June 2008

The sages of the subway sit just like the living dead

Greetings from Chicago, home of, perhaps, my least favorite public rail system. A story in today’s Chicago Tribune informs us that the most recent safety review of the CTA found that it is in serious need of upgrades. But the bright side is that “riders are not putting their lives in jeopardy” by boarding the trains. So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.

Really, I could care less if the CTA gets me to my destination safely. Just get me there on-time. But that never happens. I tend to find myself waiting for the next train for inordinate periods of time.

While waiting for the subway to U.S. Cellular Field today, I watched as my fellow waiters fell victim to the lure of standing out near the edge of the platform and looking back toward the tunnel where the train is supposedly going to arrive from. I thought to myself, “Why do people always do that? It’s not as if looking down the tunnel is going to make the train come any quicker.”

Five minutes later, I was doing the same thing.

Here are the lineups for tonight’s series opener with the first-place White Sox. The Indians are calling this a make or break road trip. If the first three months are any indication, break is the early frontrunner. But you never know…

INDIANS (37-45): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Casey Blake, DH David Dellucci, 1B Ryan Garko, C Kelly Shoppach. LHP Jeremy Sowers (0-3, 5.97).

WHITE SOX (46-35): SS Orlando Cabrera, CF Brian Anderson, LF Carlos Quentin, RF Jermaine Dye, DH Jim Thome, 3B Joe Crede, 1B Nick Swisher, 2B Alexei Ramirez, C Toby Hall. RHP Gavin Floyd (8-4, 3.39).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Adam Miller and Josh Barfield both had a follow-up appointment with hand specialist Dr. Tom Graham in Baltimore on Monday. Miller is five weeks removed from surgery to repair a tendon in his right middle finger, and the Indians hope he’ll be ready to begin a return-to-throw program in the next two weeks. Barfield had the cast removed from his left hand and will begin range-of-motion exercises this week.
  • Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff isn’t on this trip. He’s back in Cleveland tending to the guys on the DL (and there are plenty of them). Fausto Carmona threw out to 105 feet today. That’s the only update the Indians offered on his status.
  • Paul Byrd wasn’t with the Indians by the time they went out to stretch. Byrd was in New York City this morning promoting his book, “Free Byrd,” which comes out Tuesday. He was scheduled to re-join the team by game time. 
  • Reliever Juan Rincon made his Buffalo debut Sunday and gave up one hit in a scoreless inning against Scranton. “We were definitely surprised,” Bisons manager Torey Lovullo told the estimable David Briggs of the Buffalo News. “His fastball command and velocity were both greater than expected. And his slider was sharp. He’s just going to get better with each outing.” Expect to see Rincon with the Indians at some point this summer.
  • Sizemore is three homers and two stolen bases away from becoming just the second player in franchise history to amass 100 homers and 100 stolen bases as a member of the Indians. Joe Carter (151 homes, 126 stolen bases) is the other. Sizemore has seven homers in his last 17 games.
  • Jensen Lewis hasn’t allowed a run over his last four innings for Buffalo.
  • Call it a trend. Outfielder Trevor Crowe has been named the Eastern League player of the week for the second consecutive week. Crowe batted .465 (13-for-28) with two doubles, two homers, 10 RBIs and 11 runs scored in seven games last week. Over his last 11 games, he’s batting .522 (24-for-46) with 11 extra-base hits, 18 RBIs and 18 runs, raising his seasaon average from .231 to .313.
  • The Indians have signed eighth-round Draft pick Eric Berger, a left-handed pitcher from the University of Arizona. Berger won a team-high eight games for the Wildcats this year.

~AC

Mastny coming back

Tom Mastny will be joining the Indians here in Chicago for his third stint with the big-league club in ’08. A corresponding roster move has not yet been announced.

Mastny is 1-0 with a 1.79 ERA in 19 relief appearances for the Bisons this season, striking out 34 and walking eight in 26 1/3 innings.

With the Indians earlier this year, Mastny went 0-1 with a 21.00 ERA in three appearances, including a brief spot start in Texas on June 3.

I’ll post the corresponding move as soon as I can.

UPDATE (7:15 p.m. ET): As mentioned below, the corresponding move is Scott Elarton going on the restricted list for an indefinite period of time. Eric Wedge and media relations director Bart Swain did not wish to go into specifics as to why Elarton had to leave the club (he made the trip to Chicago but flew back to Cleveland today). “Personal reasons” was the only explanation given. Wedge could not say how long to expect to be without Elarton’s services. 

Here’s hoping everything is all right with Scott.

 

"I like Christian rock. It's very positive. It's not like those real musicians who think they're so cool and hip!"

You know it’s a big night when Pillar is in the house.

Who is Pillar? They are a Grammy-nominated Christian rock band from Oklahoma. They are in the “nu metal” genre, which is invigorating. They have just worked out a deal with MLB to use their song, “For Love of the Game,” in advertisements. They are buddies with pitcher Paul Byrd. And most importantly, their guitar player, Noah Henson, hasn’t had a haircut in 12 years. No joke.

The Pillar sighting is about all that’s happening at the moment, because this game won’t be starting on time. As of 6:23 p.m. ET, it is raining heavily and the tarp, of course, is on the field.

The rain should give me some time to peruse Byrd’s new book, “Free Byrd,” which comes out Tuesday. Byrd gave reporters a review copy pregame, so expect to see an article up on the site about it Monday. The book includes Byrd’s first comments about his HGH use since just before Game 7 of the ALCS last year. Juicy.

Here are the lineups for tonight’s interstate action. I imagine that during this rain delay, the Indians will be huddled in a circle, looking each other in the eye and reminding each other that “This one’s for the Ohio Cup!” But that might just be my imagination…

INDIANS (35-43): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Casey Blake, DH David Dellucci, 1B Ryan Garko, C Kelly Shoppach. LHP C.C. Sabathia (5-8, 4.06 ERA).

REDS (36-44): SS Jerry Hairston, DH Adam Dunn, RF Ken Griffey Jr., 2B Brandon Phillips, CF Jay Bruce, 3B Jeff Keppinger, 1B Joey Votto, LF Norris Hopper, C David Ross. RHP Daryl Thompson (0-0, 0.00).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Fausto Carmona (strained left hip) played catch today and reportedly felt fine. The Indians will see how he feels Saturday and go from there. He’s expected to throw out to 120 feet in the coming days and hopefully be ready for a bullpen session in the next seven to 10 days, according to Eric Wedge. This puts his timetable for a return to the Tribe shortly after the All-Star break, if all goes to plan.
  • Travis Hafner, meanwhile, is still progressing slowly with that strained right shoulder. He had a strength test performed today, and his right shoulder only has 40-50 percent of the strength of his left shoulder, according to Wedge. The Indians want the right shoulder at about 75 percent before they’ll consider having him do baseball activities. Long story short: It’s going to be quite a while before we see Pronk again.
  • According to Elias, Cliff Lee is just the fourth Indians pitcher in franchise history to start a season 11-1 or better. Johnny Allen started out 12-0 in 1937 and 11-1 in 1938, Gaylord Perry was 11-1 in 1974 and Charles Nagy was 11-1 in 1996. Lee is first in the AL in ERA (2.34), first in winning percentage (.917), tied for first in wins (11), eighth in average against (.237) and eighth in strikeouts (90).
  • No Indians player has hit a home run since Sabathia’s solo shot against the Dodgers last Saturday.
  • The XM All-Star Futures Game rosters were announced, and the Indians’ organization only has one participant. Right-hander Hector Rondon, who is 5-3 with a 3.45 ERA in 15 starts for Class A Kinston, has been named to the World roster. He is 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in June.
  • The Indians have scored three runs or less in seven of their last 11 games.
  • As bad as the offense has been, the bullpen might be worse this year. Consider that in 210 2/3 innings this season, the relievers have allowed 324 baserunners via hit or walk. Not good.

We’re going blogless Saturday and Sunday. See you Monday in Chi-town.

~AC

"If you ain't first, you're last."

Welcome to the land of last place.

Earlier this afternoon, Luis Rivera’s kid was taking outdoor batting practice. The ping of his aluminum bat echoed through an empty Progressive Field. I wonder if people passing by out on the street heard this and fell under the misguided assumption that the Indians have turned in their lumber for metal. I’m sure they would if they could.

The Indians haven’t been in last place this late in the season since 1993. You remember that immortal ’93 team, right? Reggie Jefferson played the part of David Dellucci — the light-hitting DH. Former first-round pick Jeff Mutis made 13 starts — each of them memorable in their own way (in that they were not memorable at all). Junior Ortiz caught 95 games and didn’t hit a single home run (so don’t feel so bad, Vic).

You don’t want to draw comparisons to the 1993 Cleveland Indians. That’s bad.

So if you haven’t already, I’d urge you, loyal Indians fan, to begin shifting your attention to the July 31 trading deadline. And what better way to do so than by checking out MLB.com’s brand-spanking-new Trade Talk blog? Myself and the other 29 MLB.com beat writers will be updating it constantly over the next five weeks with every rumor, report and rumbling that’s fit to print. I reckon some guy named Carsten will be mentioned once or twice. In fact, he already has.

All right, with that shameless plug behind us, let’s turn back to your regularly scheduled season, which has been utterly irregular. Here are the lineups for tonight’s action…

INDIANS (35-43): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Casey Blake, DH David Dellucci, 1B Ryan Garko, C Kelly Shoppach. LHP Cliff Lee (10-1, 2.45), who is 10-2 lifetime in Interleague Play.

GIANTS (34-44): RF Randy Winn, 3B Jose Castillo, CF Aaron Rowand, C Bengie Molina, DH Rich Aurilia, LF Brian Horwitz, 2B Travis Denker, 1B John Bowker, SS Omar Vizquel. RHP Matt Cain (4-5, 4.31).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Expect an update on the condition of Travis Hafner (weak right shoulder) and Fausto Carmona (strained left hip) on Friday, as Hafner will be doing a strength test, and Carmona will be playing catch.
  • Eric Wedge said Garko was falling victim to that dreaded pull of “trying to do too much” in the middle of the order, so he moved him down. Anyone who watches Garko’s at-bats with regularity can see he’s overswinging way too often. Perhaps this will help settle him down.
  • Josh Barfield was hanging out in the clubhouse. His left hand is currently in a cast following the surgery he had to repair a tendon in his middle finger. He’ll be out of the cast on Monday and ready to begin range of motion therapy. He’s 10 days removed from surgery, which is expected to keep him out 6-8 weeks.
  • The big-league club isn’t the only one scuffling offensively. Triple-A Buffalo was one-hit by Indianapolis. Veteran Morgan Ensberg provided the lone knock.
  • 1B Beau Mills’ hitting streak at Class A Kinston is up to nine games. He’s batting .342 (13-for-38) with eight runs scored, four doubles, two homers and seven RBIs in that stretch.
  • A couple TV switches have been made. The July 5 game at Minnesota will be broadcast by STO. The July 12 home game against the Rays will air on WKYC Channel 3. Adjust accordingly.
  • Don’t forget about tomorrow night’s Mystery Ball event. For $50, ticketed fans get a ball autographed by a current Major Leaguer. There will be 1,200 balls available. Proceeds benefit the Providence House.
  • Former Tribe catching prospect Max Ramirez, acquired in the ’06 Bob Wickman trade and lost in last year’s Kenny Lofton trade, hit his first Major League home run last night to give the Rangers the win over the Astros. 

Lastly, I hope my fellow Ohio U. alums (and judging by the e-mails, there are plenty of you out there) will join me in sending some good mojo in the direction of OSU assistant John Groce, who is expected to be named head men’s basketball coach tomorrow. I’m hoping for big things from you, John. Please don’t lead the Bobcats in the same direction as Plains native Larry Hunter and Tim “Did you know I used to be the assistant at Boston College and I recruited Troy Bell?” O’Shea.

~AC 

"Mr. Kramer would like to schedule a lunch with you at Monk's Coffee Shop."

Every year, every MLB.com reporter gets an associate to work with. “Associate,” in case you can’t tell, is a fancy word for “intern.” It’s kind of like when I worked at Wal-Mart in high school. We were referred to as “associates” when really we were just stock boys and cart-pushers.

Anyway, journalism being the competitive business it is, we’ve gotten our fair share of quality interns over the years. Except for the scrub who interned on the Indians’ site in 2004. But let’s not talk about him.

Last year, we had a winner in David “Young Zeus” Briggs, who, at 7-foot-9, holds the distinction of being one of America’s finest and tallest young sportswriters. Briggs had the engaging habit of turning in quality prose while simultaneously chewing on his press credential. It was quite a sight to behold.

This year, I have little doubt we have another fine writer in Ohio University graduate Andrew Gribble, who has started up on this homestand. He’s already been broken in nicely with yesterday’s Omar Vizquel story, and I’m sure you’ll see his byline quite often this summer on Indians.com. He’s also going to help me figure out how to package ketchup and mustard in the same bottle.

Gribble has asked that I seek your assistance in finding him a new car, as his 1999 Grand Prix spontaneously combusted on his way home from the ballpark last night. So if you have any suggestions, pass them along. 

In the meantime, here are tonight’s lineups for Day 2 of the Omar . Note the rare Jorge Velandia sighting, as Wedge wanted to give Jhonny Peralta a day off his feet…

INDIANS (35-42): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, DH Jhonny Peralta, 1B Ryan Garko, 3B Casey Blake, C Kelly Shoppach, RF Franklin Gutierrez, SS Jorge Velandia. LHP Jeremy Sowers (0-2, 6.57).

GIANTS (33-44): 2B Ray Durham, 3B Jose Castillo, RF Randy Winn, C Bengie Molina, CF Aaron Rowand, DH Rich Aurilia, LF Brian Horwitz, 1B John Bowker, SS Omar Vizquel. LHP Barry Zito (2-11, 6.32).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • RHP Juan Rincon, signed to a Minor League deal on Tuesday, was in the clubhouse today after throwing a bullpen session. It appears the Indians intend for Rincon to make a few appearances at Buffalo and then bring him up to help out their bullpen.
  • The Indians signed two more Draft picks. RHP Matt Langwell, an 11th round selection out of Rice university, and 1B Nate Recknagel, a 19th round pick out of Michigan, are the latest to sign. The Indians have now signed 19 of their 50 selections and 14 of their top 21 picks.
  • Another day, another three hits for Asdrubal Cabrera. He’s gone 3-for-4 with a run scored in three straight games down at Buffalo and is now hitting .456 with 11 runs, three doubles, a homer and five RBIs in 14 games for the Bisons.
  • Class A Kinston’s All-Stars played a part in the Carolina League’s 3-1 victory over the California League. 3B Niuman Romero drew a walk and scored a run, RHP Josh Tomlin threw a shutout inning, and RHP Luis Perdomo earned the save.
  • Akron LF Trevor Crowe was named the Eastern League Player of the Week after batting .464 (13-for-28) with two homers, nine runs scored and eight RBIs in six games for the Aeros.
  • RHP Carlton Smith, younger brother of former first-round pick Corey Smith, was named the Carolina League pitcher of the week after going 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two starts for Class A Kinston. Smith is 5-4 with a 3.87 ERA in 15 outings this season.
  • The Indians are once again offering a “One Day Baseball Experience” at Progressive Field on Aug. 2. Participants get to play two games on the field, must be 25 or older and must bring their own mitt and wood bat. All other equipment is provided, and Len Barker, Joe Charboneau, Kevin Rhomberg and Bob Feller will be on hand to serve as managers. For more info, call (216) 420-HITS.

~AC 

He's a local hero, he used to live here for a while

Greetings from Progressive Field, the (sometimes) home of the Indians. You might have noticed that the home games are fewer and further between these days. In fact, the Tribe has just nine of them between June 24 and July 24. So if you’re interested in seeing Sal Fasano, Jorge Velandia, Ed Mujica and the boys, you better plan accordingly.

A big crowd is expected here tonight, and it’s not for those aforementioned cornerstone players. It’s for “Little O” — Omar Vizquel. This guy is a rock star. His every move since arriving to Progressive Field today has been given the paparazzi treatment.

And you can tell Omar’s excited to be back here. He walked from the visitor’s clubhouse to his press conference and hugged or shook the hand of every person he passed, whether he knew them or not. He even showed up early for his press conference. That, if you’re scoring at home, never happens. 

Associate reporter Andrew Gribble will have an Omar story up on the site in a little bit. Gribble just graduated from Ohio U., which means he’s an excellent human being.

Here are tonight’s lineups. Take note of the Andy Marte sighting. Eric Wedge said he wanted to give Casey Blake a day off paired with Monday’s off day, because of his heavy workload (you might have noticed that Marte doesn’t play much)…..

INDIANS (35-41): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, 1B Ryan Garko, RF Franklin Gutierrez, DH Shin-Soo Choo, C Kelly Shoppach, 3B Andy Marte. LHP Aaron Laffey (4-4, 2.98 ERA).

GIANTS (32-44): CF Fred Lewis, 2B Ray Durham, RF Randy Winn, C Bengie Molina, DH Aaron Rowand, 1B Rich Aurilia, 3B Jose Castillo, LF Brian Horwitz, SS Omar Vizquel. LHP Jonathan Sanchez (6-4, 4.23).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Fausto Carmona (strained left hip) will begin playing catch later this week. Carmona was supposed to go out on a rehab assignment last week but had a setback in his recovery.
  • Travis Hafner (weak right shoulder) will have his shoulder strength tested later this week to determine if he might be ready for baseball activities.
  • Vizquel batted .283 with 288 doubles, 39 triples, 60 homers, 584 RBIs and 279 stolen bases in 1,478 games with the Indians. He ranks among the Indians’ all time leaders in games (10th), hits (seventh), runs (sixth), doubles (eighth), RBIs (15th) and stolen bases (second).
  • Also worth noting that this series marks the return of Duane Kuiper, who was voted one of the top 100 Indians of all-time by fans in 2004. Kuiper, who played here from 1974-81, is now a Giants broadcaster.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera had three more hits for Buffalo yesterday. He is now hitting .434 with a homer and five RBIs in 13 games for the Bisons. But the Indians are going to be patient about calling him up. “We’ll bring him back as soon as we can and not at the expense of him or his development,” Wedge said. “We want to make sure his success will play up here.” As for Cabrera playing primarily at shorstop, Wedge said that is merely to give Cabrera some repitition at the position, because, once he comes back, he’d again be counted on to play both middle infield spots. Also found it interesting that Wedge said Cabrera needs to learn to play third, too.
  • Down at Class A Kinston, Beau Mills, last year’s No. 13 overall pick, has hit in 10 of his last 11 games to raise his average from .251 to .268. He’s batting .356 with five doubles, two homers and eight RBIs in this span.
  • C Yamid Haad, esignated for assignment last week when Fasano was brought aboard, has been outrighted to Buffalo. 
  • The annual PLAY Campaign event takes place at Progressive Field tomorrow morning. The event raises awareness about children’s health issues, such as obesity and the dangers of steroids. Jamey Carroll, head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff and strength and conditioning coach Tim Maxey will all take part in the event.

~AC 

Rincon, Graffanino signed, headed to Buffalo

The Indians are sending a couple more veteran big-leaguers to Buffalo as depth options. Reliever Juan Rincon and infielder Tony Graffanino have been signed to Minor League contracts. 

Rincon, 29, was released by the Twins on June 12 after compiling a 2-2 record and 6.11 ERA in 28 innings. He was a reliable setup man from 2003-06, putting together a 2.93 ERA in that timeframe. He made more than 70 appearances in the 2004, ’05 and ’06 seasons, and his 81 holds from 2004-07 were the second-most in the American League in that four-year span. But Rincon has a 5.44 ERA over the last two years. He will report to Buffalo in the next few days.

Graffanino, who just turned 35, is coming off two knee surgeries and is not ready for game activity. He’ll be working out with the Bisons.

Graffanino has played 12 seasons with six teams — the Braves, Rays, White Sox, Royals, Red Sox and Brewers. He owns a career Major League average of .267 with 58 homers and 301 RBIs. He played in 86 games for the Brewers last year, batting .238 with nine homers and 30 RBIs, before suffering a season-ending right knee injury in August. He had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in August and surgery to repair a torn ACL in December.

Last week, the Indians signed infielder Morgan Ensberg, who has played in 731 games for the Astros, Padres and Yankees, to a Minor League deal and sent him to Buffalo.

California's been good to me, I hope it don't fall into the sea

When I was a freshman at Ohio U., I remember sitting in the dorm one day with my three roommates. Two of them were playing Mario Kart. The other two of us sat there watching them. At some point, I realized that the only thing more pathetic than playing video games all day was watching someone else play video games all day.

I don’t feel that way any more.

My buddy Brian moved to LA about a year and a half ago and got a job testing video games for Electronic Arts. That’s right. He was paid to play video games. Recently, however, he got promoted. Now, he’s paid to watch people play video games. 

So this blog entry goes out to you, Brian. If a guy who gets paid to watch baseball games for a living thinks you have a cushy job, you know you’ve made it in life.

It’s our final day in LA. It’s still miserably hot, and the Indians are looking for a sweep. This is the lineup they’ll go with…

INDIANS (35-40): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, RF Shin-Soo Choo, SS Jhonny Peralta, 1B Ryan Garko, 3B Casey Blake, LF David Dellucci, C Kelly Shoppach, RHP Paul Byrd.

DODGERS (45-30): LF Juan Pierre, CF Matt Kemp, 1B James Loney, C Russell Martin, 3B Blake DeWitt, RF Andre Ethier, SS Angel Berroa, 2B Luis Maza, RHP Chad Billingsley.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • With his mammoth shot off Chan Ho Park yesterday, C.C. Sabathia became the first AL pitcher to hit two homers in Interleague Play. Three other Indians pitchers have hit homers since IP started in ’97 — Dave Burba in ’98, Dwight Gooden in ’99 and Jason Davis in 2004. 
  • The Dodgers are one of just two MLB teams that Byrd has yet to beat in his career. He is 0-4 against them. He has also never beaten the Brewers. Then again, he’s never faced them, so beating them would be difficult, given the circumstances.
  • Don’t look now, but OF Trevor Crowe has heated up at Double-A Akron. He is batting .377 (29-for-77) with two homers and 14 RBIs over his last 18 games and is 11-for-19 with two homers and seven RBIs in his last four games. Crowe went on the DL early this season with back issues, then was mired in a miserable slump. But for the second year in a row, he has woken up in June.
  • Oh, and the Aeros have won 11 straight and 16 of 17, by the way. They have jumped into first place in the Eastern League.
  • Also down on the farm, LHP Dave Huff had an outstanding outing in Buffalo’s 4-1 win at Louisville on Saturday. Huff went seven scoreless innings, allowing just five hits with no walks and nine strikeouts. He is now 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts since his promotion to the Bisons. If the Indians needed an emergency starter right now, you’d have to figure Huff would get the call.

~AC

UPDATE: After our morning with Wedge, it appears Peralta might be in the cleanup spot more often. If nothing else, he figures to be in the middle of the lineup — 3, 4 or 5 — with regularity.

"He did such a good job for us last year, and I know he's had some problems this year," Wedge said. "But I just really feel like he's going to be a run-producer. The sooner he gets used to being in the middle of the lineup and just takes that as the norm, the better off he's going to be."

 

"We need more special days at the stadium. Like Joe Pepitone Day. Or … Jon Voight Day."

Any time you come to LA, you have to keep your eye out for random celebrity sightings. That’s half the fun of coming here. OK, that’s all the fun of coming here.

The entrance to the visitor’s clubhouse at Dodger Stadium is directly beside the entrance to the pricey seats behind home plate. So after games, while waiting to get into the clubhouse for interviews, you can stand there watching the fans filter out of that area and possibly sight a “that guy” — as in, “Isn’t that that guy from that one show?”

When I was here with the Reds a few years back, I saw Rob “Marty Debergi” Reiner, which was a big thrill. And last night, Pamela Anderson was here with her kids (And I’m sure you know the joke about Pam and the Pope on a lifeboat. The punchline is “No, I said toss me the buoys!”).

Well, today, we’ve got more “celebrities” than we know what to do with. After the Indians-Dodgers game, they’re holding the 50th annual Hollywood Stars Game on the field. Check out this list of “who’s who” in the world of showbiz: David Arquette, Adam Carolla, James Denton, Jon Lovitz, Sean Astin, James Van Der Beek, Tom Arnold, Camryn Manheim, Garry Marshall, George Thorogood, Carlos Mencia….

Anyway, you get the point. I probably could have just spared all that typing and said there’s a celebrity softball game involving Tom Arnold, and you would have understood where I’m going with this. Apparently, Dave Coulier was unavailable. Oh, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also somehow got roped into this mess. Very sad.

I have lineups for the celebrity softball game, but I think I’ll just give you the lineups to Tribe-Dodgers instead. It’s the big Sal Fasano debut…

INDIANS (34-40): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, RF Ben Francisco, 1B Ryan Garko, SS Jhonny Peralta, 3B Casey Blake, LF David Dellucci, C Sal Fasano, LHP C.C. Sabathia.

DODGERS (34-39): LF Juan Pierre, CF Matt Kemp, 2B Jeff Kent, C Russell Martin, RF Delwyn Young, 1B James Loney, 3B Andy LaRoche, SS Angel Berroa, RHP Chan Ho Park.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Sabathia leads all AL pitchers in batting average (.297), hits (11), RBIs (6) and slugging percentage (.405) since Interleague Play began in ’97.
  • The Indians have now defeated every team in MLB at least once in the regular season in their history. The parade is scheduled for Monday afternoon down Prospect.
  • If you’re attending Friday’s game against the Reds, you might want to bring along an extra $50. The annual Indians Wives Association’s “Mystery Ball” fundraiser will take place that night. For $50, you get a bag containing a ball autographed by a current MLB player. In addition to Indians stars like Grady Sizemore and C.C. Sabathia, there are also balls autographed by the likes of Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki. Proceeds benefit the Providence House. 
  • Cliff Lee is now 7-1 with a 2.71 ERA on the road this season. That’s the most road wins in the Majors. His 2.45 ERA overall is the best in the AL.
  • Casey Blake leads the AL in both average with runners in scoring position (.417) and road batting average (.342).
  • The Indians starters’ ERA in June is 5.78 after a 3.12 mark in May. The pitching staff’s 5.89 ERA in June is last in the Majors.
  • That 6-2-5 double play that nearly killed the Indians’ 10th-inning rally was pretty bizarre stuff. “You go from bases loaded and none out to first and second with two outs,” Eric Wedge said bemusedly. Franklin Gutierrez hit into the double play, but it was made possibly by Ben Francisco, who was at second base, briefly breaking back to second when the ball was hit. “He needs to do a better job recognizing where the ball is,” Wedge said of Francisco.

~AC

UPDATE: It just dawned on me, watching Fasano and Sabathia come in from the bullpen before the first pitch, that this might be the heaviest battery combo in the history of Indians baseball. Someone from Elias needs to get on this.

Goin' Cali

Forget race, gender or politics. The true dividing line among Americans sits between those who are New York people and those who are Los Angeles people.

LA is smog and sprawl; NYC is brawn and brawl. LA people are looking for their next part; NYC people are looking for their next pint. LA people like Leno; NYC people like Letterman (who, by the way, did a weeks’ worth of shows from LA in 1995 and it was perhaps the greatest week of television known to man. I believe I still have a VHS tape of all five episodes laying around somewhere).

I’m a New York kind of person. I’ve never really liked LA. And tonight’s game time is a good indication of why. It’s at 7:40 p.m. PT, not 7:05. This is to account for the traffic to Dodger Stadium and, presumably, to give people like Alyssa Milano time to get here. And while I’m all for Alyssa Milano’s attendance, if baseball game times must be pushed back because of traffic, that tells you all you need to know about the traffic here. Driving anywhere is like trying to get in and out of Blossom Music Center.

So it was an inordinately pleasant surprise this morning when I picked up my rental car and discovered it had Sirius satellite radio. And if you know anything about Sirius radio, you know Channel 10 is “E Street Radio” — the all-Bruce Springsteen channel.

And just like that, LA instantly became tolerable. Leno, on the other hand, will never be tolerable.

This marks just the second time the Indians and Dodgers have faced each other in Interleague Play — the last coming in June of 2003 at the Ballpark Formerly Known as Jacobs Field. But this isn’t the Tribe’s first trip to Dodger Stadium. The indians played here when the California Angels called this ballpark home from 1962-65 while waiting for the building of Angels Stadium. The last time the Tribe played here was Aug. 23, 1965.

Without any further ado, here are tonight’s lineups…

INDIANS: CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, 1B Ryan Garko, RF Shin-Soo Choo, SS Jhonny Peralta, 3B Casey Blake, C Kelly Shoppach, LHP Cliff Lee.

DODGERS: LF Juan Pierre, CF Matt Kemp, 2B Jeff Kent, 1B James Loney, 3B Andy LaRoche, RF Andre Ethier, SS Angel Berroa, C Danny Ardoin, LHP Clayton Kershaw.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • It’s hot enough to make a brass monkey blink. Last I heard, it’s 99 degrees on the field. And Indians radio pregame host and amateur meteorologist Jim Rosenhaus tells me the forecast for first pitch Saturday is 114 degrees.
  • Here’s anothere interesting note on Indians-Dodgers: The Dodgers are the only MLB team the Indians have yet to beat in the regular season. They have defeated all other 29 teams at least once.
  • No players from the Dodgers’ current 25-man roster were on the 2003 club that swept the Indians in Cleveland.
  • The Indians have lost seven straight and eight of their last nine Interleague road games, dating back to last season.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays are the only MLB club yet to set foot in Dodger Stadium.
  • Lee is 10-2 all-time in Interleague starts.
  • Just met Sal Fasano. Sadly, he has shaved his famous ‘stache. But he does have a goatee in the works, so that’s something to look forward to.
  • According to Elias, Jorge De La Rosa became the first pitcher in Rockies history to strike out 10 or more batters in six or less innings Thursday against the Tribe. I don’t know what’s more pathetic… the Indians striking out 10 times against De La Rosa or the Rockies never having a pitcher achieve this feat in 15 years.

~AC

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