By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
I know I said I wouldn’t be blogging for a few days, but that was before I opened this morning’s Cleveland Plain Dealer to find a 6-foot-7, 290-pound man sticking his size-15 foot in his mouth.
This was what AL All-Star CC Sabathia had to say when asked about the disintegration of the 2007 Cleveland Indians team that fell a win shy of the World Series:
“That wasn’t our fault,” Sabathia said. “They traded us. That’s on them.”
Sabathia went on to say, “If [ownership] had kept everybody for at least two more years, I think we had a chance of having a really good team.”
Is Sabathia delusional? Or is he merely the latest member of the Yankees to “misremember” something?
I’ll submit that neither is the case. Sabathia, you see, is taking advantage of the opportunity the July 2008 trade that sent him to Milwaukee afforded him to divorce himself from all blame or finger-pointing and to feed off the raw emotions of those who have done little to nothing to understand the Indians’ economic position in an unbalanced marketplace.
Sabathia says something insipid like, “It’s on them,” because he’ll say anything to avoid looking like the bad guy. And this isn’t the first time.
Throughout the phantom contract negotiation process before the 2008 season, when it was clear the Indians were as likely to get Sabathia to commit to a long-term deal as they were to throw a dome on Progressive Field, CC would say things like, “Hopefully we can get something done.” Because that was a lot easier and less publicly damaging than saying, “The Indians have no chance of offering me the kind of money I feel I’m worth.”
In the winter before the ’08 season, when the Indians offered Sabathia around $18 million a year through 2012 — the largest offer the franchise has ever come up with for a player — he didn’t so much as sleep on it. He knew he was gone, and he broke off negotiations before they even started in Spring Training.
This is the reality. But now, two and a half years later, CC — which, in this case, stands for Clouded Context — is selling a fantasy. An alternate universe in which those heinous, loveless Indians owners cast him out of the place he loved.
Essentially, Sabathia got lucky. Because 50 years from now, Indians fans won’t remember him as the guy who walked away from the Tribe for the big payday elsewhere. He won’t go down with the likes of Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome. Rather, he’ll be remembered as the Cy Young winner the Indians stupidly dealt in his prime.
Nevermind, of course, that the Indians were forced to deal Sabathia because he was going to walk away three months later and because he and his teammates crumbled upon the weight of expectations in 2008. Nevermind that the primary reason that ’07 team — a “good team” in its own right, having won 96 games in the regular season — didn’t ascend to the World Series like it should have was because Sabathia was outpitched in Games 1 and 5.
If Sabathia were being honest with himself and honest with the fans, he would have said, “This is a business, and it’s difficult for a team in a smaller market like Cleveland to afford to keep its core intact. That’s why it’s a shame we weren’t able to take advantage of the special opportunity we had in ’07. And as the ace of that pitching staff, I take the brunt of the blame.”
Fat chance of the big man uttering those words.
Sabathia was treated very well here. The Indians drafted him, gave him a Major League opportunity on a playoff team when he was just 20 years old, helped mold him into a man off the field, taught him to control his emotions on it and groomed him into a Cy Young winner. Lord knows they fed him well.
That’s what makes CC’s comments above so disappointing. They reek of him being another pampered athlete with no grasp of reality or understanding of accountability.
In my view, the player-fan relationship is pretty simple. You earn our appreciation by giving your best effort on the field. Off the field, by all means, seek out your worth, find a place that you find rewarding on a personal, professional and competitive level. Chase every last dollar for you and your kids and your kids’ kids and your kids’ kids’ kids. It’s your right as a talented athlete in a lucrative game.
But please, whatever you do and wherever you go, don’t insult our intelligence along the way.
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
Trust the art, not the artist.
Don’t wear another man’s name on your back, and don’t assume a multimillionaire athlete, no matter his birthplace or public sentiments, really knows or understands your plights or truly appreciates your passion.
To some degree (for some, impressively infinitesimal, and for others, enormously incalculable), we’re all looking out for ourselves. Unfortunately, a select few have the platform to do so on the grandest scale, with millions at the mercy of their erraticism and ego.
These athletes you follow and I write about? Many of them are good men and women with moral virtue and correct convictions. And, as in our world beyond the ballpark or stadium or arena, many are not. They all spend their adult lives playing a child’s game. Applaud those who do so dynamically, and respect those who use their platform for some greater good. But don’t fall in love. Don’t ever assume your loyalty will be returned.
Love the game. Love the experience. Share it with your kids, and celebrate or commiserate with your neighbors. Trust the art, not the artist. The art will endure; the artists come and go.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- What impact will LeBron James’ departure from the Cleveland Cavaliers have on the local sporting economy and, specifically, the Indians? As you might have guessed, it’s way too early to tell. The Cavs’ season-ticket holders had to make their first 2010-11 payments long before James decided to, as he put it, take his “talents to South Beach” (which can only mean he’s taking up sand volleyball). But if James’ departure dictates a significant step back in competitiveness for the Cavs (and how could it not?), it only stands to reason that the Indians could be in a better position to vie for the average local sports fan’s entertainment dollars.
- General manager and soon-to-be team president Mark Shapiro hasn’t given any of the above a great deal of attention. “I think we’ve got to stay focused on our efforts to accelerate our timeframe back to contention and put the Indians in a position to bring a championship here,” Shapiro said. “We don’t spend a lot of time focusing on things we can’t control. Certainly, that’s something outside our scope of control.”
- The upcoming Trade Deadline is within the Indians’ scope, but not much is developing at the moment. Once the Cliff Lee situation is settled, the other dominoes will start to fall. Eventually, they’ll fall for the Indians, though keep in mind that both Jake Westbrook and Kerry Wood have the potential be dealt up until the final day of August, considering their salaries.
- Cliff Lee in pinstripes? This town’s survived worse.
- Can’t stop peeking at Jared Goedert’s numbers in Triple-A and wondering if the Indians will find a way to give him a look this season, knowing Jhonny Peralta’s $7 million option does not fit into the big picture. Goedert hit his 14th home run for Triple-A Columbus. Not bad when you consider he joined the team a month ago. That’s 14 homers in 30 games, along with eight doubles.
- Shapiro on Goedert: “He’s having a breakout year. You always want to have some real pleasant surprises in the Minors. He’s certainly been an overwhelming surprise of this year. He’s been a prospect at times, but injuries have kind of prevented him from getting consistent playing time. It’s certainly a breakout year for him offensively. Going forward, his defense is going to need to improve, particularly with us and where we are with our sinkerballers in rotation. But he’s put himself on the map and is firmly on our radar.”
- And what about Peralta? His .245 batting average is second-lowest among qualifying AL third basemen, while his slugging percentage (.383) and on-base percentage (.307) are third-lowest. Jayson Nix has been here two weeks and has the same number of home runs for the Tribe as Peralta does. Hard to imagine there being much of a market for Peralta’s services this summer, unless he gets extremely hot. I asked Peralta about his power (or lack thereof) earlier this week, and this is what he said: “I don’t worry about home runs too much. I concentrate on scoring position. RBIs. When I see guys on base, I try to be more consistent.” Jhonny, for the record, is batting .282 with a .410 slugging percentage and 30 RBIs with runners in scoring position.
- Fausto Carmona pitching tonight means he should be good to go for whatever assignment Joe Girardi gives him in Tuesday’s All-Star Game. Shapiro said Carmona’s composure has stood out more than anything else this season. “He has the ability to separate from the previous pitch, play and inning and stay in the moment,” Shapiro said. “When bad things happen, he has the ability to separate and distance from those things and focus on the pitch at hand. That’s allowed him to stay in his delivery. His delivery has broken down in the past because of hyper-competitiveness and intensity and emotions.”
- I’m going to do a little separating myself. From this blog. While the team’s in Tampa, I’m working on some All-Star preview content for MLB.com, then living up to the “break” part of the All-Star break. But by all means keep using this space to keep the Tribe banter going, and I’ll be back soon.
Tonight’s 8:05 p.m. ET game at Rangers Ballpark is on WTAM and STO.
Matt LaPorta still out after suffering a head contusion Monday. He’s done some cardio work, but the team medical staff didn’t want him playing yet. Manny Acta said LaPorta is “day to day.”
INDIANS (33-50): CF Brantley, 2B Nix, C Santana, DH Hafner, 3B Peralta, RF Duncan, LF Crowe, 1B Marte, SS Donald. RHP Mitch Talbot (8-7, 3.86).
RANGERS (49-34): SS Andrus, 3B Young, LF Murphy, DH Hamilton, RF Cruz, 1B Smoak, C Treanor, 2B Blanco, CF Borbon. RHP Colby Lewis (7-5, 3.35).
Tornado-like conditions blew through Arlington and wiped out BP, but they didn’t wipe out tonight’s game. The huge puddle in right field has already cleared up, and the grounds crew is putting the infield together as I type this.
Tonight’s 8:05 p.m. ET game is on WTAM and STO.
INDIANS (33-49): CF Brantley, 2B Nix, C Santana, RF Kearns, 3B Peralta, DH Duncan, 1B Marte, LF Crowe, SS Donald. RHP Justin Masterson (1-2, 5.55).
RANGERS (48-34): CF Borbon, SS Arias, 2B Kinsler, DH Guerrero, LF Hamilton, RF Cruz, 1B Smoak, C Treanor, 3B Blanco. LHP C.J. Wilson (6-4, 3.34).
Tonight’s 8:05 p.m. ET game at Rangers Ballpark will be on WTAM and STO.
INDIANS (32-49): CF Brantley, 2B Nix, C Santana, DH Hafner, RF Kearns, 3B Peralta, 1B LaPorta, LF Crowe, SS Donald. LHP Aaron Laffey (1-2, 5.55).
RANGERS (48-33): SS Andrus, 3B Young, 2B Kinsler, DH Guerrero, LF Hamilton, RF Cruz, C Molina, 1B Smoak, CF Borbon. RHP Omar Beltre (0-0, 6.75).
A happy Independence Day to you and yours. Before you blow some stuff up, you can watch today’s 1:05 p.m. ET game on WTAM and STO.
The bad news from pregame is that Shin-Soo Choo will miss the next six to eight weeks with a right thumb sprain that might require surgery. So it’s Trevor Crowe in left, Michael Brantley in center and Austin Kearns in right today, and it will remain that way for a while.
Also today, Fausto Carmona, who gets today’s start, was announced as the Tribe’s lone representative at next week’s All-Star Game.
INDIANS (32-48): CF Brantley, 2B Nix, C Santana, DH Hafner, RF Kearns, 3B Peralta, 1B LaPorta, LF Crowe, SS Hernandez. RHP Fausto Carmona (7-6, 3.68).
ATHLETICS (40-42): CF Crisp, 1B Barton, RF Sweeney, DH Cust, 2B Ellis, LF Gross, 3B Rosales, C Powell, SS Pennington. RHP Vin Mazzaro (3-2, 4.25).
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
Haven’t done one of these in a while. It is time once again for the always popular* Three-Word Music Review™ segment of CastroTurf.
* “popular” being a relative term, meaning “not very popular”
Here’s what’s been spinning in my car. Recommendations always accepted and appreciated.
The Gaslight Anthem, “American Slang” — Ain’t their best.
The National, “High Violet” — Magenta mood music.
The Black Keys, “Brothers” — I’d adopt them.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, “London Calling: Live in Hyde Park” (DVD) — Haven’t watched yet.
The Rolling Stones, “Exile on Main Street” (reissue, with outtakes) — Perfection is improved.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- Here’s the link to today’s notebook.
- It’s starting to click for Matt LaPorta in the Majors. With his tone-setting, three-run shot off Shaun Marcum in the fourth inning today, LaPorta became the first Tribe player this season to homer in three consecutive games. “He’s hitting the ball out at the front of the plate,” Manny Acta said. “He’s attacking it.”
- LaPorta, of course, is only up here and playing every day because of the Russell Branyan trade, which was, simply put, a very popular move in the Indians’ clubhouse. Branyan was great with reporters, but he was not exactly up for team captain consideration by his teammates.
- For whatever it’s worth, the Indians are 11-6 without Branyan on the roster (6-6 when he was on the DL in April; 5-0 since the trade).
- Today marked the Tribe’s first four-game sweep of the Jays since 1995. The Indians swept the Rays in a four-game set here last May.
- Austin Kearns is a little banged up and was given two of the last three days off. Nothing serious, injury-wise, but the Indians have been riding him hard this year.
- Carlos Santana has had just one day off since arriving on June 11. He’s started 19 of 20 games since then, including today’s day game after a night game. Acta acknowledged as much and said he plans to use Mike Redmond to catch Mitch Talbot on Friday, with Santana as DH and Travis Hafner sitting against A’s left-hander Gio Gonzalez.
- Some of you didn’t like my selection of “Supernatural” (and, I’ll admit, I should have written “The Supernatural”) as the Official Carlos Santana Nickname. That’s fine. Call him whatever you want to call him, as long as it’s not “C-Sant.” I can’t stop you. I can only take you so far.
- But I think we can all agree that Santana is one special hitter. He has a 1.144 OPS. What’s equally impressive is that he’s walked 15 times and struck out just nine times in 76 plate appearances. This is consistent with the kind of patience Santana demonstrated in the Minors. He had a .431 OBP in High-A in 2008, a .413 mark at Double-A Akron last year and a .447 OBP before his promotion from Columbus. “He was that kind of hitter in the Minor Leagues, and we knew it would continue when he got up here, and might even get better,” Acta said. “When you’re a patient hitter in the Minors, and then come up here where the umpires are better and the strike zones are tighter, patient hitters can draw even more walks.”
- Justin Masterson is 3-2 with a 3.51 ERA over his last six starts.
- The Indians have an extra-base hit in each of their last 27 games. The last time they didn’t notch one was Armando Galarraga’s imperfect perfect game. It’s the longest active streak in the AL. The Tribe has homered in 10 of 12 and 19 of 24 games.
- Carlos Carrasco allowed two runs on five hits with five walks and six strikeouts over five innings to post the win over Indianapolis last night. Carrasco is now 7-3 with a 4.22 ERA on the season. Acta said the Indians have to find a way to get a look at Carrasco in the rotation in the second half. “It’s the right thing to do,” Acta said. “All along, that’s been the plan. He struggled when he came up [last year], but during Spring Training he showed flashes of the pitcher we envision him to be. The right thing to do is to take a look at him this year.”
- Michael Brantley is on some kind of tear. He’s hit in nine straight games, batting .429 (18-for-42) in that span. He has been selected as a starter to the Triple-A All-Star Game in Allentown, Pa. For the season, Brantley is batting .310 with nine doubles, two triples, three homers, 26 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 57 games.
- Outfielder Jose “Can’t Stand Ya” Constanza was selected as a reserve. Constanza is batting .318 with 18 stolen bases in 20 attempts.
- You know, Alex White just might stick as a starter, after all. He improved to 3-4 with a 1.72 ERA in his eighth start for Akron on Wednesday. He allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings at Richmond.
- The guy who might be bullpen-bound, before all is said and done, is big left-hander Nick Hagadone. He is 1-0 with a 6.16 ERA in five starts at Akron. He’s still limited, from a pitch count standpoint, following his 2008 Tommy John surgery. He’s struck out 21 and walked 16 in 19 innings.
- One of today’s ceremonial first pitches was tossed by Dorothy Maryanski, whose father, the late Dale Gear, pitched for the Cleveland Spiders in 1896-97 and the Washington Senators in 1901. Dorothy just celebrated her 90th birthday in May.
- Here’s wishing everybody a happy (and safe) Fourth of July weekend. I’ll catch back up with you on Sunday, when the All-Star rosters are announced.
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
Manny Acta founded his ImpACTA Kids Foundation three years ago to provide opportunities for kids to achieve their dreams. And a college education is certainly an important step.
Now that Acta is at the helm of the Tribe, he has expanded his foundation’s reach into the Cleveland area. That was good news for a few talented, resourceful area students who were able to reap the benefits of his mission.
Three local graduating high school seniors were each awarded a $2,500 scholarship through Acta’s foundation. Acta presented Ryan Kelly (St. Ignatius), Doneisha Kinney (James Ford Rhodes) and Sean Stark (John Marshall) with the awards during pregame ceremonies Tuesday.
To be eligible for the award, the three winners had to participate in an essay contest, compile a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.3, enroll in a four-year university in the fall and plan to major in the field of science, technology or business.
“I’m part of this community now,” Acta said, “and our foundation is about making an impact on the lives of others, especially kids that are willing to give back to their community once they’ve achieved their goals.”
Today’s 12:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field will be on WTAM. No local TV today, but you can catch all the action on MLB.TV.
INDIANS (30-47): CF Crowe, RF Choo, C Santana, DH Hafner, 1B LaPorta, LF Duncan, 2B Nix, 3B Marte, SS Donald. RHP Justin Masterson (2-7, 5.21).
BLUE JAYS (40-39): LF Lewis, RF Wise, 3B Bautista, CF Wells, DH Lind, 2B Hill, 1B Overbay, C Molina, SS Green. RHP Shaun Marcum (7-3, 3.14).