Despite a fantastic start to their first road trip of the second half, the Cleveland Indians sputtered in trips through Minnesota and Kansas City, ending what started out as a 3-1 road trip with a 5-6 record. They will open up an eight game homestand, their first since the last series prior to the All-Star Break, on Tuesday night as they host the Seattle Mariners.
The Indians (52-53) will look to extend their 29-19 home record, one of the best in the American League, over the course of the next eight home games. It will be a welcomed change of pace for the club after stumbling in KC, where they dropped the first three of a four game set.
The Indians wasted a strong starting outing and lost a 2-1 final on Thursday in 14 innings. A two-run home run in the eighth inning by Billy Butler bumped the Royals past the Indians on Friday night, 6-4. On Saturday, a five-run second inning was squandered as Cleveland surrendered seven unanswered runs, including the deciding two-run shot by Butler in the fifth, in a 7-5 loss. The Indians offense produced in double-digit quantities on Sunday in a decisive 10-3 win to wrap up the road trip.
In the 1980s, the Cavaliers had an alarming tendency to make terrible trades. They were so bad at it, in fact, that at one point, the NBA Commissioner stepped in to approve any trade. Many teams benefitted from the Cavs’ front office ineptitude, with Dick Motta going so far as to say, “I was afraid to go to lunch for fear I’d miss a call from Cleveland.”
Given their history over the past 20 years, Indians management must feel the same way about the Mariners. Although Indians and Mariners fans can relate to rooting for a team that’s either terrible, not quite good enough, or able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the Indians have been able to take great talent from the Mariners without giving up much in return.
After the 1993 season, the Indians traded starting shortstop Felix Fermin and spare outfielder Reggie Jefferson to the M’s for their shortstop, Omar Vizquel. Both infielders were regarded as good-field, no-hit. But while Fermin was out of baseball in two years, while Vizquel raised his average 30 points in Cleveland and became one of the mainstays of those great Tribe teams of the 1990s. He was inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame last month, and perhaps a plaque at Cooperstown awaits him as well.
This weekend, the Class of 2014 will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. For the third consecutive season, no former Cleveland Indians representative is to be enshrined.
The last time former Indians were added to the list of 306 members of the Hall of Fame was in 2011, when former second baseman Roberto Alomar and pitcher Bert Blyleven were selected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and joined executive Pat Gillick, who was selected by the Veterans Committee.
This year, all six men entering the Hall saw memorable moments in their careers against the Indians.
On Tuesday, Major League Baseball will conduct its 85th All-Star Game, this one taking place for the first time at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Cleveland Indians have been well represented over the years in the exhibition, first started in 1933 at Comiskey Park in Chicago. The Indians had three players on that first American League roster – pitchers Wes Ferrell and Oral Hildebrand and outfielder Earl Averill. Neither pitcher made it into the game for AL manager Connie Mack, but Averill entered the game as a pinch-hitter for pitcher General Crowder in the bottom of the sixth and delivered an RBI-single to score shortstop Joe Cronin with the final run of a 4-2 AL victory.
Averill would make six straight All-Star teams, but his Indians record for most All-Star appearances in a Cleveland jersey would be short-lived. Bob Feller would string together a total of eight trips to the Midsummer Classic, passing Averill with his appearance during the 1948 season before adding one more in 1950.
On Opening Day 1994, Omar Vizquel could be seen on the grass at new Jacobs Field talking to members of the Seattle Mariners. Six months earlier, he had been one of their teammates, but now he was wearing an Indians uniform.
It was, by his own admission, the turning point of his career.
Vizquel played 24 season, including 11 with the Indians, from 1989-2012. At 45, he was the oldest active player in the major leagues, and his final game was his 2,709th at shortstop, the record for the position. He collected 11 Gold Gloves (only five have more, and all four who are eligible have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame), was named to three All-Star teams and was regarded as one of the best defensive shortstops of his era, if not of all time.
With Indians baseball fast approaching, it’s time for fans to start getting excited and ready for their 2014 adventures to Progressive Field. Half the fun of a baseball game is experiencing the action amongst a group of excited fans, down at the stadium with the energy and atmosphere of the live game surrounding you. But what makes the experience even more enjoyable? The added bonuses that come with being at the game in person – the promotions.
As we discussed earlier this off-season, the Indians seemed to suffer from an attendance issues in 2013. For those fans who chose not to come to the field opting instead to watch games at home, at a bar, or simply not watch at all, they missed out on those significant extras that are included with each ticket during a giveaway night. For those complaining that ticket prices may be too high, the promise of an extra gift upon entrance adds another layer of value to the price. And, in 2014, the Indians are doing all they can to ensure that that value is not lost.
A recent development in Major League Baseball has seen former players take the reigns as a manager or coach with their former team.
The White Sox once employed their former shortstop, Ozzie Guillen, in the managing capacity. Now the team has its one-time third baseman in Robin Ventura in that seat. Joe Girardi, a former Yankees backstop, currently manages the Bronx Bombers. More recently, the Tigers hired Brad Ausmus, who used to be a catcher in Detroit, to replace the retired Jim Leyland as their bench boss.
In Cleveland, the Indians have a pair of their ex-players calling the shots. Terry Francona, who spent a season a Tribe player, is of course the manager of the team. The Indians also have Sandy Alomar, Jr., a key component of those successful 1990s squads, as its first base coach.
It’s Thanksgiving – a day to be grateful and overindulge in the mounds of food placed before you. A day of cornucopias and parades and pilgrims and Indians. Cleveland Indians? Yes, Thanksgiving is a day of football, but, if we’re giving thanks, it’s also a time to be thankful for Cleveland’s favorite team: the Cleveland Indians.
It may seem trivial to give thanks to a sports’ team on a day that’s dedicated to family and friends and the amenities granted to you. But, without the Indians, the story of Thanksgiving wouldn’t have much substance now, would it?
Alright, so the Cleveland Indians and the Indians that are part of the story every child hears in elementary school about the first Thanksgiving are not one in the same. But still, the Cleveland Indians have given Cleveland a lot for which to be thankful. While those pilgrims walked away from that first Thanksgiving with the ability to harvest corn and, supposedly, an understanding and appreciation for the people who’s land they now inhabited, Clevelanders walk away from a baseball season with the ability to see the good through the bad, to roll with the punches, and to retain an undying optimism for next season.
Thank God that’s over.
Barring a meeting in the 2013 postseason, the Cleveland Indians are finally done with facing Yankee closer Mariano Rivera. The Indians are done facing the Yankees this season and the 19 year-long battle with one of baseball’s best is over. Rivera is unquestionably the greatest closer in baseball history, topping the all-time save list and becoming one of October’s all-time outstanding performers.
By Craig Gifford
What has happened to the Cleveland Indians since the end of July – a month-and-a-half stretch that has seen the club go from contenders to worst team in the American League – can not all be blamed on Manager Manny Acta. However, someone will have to be held accountable for one of the worst stretches of futility in the history of a team that has seen its fair share of futile play.
The easiest fall guy is always the manager. In this case, the owner and general manager should take the blame for assembling a team with so many flaws. However, you can not get rid of an owner and General Manager Chris Antonetti is only in his second year on the job. He could get a pass, in that regard, for another season.
By Craig Gifford
When Omar Vizquel was essentially let go from the Cleveland Indians following the 2004 season, the thought many fans had was that the great shortstop would be back in a matter of two or three years – serving in a management role following retirement as an active ball player. No one could have imagined Vizquel, then 37 would play into his mid-40s and still be playing against the Tribe seven years later.
It was a difficult decision for then Indians general manager Mark Shapiro, but he ended up letting the popular Vizquel walk away as a free agent in the winter of 2004. The Tribe was in the middle of a rebuilding period, following great success through the late 1990s. Cleveland also had a young, up-an-coming shortstop prospect in Jhonny Peralta who was ready to break out as one of the top hitters at his position. Although Vizquel wanted to stay and the fans wanted him to play out his career in the Wahoo red, white and blue, the Tribe cut ties with Little O and went for the youth movement.