Each week during the 2012-13 offseason DTTWLN will take a look back at the 1997 Cleveland Indians season—specifically the 18 thrilling games of the postseason as the Indians made an improbable run to game seven of the World Series.
PART SIXTEEN: WORLD SERIES GAME 1—THE SERIES NO ONE WANTED
By Steve Eby
Claire Smith of the New York Times called it “The Series No One Wanted”.
Bernie Lincicome of the Chicago Tribune said it’s “the worst winner from the American League meets the non-winner from the National League…a Series made in gimmick heaven.”
There were no New York Yankees. No Atlanta Braves. No Baltimore Orioles.
It was just the pitching-deprived, Belle/Lofton-less, 86-win Cleveland Indians and “the best team free agency could buy” Florida Marlins that were facing off in the 1997 World Series. It was Major League Baseball’s nightmare as two mid-market teams that few people outside of the states of Ohio and Florida cared about were taking their biggest stage. Just three years removed from a strike that cancelled the ’94 Fall Classic, baseball could not afford a World Series that made people yawn.
By Mike Brandyberry
The Did The Tribe Win Last Night staff is so excited for Spring Training, pitchers and catchers reporting and our coverage, we are kicking off a day early with reader mailbag. Like most Indians fans, the roster shake up has created many questions and a lot of excitement among our staff. Before we begin with our spring coverage tomorrow, we’ll try to answer your questions heading into spring training.
As always, thanks for the questions…
We talked about this a couple weeks ago on our Wahoo Watch podcast, but I would hit Swisher fourth. Personally, I’m a big fan of Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis at the top of the lineup because of their speed. Brantley has improved every year and I expect the same in 2013. He doesn’t have the high on-base percentage you’d like from a leadoff hitter, but he is outstanding at putting the bat on the ball. With Brantley and Kipnis at the top, I’d follow with Asdrubal Cabrera third and Swisher fourth. Swisher provides a consistent cog in the middle of the Indians’ lineup. If you look at his career statistics, you can pretty much pencil him in for around 25 home runs every season. With those three in front of Swisher, hopefully you make the most out of those 25 home runs he hits.
By Ronnie Tellalian
Jim Thome is the Indians All-Time leader in home runs and walks, and he’s second All-Time in RBI and fifth in runs scored. He was a role model on and off the field, having never been connected to any negative press; he contributed to charities and the community. Jim Thome was truly and Indians All-Time great.
First base: Jim Thome
Thome was drafted by the Indians in the 13th round in 1989. He quickly worked his way through the minor league system to make his Major League debut in September of 1991. The 1992 season saw Thome’s progress halted by injury; he played only 52 games between Triple-A and MLB. In 1993, playing nearly the full season at Triple-A, Thome hit .332 with 25 home runs and 102 RBI before getting a call up to the majors at the end of the season.
He earned his first starting MLB job in 1994 at third base for the Indians. Thome hit 20 home runs in just 98 games to help lead the Indians to a winning season, and just one game shy of the Central Division lead when the strike began.
On this week’s Wahoo Watch Podcast, Erik Pinkerman, Ronnie Tellalian and Mike Brandyberry discuss Indians’ signing and Spring Training invitations to Ben Francisco and Ryan Raburn, along with the invitations issued to five of the Tribe’s minor league players. Then …
By Bob Toth
The Cleveland Indians have addressed nearly all of their off-season roster concerns and have managed to do so quickly and, for the most part, quietly. The roster itself has a brand new face.
The starting rotation was bolstered for the present, with the signing of Brett Myers, and the future, with the trade for Trevor Bauer. A lack of offensive production from the corner infielders has been filled with free agent signee Mark Reynolds. Holes in the outfield have been plugged by Nick Swisher and Drew Stubbs. Acquiring Mike Aviles has given the bench a versatile veteran presence.
Despite all of the roster moves, the designated hitter position is noticeably void. While the front office seems open to considering adding a left-handed bat with some pop to balance out the lineup, free agent retreads like Jim Thome and Travis Hafner are not the answer.
By Bob Toth
The Cleveland Indians have had a productive offseason. While they have acquired outfielder Nick Swisher and infielder Mark Reynolds via free agency, Trevor Bauer as a rotation piece of the future, and Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw to further solidify the bullpen, one position on the team has gone noticeably unfilled – the spot of the designated hitter.
There has been plenty of speculation on who the team would look to fill the role with. Could the team bring back veteran Travis Hafner on a performance-based contract, hoping he could finally stay healthy long enough to contribute for a full season? What about another return of Jim Thome to the roster, the 42-year-old slugger who seems unwilling to allow the Indians to begin construction of his eventual statue near Heritage Park at Progressive Field? Could the team look outside of those familiar faces and sign a Delmon Young, Carlos Lee, or Carlos Pena type of player on a similar short-term deal on the cheap, sacrificing hits, strikeouts, or age for a defensively limited or incapable player with a little pop?
A greater likelihood may be that Cleveland does not acquire a DH at all.
Each week through the 26 weeks of the 2012 regular season, DTTWLN will profile and break down the roster of arguably the most exciting sports team that Cleveland has ever seen; the 1995 Cleveland Indians. The ’95 Tribe won 100 games in a strike-shortened 144 game schedule, won their first Central Division title and made the playoffs and World Series for the first time since 1954. Six players made the American League All-Star team, eight players batted .300 or better, and the pitching staff had the lowest ERA in the American League. The players have been ranked from the most important to the Tribe’s success to the 26th. This week breaks down #7 Jim Thome.
Jim Thome was not supposed to be this good.
The Indians drafted the tall, skinny third baseman from Peoria, Illinois in the 13th round of the 1989 MLB Amateur Draft with a hope that Thome might one day develop into a Major League player. That same year, Thome laced up his spikes for his first taste of professional baseball and hit a very unimpressive .237 for the Gulf Coast League Indians rookie team. In 292 plate appearances that summer, Thome hit zero homeruns. Initially, it seemed that Thome might be a swing and a miss as a Tribe prospect.
The following season, Thome started showing his potential and flexing his batting muscle. Jimmy batted .340 between Burlington and Kinston in 1990 and followed that up by batting .319 between Canton-Akron and Colorado Springs in ’91. Thome’s power still remained somewhat human, as he slugged a respectable 16 homeruns in ’90 but his total dropped to a subpar seven for the ’91 campaign. Still, with his batting average soaring, Thome was called up to Cleveland to show the 105-loss Indians what he could do for 27 games as a September call-up in 1991.
Thome hit .255 with nine RBIs in 98 at bats for the Tribe in his first Major League experience. Jimmy knocked his first career homerun, a clutch, game-winning blast into the right field stands at Yankee Stadium in the top of the ninth inning off of Steve Farr, on October 4. It was the first of what the Indians hoped was many clutch homeruns that the young man would hit, but even they never could have dreamed of how good and clutch Jim Thome was about to become.
By Christian Petrila
The Indians offense went missing-in-action (again) and it wasted a terrific outing from a starter (again).
Cleveland scored first, but was kept off the board; wasting opportunities left and right and losing game two of their four-game set with Baltimore, 3-1.
The first tally was put on the board by Shin Soo Choo, who continued his success in the leadoff spot by takingBaltimorestarter Chris Tillman deep in the first inning. The home run was Choo’s fifth in the leadoff spot this season. The Indians weren’t able to add to Choo’s solo shot, as Asdrubal Cabrera, Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley went down in order.
By Mike Brandyberry
Saturday the Cleveland Indians scored early and often, taking control of the game in the fifth inning and winning en route to an 11-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. The win gave the Indians their second win in the series, and today they will look for a series win. The Tribe pounded out 19 hits against the Orioles, including career days by Shin-Soo Choo, Jose Lopez, Asdrubal Cabrera and Lou Marson.
The Tribe will look to take three of four games in the series with staff ace Justin Masterson (4-7, 4.09) on the mound. Masterson suffered the loss last Tuesday, being beaten by the New York Yankees, 6-4. He allowed four runs, all earned, in six innings pitched against the Bronx Bombers. He gave up three runs in the second inning to snap a 21-inning streak without allowing an earned run. Masterson has suffered from poor run support, receiving only two runs or less in 10 of his last 12 starts. The Tribe has hit .350 and scored 26 runs in the first three games of the series, however.
By Mike Brandyberry
Monday afternoon Jim Thome added his name to another elite list, few baseball players have achieved when he spoke to the City Club of Cleveland. Thome became only the second Major League Baseball player to speak to the group, joining Babe Ruth.
The nearly hour long speech, moderated by Tom Hamilton, and question and answer can be heard in its entirety on istream, and has been reported upon and picked apart for nearly 24 hours already but I found several things interesting from the 41-year old slugger. Many of Thome’s comments can easily be interpreted.