Every Spring my neighbor carefully plants bunches of colorful pansies in her yard. They always look fresh and inviting after a harsh winter but as the relentless heat of Summer arrives she fights a daily struggle to maintain with water, more water and fervent entreaties to the plant gods and the Weatherman.
Alas, by the end of July or mid August the pansies wilt regardless of what she does or how much she hopes. Frustrated and emotionally spent, she concedes defeat to Nature but faithfully plants again the next year. With pansies, as in Life, some things just don’t work out as hoped and others are simply what they are. Nature (plants’ and our own) can be treacherous at times.
Speaking of Pansies
Perhaps the last ten days best sum up the Frustration that is the 2012 Cleveland Indians. They may also sum up the practical end of the season. With a tough August schedule (Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels and A’s) the Indians simply can not afford such heartless, lackluster baseball. If Antonetti needs an excuse, he has it now.
The Tribe lost 3 of 4 at home to stopgap young starters for the Orioles, rebounded to win 2 of 3 from Verlander and the powerful Tigers then absolutely, utterly tanked against the lowly Twins. The Indians now trail the White Sox by 5.5 games and drift precariously in 7th place in the two team Wild Card Race.
The Indians have scored 3 runs or less in 48 of 103 games this season. Other recent numbers confirm the sad, wilted story:
Oriole Starter v Tribe v Rest of League
Gonzalez 1-0, 2.70 1-2, 4.27 Rookie, 3rd career start
Tillman 1-0, 1.35 2-1, 1.80
Britton 1-0, 0.00 0-0, 9.31
Hunter 0-1, 3.86 4-4, 5.75
Deduno 1-0, 1.28 1-0, 3.94 4th start
Duensing 1-0, 1.50 1-6, 4.86 prior start 2.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R
Totals 5-1, 1.73 9-13, 4.72
The Immortal Seth McClung
Remember the 2005 season? The Indians battled hard with the Red Sox for the Wild Card spot going into the final week but stumbled home, losing 6 of their last 7 to miss the playoffs (the Tribe even lost to KC 5-4 when Grady of all people lost a routine fly in the sun).
Two of those losses were to Tampa Bay (66-91) and one in particular to Seth McClung by the score of 1-0. In what seems like the Indians’ perpetual purgatory of Groundhog Day, the Rays nipped Cliff Lee for a run in the top of the 8th. Ben Broussard led off the bottom of the inning with a 2B but the never advanced another foot. Aaron Boone twice failed to get a bunt down and grounded out, Casey Blake could not get the ball out of the infield and Grady popped up to end the inning. In the 9th Coco Crisp led off with a single but Jhonny Perlata grounded into a DP and Hafner tapped out.
In a crucial game the Tribe managed but 5 hits and scored zero runs. Afterward the team talked reverently about McClung and his breaking ball as if he was Warren Spahn and Boone said he could count on one hand the number of times he failed to execute a bunt like that. The Indians always have such impeccable timing.
To add further insult, Indians castoff Danys Baez finished the game for his 41st save. McClung was 4-11, 7.69 against the AL that year but 3-0, 1.77 against the Indians. He ended his career 26-34, 5.46 in parts of 6 seasons.
Nothing has really changed in 7 years, has it? No wonder attendance is low and STO’s ratings are down 24%.
The Indians will make a mini-run and tease us again, they always do. But when they inevitably fall just a little bit short and we face offseason laments of “What if . . .”, recall the wilted pansies of late July. And remember Seth McClung.
So, Indians fans, who do you believe? Cast your vote.
— “I was an accomplice to my own frustrations.” Peter Shaffer, Screenwriter, Amadeus
— “It is hardly possible to build anything if
frustration, bitterness and a mood of
helplessness prevail.” Lech Walesa
— “Frustration, although quite painful at times,
is very positive and an essential part
of success.” Bo Bennett, Motivational Speaker