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Indians Indians Archive 15 Things We've Learned About the Indians As They Circle the Drain
Written by Jonathan Knight

Jonathan Knight

whatwevelearnedLike many of you, I’m enjoying this new 2011 Indians season a smidge less than the old one.

Their toe-tapping start has hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic, their seven-game lead in the division has been splintered into a thousand pieces, and they are now well on their way to becoming the lifeless, uninspiring, completely forgettable team we expected them to be back in March.

As the season has slowly transformed from fairy tale to torture porn, we find ourselves emotionally bruised and battered, but smarter. Over the past seven weeks, the Indians have handed down a few chestnuts of wisdom that we’ll keep with us through this season and well into the future.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we’ve learned from our beloved ballclub as it gradually dies like a crippled fly on the windowsill of an abandoned warehouse in the Flats:

1. If the other team scores, the Indians lose.

In a way, this is refreshing, because it saves you the trouble of investing three hours in an enterprise that will end in drunken frustration and/or rage. You can now safely turn off the television the moment an opponent crosses the plate because you know you won’t miss anything from that point on. Besides even more opponents crossing the plate, that is.

The more positive thinkers among us (and aren’t they just cute as a button?) may hang in there until a second run is scored, since there’s always that chance that an opposing outfielder will slip into another dimension while settling under a Jack Hannahan pop fly, allowing it to become a triple and giving Lou Marson a chance to drive in a run with one of his trademark Twinkie choppers to short.

The Tribe has turned scoring a run into a complex military operation on par with the killing of Osama bin Laden or the Normandy invasion. Scoring a run requires months of work, careful research, and crackerjack intelligence-gathering. And it still may not work if the weather patterns aren’t pristine or if Shelley Duncan comes to bat.

2. Against all mathematical reality, losing Shin-Soo Choo for six weeks actually hurts.

Ordinarily, when a team loses a player who’s hitting .244 with a .353 slugging percentage, fans breathe a sigh of relief that it wasn’t one of the key players that went down.

In the case of this offensively handicapped ballclub, those numbers belong to its heart and soul, leaving fans panicking over how they’ll ever be able to replace Choo’s torrid pace of five home runs in three months along with a Hack Wilson-esque 28 RBI.

3. Austin Kearns is legally dead.

Such a declaration is typically made when a person has been missing for an extended period of time without any evidence that the person is still alive.

4. High school girls who play junior varsity softball with facemasks and puffy stickers of baby penguins on their batting helmets can hit better than theGirls_Softball Indians.

Which leads us to believe the Indians should petition the American League to shorten the basepaths to 40 feet and allow them to send in “substitute runners” for the…ahem…heftier hitters without having to take them out of the game.

Plus, this would also allow the Indians to choreograph complicated songs and chants in the dugout while braiding each other’s hair.

5. Justin Masterson has written permission from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff to physically assault his teammates anytime he pleases.

This poor kid is having the best season of his career, but nobody knows it because it turns out you can’t win a game in which your teammates don’t score. And when Masterson is pitching, the Indians simply choose not to.

His glistening 2.98 ERA is lower than those of C.C. Sabathia, Jon Lester, Mark Buehrle, and Tim Linecum, but he’s just 5-6 on the year and hasn’t won a game in 11 straight starts, covering two months.

justin_mastersonAs the Indians flail away at the plate on any night Masterson starts like Amy Winehouse at a miniature golf course, it’s become entertaining to envision who Masterson would take his justified aggression out on.

Maybe one day he walks into the clubhouse and begins to horsewhip Matt LaPorta with a rubber hose. A couple days later, he may take a blowtorch to the webbing between Orlando Cabrera’s toes. Another time, perhaps he’ll hit Carlos Santana in the face with a cantaloupe, tie him up with stereo wire, and use him to try out amateur acupuncture.

Meanwhile, the Indians’ coaching staff is quietly investigating what Masterson may have done to make his teammates hate him so vehemently.

6. Chris Perez looks like James Brolin in The Amityville Horror.James_Brolin_Amityville

Sure, Chris Perez has always looked slightly insane stalking around the mound like a hobo protecting his shopping cart, but as this season has soured, the Tribe’s closer’s mannerisms have become a little darker. His mullet looks more sinister and his beard looks scragglier, more like something you’d see on somebody who would kill his entire family after dinner.

You’re just waiting for him to take an axe to Margot Kidder’s head after walking the leadoff hitter.

7. Killing small animals in your backyard to temper your fury after the Indians are shut out does not cause them to score more runs the next day.

Apologies to all the unfortunate squirrels and chipmunks that paid the price while we were working this one out.

8. Oh, that’s right – Grady Sizemore is back.

Remember when he was hurt all of last year and didn’t play? Not much different, is it?

9. Getting a runner into scoring position actually decreases the likelihood of scoring.

For the last 130 years or so, it’s been baseball scripture to do whatever you can to get a baserunner to second or third base, at which point you open up a myriad of ways of getting that runner home.

The Indians, boasting a cumulative batting average with runners in scoring position that would make the cast of Up With People sit down on the floor and cry, have developed an altogether new strategy.

Rather than playing for the three-run homer or playing little ball to scratch across runs one at a time, they regularly plant runners on second and third and then kick back and wait for the opposing pitcher to throw consecutive wild pitches into the lower mezzanine. Or for a piano to fall out of the sky to distract the defense so the runners can advance home without a throw.

10. Jack Ruby could play second base and bat fifth for this team.jackruby

Ordinarily, you wouldn’t think of the tubby nightclub owner who gunned down presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald as a stalwart on a pennant contender, but you can’t help but wonder how much more he’d contribute than what we’ve got going right now.

Jack Ruby might not be able to get to a ball hit deep in the hole or turn a double play or advance from first to third on a base hit, but you get the feeling he’d find a way to get on base more effectively than three-quarters of the Indians’ current roster. Perhaps by offering the umpire a lap dance from a greasy stripper.

Maybe if Travis Hafner gets hurt again, he could fill in as DH. And since Ruby has been dead since 1967, that makes him as good a candidate as Austin Kearns.

11. Matt LaPorta is clearly not another Jim Thome.

laporta_batWhen the Indians acquired LaPorta for C.C. Sabathia three years ago, the natural comparisons arose between this right-handed slugger with so much potential and Jim Thome, who had warranted similar praise coming up through the ranks 20 years ago.

That was wishful thinking. Our bad. We’ve now adjusted our expectations accordingly and are hoping LaPorta can become a right-handed Paul Sorrento.

12. This is all Jon Nunnally’s fault.

You bet it is. Just like the firing of Jim Tressel, male-pattern baldness, Hurricane Katrina, the Exxon Valdez, Kevin Federline, and polio.

13. If the American League would permit a highly trained psychiatrist to sit next to the mound, Fausto Carmona could become an effective pitcher.

A well-mannered, bearded gentleman chewing on a pipe sitting in a high-backed leather chair could examine Carmona’s mental rat’s nest up close, muttering “Velllly intelllesting,” each time Fausto goes to the stretch.

Maybe Carmona just needs a swarm of midges to be all up in his junk in order to focus. Either that or another trip to Arizona to pitch to high school girls with puffy stickers on their batting helmets.

14. Other than his inability to throw, catch, or hit, Carlos Santana is a rising star.

We’ve tried to remind ourselves that Carlos Santana is still technically a rookie and hasn’t played a full season in the bigs – hence his batting average perpetually hovering around the “Hannahan Line” of .225. But reflected by his back-to-back errors in San Francisco that robbed Carlos Carrasco of a victory (permitting him to go Justin Masterson on his ass), Santana isn’t exactly cutting the Bertman’s Mustard at first base.

His talents are much more suited to catcher, though by putting him there, that leaves Matt LaPorta – the Other White Meat – as the only alternative at first. Of course, with Santana at first, that slides Lou Marson’s “Whisper Bat 2000” back into the lineup.

Once again, Jack Ruby arises as a potential solution.

15. Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the bullpen.Bullpen_Mafia

True to form, the Indians’ relievers - henceforth known as the “Bullpen Mafia” - are the strength of the team and have only gotten better as things have gotten worse. And it’ll only get stronger and more hard-ass when they bring up left-handed phenom Luca Brasi from Columbus.

While some of these lessons are disturbing, perhaps most troubling are the questions we ask ourselves going into each game. Not so much, “Will the Indians win tonight?” or “Will Asdrubal hit one out?” as much as “Will the Indians get a hit?” or “Will Fausto make it through the fourth?”

Yet at least we’re still intrigued by these questions.

Tune in to the next game for the answers – same no-bat time, same no-bat channel.

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