Tuesday, June 15

Downtown report

Three games in three days last weekend - too bad they weren't all at Progressive Field.

Nick, Figgs, Dave and I headed down to the ballpark for some Tribe action on Friday night, as Jake Westbrook squared off against some guy from the Nationals. We pre-gamed at Wilbert's, which is a pretty solid destination: $2 beers, good food (I really enjoyed the spicy bean soup), and rebroadcasts of classic Tribe games on the TV's, plus you're about a block from Progressive Field. What's not to like?

The game itself was good - Tribe won handily thanks to a solid start from Jake and a power demonstration from Austin Kearns. I kept score during the contest, and you'd better believe I awarded Rusty a single for his grounder towards 1st that Adam Kennedy couldn't come up with. I also noted in my book that Onion won the Hot Dog Race.

Prior to the game, I told the crew that I'd buy a round of beers if newly-called-up Carlos Santana reached base safely in his first plate appearance. I was going to say "got a hit," but as someone who recognizes the value of OBP, I broadened it in case Mr. Santana worked a walk. He ended up grounding into a Fielder's Choice; he ended up on first base, but this is not reaching first base safely in any reasonable baseball sense of the word. He went to 0-1 for the game and his OBP remained at .000 after the at-bat, case closed. Nick stubbornly and intentionally misinterpreted my offer, insisting on the (highly debatable) semantic letter of the law rather than the (quite clear) spirit of my offer. Now, I wasn't sitting with them when the AB happened - when I joined them, I assumed they'd jokingly say I had to buy the round, but Nick was actually serious, which I found utterly unreasonable. I wonder if he would have twisted "got a hit" into "hit the ball" as well? Were I in the same situation, I would have made a joke about it, but not actually suggested that Santana had met the terms of the offer. Even had he reached by error (it should have been a double play, btw), I would have bought, but not for an out-making plate appearance like this, no way. Too bad we didn't go on Saturday too, as Santana busted loose for a double, home run, and 3 RBI.

After the Tribe's easy win, we were treated to a fireworks show, which made me forget for a second that we were in America's Most Miserable City. Wow, if not for Forbes magazine, I might have thought I was having an enjoyable evening.

World Cup Fever!

I'm kidding - that game was poke-your-eyeballs-out boring. England scored within 4 minutes, and given the unwritten rules of international soccer, that meant the best we could hope for was a 1-1 tie. That's actually what we got, thanks to a comical misplay by England's goalie late in the first half. Hey, at least we got to chant "USA! USA!" once. There were also a few loud cheers when England scored, but I didn't see anyone in the Winking Lizard sporting any Tory gear. Wankers.

The second half saw a switch from me watching the game and glancing frequently up at the clock to me mostly focusing on the clock and periodically checking in on the game. You can only make fun of soccer terminology and fake shin injuries for so long until the game grows tedious once again. That thing couldn't end soon enough. 13 World Cup games so far in 2010; every single one has ended in a shutout or a 1-1 tie. Brilliant.

Much like the almost-perfect game from a couple of weeks ago, I had a different agenda than most sports fans across the nation when it came to Sunday's contest against the Nationals. While most observers were interested primarily in the 2nd Major League start of Stephen Strasburg (or, in the case of two weeks ago, Galarraga's pursuit of perfection), I just wanted to see the Tribe win. Didn't happen, thanks to a dominating performance by SS and a considerably less dominating outing from the Tribe's bullpen. Hey, at least it was nice outside.

Speaking of the Galarraga game, a coworker told me that had he been Cleveland batter Jason Donald and hit that ball that led to the much-disputed call at first, he would have just let the Tigers get him for the 27th out.

Hell no.

You're only down 3-0; you can still WIN this game. That's the point of baseball, right, to win games? Isn't this America? I thought this was America! You do whatever you can (within the rules, of course) to get on base and help your team win games - anything else is unacceptable to your fans, teammates, and the competitive spirit of the game.

This brings to mind a game a few years ago where Curt Schilling and manager Bob Brenly got their panties in a bunch because Padres catcher Ben Davis bunted to break up a perfect game that Schilling had carried into the 8th. I found the Dbacks' reaction to this utterly appalling; Brenly childishly and incorrectly decried Davis' hit as "uncalled for." Are you people serious? Do you know ANYTHING about baseball? Davis reached base and brought the tying run to the plate in a 2-0 game. That is success, not disrespect. It's not his job to give Schilling an unfettered chance to throw a perfect game; it's his job to get on base and try to score a run. Anyone who criticized Davis at all for his successful at-bat is a straight-up moron, and anyone who thinks Donald should have done anything but hustle down that line is no better.

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