We had the greatest expectations

You know, it’s not every day you can walk to the press box bathroom and pass a former president along the way.

Then again, not every day is Opening Day. It’s a special day, whether or not President George W. Bush is in attendance.

tLBRB4cY.jpg“I think it spurs emotions that a lot of times most people don’t feel,” Eric Wedge said. “I think that’s what people like about Opening Day. I let that in. I think it’s important to feel that. I’ll stiff arm a lot of that stuff, but… if you love the game of baseball and you appreciate and respect the fans who pay their money and the players that work so hard to be the best in the world, I think that’s something we all owe to ourselves.”

It’s a day of hope. A day of opportunity. A day when all is right with the world and the best is yet to come.

Well, until Cliff Lee coughs up seven runs in five innings, and the good people of Cleveland drive home from work in an April 6 snow shower. Then it’s back to square one.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • I’m already getting the messages of panic from Tribe fans regarding Cliff Lee and his Opening Day dud against the Rangers. One former Indians.com scribe, who shall remain nameless, is insistent that the Indians should have traded Lee this offseason, while his value was at its peak. This, of course, is how Cleveland sports fans react to such things. It’s their nature, and I suppose it’s understandable.
  • On my end, I’m not sure what to make of Lee’s struggles this spring and in this start. His velocity is intact, and his command doesn’t appear to be too terribly out of whack. It’s worth keeping in mind that he’s never really pitched well in this ballpark (3-3, 9.19 ERA in six career starts here). Today’s loss boiled down to a poorly pitched second inning and one particularly bad pitch to Blalock in the fifth. The looming question is whether those rough patches are going to creep up once or twice in each of his outings (they were rare, at best, in ’08). If they do, it’s going to be a long year.
  • For the record, Lee said the Blalock one-hopper that dotted his forearm in the second played no part in everything that transpired afterward.
  • You can tell when Wedge is upset with the offensive effort and, conversely, when he’s genuinely impressed with what he saw from the opposing pitcher. Today, he was definitely impressed with Millwood. Still, the Indians didn’t notch so much as an extra-base hit against Millwood or the Texas bullpen.
  • I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Texas crowd on Opening Day. Every other time I’ve been here, the place is half-empty… if that. But arriving this morning around 9:30 a.m., the parking lots were all packed with tailgaters braving the 45-degree weather (which is downright arctic in these parts).
  • The players were all excited to meet the former president. He went around the locker room about an hour before first pitch, signed a ball and took a picture with pretty much every player and coach.
  • No one was more excited than Shoppach, an unabashed Bush fan. Bush apparently told Shoppach he remembers him from his Baylor days (Bush’s Crawford, Texas, ranch is near Baylor’s campus in Waco). “That got me pumped up,” Shoppach said. Either Shoppach was a truly memorable college player, or Bush’s secret service guys do their homework ahead of time.
  • For the record, I nodded at Bush as I passed him in the hallway and said hello. He was en route to the Rangers’ broadcast booth and didn’t nod back. Didn’t he realize I come from a key swing state?

~AC

25 Comments

Dear Turf responders, please don’t take this opportunity to turn this into a political argument that will in the end prove nothing to anybody, and change noone’s minds.

Tough day for ol’ Cliffy. I got worried when I read what happned (since I couldn’t listen…thank you mlb.com for upgrading you audio player so it doesn’t work at my office – you’re the best), but I’m not too worried. On the plus side, at least the Indians didn’t pay almost a half a mil for Cliff’s 12+ ERA like the Yanks did. Nice start, CC!!! I’m mostly anticipatory of Fausto’s and Carl’s starts.

Hopefully everyone was just amped up and was just trying too hard.

I remember meeting Travis Fryman a few years ago… said he met the president (not Bush) during an All-Star game when he came into their locker room after a practice prior to the game. Travis said he was so excited to get in line to meet him that he didnt bother putting pants on. He now has a framed picture of him shacking the Presidents hand in his tighty-whities. Saweet!

I guess the ‘it’s only spring training’ excuse will be replaced with ‘it’s only the first game’ excuse to validate this ongoing struggle (both at the plate and from the starter).
Soon to come – ‘it’s only April’ followed by ‘when do the Browns start?’

I remember meeting Travis Fryman a few years ago… said he met the president (not Bush) during an All-Star game when he came into their locker room after a practice prior to the game. Travis said he was so excited to get in line to meet him that he forgot to put pants on while changing. He now has a framed picture of him shacking the Presidents hand in his tighty-whities! Saweet!

joey, you forgot to add after week 2 of the NFL season, ‘why is Mangini still coaching’?

I’m not going to be one of those guys who writes off the season after one game, but I do want to make one observation, and AC you’ve been saying this all Spring Training: Hafers timing is WAY off. He looks terrible. He looks like me swinging at balls in the 90mph batting cage, and I’m a Brit knows never played any ball in his life. If he’s not ready to play I wish Wedge would send him to Columbus for a few weeks to get his game back, coz if this is how he’s going to be for the next few weeks (until he get his timing back) I’d rather have Garko or Shoppach in the line-up instead.

What I don’t get is that wedge will experiment with 6,000 different lineups but he won’t move sizemore to the middle of the order or hafner down in the lineup, while everyone with half a brain knows that should happen.

Mitch, as AC has mentioned in the past, we move Grady down the order and replace him with who? We don’t have another lead-off man. We have plenty of guys who could replace Hafner, though.

AC, I think you’re missing the true conspiracy here! It wasn’t Bush’s secret service men who did their homework, it was those dastardly Rangers! They knew how to get into Shoppach’s head! He was 0-3 with 2 K’s! And he called the game! Clearly, this was all master minded by the Rangers.

Yet another reason to believe Cliff will be fine the next time around.

I wondered yesterday… how do the Indians do when both Shoppach and Martinez are in the lineup? Just tossing that out there….

losangelesclevelandfan, while I concur with your analysis on the lineup, specifically Hafner and Sizemore, I will reiterate what I said the moment David Dellucci went on the DL: within 6 weeks Trevor Crowe will replace Ben Francisco as the everyday left fielder. I make this claim based on no relevant information. Rather simply just personal opinion. Trevor Crowe or Michael Brantley are the only two candidates that would supplant Sizemore at the top of the lineup. They have the prototypical leadoff characteristics. By May 15th our 25 man roster will look different: i.e. Vinnie Chulk, Masa Kobayashi, Brantley, Matt Laporta, Travis Hafner, et al. I think people are reading too much into Cliff Lee and Travis Hafner after one game. Yes, Hafner looked hapless on that 4-6-3 DP and Lee, while never admitting it, looked annoyed by the Blalock beating (alliteration is always our friend). I will go out on a limb and say that we still take 2 of 3 from Texas. Lets go Tribe. Stay on the bandwagon a little longer than one game Cleveland!

losangelesclevelandfan, while I concur with your analysis on the lineup, specifically Hafner and Sizemore, I will reiterate what I said the moment David Dellucci went on the DL: within 6 weeks Trevor Crowe will replace Ben Francisco as the everyday left fielder. I make this claim based on no relevant information. Rather simply just personal opinion. Trevor Crowe or Michael Brantley are the only two candidates that would supplant Sizemore at the top of the lineup. They have the prototypical leadoff characteristics. By May 15th our 25 man roster will look different: i.e. Vinnie Chulk, Masa Kobayashi, Brantley, Matt Laporta, Travis Hafner, et al. I think people are reading too much into Cliff Lee and Travis Hafner after one game. Yes, Hafner looked hapless on that 4-6-3 DP and Lee, while never admitting it, looked annoyed by the Blalock beating (alliteration is always our friend). I will go out on a limb and say that we still take 2 of 3 from Texas. Lets go Tribe. Stay on the bandwagon a little longer than one game Cleveland!

amseeley – will Crowe stay healthy?

Hafner went 1-4 with a run, he’s practically the best player on the team thus far. The surgery was a success!

apparently I am THAT guy that has server errors while trying to submit a comment thus annoyingly displaying my tantrum twice. Can someone please re-explain how to separate paragraphs and use bullets? Anyhow, bern1025, you pose a necessary question. My short answer is yes, or at least I hope so. I think that Francisco does not add as much to our offense that Crowe can out of the 9 hole. Both will have developmental growing pains. I grow tiresome of Francisco’s Manny-esque concentration. If he hit like Manny I would accept it but unfortunately Francisco is not the greatest hitter of my lifetime. Say what you will about Manny, but he is the greatest. Wedge MUST find time over the next 4 weeks to get Francisco, Crowe and Choo consistent playing time. If Crowe plays once a week then Wedge is wasting him. I see Benny as a .270/15/75 guy whereas Crowe can bat .290, steal 30 bags and have an OBP of ~.390.

apparently I am THAT guy that has server errors while trying to submit a comment thus annoyingly displaying my tantrum twice. Can someone please re-explain how to separate paragraphs and use bullets? Anyhow, bern1025, you pose a necessary question. My short answer is yes, or at least I hope so. I think that Francisco does not add as much to our offense that Crowe can out of the 9 hole. Both will have developmental growing pains. I grow tiresome of Francisco’s Manny-esque concentration. If he hit like Manny I would accept it but unfortunately Francisco is not the greatest hitter of my lifetime. Say what you will about Manny, but he is the greatest. Wedge MUST find time over the next 4 weeks to get Francisco, Crowe and Choo consistent playing time. If Crowe plays once a week then Wedge is wasting him. I see Benny as a .270/15/75 guy whereas Crowe can bat .290, steal 30 bags and have an OBP of ~.390.

Amseeley… If anyone in this line-up had Manny-esque concentration at the plate, we would score a heck of a lot more runs. Also, I don’t think any of us can fairly judge what Francisco is capable of–considering he was a platoon player. I am not a fan of Wedge’s management style and we all know that April is ALWAYS Wedge’s extended Spring Training… We should not be in such a hurry for players to be cast aside so quickly without having ample opportunity to prove what he is capable of–ahem… Brandon Phillips. The next best thing isn’t always what we think it will be…. The only solace for Monday’s performance is that CC and the Yanks got shelled and today is a new game!! Go Tribe!

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