Next year’s Baseball Hall of Fame inductions could have a Cleveland flavor to them.
What’s even more likely is that they’ll have more than a touch of controversy.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced on Monday the list of candidates on this year’s ballot for potential induction in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Several players with strong ties to the Cleveland Indians will make their first appearances.
A total of 33 candidates are up for the vote this offseason, including 19 players for the first time. The new class of candidates include several former Indians – Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel – as well as former Atlanta Braves stars Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones, New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui, and lethal left-hander Johan Santana.
Baseball seasons may come and go, but the baseball discussions never stop.
On Saturday, November 18, from 12-1 PM, one such conversation will occur at the Baseball Heritage Museum at historic League Park in Cleveland, Ohio, where published author and Did The Tribe Win Last Night writer Vince Guerrieri will present the story of Baseball Hall of Fame umpire and first Cleveland Indians general manager, Billy Evans.
He thought he was going to be a lawyer. Circumstances forced him into newspaper work. He ended up becoming a Hall of Fame umpire and a sports executive for two Cleveland teams in different sports.
He’s Billy Evans, and he’ll be the topic of a presentation by Did the Tribe Win Last Night staff writer Vince Guerrieri at noon Saturday at the Baseball Heritage Museum at League Park. The program is free to the public and made possible, in part, by a grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC).
It’s easy to forget just how well-run the Indians organization is.
I mean, I think everyone in Cleveland knows they’re the best run sports organization in the city, if only by default. When the Browns’ executive vice president has to call a news conference to announce that he didn’t sabotage a potential trade, you have problems, particularly since the alternative to malice in this instance is incompetence. And the Cavs suddenly look inept as well, although you can never count out any team with LeBron James on it.
But the Indians’ tentacles reach far and wide, as evidenced by where former Indians players and coaches end up. Pitching Coach Mickey Callaway is the new Mets manager. Charlie Nagy is the pitching coach in Anaheim, and although Omar Vizquel interviewed for the vacant Tigers managerial job after four years as a coach, he didn’t get it, and wasn’t retained by new skipper Ron Gardenhire. But I have no doubt he’ll end up somewhere.
Three former Cleveland Indians pitchers have been selected as part of the ten-man Modern Baseball Era ballot, the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced on Monday.
Tommy John, Jack Morris, and Luis Tiant all spent time in an Indians uniform during their lengthy professional careers and are among nine former players and one longtime executive included in the Modern Baseball Era ballot this season. While each of the players failed to make it into the Hall of Fame through selection by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America following their playing careers, they will all get a second chance at a place among the baseball immortals when the Modern Baseball Era Committee’s 16-member panel casts its votes on December 10 at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida.
Also up for review are players Steve Garvey, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons, and Alan Trammell, as well as the late Marvin Miller, head of the Major League Baseball Players Association for 17 years from 1966 to 1982.
Because of the Indians’ quick – dare I say premature – playoff exit, we were deprived of a potential rematch of the 1920 World Series.
That was the first appearance in the Fall Classic for both teams, with the Indians prevailing in seven games (in the penultimate best-of-nine World Series). That World Series is also notable for being the first pitting two brothers against each other. Doc Johnston played for the Indians; his brother Jimmy played for the Dodgers.
The teams remained apart for most of the 20th century – with the distance increased after the Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles, their home since 1958.
But for a few small changes in fortune, the Indians and Dodgers could have been rivals in the 1950s and 1960s.
While trying to compose a lineup of all-time Cleveland Indians players with names worthy of Halloween, I quickly realized that such a task was going to prove difficult.
While there were butchers (Hank Butcher, John Butcher) and doctors (Doc Edwards, Doc Gooden), Danny Graves, and even one Mysterious Walker, compiling a list left me far too short of completing a worthy lineup.
But it also reminded me of one important thing about Halloween – don’t forget Candy.
When the Astros dispatched the Yankees on Saturday night to close out the American League Championship Series, not only did they become the first team to represent each league in the World Series, they put an end to a strange coincidence in baseball history.
Six times the Indians have to the World Series, the most recent time last year. And until this year, the Yankees had always advanced to the Fall Classic in the following year.
Now admittedly, part of that is percentages. No team has gone to (or won) the World Series more than the Yankees. But it also represents the fortunes of the Indians that their times of great success coincided with similar success by New York – and indeed, in several occasions, the Tribe thwarted New York from even loftier heights.
Tuesday night, the National Basketball Association opens its 2017-18 regular season schedule as the Cleveland Cavaliers host the Boston Celtics in a game that has much more meaning than the usual opening night game.
The Cavs and Celtics have become rivals over the course of the last few years, with Cleveland knocking Boston out of the playoffs twice in the last three seasons. The two clubs went toe-to-toe in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, with the Cavs winning that series, four games to one, to send Cleveland to its third straight NBA Finals. As many remember, that trip did not end nearly as well as the previous season, when the Cavs gave the city of Cleveland its first championship since 1964 with the first title in franchise history, leaving the Indians as holders of the longest active championship drought in the city.
While the Cavs will begin their defense of three straight Eastern Conference titles, the game’s real emphasis will be on the return of star guard Kyrie Irving to Quicken Loans Arena, where the former first overall pick in 2011 spent the first six years of his NBA career in Cavs’ wine and gold before demanding a trade in the offseason. The Cavs front office honored that request, sending its second-best player to a rival club, but may have, possibly, become a more well-rounded club in the process. That remains to be seen, as the results will play out over the course of the largely meaningless 82-game NBA schedule over the next six months.
Last week, before the American League Division Series began, I told a co-worker that I was worried. I know, we should be past these neuroses. The Cavs’ championship was supposed to have eased the misery of being a Cleveland fan, and the Indians had won 22 games in a row to take the American League’s top seed. The team had ended the season playing the kind of ball we all knew it was capable of.
“I’m kind of getting a 1996 vibe from this team,” I said.
With last season’s Game 7 loss in the World Series to the Chicago Cubs, the Cleveland Indians took over a title desired by none across the Major League Baseball landscape – the team with the longest active championship drought in the game.
A heartbreaking defeat last November, after overcoming every obstacle thrown their way in the final months of the season, added another year of suffering to the long history of the Indians. After bringing home the hardware in each of the franchise’s first two World Series appearances in 1920 and 1948, the Tribe has dropped four opportunities since, in 1954, 1995, 1997, and 2016, and had a couple of other close calls along the way.
In between those trips was a lot of pain and a lot of what some might call despair, a term back to the forefront of the Cleveland lexicon this week after Sports Illustrated’s senior baseball writer Tom Verducci wrote the Indians’ epitaph after a 1-0 loss on Sunday, their first of this postseason.