At one point during tonight’s game, I left my seat and walked out to the concourse at Progressive Field. I heard Tom Hamilton on the radio broadcast mention that Carl Pavano had three strikeouts at that point; two of which belonged to Matt LaPorta. The prior at-bats were all but forgotten; LaPorta managed to get the hit when it counted – the go-ahead double that knocked in Carlos Santana.
The go-ahead double actually prompted a rather hilarious text message exchange between my cousin Mike and I. To explain from the beginning, about a week ago Mike and I went to Cedar Point for the day. While we were hanging out, he regaled me with stories of his four-year-old son Alex’s T-ball team. I can’t really do these stories justice; basically they involved little kids running wild under the presumption of playing baseball. The kids lose interest in the game mid-inning (sometimes mid-at bat) and the coaches are forced to do what they can to motivate little kids to maintain focus and play baseball. So instructions like “make sure you run hard to first and you’ll get a snack” and “pretend there’s a wall behind first base that you can’t let the ball get past” become very important.
You may wonder what all of this has to do with the Cleveland Indians. When Mike told me these hilarious T-ball stories, my response was “Matt LaPorta could really benefit from your brand of instruction.” A little harsh and maybe a bit misplaced, but it was still the first thing that popped into my mind.
When he hit the go-ahead run, I texted Mike and told him how I was thinking about that comment (Matt LaPorta benefiting from his instruction) at the moment LaPorta came through in the clutch. Mike’s response: “We were tweeting back and forth. I told him, ‘it’s okay buddy, you can do it. Eye on the ball.” Then I responded: “Snack if you get to first!” Then Mike: “After all of the players got done jumping around, and the post game interview was over, my phone went off. It was Matt and he was like ‘where’s my snack?'” Maybe it’s less funny if you haven’t had a couple of beers, and aren’t suffering from sleep deprivation.
So tonight became the Indians’ 28th come from behind victory and the 19th in its final at-bat this season. I’ve personally attended 5 walk-offs, and several other last at-bat wins (I kind of lost count). It really spoils you as a fan to half expect a victory when it’s a close game in the 8th and 9th innings. My friend is now 4-0 at Indians games this season; perhaps I need to convince him to check out the Tribe in person more often?