No matter if it’s the best season, or the worst season, I’m always sad to see baseball end for the year. The days get shorter and colder, while fall/winter sports just don’t draw my attention like watching baseball on a warm summer’s night. In a feeble attempt to maximize the last few days of Indians’ baseball here in Cleveland, I went to all four games of the series with Minnesota. The Tribe did not disappoint, taking 3 of 4 from the Twins (and nearly sweeping, with the exception of the frustrating loss this afternoon). With the ceremonies to honor Jim Thome and Mike Hegan, it was a weekend for reflection on the past, and on the season as a whole.
In the next week or two, I hope to take a more thorough look at the past season, breaking down needs for next season, good moments, bad moments, etc. In this post, I’d like to take a look back at the weekend, as well as the celebrations for Thome and Hegan.
Friday night – Even though the forecast called for an end to the rain by game time, mother nature didn’t exactly cooperate. By the time Thome took the field for his pre-game celebration, the rain was coming down in buckets and the grounds crew had put the tarp back on the field. They had a nice montage of Thome’s great moments and significant home runs. Then they announced that they planned to build a statue to Thome at the site of his longest home run at Progressive Field – just near the top of the stairs to Heritage Park. I saw a cloth covering something on the wall (the sign that said “future home” of the statue), but had no idea they were going to announce something so huge. The only full statue currently at the ballpark is the one of Bob Feller that sits outside of Gate C – so this is quite an honor. (If you haven’t seen the “future home” sign yet, I posted a picture on our Facebook page.
As far as the game went, it seemed to be the perfect outcome for a night honoring Thome. He hit a home run, and the Tribe notched yet another walk-off win when Carlos Santana came off the bench and launched the first pitch from Matt Capps over the outfield wall. I barely had time to register that Santana was pinch hitting, before I saw the ball sailing into the (now dry) night sky. There were some great fireworks afterward that included some additional Thome highlights.
With the Indians’ poor track record in afternoon games, I figured they were probably doomed in the Saturday afternoon game. For some reason, I just never trust David Huff. I’m not sure if anyone else feels that way about a player – no matter what they do, no matter how many great games they have, you’re just always waiting for them to fall apart. Huff has been respectable for much of this season, but I still just don’t trust him. He held the Twins off and the Tribe put up 6 big runs late in the game to win 8-2.
In the night cap, I was kind of dreading the return of Mitch Talbot. He had pitched well at Triple-A though, so I thought maybe he’d look better in his return to the majors. I was wrong – he was shaky right out of the gate and never really looked that spectacular. Fortunately for him, the Tribe had another big inning and eventually managed to come from behind and win the game. Prior to the start of the night game, there was a nice tribute to Mike Hegan, who is ending his 50-year career in baseball with his retirement at the end of this season. I’ll miss hearing his commentary on the radio next year.
That brings us to today’s game. I forgot to check who was pitching prior to my arrival at the park; then I saw someone walking out of the bullpen toweling themselves off as if they were sweating buckets. Before I even saw the jersey number, I knew it was Fausto Carmona…nobody sweats more than that guy! He pitched respectably today (although again he seemed to have some issues pitching from the stretch), but couldn’t hold the lead. I thought the Tribe might pull out another dramatic win, but they were burned by Rene Tosoni and Chris Parmelee. If you’re like me, you may be thinking “Rene who? Chris who?” because most of the Twins lineup this weekend was pretty foreign to me. Perhaps that’s how the Indians were able to take 3 of 4 from them? I think I’m going to be a “glass half full” type of person tonight and just say that the Tribe played really well and that’s how they were able win!
One more interesting note about today’s game – in the top of the 9th inning, Manny Acta put Jim Thome in the game at 3rd base for just one pitch. As cool as it was to give a great ovation to Thome and see him back at 3rd (he hadn’t played there for 15 years), there was a small part of me thinking, “Are you insane? This is a tie game in the 9th inning!” I thought he may be out there for the entire inning, but there’s probably not *too* much damage that could be done with just one pitch. (It’s not like Thome was Tony Sipp today)
So today was a bit bittersweet. I feel bad complaining about a loss when I already saw 3 victories this weekend, but I just feel kind of down and disappointed this evening. I think it’s more due to the fact that I won’t get to relax and take in a ball game at Progressive Field for almost 6 months. Even the weather seemed to cooperate today (and really every day but Friday) - it was sunny and warm, like a throwback to summer. The minute the game was over, the skies opened and the rain fell. But for the 3 hours prior to that I got to sit in the sun and watch just one more baseball game.