that thing that has eluded us since 1964!
I understand the business aspects and the "can't trade away guys without getting real value" point of view. And I'm in no way saying Chris Antonetti and Mark Shapiro should go off like drunk pirates and offer the farm for anyone who's ever sniffed a batting title or been to an All-Star game. You of course have to be responsible and make what, in your best estimation, are the right moves. I get that. However, you have to make some moves, or you're just throwing in the towel.
And all this talk of people saying "well, we weren't supposed to be very good anyway, so let's be glad they'll be at or above .500 and look to next year", will you people please raise the bar on your expectations a little bit! Please?! If the Indians were ten games under .500 right now and starting to come on a little, sure I'd agree with you, let's hope for the best and look to next year. Except they're not. They're a half game out of first. As in first place. As in a playoff spot. As in getting into the big tournament that leads to the World Series. And it doesn't matter how they got here, or where they were supposed to be. The fact is, they're here! Carpe diem, seize the day! Got get it!
But I know nothing will happen. I heard Bruce Drennen today talking about Vlad Gurerro and all I could do was shake my head. As much as I agree with him, that Vlad would be awesome to rent for a few months and stick in right field, never mind it would probably not cost very much to get him, they simply are not going to do it. Nope. They're going to bring up Lonnie Chisenhall and Jeanmar Gomez. They're going to toss words around like "young" and "experienced" and "toughness" to get us all thinking this offseason will produce shrewd maneuvering and next year will be the year. And then they will do what they did in the offseason in 2007 going into 2008 to help get that team back into the playoffs and this time win it all... they'll do absolutely nothing.
Chris Antonetti, Mark Shapiro, please prove me wrong. Nothing will make me happier than to write about how I was way off on what the Indians front office would do when faced with serious personnel questions being a half game out of first a week away from the Fourth of July. Please.
I'm not sure if any of my Twtter followers could tell, but I was not in favor of drafting Jonas Valucuaninanisiunus at number 4. I was fine with Irving at 1, but in no way was I willing to sit by idly and watch them draft a 7' tall stick-figure from Lithuania who may or not be able to play in the NBA both contractually and based on skill-set. If they took Jonas, much to the fear of my Twitter followers who would have had to experience it live, I'd have shot myself in the face in protest. Luckily it didn't happen and the Cavs selected Tristan Thompson out of Texas at number 4... my face thanks you, Tristan, for being such a quality player and having Chris Grant think so highly of you.
As for the picks themselves:
As I wrote last week, Kyrie Irving was the pick at number 1. Most people felt it would be, though some thought it could very well be Arizona's Derrick Williams. As it turns out, hearing Chris Grant say that they had Irving as the clear cut number one, and that it wasn't even close, gave me an odd sense of comfort. I railed for Derrick Williams for weeks, I still love his game. But if Chris Grant, and especially Byron Scott, see something in Irving that not only makes him the number 1 but the clear cut head and shoulders above number one, then I have to go with that too. I'm no NBA expert. They are, or are at least supposed to be, or at the very least are paid like it. So, Kyrie, you the man!
It's a shame that the only thing people want to talk about regarding Tristan Thompson is his agent Rich Paul and his affiliation with LRMR. Granted, not the smartest group of people to try and "talk up" in your first "new home town" press conference. But, let's face it, a lot of guys are represented by these clowns. Should the Cavs now and forever avoid LRMR clients? All Tristan needs to do is produce on the court and nobody will care who he has for representation.
The drafting of Thompson leads me to believe one thing: JJ Hickson's days as a Cavalier a short.
Tomorrow, in a bit of a shocker, for the first time since Jim Tressel was forced out err resigned, players will be available to speak to the media. Joe Bauserman, Nate Oliver, Michael Brewster and John Simon are the players selected, and if I were taking an early poll I'd bet most say these four will be captains this fall. It should be very interesting. We can also infer that with John Simon being one of the four, he must have been cleared of any of the wrongdoing that he was accused of by one George Dohrmann in Sports illustrated.
Luke Fickell will be on the Dan Patrick radio show at 10:30 eastern tomorrow 6/28.
Metallica track of the week
"No Leaf Clover" as it states "then it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel, was just a freight train coming your way" Keep running that mouth Flounder. Nothing you and your boys or the fans are saying will be forgotten on November 26th.