The Glass is Half Something—Random Thoughts from June
Steve Eby | On 25, Jun 2014
“Going back and forth, back and forth, getting nowhere…”
-Gary Soto, Buried Onions
Please keep your hands and feet inside of the vehicle until this ride comes to a complete stop.
The Indians almost had lured me back in. I was actually starting to get excited again. I was looking forward to a really, really fun summer.
And then the Tigers series happened.
The Indians over the past two seasons have had a way of keeping their fans on a roller coaster ride, with peaks and valleys as big as could possibly be imagined. Once again, the Tribe had tricked us all into thinking that they could possibly be a front-running team in this division and then they go and get swept in their own house by the Tigers…in front of 100,000+ people, no less.
If you’re angered by this, you’re not alone. Just remember, this team has always found a way to bounce back under Terry Francona, so another peak is likely just around the corner.
Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of Josh Tomlin, nor will I probably ever be. He’s done some nice things in the past and he’s having a nice year again (excluding his previous two starts) so far in 2014, but I just don’t get it, nor do I expect it to last.
Having said that, however, I must give credit where credit is due and perhaps Tomlin has ignited a spark under this Indians team that seemed dead in the water prior to his call-up. Before his promotion, the Indians sat in a zombie-like state with a 13-19 record and had lost eight of their previous 10 games. Once Tomlin was promoted, the Tribe won four games in a row, six of eight including an 11-run beatdown of the Blue Jays and have a total record of 24-20 since. I’m not saying that one definitely has to do with the other, but facts are facts and the team has played better since Tomlin has put his #43 jersey back on.
Lonnie Chisenhall got so hot during that series in Texas that he set off smoke alarms in the clubhouse. He was so hot that he couldn’t even build a snowman if he tried. He was so hot that he cooked a Hot Pocket just by holding it in his hands.
Ok, hot-crossed puns aside, Chisenhall had an outstanding stretch of baseball, but his real historicfulness (is that a word?) came on that one Monday evening in Arlington when Chisenhall had the best RBI ballgame ever, tied with Chris James’ memorable evening in Oakland 23 years prior.
I bet that everyone knew Chris James was the answer to that trivia question, right?
To be honest, that Monday night was the first time that I had even thought about Chris James since about 1991, so the memory of his nine RBI game escapes my mind. I do, however, remember a night a bit more recently from another name that was a bit bigger when Manny Ramirez drove home eight Indians on September 24, 1999 in Toronto’s SkyDome. The eight driven in launched Ramirez over the hump to a club record 165 RBI for the season in ManRam’s best season as a professional.
After going down memory lane with Ramirez, another former Indians great may have hung up his spikes for the last time this month, as the Boston Red Sox cut ties with three-time All-Star Grady Sizemore on June 17. With a string of injuries and years of inconsistent play now taking its toll, I seriously doubt teams will be lining up for Sizemore’s services any time soon—no matter how many Grady’s Ladies shirts that they think they could sell.
Sizemore is currently mostly remembered for injuries that robbed him of becoming an all-time great Indian and also for an incident with a coffee mug, but he really should go down as one of the most exciting and talented players that the Indians had in a long, long time.
Nobody since Joe Carter in the late 80’s displayed the power/speed combination in Cleveland like Sizemore did during his prime with the Tribe. Yes, Sizemore struck out a ton and didn’t always do the little things that we would have liked, but he always played hard, always hustled and always produced at the end of the year…that is, until his body broke down.
I guess my point is that Sizemore does not deserve our ridicule or disappointment of ‘what could have been’, but he deserves a standing ovation whenever he comes back to Cleveland for the great player that he once was.
We’ll Always have the White Sox Game:
Speaking of what once was, Jason Giambi’s most recent trip to the disabled list may turn out to be his swan song as a baseball player as well. If we never see him swing a bat again, Giambi will finish an impressive career with 440 homeruns and 1441 RBI—good enough for 41st and 62nd all-time.
While the majority of those statistics did not come as a member of the Indians, Giambi certainly made his mark on the city last September, as the Tribe was sprinting toward the finish line and the AL Wild Card. Giambi hit one of the most memorable walk-off homeruns in Jacobs/Progressive Field history, topped—in my mind—only by Tony Pena’s walk-off in Game One of the ’95 ALCS. Indians’ broadcaster Tom Hamilton recently put out a list of the ballpark’s top 10 moments and listed Giambi’s blast as the #10 moment in the stadium’s 20 year history.
Swing and a Swish:
His two game winning homeruns aside last week, it’s about time to see the days of Nick Swisher as a regular ended. I realize that it will probably not happen anytime soon, but Swisher is absolutely a black hole in the middle of the lineup.
Yes, Swish is a smiley Ohio-guy who is the highest paid player in franchise history, but there comes a time when winning becomes much more important than being kind. Last year, the Braves signed BJ Upton to a massive contract only to bench him by June. The Indians need to do the same thing.
With his walk-off grand slam on Thursday, Swisher hit the ninth walk-off salami in the 20 year history of the ballpark. Swish joined the likes of Albert Belle (who did it twice), Sandy Alomar, Omar Vizquel, Bill Selby, Jim Thome, Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner, who also accomplished the feat.
June MVP: Michael Brantley
June Cy Young: Cody Allen
Come back to Cleveland LeBron.
Photo: Joe Robbins