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.

 

 

 

6 Comments

  • Will McIlroy says:

    The unquoted part (“stirring dull roots with spring rain”) is also appropriate. Either this good April start (spring rain) will matter or it won’t and we turn back into dull roots by July.

  • Mike says:

    My concern is the same as it has been the last few years. The Indians don’t lack quality starting pitching, position players, and bullpen arms early in the season. However, when the unfortunate rash of injuries comes, they don’t have the depth to withstand the losses. I wish these back-to-back titles in Columbus would start to lead to something, but right now most of these guys just seem like AAAA players, LaPorta being the poster child for this.

  • Nick Tozzi says:

    Hafner has been a surprise for me, as well. He’s a guy that I didn’t want to see in a Tribe uniform again this season as I felt that he had nothing left to give. I’m happy to be wrong and maybe he can add some solid power numbers to that OPS as the weather warms.

  • Drew says:

    Agree with the previous posts but the most surprising stat is RBI and who leads the team. Jack Hannahan at one point in April had a batting average over .800 with RISP and 2 out. I am sure that has tamed a bit but he has been defensively stellar and a run producer.

  • Swift says:

    “drawing walks like Renoir drew ballerinas” LoL
    Hafner has been a nice surprise

    I’d say Kotchman is my biggest disappointment. I wasn’t expecting another 0.300 season, but this is horrible.

  • medfest says:

    I expected 12-9 in April,so right on track there.

    May is the month where the Tribe needs to make a move.I’m looking for 19-11.