The Cleveland Fan on Facebook

The Cleveland Fan on Twitter
Indians Indians Archive View from the Porch: Central Focus Edition
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

The calendar reads May 7 and I am already scoreboard watching. Is that presumptuous of me? Probably. Am I tempting fate? Could be. But is it entirely too fun toHRPorchView stop doing? Of course it is. The fact that the Indians are enjoying their first two-plus game lead in the AL Central on May 7 since 1999 has to be cause for enhanced excitement and premature scoreboard watching. The 1999 team won the Central by 21.5 games.

Consider this. The 2008 Cleveland Indians were 16-17 on May 7. The 2009 Wahoos were 11-18 and the 2010 version was 10-17. In other words, we’ve waited three long years to experience a start like this, so, dammit, I’m going to enjoy it. This year’s club scored nearly double the amount of runs in April (141) than last year’s club (77).

I know that all of us in Cleveland are skeptics. The grass is always burnt out and grub-infested on the other side. Unless there is someone constantly blowing rainbows up your rectum, you, like most Clevelanders, are waiting for the other shoe to drop with this team. Seven last at-bat wins will probably not continue. The Cuyahoga Crushers will not continue to play .867 ball at Jacobs Field. But, I implore you, get in on the fun while it lasts.

There’s enough in life to be pissed off, downtrodden, depressed, and apathetic about. Sports of all kinds are intended to be an escape. Sure, we sit there and watch superhuman athletes and grow a little jealous, muttering to the dog or cat that we wish we had that ability. Or, on the flip side, we complain about how bad a guy is or how much he sucks, full-knowing that 99.5% of us wouldn’t even foul tip a fastball, catch a fade route, throw a fade route, make a free throw with 20,000 people watching or direct a soccer ball into the net with our heads.

This team is a likeable bunch. The role players have been fantastic, supportive, and come up clutch in big situations. The comeback players, Hafner, Sizemore,ocabwalkoff and really Carmona, have performed well and been a key part of the success. Trade byproducts from transactions that ripped our hearts out are starting to look like bona fide Major League talent. They play clean, solid, fundamental baseball and have fun doing it. Our manager Twitpics a victory cigar after every Tribe conquest. What’s not to love about this group?

Make no mistake about it, the AL Central has some serious problems. When the White Sox get a good start, the bullpen Hindenburgs. When the starter is mediocre and the bullpen is good, the offense needs a manhunt to track down. The Twins have relegated former top-three closer Joe Nathan to a mop-up role and Joe Mauer has been on the DL with a myriad of ailments ranging from the stomach flu to bilateral leg fatigue. The Tigers have been a disaster, but more on that in a moment. And the lovable loser labeled Royals are the other surprise of the division, promoting star prospect Eric Hosmer to take over for the slumping Hawaiian Kila Ki’ahue.

But, back to the Tigers. Being in attendance for both Friday and Saturday’s games, the anguish of Tiger fans is very understandable and also tastes sweeter than pure Canadian maple syrup. While I want to sympathize with them because of their blue-collar town and their passionate fan base, the Pistons and Red Wings have enough titles. Not to mention, dating back to the almost-amicable Gary Sheffield days and looking at the present with current resident prick Miguel Cabrera, I don’t like them.

That said, I had to empathize with them in one capacity. Magglio Ordonez looks like he is getting an IV drip of Zoloft between innings and Brennan Boesch had the worst three-game series I have ever seen. Why do I empathize with this? Because I have seen it over the last three years. Terrible pitch selection, awful plate discipline, and a handful of guys who just don’t really seem to give a damn. Not to mention the enjoyment of an opposing team’s bullpen four-alarm fire. It’s nice to see it coming from the first base dugout.

View from the Porch: The AL Central is more wide open than a fairway on a beginner golf course. Nobody expects the Indians to play .677 baseball from now through September, but the 21-10 start has given them an opportunity to play slightly above .500 and still be in the thick of the race.

sweeposterThink about this: If the Indians go .500 for the rest of the season, they will go 86-76 or 87-75. If the Indians play .520, they will go 89-73. Does 89 wins guarantee you this division? Not necessarily, but it gives you a terrific shot at winning it.

For Detroit to win 90 games, they need to play .581 the rest of the way (75-54). For Minnesota to win 90 games, they need to play .590 (78-54). For Chicago to win 90 games, they need to play .612 (79-50). We all remember the ridiculous 2005 Indians run to the postseason that fell short on the final week. From June-September, that team went 68-44.

I have always been a big proponent of having veterans on a ballclub. Some people, especially in the last five years, have hated this philosophy from Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti. Certainly, as with all older players, there will be swings and misses. I will stand firm on my opinion that Trot Nixon was an enormous help to the clubhouse during that magical 2007 run.

Orlando Cabrera is that player this year. Luckily, his on-field contributions have been solid as well. If the Indians were 14-16 through 30 games, the fans and media would be calling for the promotion of Cord Phelps/Jason Kipnis to take over the reins at 2B. In fact, even with the tremendous start, a small contingent (I’morlandofive looking at you Al Ciammaichella!) is upset with Orlando Cabrera’s UZR and dWAR. To be honest, I don’t even know what UZR means and I don’t care to look it up. I know dWAR and that’s defensive wins above replacement. Essentially, in layman’s terms, it basically compares league average defense to a player and then determines if he is costing you wins or helping you get them. Cabrera is at exactly zero, so, average. Not bad for a guy playing 2B everyday, a position he played just 33 times in his 15 seasons.

Here, how about some stats that really matter? Entering Friday’s game, Orlando’s hitting .300 with RISP. In “Late & Close games” (Late & Close are PA in the 7th or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck, according to baseball-reference), Cabrera is hitting .368. You know what that stat shows me? Heart. When they come up with a sabermetric stat that measures heart and leadership, I’ll care about sabermetrics. In the case of Orlando Cabrera, you can critique, nitpick, dig deep, and overstate every statistic, observation, opinion and point of view, but unless you are directly involved with the team, you have no idea what his true value is.

View from the Porch: Every team needs a leader. Orlando Cabrera is this team’s leader. He has been to the postseason in six seasons since 2004, every year but 2006. Let alone what Orlando Cabrera has done for the team with his production, he has been tremendous to Asdrubal Cabrera. Though that is his most publicized apprentice, you know full well that he has helped other guys in that dugout.

I know the immediate, knee-jerk opinion of him after his awful game in the Anaheim extra inning affair will cheapen my argument a little, but, over the long haul, he is the right 2B for this team this season.


And finally, Shin-Soo Choo got a DUI this past week and responded by going 0-for-11 in Oakland, snapping an eight-game hitting streak, and started 0-for-5 in Anaheim. So far, the team has reacted well to a potential distraction. Credit Choo for manning up about his arrest, addressing the team, and not hiding from what he has done. The way to tell a person’s character is by how they respond to adversity. While Choo clearly looks distracted at the plate, the way he has handled this situation as a teammate, a role model, and a family man has been impressive.

For a long time, Choo will be saddled with the repercussions of what he did. Mostly through heckling, but also from his homeland Korean fans, who idolize Choo. His popularity rivals that of Asian movie stars and they had to be shocked and saddened with this news.

View from the Porch: By no means would I ever condone driving under the influence. Choo blew a .201 on a breathalyzer, so we’re not talking slightly too much to drink. We are talking about a guy who was a danger to himself and others.

That being said, I would venture to say that a good number of those of us who are sports fans, and really, the population in general, have operated a motor vehicle while “legally” drunk, or at least somewhat intoxicated. People will point at Shin-Soo Choo and openly berate him for not calling a cab because he has so money or for not calling a friend. My response to that is to step off the high horse. If you have money to go out and drink, then you better have money to get yourself home safely if need be. Because if you don’t, then you should not be out drinking anyway. That’s money that can feed your families, pay a bill, or be put toward something else.

If anything, this should serve as an example to us common folk. The arresting officer(s) could very easily have turned a blind eye to this or secretly taken Choo and his vehicle home, given his name recognition and status in Northeast Ohio. They didn’t. They did their jobs and should be commended for it. If Shin-Soo Choo can’t avoid a DUI arrest, then who can?

With the summer cookout season coming around and baseball season in full effect, keep yourselves safe and take the necessary precautions to avoid harming yourself and/or others.

Follow me on Twitter @SkatingTripods 

The TCF Forums