T. S. Eliot said that April is the cruelest month because it breeds “Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire.”
Memory and desire are an accurate summation of the first month of the baseball season. When a new season starts, we all wax poetic about the baseball of our youth and color the stories of the players and the games through the lenses of our individual memories. And desire. Well hell, baseball is all about desire–we want hits, we want pitching, we want defense, we hot streaks, we want a pennant, we want the image of Johnny Damon riding in on a white horse to save the offense to be somewhat less than literal but more than a silly joke.
The baseball season lasts a long time. Too long, perhaps, for accurate memory or to condense one’s thoughts. I’m a long-distance cyclist, and one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t sit down on the bike at the beginning of a 100-mile ride and say, “Holy crap, I have 100 miles to go.” You say, “Okay, it’s 18 miles to the next rest stop. I can ride 18 miles.” So I don’t want to sit down at the end of the season and try to remember what happened in April. But on this, the last day of the month, I can kind of remember what happened in the previous 30 days. I’m going to try and ask myself these same questionss at the end of each month.
Where do we stand?
As of this writing, the Indians are 11-9 with a .550 record. If we stay on this pace, we’ll end the season with 89 wins. I like that final win number more than my or any of my Lajaway compatriots’ predictions at the beginning of the season.
What was the biggest surprise this month?
The biggest surprise for me this month would either be signing Johnny Damon to a not-quite-one-season contract or the fact that we’re ending the month in first place. Another pleasant surprise has been Travis Hafner looking healthy, connecting with the ball, and drawing walks like Renoir drew ballerinas. While he’s not the old home run machine he used to be, I’m happy to see my DH with a .450 OBP. Another pleasant surprise has been Dan Wheeler not sucking quite as much as I thought he would.
What was the biggest disappointment?
The biggest disappointment of the month has been Jose Lopez. He’s only had 21 at bats, but he’s hitting .190 after making everybody fall in love with him during his fantastic Spring Training. I’m also disappointed in Jairo Asencio for having a 7.15 ERA after looking like a sub-3.00 stud in Spring Training.
What are the challenges for the upcoming month?
We have a much more challenging schedule in May than we did in April. For starters, the Indians play 21 games in the first 20 days of the month (there’s a double-header in there next Monday to make up for the 4/10 rain out against the White Sox). Their first day off isn’t until the 21st. So simply in terms of sheer endurance, it’s going to be a hard row. We play the Rangers (they of the best record in the AL) and have a ton of games against AL Central teams–10 games against the White Sox plus three each against the Tigers and the Royals.
Bonus question: What will it take for May to be a merry, merry month?
More wins, of course. Or at least a couple of games in which we prove the Rangers and Tigers to be fallible.