"All that you have wished for, I know will come your way"
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
The truth, when you get down to it, is that baseball is a job for me. Yes, in the grand scheme of life, it’s just a game. And sure, there are days, like today, when the sun is shining down on a pristine field, and typing a few sentences about how Fausto Carmona looked in mowing down the Angels in the bottom of the fourth is certainly an easier profession than digging ditches or performing surgery.
But it’s a job all the same. I report to a ballpark, interview players and managers and GMs and scouts, throw a bunch of words at a screen and see what sticks. And sometimes, I’ll admit, I forget how much this game means to the people sitting in the seats below. You get so used to watching Carmona that you don’t fully appreciate what it means to pay to watch Carmona, or to live and die with his successes and failures and those of the team.
For that reason, reading the winning submissions for the Indians’ 12-Pack Essay Contest was a treat, and a much more emotional experience than I bargained for. In many cases, I was stunned by the depth of meaning attached to those tickets. As expected in this economic climate, the Indians received a ton of entries from families dealing with job losses or pay cuts who can no longer fit Major League Baseball games into their budget.
But I didn’t expect to hear such compelling stories from such devoted fans. This is a cynical society filled with endless negativity, and that’s too often evident in the comments posted on the Indians.com site or the Facebook wall where all these blog posts land. But these essays came from real fans who aren’t so caught up in whining about the Cliff Lee and trade to remember that a night at the yard can still be a wonderful thing, whether you’re rooting for a rebuilding ballclub or a juggernaut.
None of the essays struck me more than the one submitted by Amy Hendershot. I had tears in my eyes as I read about her daughter Ashley’s bout with the H1N1 virus, and how the complications from the virus lead to Ashley’s untimely and unexpected death last month. Ashley’s little sister, Katie (that’s her on the right, with Ashley on the left), reads this blog every day. She’s a huge Tribe fan who loved nothing more than going to games at Progressive Field with her big sis/best friend. And though nothing in this world could possibly fill the void left by her sister’s death, the Indians gave her something to smile about, something to make her summer a little bit warmer. And it warms my heart to know that while I’m up in the press box working this summer, she’ll be down in the seats and smiling.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- Asdrubal Cabrera left today’s game with an injury, shortly after hitting a leadoff triple in the fifth. He remained on base for several pitches, but he injured his upper left leg on a headfirst slide back to the bag on a pickoff attempt. The Indians had no further information, though Cabrera did walk without a noticeable limp when he left the field to catch the shuttle back to the Player Development Complex. They’ll have an update Saturday, but it doesn’t sound serious.
- The numbers weren’t pretty, but Jake Westbrook felt much better about today’s outing against the Angels than he did about Monday’s outing against the Diamondbacks. Westbrook gave up four runs on three hits with a walk and three strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings today. He started off the game by giving up a double to Reggie Willits, an infield single to Jeff Mathis and a three-run blast to Mike Napoli. He was charged with another run in the third.
- Said Westbrook: “I gave up four runs, but I feel 100 percent better than when I gave up one run the last outing. I feel so much better, confidence-wise.” Why? Because Westbrook was in and around the zone much more consistently in this start, and he feels he’s getting good action on his sinker. Plus, his arm feels great, which is obviously a plus. “It starts with getting my mechanics solidified,” he said. “What I’m hoping is to get stronger and better each time out.”
- Carmona made his 2010 Cactus debut tossed three scoreless, allowing just one hit and striking out a batter. “He pounded the zone and was able to use all his pitches,” Acta said.
- Joe Smith coughed up a three-run lead in the ninth. He got two quick outs against right-handers but struggled against the lefties in the Angels lineup. Smith is a side-armer, so he’s often pegged as a situational righty. But he’s hoping to get more chances against lefties, and he struggled with this one. That’s what Spring Training is for. “Left-handers gave him a little bit of trouble,” Acta said. “This is a good time to see if guys can handle situations.”
- The Indians and Angels didn’t bother to play a 10th inning today, even though the score was knotted at 7. This was a split-squad day for the Angels, and they ran out of pitchers.
- The Tribe’s cumulative ERA of 3.11, coming into this game, was the lowest in the Majors this spring. A far cry from last year, but, then again, it’s early.
- Shin-Soo Choo is the first guy in the indoor cages, nearly every day. Choo told me he wakes up at 4:30 a.m. and is in the cage by 7:30 a.m., at the latest. He likes getting one-on-one time with hitting coach Jon Nunnally, so the early wake-up call, he figures, is the best way to make it happen. Choo is in bed by 8 p.m. most nights.
- Choo doesn’t just lean on Nunnally for advice about his swing. He’s also turned to veteran Mark Grudzielanek, who he feels has a similar swing. “I hit the ball well when it’s middle-away, but not so well when it’s inside,” Choo said. “He told me to try hitting off a tee, and set the tee up inside. I’m learning to hit that way, more toward the middle, and I’m not rolling over on the ball [and hitting groundballs].”
- The schedule for the 2010 Cleveland Indians Charities High School Hardball Classic presented by MinuteMenJobs.com has been announced. The event will take place Friday, April 23, and Saturday, April 24, at Progressive Field, with all proceeds benefiting CIC. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the participating schools or online at Indians.com for $5. They can be purchased at the gate on the day of the game for $7.
- Here’s the schedule: On April 23, Gilmour Academy and University School will play at 3 p.m., St. Ignatius and Avon Lake will play at 5:30 p.m. and Holy Name and Padua Franciscan will play at 8 p.m. On April 24, Berkshire will face Cuyahoga Heights at 10 a.m., Midview will face Amherst Steele at 12:30 p.m. and Midpark will face Berea at 3 p.m. For more info, visit this site.
- That’s all for this weekend. The blog will be back up and running on Monday. I’ve got a Flip Cam coming in the mail, so hopefully I’ll be able to start posting some videos here, assuming I can actually figure it out.
UPDATE: Seriously… how about those Ohio University Bobcats?