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Indians and Sizemore Headed For One Last Dance?

| On 20, Nov 2011

The Cleveland Indians and Grady Sizemore. Just like high school boyfriend and girlfriend.

Originally, all the other kids were envious when they walked down the hallway together, holding hands. They seemed like the perfect match, quickly committing to each other for years to come. They were the couple everyone wanted to be, dedicated to each other and sharing the same ideas about the future. Together, they win Homecoming King and Queen. Their parents (Mark Shapiro) refer to them as, “once in a generation.” What could possibly go wrong?

Then, a small skirmish, not even a fight, just a blemish. Nothing to be concerned about. But quickly over time, that skirmish becomes a full blown fight, and even though they are dedicated to each other, whispers from other suitors begin. If they aren’t happy together, another boy would give the town princess whatever she desired. Some even secretly promise to leave their own girlfriend for the saucy vixen.

And finally after months of struggle and fighting, the two suddenly split. The spicy vixen heads for the boys that have secretly courted her for months. The Red Sox, Rangers, Tigers, Rockies, Giants, Marlins and Phillies all have made promises, but when she comes running to their arms they are now suddenly guarded. They’ll hang out, study together, maybe even go the movies. But date exclusively? No one seems available any longer.

After weeks of separation, neither party is happy or has found a replacement, and the prom is right around the corner. Neither has a date, when finally one breaks and calls the other on a lonely Friday night. Quickly they remember the good times, 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases and playoffs in 2007. Suddenly, each has visions of a reconciliation and thoughts of one last time in the spotlight at prom together. What do they have to lose?

For the Indians, they have the chance to lose a lot.

Sizemore and the Indians find themselves in the midst of a long phone call, whispering sweet nothings and promising the good times of the past to each other this weekend, all with the idea of helping each other in 2012. The Indians get a healthy, marquee outfielder and Sizemore gets the chance to play for his pay and still be a free agent at the end of 2012.

All the other suitors — playoff contenders — are willing to offer Sizemore a small base salary with incentives for performance. But the catch is that none of them is willing to offer a guaranteed starting position. Sizemore would have to prove his health and value to earn that as well, not such an easy task since midseason 2008.

The Indians, however, are the boyfriend still in love with their former prom queen and willing to give a similar contract, but with the promise of a starting position. Sizemore can use this to either get one last year of injury-riddled payment, or the chance to play every day and prove his value before getting a huge payday next winter from a better suitor, who isn’t ready to commit long term right now.

The problem for the Indians is that being on a tight budget, they will give Sizemore a starting position, possibly even centerfield — and ugh — a leadoff spot with little or no safety net. Sizemore’s lack of interest in other clubs becomes clear because he and his agent can’t get a huge payday next year if he doesn’t play every day, healthy or not. Sadly, the Indians think they know him better than anyone, think he’s healthy, think he has changed and will give him that chance. Everyone thinks the second chance will work perfectly.

Unfortunately, if it works perfectly and Sizemore produces, he will leave the Indians next winter for one of the suitors not willing to take the leap right now. If he struggles, he’ll sabotage the Indians 2012 because they won’t have a safety net and it will end with the same suitors offering even less than this winter, with the same chance of upside.

Like every insecure high school boy, the Indians are left hoping for a great resolution and happy future, with a great chance of being left on the dance floor.

Photo: Getty Images

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