The other day I got my first spring feeling. No, it wasn’t the smell of flowers or the birds chirping in the morning. It wasn’t even the warm weather we had for two whole days in northeast Ohio. Nope, it happened as I was walking throug the beautifully redone campus of the lovely University of Akron. I was enjoying the warm weather on Wedsensday when I heard the sound that made me think of spring. STHACK! It was the unmistakeable sound of a baseball smacking into and being caught in a baseball glove. I love that sound. The only better sound would have been to hear someone take out their driver and rip tee shot.
And even those those warm winter days two weeks ago was just a tease of the warming spring days we have a head, it was enough to get me excited for the baseball season. (Now, let me clarify “excited” by saying baseball is third on my list of sports [behind football and basketball and just barely a head of hockey] and since no one with any form of a life follows college ball, “excited” really could be substituted with “marginally ready for.”)
But that sound did remind me baseball is right around the corner. Of course, so did all the talk of steroids but since I agree with Cliff Lee on the issue and could care less about who did or didn’t take them, the steroid/A-Rod talk just made me hate baseball a little bit. Then that sound happened. That beautiful STHACK. It’s time we STHACK ourselves (I’m sure Graig has numerous at his desk today) into baseball season.
Well, not quite all baseball season, just the Indians.
Last month Serena Williams won the Australian Open. I took this as a good sign for the Indians. What does a beautifully buff, sexy black woman winning the forth best major have to do with the Indians you ask yourself? Everything, I answer.
Serena has won the Australian Open each of the last four odd numbered years – 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009. The Indians have been good or at least competitive each of the last two add years. In 2005, it was team that wasn’t suppose to be any good winning 93 games and only a collasial choke job the size of Avery Johnson’s mouth (thanks for the comparison idea from the comment sections) stopped them from making the playoffs. In 2007, it was a postseason appearance, destroying the Yankees until Joel Skinner put the stop sign on a World Series title. In 2009, they’ll go all Serena on us and walk away holding a trophy with a lot of flags on it in late October.
There’s no doubt the Tribe as potential to do just that. Will they is a completely different question. You can’t expect Cliff Lee to be as great as he was last year but I think you can count on him for 16-18 wins. The rest of the staff is the biggest concern. Carmona, Pavano, Anthony Reyes, Aaron Laffey, David Huff, Jeramy Sowers, Zach Johnson. That sounds more like the line-up at AA Akron than Cleveland. That could be a very scary thing all year.
It will but up to the offense to outscore people. Last year, the Indians sucked and had scored the fourth most runs in the league (maybe third, not sure). They didn’t have Hafner or Victor for most of the year and still put up good offensive numbers so if they have to outscore people to win, they can.
The outfield is average at best but there is lots of potential there. Ben Francisco and Shin-Shoo Choo are question marks but have shown great ability. Grady, of course, will be All-Star-esque in his play and looks.
The Garko-Vic first base combo and Vic-Shoppach catcher combo, I’m not a big fan of. Garko hasn’t shown he can be a consistent hitter or above average fielder. Shoppach showed he deserves to play everyday and can produce. Time to give up on Garko if he gets off to a slow start.
Cabrera, Peralta and DeRosa are a solid infield and Carroll and Barfield may be the two best back-ups in the league. The bullpen rest on the fragile arm of Kerry Wood. Still don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. The rest of the bullpen seems stronger than last year when they sucked and bullpens seems to do the same thing the Tribe does with it’s good one year, bad the next. They weren’t good last year so 2009 should be a good year for them, and the Cleveland Indians as they’ll be the second Cleveland team in as many seasons to win a championship. Be ready Cleveland. We’ll be celebrating two world titles in a five month span. I can’t wait.
Man, all this baseball talk has bored me. Good thing the best thing in sports starts in 24 days.