It would have been easy to fold up the tent after Tribe Weekend 2009.
Last year's outing took place during Memorial Day weekend, which turned out to be the most atrocious sports weekend, or in fact any weekend, of the year. The Tribe lost both games we went to, to the hated New York Yankees. The Penguins lost in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Cavs dropped another one to the Orlando Magic. I have to imagine that someone on the Browns contracted staph that weekend as well. Plus, the Lake Erie Midges were in town, and for various reasons, several thousand of them infiltrated them my apartment. Any time you say the words "I can only handle one crisis at a time," you know it's not the sort of freewheeling, fun-loving sports weekend you had in mind.
But we didn't give up, and Tribe Weekend 2010, held this past weekend, was a smashing success. The Tribe played great ball, the weather was (mostly) superb, ad the crew was festive. Just an epic endeavor. Here's a recap.
As host, I've gotta be on my game for Tribe Weekend, but man was I ever tired. I'd flown in from San Fiasco on the red-eye, arriving back at my place around 7:30 am on a restless flight, and even going into work (!) from 11 to 4. I know, right? But my crew was set to start rolling in soon, and I had some preparations to make, so I cracked open a PBR and toughed it out. Milkey and JHH rolled up around 5:45 with some of JHH's home-brew, as well as 30 Stones. The latter got us several compliments from the denizens of Reserve Square. We kicked things off with a few readings from the Journal and Courier. Nick showed up a little later with a year's supply of eggs and some beers for people who prefer 16.66% less liquid per can. The brothers Fanuc joined us shortly after 6 pm as well.
We rolled on over to the stadium with some tickets on which my Mom helped get us a fabulous discount, and watched the Tribe maul the Tigers 8-2. The Wahoos fell behind early, but rallied quickly, got a great start from Jake Westbrook, pounded a couple of two-run home runs (an opposite-field job from Austin Kearns and a titanic blast from...wait for it...Andy Marte). Really just a tremendous effort in all phases of the game from the Indians, matched by a stellar effort from us making jokes in the RF Lower Deck. I'm not at liberty to repeat many of the jokes, but one of the key rules of Tribe Weekend is to never let a joke die.
Since we were playing the Tigers, I decided to wear my "2007 Division Champions" t-shirt to stick it to visiting fans a bit. We missed Bucko and his legendary purple jersey at this point; we also missed Figgs back at the apartment while pre-gaming. Nick decided to sport a Hawaiian shirt to the game, apropos of nothing, and took a suitable amount of ribbing from us. Coincidentally, however, it turned out to be Beach Weekend at Progressive Field. Who knew? At this point, I made the executive decision that we would all be wearing Hawaiian shirts to tomorrow's contest, though unlike Nick I planned to support mine with some actual Indians gear as well.
We enjoyed a couple of nightcaps, checking out the post-game fireworks from a spot on Prospect, hitting up Harry Buffalo and Pacer's, and wrapping up the evening with some hot NES action up at my place. In a related story, I am 30 years old.
Of course, this morning, I felt about 60. Nah, it wasn't bad, but we stayed up late and you're not going to be 100% the next day, but it was all good. As you can see in the photo at right, I was pretty much the coolest cat in the hemisphere this morning. Bear in mind that I was dealing with some sleep deprivation at this point too. We donned the Hawaiians early and got some breakfast at the always-reliable Grumpy's in Tremont. Our waitress asked us, "you guys got big plans for those shirts?" which still strikes me as funny. At this point, I made the decision to point my thumb at Nick and shake my head in disapproval at Nick, regardless of what he had said. Big plans for those shirts.
Saturday was a day-night double-dip between los Indios and las Tigres; we decided that our best bet would be to watch the 1 pm game from my house or some similar location, and attend the night game. Given the heat out, this was a wise decision indeed. With about 90 minutes to kill, we elected to squeeze in a screening of Caddyshack, which always delivers the goods. I was roundly criticized for fast-forwarding through the scene with Chevy Chase and Bill Murray, but look at the facts. We needed to cut some time off the film to be on-time for the Indians game. I'd already whizzed through every scene with Maggie. Something had to go, and this scene simply isn't one of the film's best. What, was I supposed to edit out Judge Smails? You'll get nothing and like it!
Anyway, a flaw in our plan was revealed: no TV for the 1 pm game. I'm not sure if that's because it was a makeup game, a consequence of MLB's idiotic blackout policy, or some horrible combination of the two, but that's how it was.
Worked out great.
I have MLB radio, so we were treated to the sounds of Tom Hamilton, Mike Hegan, and Ron Rosenbaum while we spent the afternoon playing epic contests of RBI Baseball and Wii games that involved characters dressing up as chickens and flapping their wings to complete a course. I can neither confirm nor deny reports that I played this game while sporting a Hawaiian shirt and a sombrero.
We also scored some pizza, which did not arrive a moment too soon. Neither did the end of the Jimmy Buffett CD we were tragically listening to. The Tribe made it two straight over the Motor City Kitties with a hard-fought 4-3 win over Justin Verlander. Fausto Carmona spotted the Detroiters three runs in the first inning, which is not the recommended way to win baseball games, but he, Joe Smith, and the Perezes wouldn't allow another run the rest of the way. Assisting in the effort was Andy Marte, who played the defensive game of his life. Meanwhile, the Tribe offense chipped away with two in the third, tied it when Shelley Duncan scampered home on a wild pitch in the 6th, and went ahead for good in the 7th on Trevor Crowe's RBI single. Ballgame!
Around that time, other members of my crew started joining our jolly foursome, keeping the turnstiles spinning. We watched a bit of Major League to celebrate, learning later that Mr. James Gammon (Lou Brown) had passed on the day before. What a performance that was. Around 5:30, we busted out Tribe Trivia, a Jeopardy!-style game featuring questions authored by none other than me. Nick absolutely wrecked this game, turning in a performance on par with Gammon's outing as the fictional Tribe manager.
Unfortunately, all of my friends arrived well past their scheduled arrival time, so I had to kick them all out so we could get to the game on time. As for the walk over, for the record, I liked "Quitness" shirts better than the unsubtle and frankly awful "Fuck LeBron" shirts. Really, that's all the more clever idea you have?
We went for the bleachers next to Mr. John Adams this time - I figured we'd want to be out of the sun for this one, and it was the right call. At this point in time, a question arose in my mind: who invited all these Tiger fans? Ugh. The Tigers loaded the bases with no one out in the first but failed to score, yet tallied the first marker in the 2nd inning to take an early advantage on the Indians for the third straight game. No matter - Carlos Santana jacked one out of the park to tie the game in the 4th, and it stayed that way for quite some time.
Around the 7th inning, my lack of sleep finally caught up with me, as I passed out for the top of the 7th. I needed that 10 minutes. Hey, at least I didn't miss the Hot Dog Race (had to watch that idiot Ketchup win twice), the 7th-inning stretch (the Indians org really, really needs to work on synching the music and the people singing), or "Hang on Sloopy." Then, tied 1-1 after 8, the rains came. And it looked bad. And I'm a short walk away. So we left.
I don't regret that decision at all. The delay ended up lasting nearly two hours, which we used as productively as possible: drinking Stones, playing RBI, busting out the cards, and rocking iTunes. Then at 11:20, it was Game On once again. Around 12:30 on Sunday morning, the Clevelandes claimed their third straight W over Detroit, as Austin Kearns' two-out single in the 11th plated Jayson Nix to secure the doubleheader sweep. Ballgame!
You're probably wondering whether or not we finished off the Stones. We did. Milkey and I also played one of the more epic RBI games in history. Trailing 19-15 heading to the bottom of the 9th, I tallied five for the win, walking off on a two-out two-run home run by Gary Gaetti that didn't so much clear the fence as tunnel through it, my second quantum round-tripper of the game. It was no weirder than, say, Jhonny Peralta hitting an inside-the-park home run, plus I had been jobbed on a couple of calls earlier, including a Milkey homer down the line that refused to hook, so it was fair.
If we've learned one lesson from previous Tribe Weekends, other than not to open windows when the midges are out and about, it's not to try to go to games all three days. It's just too much.
Not only that, but the Indians apparently finished their sweep of the hapless Tigers with a 7-2 win that featured an inside-the-park home run from Peralta, as well as 9 innings without yielding a single earned run by Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Ambriz. Inasmuch as this game clearly took place in another dimension, perhaps even a Multiverse, we would have been wasting our time trying to attend it. Plus it was hot out.
Tribe Weekend was a success in all facets of the game, much like the Indians' endeavors on the diamond. Here's looking forward to the 2011 edition.
Tuesday, July 20
It would have been easy to fold up the tent after Tribe Weekend 2009.