Monday, October 27

Top Tribe 2008 Moments

Before this baseball season escapes us, Andy and I would like to discuss some of the fonder moments of the Indians 2008 season. While not everything went the Tribe's way this year, that doesn't mean a lack of great games, achievements, and memories. Just, like, not as many as there would be had the season actually been successful.

Opening Day, March 31, Progressive Field

JHH: I should probably leave this one up to Andy since he did attend the game but I'll do my best. The only way I can think to describe this game is exciting. Lots of runs and a tie that lasted from the seventh to the bottom of the eight. Beating the White Sox is always a great way to start the season. Tribe wins 10-8

Andy: I was feeling great both with respect to the upcoming baseball season and a solid level of inebriation heading into this game, and the Tribe did not disappoint. The white socks struck early with a home run from Jim Thome, despite a seriously drunk fan near us informing Jim: "you don't belong here anymore!" The Tribe built a big lead, wasted most of it, and reclaimed it on Casey Blake's 3-run double, a hit that foretold a season (well, most of one) of production in RBI situations from a man not previously known for that. Of all the celebratory beers I've had at Scorcher's, well, this was one of them.

Walking off against the Yankees, April 26, Progressive Field

JHH: My father hates the Yankees more than any person I know. So how does a person like my father handle this hatred? By attending more Yankees games in Cleveland than I could possibly fathom. I guess he has a thing for self-inflicted pain. Anyway, having endured this long, it is hard to believe this was the year the Indians took the season series and series in New York. It was little things like this that made the season a little more bearable.

Andy: Nice work, Victor. Who cares that we lost the next two games? Take that for the first time since 1992, jerk Yankees!

Every game David Dellucci did not play in

JHH: I guess the Delluc provides something to this team. What that is I can't imagine. Sure there were a few bright spots early on in the season but once the Indians were out of the playoff picture why was he not regulated to a permanent bench position? I prefer my veteran players to be a little more gritty and I don't see Dellucci in that role. Here's to hoping for less Dellucci in '09.

Andy: OK, not every one - I liked his GW HR off of Jabba Chamberlain in Yankee Stadium. But seriously, by the end of the season, I was taking this dude's at-bats as a personal affront, kind of like what Nick does with Derek Anderson continuing to start for the Browns.

44 1/3, May 9-15, Progressive Field

JHH: Seriously could our starting pitching be any better at what was the high point of the season? Remember that May 15th marked the Indians' 1.5-game lead in the AL Central. Unfortunately this was still the stretch of horrible offensive output from the Tribe, but much of that was covered by amazing starting pitching.

Andy: In a May homestand against Toronto and Oakland, our starters gave up the following sequence of earned runs: 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0. All told, 44 1/3 straight scoreless and even more ER-less. I was at the first of these, where CC Sabathia outdueled Roy Halladay. They managed to only go 6-1 in those games, though, dropping a 3-0 decision and wasting a great Cliff Lee start in the process. That game also happened to be...

The triple play, May 12, Progressive Field

JHH: This has the distinction of being a great moment in a game the Indians lost. Originally this game was to take place Sunday but was postponed and moved to Monday evening as part of a doubleheader with the Toronto Pájaros Azules. Any triple play is part luck and part stupidity, and to be unassisted it take a whole lot of luck and a whole lot of stupidity. Actually maybe the most overlooked part of a triple play is that you need no outs to actually perform it. Anyway fifth inning with Kevin Mench on second, Marco Scutaro on first and Lyle Overbay at the plate no outs. Overbay hits a liner near the bag Cabrera had to dive for. Unfortunately for the Jays, they also decided to have the hit and run on for this at bat. Meaning all Cabrera had to do was step on the bag to get Mench and tag Scutaro as he ran for second without holding up.

Andy: Triple!

Tribe Weekend, May 23-25, various locations in Cleveland

JHH: I'll just comment on game 1. Dear officials, even while sitting in the upper deck behind home plate while drinking a beer and probably eating nachos I knew Francisco's home run was over the line. Yes this blown call was just one more nail in the coffin for trusting you to handle important calls on the field unaided. In other news the Rangers won the game but at least it was fun watching Julio blow up. And I remember something about Scorcher's and a lobster. Oh yeah Mike, John, and sometimes Andy what did you think of that Ben Francisco call?

Andy: Best YouTube video ever. Your bride beat me by like 1 pin in mini-bowling that night. I demand a rematch.

Yeah, so the Tribe only took 1 of 3 from the Rangers here, but the FCF crew and special guests did it up right for Tribe Weekend. Game 1, a Tribe loss, featured Ben Francisco's home-run that wasn't (more evidence in favor of instant replay), and...I'm sorry, I can't go on until I finish with what a fucking terrible call that was. Please. Someone tell these guys about the railing by the Home Run Porch. This game also featured us loudly recapping Jorge Julio's finest meltdown Simon Says-style as the Ranger lead ballooned to 11-3 in the 2nd inning: walk, walk, grand slam, double, double, infield single. Wow. After the game was Game Night at Scorcher's, where I think we fed quarters to every diversion they had there.

In Game 2, Ben Francisco hit a three-run home run that the umpires actually decided to allow, and Clifton Lee picked up win #7 in a solid game for the Tribe. Scorcher's ensued with a now JHH-less team. Was this the night Nick and I threw Skittles at some random person in the bar? Can't recall for sure.

Game 3 on Sunday was boring as hell; between that and weekend fatigue, I fell asleep in the 8th inning but awoke to see the Tribe lose it 2-1 in the 10th. Why did I make this a highlight again?

The early-June slugfests with the Rangers

JHH: While not winning a lot, the Indians did muster some offense in early June. The Indians batted .277 (108-390) with 64 runs scored (5.8 RS per game) in their first 11 games in June, raising their team batting average from .234 to .242. And at one point they scored 75 runs in 11 games. This offensive outburst wouldn't be seen again until the second half.

Andy: Yeah, so we only won two of four, but we looked good doing it. The average score in this series was 12-7. Talk all you like about the beauty of a good pitcher's duel, and I like those games as well, but these were downright comical. Being at Scorcher's for both the wins didn't hurt either.

Beating LA in extras twice in a row, June 20-21, Dodger Stadium

JHH: If you're not aware, Dodgers fans may easily be the most obnoxious people no one talks about. Maybe its a West Coast bias and the fact that I don't follow the NL that closely but I've never heard much good about their hospitality. Just another reason to enjoy every extra inning win that no one saw because they left to beat the traffic.

Andy: Right in the middle of some really lackluster baseball (with much more in store), the Tribe beat the Dodgers twice in LA in extra innings, with Jhonny Peralta collecting the game-winning hit in both contests.

Sweeping the Rays, July 10-13, Progressive Field

JHH: After being swept by the Indians the Rays had lost seven in a row. I was wondering if the magic of the '08 had worn off the kids from Tampa Bay, but I was wrong. You may also remember Matt Ginter made a start in game 3. Yeah Matt Ginter. This series came after a disastrous ten-game losing streak on the road against division rivals that basically sealed the fate of this team this season. So the sweep going into the All-Star Game was a welcome bright spot.

Andy: I was on the West Coast when this happened, so I have no firsthand knowledge of it, but it does appear to have happened somehow, and by a 31-8 cumulative score to boot. Take that, eventual AL and possibly World Series Champs!

The 10-game winning streak! August 17-27

JHH: Not too many teams can boast a 10 game winning and 10-game losing streak in the same year. While at the time I mentioned this wasn't so much an amazing turn around but a team that had been playing below its ability getting some good breaks and figuring out how to win again, I still really enjoyed all 10 games, which could have been 11 if it wasn't for a certain blogger needing to see so many Indians games this season.

Andy: Marooned at 55-67, the Indians suddenly and without warning served notice that you weren't going to have them to kick around in the second half of 2008. The streak started with the Tribe taking the rubber match from the California Angels (I attended the series-opening win), smacking Kansas City around Progressive Field for a few days (27 runs in three games), embarrassing the Rangers three times in front of their fans, and avenging an earlier sweep to Los Tigres by sweeping three in Comerica Park.

Guess which loser blogger went to the game where the streak ended?

Cliff's 20th, September 1, Progressive Field

JHH: Another great 2008 Indians moment brought to by the Chicago Pale Hose. Growing up with the amazing late 90's Indians always made me believe that a Cleveland pitcher wasn't going to win 20 games. If they could win 100 games in a strike-shortened '95 season and the best they could do was 16 by Nagy maybe this team didn't have the stuff to get a starter across the mythical 20-win line. I guess all it took was an amazing year by one overlooked starter without the pressure of the team actually doing well. Cliff's 20th win was a 5-0 win over the White Sox complete game shutout. Lee gave up only five hits and walked zero while striking out four. I'm really happy that Lee was the pitcher who I will always remember as the guy who finally wiped my boyhood doubts away.

Andy: Lee also led the league in ERA. Can we get this man his Cy Young?

The 7 game winning streak! September 15-22

JHH: This was during my "vacation" as it were so this period of Tribe play is hazier than usual. I imagine starting pitching went well and Choo had some good hits. Am I right? High-five!

Andy: Oh, you thought the 10-gamer was a fluke? Think again. Fresh off of three ugly losses to the Royals at Progressive Field (yeah, I know), the Indians ripped off three-game sweeps over division rivals Minnesota and Detroit, then took one from Boston in Fenway for good measure. Winning streaks are fun.

I like the dedication this showed; the streak took them to just 79-77, still way out of it, but the team showed a lot of pride (and Choo a lot of bat) over the last couple of months. The Minnesota victories were especially satisfying, including the final one, which I watched at Scorcher's, but most notably...

V-Mart's walkoff to beat the Twins, September 16, Progressive Field

JHH: I was in transit at this time so the weight of this moment will be passed on to the capable Andy.

Andy: I found the Twins a bittersweet opponent this season. I certainly like them better than Chicago, and now that Torii Hunter is gone, they have a likable group of guys, develop players well, and win on the cheap, kinda like the Tribe. On the other hand, I'm a Cleveland Indians fan, and I like to see us beat people. Victor's blast was a particularly fun way to beat people, plus the Tribe did their best to help Minny into the playoffs by taking the season-ending series from the black socks, alas to no avail.

The Sheffield fight and subsequent rally over the Tigers, September 20, Progressive Field

JHH: Sheffield is a loudmouth jerk playing for a town and team I'm not a big fan of. This represents another game Andy attended. Of course I'm 226 miles away and Andy lives a little closer to Progressive Field. At the time Andy called this his second best MLB in-person experience ever. Makes you wonder how great number one was.

Andy: As I wrote before, this had it all: perfect weather, free ticket, Sheffield being a total dick and getting pummeled by Carmona, Shin-Soo Choo blasting two home runs, including a game-tying 3-run job in the 8th, and a walkoff win courtesy of Jamey Carroll. Oh, and fireworks. And I went to Scorcher's afterwards and got drunk with Tigers fans.

The #1 experience, you ask? A doubleheader at PNC Park a few years ago, Pirates v Cubs. Herb and I were in a section comprised of a vast Cub fan majority, such that I kept getting confused by the ball-strike applause. Herb opened a friendly dialogue with the Cub fans that became more about trash-talk as the night went on.

The Cubs took a 5-4 lead on a grand slam; the Pirates erased this off the Cubs closer in the 9th, loaded the bases with two outs, and set the stage for Rob Mackowkiak's game-winning walk-off grand slam. Who was this closer, you ask? None other than Joe Borowski.

Nice first game - how about the second? Well, as the PNC beer kept flowing, the Pirates once again fell behind as the stunned Cub fans regained their footing. Trailing 4-2 in the 9th, the Pirates tied it on a two-run homerun by...yep, Mackowiak (whose first son was born hours earlier), and won it on a walk-off in the 10th by Craig Wilson. Wow.

The only thing that could have made this better would have been Mackowiak beating up Sheffield, but you can't have it all, I suppose. I did not go to Scorcher's after this, but did go to PHI, the proto-Scorcher's.

Even a so-so season like this one produced lots of great moments and that's what makes baseball great. Let's hope for even more in 2009. Go Tribe!


Milkey said...

Was this the night Nick and I threw Skittles at some random person in the bar? Can't recall for sure.

It certainly was. I just can't remember if I went to go talk to the wives before or after the Skittle incident. I think it was before the Skittles, and also before my drunk ass realized they were with husbands at the bar.

Nick said...

In our defense, he wasn't just a random person, he was wearing a cowboy hat. Seriously, fuck that guy.

Also the night of ADAM BURKE! Hopefully Bucko remains in complete awe of my shotgunning prowess.

Milkey said...