You cannot imagine the size of the bandage on my knee right now.
It has roughly the same girth as a sequoia, and extends all the way from the bases of my toes up 2/3 of the way to my waist from the knee. It is MASSIVE. I find this at least slightly odd inasmuch as all I had were two small 1-cm incisions on my knee. You cannot possibly justify this ridiculous thing covering my foot, and as soon as someone shows up here who can reach said foot more easily than I can, such justification will no longer be necessary. (Editor's note: took care of this myself after writing the Tribe portion of this post. So much better.) The whole damn thing is supposed to stay on until Sunday evening...we'll see.
The take-home message is that FCF Racing is having a temporary setback, but I'm fully expecting to rock and roll before too long. I did a triathlon 72 days after a similar procedure on my opposite knee three years ago and started wrecking PR's all over the place - I'm already walking better today than I was back then, so there's cause for optimism.
So that's me. How about our favorite Ohio teams?
Fellas, really, as long as you need to stay on the road, by all means do so. Progressive Field wasn't too hospitable for the Tribe's opening series (series'? serieses?) against the Blue Jays and White Sox, as they couldn't hit their way out of a sack lunch (don't you want to know how they got in that sack?) and stumbled to a 1-4 mark.
FCF, for our part, represented with a 14-man crew at Game #2, the second straight extra-inning loss to the Azulejos. But whatevs - the real fireworks came postgame at the Clevelander, where we became embroiled in some hardcore contests of Pop-a-Shot against these asshole Blue Jay fans. I'm kidding, the BJ fans were really nice dudes, as Canadians typically are, and we enjoyed drinking American-style lager beer with them and wished them well against the far more nefarious yankees and red sox this season. They had good things to say about their annual visits to Cleveland, reinforcing my view that everyone who visits here likes it.
Cordiality and the world's longest peaceful border didn't stop me from looting their pockets, though - we all put $1 bills on the metal fence surrounding the hoop and I took home as many as seven extremely wrinkly bills after telling the Canucks in no uncertain terms that I would not tolerate them posting their silly "dollar" coins as collateral. Nick in particular ended up developing some real consistency by the end of our marathon shot-chucking session, routinely posting scores in the high 50's and low 60's. Then we repaired to my bungalow where I just straight wrecked shit at mini-cornhole.
After a chilly, abbreviated set against the ChiSox that I have completely erased from my memory (something I have not erased from my memory: the fact that they once lost the World Series on purpose) the Wahoos headed west, to which I say: Thank goodness for the Kansas City Royals! The Tribe rolled into Missouri last weekend and flat laid the lumber to the Reales, piling up 32 runs in sweeping a three-game set against the perennially awful Royals. They actually have some solid players on that team, and I think they'll score some runs, but oh that pitching staff. The offensive explosion for the Indians prompted all sorts of Media Guide reading, but I'll just go with this:
Runs per 9 at Progressive Field: 3.3
Runs per 9 at Kaufmann Stadium: 10.3
So there you have it. The Indians are now 2nd in the AL in runs per game, trailing only the juggernaut that is the Texas Rangers. I'm already feeling nauseous thinking about having to play them.
Can I interest you in my favorite Tom Hamilton moment of the weekend? Late in the Sunday game, a Royal hit a sharp ground ball that bounced off of 1B Casey Kotchman's glove and into right field. By Hamilton's description, it was pretty clearly a double, but the homer Royal scorer awarded the batter a double, much to Hamilton's bemusement. (By the way, what's the deal with scorers always fudging decisions to help the home club's stats? Why are we OK with this?) Later in the inning, with the Tribe comfortably on top, a Royal took second on Defensive Indifference; Hamilton opined that it would be DI, "although with the scorer here, he might end up with three stolen bases."
Regarding the beanball situation from the Saturday game...Nick correctly pointed out that Gomez could have waited longer to settle the score after KC pegged Choo, but the bullpen could have at least sort of stepped up once he exited. I'll give Gomez credit for throwing an appropriate retaliation ball - he didn't headhunt, just hit the guy in the butt where injury risk is minimal and let's move along. In fact, baseball's idiotic "warn both benches" rule made the whole situation much worse than it needed to be. Leave the players to their own devices, and Gomez's pitch ends everything and we get on with our lives. And the suspension MLB handed down to Jeanmar was totally lame.
As was the absurd $750 fine levied on Chris Perez for his relatively innocuous post-game twitter:
Huge team win tonight; time for a sweep to tell the Royals it's not 'Our Time', it's #TribeTime. P.S. You hit us, we hit you. Period.
MLB handed down the fine and admonished Perez for having "demonstrated a reckless disregard for the safety of the players on both clubs," a claim with no connection whatsoever to reality.
Cleveland kept things rolling in Seattle, rallying from a seven-run deficit to topple Los Marineros in Game 1, getting handled by Kel Varnsen and the M's in the middle game, and guaranteeing a winning roadie by stealing a rare win from Seattle in a game started by F-Her, thanks to Captain Jack's ninth-inning heroics. All of a sudden, you grab a couple of games in Oaktown behind Ubaldo, Masterpiece, and Gomez, and you're headed home with a 7-2 voyage in hand. Let's go get it.
It's way too early in the season to take anything meaningful away from the Indians' individual statistics...and that's why it's going to be fun to do just that.
- Shelley Duncan's OBP is .444. I joked on twitter a few days ago when it was .485 that it looked very much sustainable to me...and then he went out and pushed it above .500 for a day! I'd take .350 from Shelton, personally.
- Hafner is sitting at .314/.415/.542 (OPS+ 167). Keep those fingers crossed.
- Carlos Santana in 2011: .239/.351/.457. Currently: .256/.408/.539. I think this kid will be OK.
- Shin-Soo Choo is getting on base (.389) but not doing much else. I, for one, am ready for the old Choo to come back.
- Kipnis (76), Brantley (74), Kotchman (56) - season already started, guys.
- Starters' ERA: 4.68.
Relivers' ERA: 4.98
Justin Masterson has struggled early in ballgames and Tony Sipp just hasn't gotten anyone out, but they both have quality track records so I'm not as worried about our staff (11th/14 in the AL in ERA curently) as I might otherwise be. Go Tribe!
Whew. This is NOT a good team. Injuries, particularly to their two best players (Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejão), have just crushed this team, as they have put together a 4-18 stretch of basketball to plummet from a season-high 16-23 to their current 20-41. But hey, they've dropped to the 5th-worst record in basketball, so bring on those ping-pong balls!
I am a little worried, however, at how non-competitive even a short-handed team like this has become, a situation epitomized by the comical 116-77 pasting handed them by the sub-mediocre Detroit Pistons earlier this week, a game in which Los Caballeros trailed 100-50 at one point. Yikes. Antawn Jamison posted a -47 for the game, which is (a) the worst single-game +/- in the NBA this year, (b) almost theoretically impossible, and (c) the only thing keeping Donald Sloan (-46 in the same game) from holding that mark.
I went to the game Wednesday with a buddy, and it was not a pretty thing. The game went from a 57-all tie to a 22-point deficit in 5:21 of game time, and for a fan a few Smithwicks deep into the evening, it felt like about 1:00. We decided to bolt shortly thereafter when I saw the Penguins (facing elimination from the hated Flyers) were up 4-3; they'd pushed the advantage to 7-3 by the time I made the 15-minute walk back to my home bar. Sweet. Not to make this entire post about my prowess at meaningless bar games, but I did claim my third straight punching game victory with a closely-contested victory over Bucko. I know he'll be back, though, and I'll be ready.
In the interest of providing some more positive basketball-related notes, can I interest you in a recap of the single most exciting basketball game I've ever seen, let alone played in? Great. As you see from the photo from right, my team is indeed the Jammin' Jalapeños, and we are named after a BW3 hot sauce. A coworker of mine from South Africa was visiting and we went out to trivia night at BW3 and he ordered said sauce for his wings. My team's captain, Fanuc, was registering our club via smartphone, needed a name, and I saw the hot sauce and presto, we're the Jammin' Jalapeños. None of us can dunk.
Now, about this game. We were already in the Elimination Bracket (aka the Loser's Bracket) of a double-elimination tourney, so you win or you're out, it's that simple. We were playing the Ballers, a team who, how shall I say this, I do not like. They had five players, three of whom were ringers - we had seven but were without a key guy as well. I got the pleasure of guarding this douchebag kid with semi-spiky hair - what a treat. You know how when people have amputations they experience "phantom pain" from the missing part even though it isn't there? Well I sometimes still feel him grabbing my jersey. So much jersey-grabbing. But onto the game...
We started pretty slow - as usual, we started in a 3-2 zone, found out that it wasn't working, and had better success when we switched to man-on-man defense. No one on our team really knows why we don't just start in man. Anyway, we were behind 10 before I even entered the game, but we closed to within 5 at the half and felt lucky to be there.
We scored the first 7 of the second (with me on the bench) to take our first lead, and it was back and forth from there. We kept a slim advantage into the late stages of the game - they were fouling when the clock got below 90 seconds, and we were struggling from the line (I was a mediocre 3-6 myself). Up by two with 20 seconds left, I got fouled and split a pair, so we're up 55-52. Come on, Francis, lock it down. In my defense, spiky-haired douche was clapping at me obnoxiously as I shot, which is supposed to be a lane violation but legality aside, is so incredibly bush league that I'm almost out of words to describe it.
The Ballers then take posession, down by three with 20 seconds on the clock...the longest 20 seconds of basketball I've ever experienced. It was very much Cavs-Pistons in Game 6 in 2006 - a flurry of shots, scrambles for loose balls, and such, and this time their best guy somehow got free with the ball. I was on the weak side and could see both him and the clock in my field of vision. He got it off with 0.4 on the clock...nothing but net, overtime. Ugh. You have to appreciate how deflating this is for a team that close to victory, to have to regroup and drag yourself back on the court for a game you already should have won.
The game played along those same lines in OT, with the Jalapeños struggling from the line, but still maintaining a narrow lead. We're up by two (again) and they have the ball (again) with limited time. One of the Ballers launches a three from straight on at the top of the key, BANKS it in, and we're down 62-61. You have got to be kidding me. We called a quick a timeout to figure out what to do with our last 2.9 seconds.
It's worth pointing out here, in case I haven't already, that this kid I was guarding was not an individual with whom I wish to spend much additional time.
One of our players draws up this awful play where Fanuc takes the ball at the baseline (yes, we still have to go the whole length of the court - it's not NBA rules), baseball-passes it to our tallest player Neal, near center court, and has a couple of other guys streak by our center to get a quick pass from him and put up a shot. I'm not in love with the plan, but it's reasonable considering our limited time.
I line up about halfway between the inbounds and halfcourt, in case Fanuc can't get it to center court and so I can start my attack run, and he indeed chucks it to midcourt. Our lanky big man Neal just Megatron-style outleaps three of their guys, and manages to corral the ball. Good so far.
Neal passes it to me just after I cross the timeline - good patience and presence of mind not to give it up early and commit a backcourt violation. Finding myself surprisingly open, I toss up an off-balance 35-footer just before time expires and the buzzer sounds...
We win, gym goes nuts. I can't believe no one had their camera phone out! I can only imagine what being a NBA player and hitting a game-winner must feel like - the reaction sounded deafening to me and there were maybe like 50 people there. It's still a bit of a blur to me - the shot felt good as I released it, and I thought I had a 1/3 chance of it dropping once it was in the air. The ball felt like it hung up forever and I didn't know what to do once it rattled in. I put one finger in the air for a second and put my head down and walked over towards my bench, all of whom I discovered were sprinting at me full speed. I managed not to jump around and punch the air like that jerkface for Chicago in '89.
Our season ended the next day, but we'll always have the Brunswick Bomb.
Will you look at these fucking things the steelers are going to wear for two games in the 2012 season? Unbelievable. Serves them right, having to wear those hideous things. Goodness.
My NFL Draft prediction remains as before: the Browns will pick some dudes, Mel Kiper will give us an utterly pointless "B" draft grade, and none of it will matter until games start.
As for the Browns schedule, I've cautioned readers in the past about reading the tea leaves of an NFL schedule given the league's yearly volatility in won-loss totals, so let's not fret over the clubs we see on the Browns' slate. If you're going to worry about one team on the sked, it should be the Browns, because we are not good. Not as bad as NFL.com originally opined, but probably not good.
Lots of hard-hitting analysis from me there, I know. To summarize:
1) The NFL Draft is boring.
2) Don't bother trying to interpret the Browns' strength of schedule.
Not much going on in Buckeyeland with the cagers and and gridironers in off-season, though Figgs did inform me of a key lacrosse victory the Buckeyes posted over the weasels recently. I actually don't know if it was "key" or not, but it was over michigan, so I'll take it.
At trivia last night, I saw a couple of disconcerting things. One was a replay of last year's Game, and my hatred for that idiotic eating thing that can't-tie kept doing has only magnified over time. It is so stupid. I can't wait to see him eating turf and crow next year.
I also saw a michigan scrimmage, which is just horrible. michigan vs michigan? Who am I supposed to hate more? Shudder.
Friday, April 20
You cannot imagine the size of the bandage on my knee right now.