We're going to the end of the line

If you didn’t know any better (and some people don’t), you’d think very little has changed since March 31, 2008.

Here, on the final day of the season, the Indians are still playing the White Sox, and their lineup still includes Grady Sizemore in CF, Travis Hafner at DH, Victor Martinez at C, Jhonny Peralta at SS, Ryan Garko at 1B, Asdrubal Cabrera at 2B and Franklin Gutierrez in RF. On the surface, the only changes are Ben Francisco in for Jason Michaels in LF, and Jamey Carroll in for Casey Blake at 3B.

Talk about stability.

And then you look at the following list of players who have donned the Tribe uniform at various points of ’08, and you remember what a long, strange year it’s been. Ladies and gentlemen, here, in no particular order, are your 2008 Cleveland Indians…

Grady Sizemore

Jhonny Peralta

Ryan Garko

Ben Francisco

Franklin Gutierrez

Kelly Shoppach

David Dellucci

Casey Blake

Asdrubal Cabrera

Jamey Carroll

Shin-Soo Choo

Victor Martinez

Andy Marte

Travis Hafner

Jason Michaels

Sal Fasano

Michael Aubrey

Andy Gonzalez

Jorge Velandia

Josh Barfield

Brad Snyder

Yamid Haad

Paul Byrd

Cliff Lee

Fausto Carmona

CC Sabathia

Aaron Laffey

Jason Tyner

Jeremy Sowers

Rick Bauer

Rafael Betancourt

Joe Borowski

Craig Breslow

Scott Elarton

Jorge Julio

Masa Kobayashi

Jensen Lewis

Rafael Perez

Juan Rincon

Zach Jackson

Jake Westbrook

Anthony Reyes

Ed Mujica

Matt Ginter

Tom Mastny

Scott Lewis

Brendan Donnelly

Bryan Bullington

Rich Rundles

Brian Slocum

John Meloan

 

And here, in very particular order, are your lineups for this afternoon's season finale...

 

INDIANS (81-80): CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, 1B Ryan Garko, DH Travis Hafner, C Kelly Shoppach, RF Franklin Gutierrez, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. RHP Bryan Bullington (0-1, 5.59).

 

WHITE SOX (86-72): SS Orlando Cabrera, LF DeWayne Wise, RF Jermaine Dye, DH Jim Thome, 1B Paul Konerko, CF Ken Griffey Jr., 2B Alexei Ramirez, C A.J. Pierzynski, 3B Juan Uribe. LHP Mark Buehrle (14-12, 3.87).

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • When all is said and done, the Indians will have posted a record of .500 or better in three of the last four seasons. They have at least 80 wins in four of the last five seasons.
  • The Tribe last swept a three-game series in Chicago in May of 1999.
  • The Indians were 16 games under .500 (37-53) on July 9. Since that time, they have gained 10 games on the entire division, improving from 16 games back to six games back. This is a good note, though it's equal parts a credit to the Indians and an indictment on the rest of this weak division, which nobody seems to want to win.
  • The Tribe has won 16 of its last 22 road games and is 21-13 on the road in the second half.
  • Speaking of the second half, the Indians have scored 378 runs (most in the Majors) and averaged 5.6 runs per game since the break. The Tigers are second with 363 runs. In the first half of the season, the Indians were 16th in the Majors in runs scored at 426.
  • Shin-Soo Choo has hit safely in 24 of his last 27 games with an at-bat, batting .404 with eight homers and 31 RBIs. His .400 average in September ranks third in the AL.
  • Hafner is in a 1-for-18 funk.  
  • One of the highlights of any season is the rookie hazing ritual in which the rookies must wear Halloween costumes for one of the final flights of the season. Somehow, the Indians pulled this one off under the media's radar this season. PR guru Bart Swain was kind enough to share with me the highlights of this year's crop. On the Tribe's flight from Boston to Chicago on Thursday night, Rich Rundles was dressed as a cop, Michael Aubrey was dressed as a member of the Village People, John Meloan was dressed as a character from the movie "300," Ben Francisco was dressed as Urkel (not sure how Ben got roped into the rookie hazing ritual two years in a row), and -- the highlight to end all highlights -- Masa Kobayashi was dressed as a pimp, and his interpreter, Toshi Nagahara, was dressed as a prostitute. "I had a whip and everything," Tagahara said. "They spent a lot of money." Sounds like money well spent to me.

Just because the season is over doesn't mean "CastroTurf" shuts down. This blog remains a work in progress (one of these days I'll actually find the energy and/or intellect to post photos or do those tag things), and I'm not sure how frequently it will be updated. But be sure to stop by as frequently or infrequently as you like, and I'll try to keep as much Indians content coming as I can.

 

In the meantime, I'm headed off to Anaheim for MLB.com's coverage of the Angels-Red Sox AL Division Series. There will be no Mailbag on the Indians.com site tomorrow, but, beginning Oct. 6, the Mailbag will run every week of the offseason. So please keep your submissions coming at tribemailbag@yahoo.com (and don't forget to include your first name, last initial and hometown).

 

And as always, thanks for reading.

 

~AC

13 Comments

Oh it’s been a heck of a ride AC. I’m already excited for minutia and more runnings of the Bullington next year!

I was going to ask if you had a post-season assignment. The Boston-LAA series should be a good one. Thank you for keeping losers like myself, who know entrriely too much about the Indians, informed.

I’m as big of a Pronk fan as the next Clevelander, but isn’t it time we stop speaking of Travis Hafner’s struggles as funks, cold streaks, rough spells, slumps? The last two years have been downright let-downs. Between all the excuses of not being protected in the lineup, the loss of strength from injury, and all the other stuff, I’m wondering if he’ll ever return to 2006 form…With the emergence of Kelly Shoppach as a quality option at catcher, it’s simply too bad Hafner has no value left on the market.

I don’t know if I’d write off Hafner just yet. Last year was a letdown, sure, but he still drove in 100 runs, so it’s not like he wasn’t still a valuable member of the team. And he’s spent most of this season on the DL.

I think we’ve noticed that with most players (Cliff being a prime example) that if they end up on the DL for a decent amount of time, there’s a very steep learning curve when they get back.

Fingers crossed that’s the case with both Pronk and Fausto.

AC, thanks the for the blogs this season. Looking forward to the madness of the off season.

AC – I just want to thank you for a wonderful season of blogging. My friends and family all tell me that I am obsessed with the Indians in a very unhealthy way, but, really, I just love them! I *cannot* wait for next season, and I am secretly hoping you need a wingman (or woman), because you have my ultimate dream job!

Thanks again!

Thanks for blogging! This is always a sure-fire way to make my day better and get a few giggles…

AC – you bring personality to your coverage of the team my friend, much appreciated!

It was a tough year this year, but I was with this team when they won 54 games and had Alex Cole leading off, back when Santos Alomar Jr won rookie of the year… needless to say we’re in good shape ;)

My fingers are crossed for Pronk to display more (refined) project/less donkey in ’09…

Colin
http://cofromca.mlblogs.com/

AC, you bring much personality to your coverage of the team, and it’s much appreciated!

It was a tough season, but I’ve been rooting for this team since Alex Cole was leading off, Sandy Alomar Jr was rookie of the year and we won all of 54 games… needless to say I think we’re doing all right ;)

Here’s hoping Pronk provides more *refined* project/less donkey in ’09.

Colin
http://cofromca.mlblogs.com/

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