If Mars Blackman were watching last night’s game, he would have gotten past his shoe obsession and figured maybe it had something to do with the socks. Jim Thome has always worn his socks all the way up to his knees in kind of a retro goofy farm-boy look that’s become even piquant as he’s gotten older (or maybe it’s just me who’s gotten older). Last night, the entire team copied the look in honor of Thome’s return (and his birthday, which is today, August 27). It was great to see.

Thome went 0-4 and hit the first pitch of his first at-bat for a piddly little grounder that even Zeke couldn’t have run out.  It didn’t matter. Just having him around made the capacity crowd happy. It made us happy at home too.  We had season tickets back in the late 90s and early 2000s. Being part of those sold out crowds made you feel like you were part of a movement, kind of an In-Your-Face Rust Belt Revival We-Can-Beat-You-And-We’re-Better-Than-You-Think-We-Are gesture that struck a blow for the pride of small markets everywhere. Seeing Thome in an Indians uniform, pointing that bat out to right-center field, socks flying high, brought back those feelings of hopefulness.

Despite the up-and-down fortunes of our sports teams, a major recession, and an unemployment rate nearing nine percent (and I confess I’m among that percentage), we have a lot of hope in these parts. Every urban garden on a plot of vacant land, every innovative reuse of a former factory or warehouse, every boomerang resident who come back here to live, and every baseball sock raised up to the knee seems to be a sign of better things to come. Jim Thome isn’t a savior, but it sure is nice to see him around here again.

23 Comments

  • SeattleStu says:

    back on planet earth, we struggeld mightily at home to beat the worst team in the american league 2-1….we’re gonna need more socks…

  • Susan Petrone says:

    I know. And I’m convinced that Santana just grounded out because his socks aren’t pulled up. Or he’s just doing that thing that he did when he was slumping in the beginning of the season where he seemed to ground into double plays on a regular basis.

  • SeattleStu says:

    hey help me out here, what happened to tomlin to get him on DL, and where’s lonnie? jack getting solid diet of starting time lately

  • Susan Petrone says:

    Tomlin has right elbow soreness, placed on the 15-day DL. I have no idea where Chisenhall is. He appeared in six straight games from August 19-24, although he only had one at-bat on the 21st and 22nd. Getting a break? I don’t know. I agree that Hanahan has been getting a lot of playing time and is good things with it.

  • Drew says:

    I like Marson behind the plate. He gunned down Francoeur and it was thing of beauty. Maybe he should start at catcher and the Tribe can put Santana at 1B.

  • Susan Petrone says:

    Me too! I feel very confident with him there. And he has the second-best caught stealing percentage in the AL. (A percentage point below Kelly Shoppach, since we’re talking about blasts from the past. Or is Shoppach more of a whimper from the past?)

  • Brad says:

    Was nice to see Thome back in the fold and the ballpark packed. A nice tribute by the team and the town. As a Tiger fan I have learned to respect Thome the hard way as he has been a hard man to get out for a long time.

  • Drew says:

    @ Susan – Shoppach is batting below the Mendoza line through 75 games this season. I do not miss him at all. It tough for Cleveland fans to stomach that catchers are traditionally below average hitters since we have always had above average hitting catchers, at least in my memory that is (Sandy Alomar jr. was catching when I became an Indians fan).

    Carlos Santana has the 8th highest batting average among catchers in the MLB. He is getting better as the season roles on and I hope he can turn into a .275 hitter, which with his power and his range, would make for a excellent 1B. .275 would be respectable Avg for a 1B too.

    Lou’s arm is so sick that I would accept .230 from him as the starter. I think with regular playing time that this is absolutely achievable for him. Defensively, he is so good that if he can hit .290 (big stretch, I know) he would be a coveted catcher during contract negotiations and in 15 years from now be discussed as a HOF catcher.

    Victor Martinez before him and he is a career .302 hitter. By hitting so well, the team overlooked the fact that he “he threw like a girl” (j/k but I hope you enjoyed the Sandlot reference).

    Einar Diaz before him for a couple years and he hit ~.275 between Sandy and Victor. I do not remember if he was gifted gunslinger or not.

    Sandy Alomar Jr. before him, a career .273 hitter (6x All-star).

    • Susan Petrone says:

      @Drew: I don’t miss Shoppach in the least. (And yes, the Sandlot reference is appreciated. :) Great flick.)

  • Nick Tozzi says:

    I was at a Boneyard on Saturday night when Jim Thome hit the first home run of his second tour of duty here. A 20-something waitress, a huge Indians fan, was beaming. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman that happy as a matter of fact. That inspired me to write “The Hero and The Princess”, a poem about that special moment. I’ve copied the poem below.

    The Hero and The Princess

    The aging Hero stood at the plate
    with bulging belly and thinning hair
    and afar with dreams of sweet memory
    stood The Princess still young and so fair.

    The familiar swing from the once departed Hero
    sent number 602 into majestic flight
    and The Princess watched adoringly
    number 335 from the reborn good knight.

    A flame was rekindled in The Princess
    and a fire glowed in her eyes
    a smile beamed from within her
    and goose bumps on her skin did rise.

    Waves of cheers caressed The Hero
    on that pleasant, late summer night
    it was his 41st birthday
    but time was no match for his might.

    The Hero trotted triumphant
    the past now present with one magic whack
    but the victory belonged to The Princess
    for Her Hero had finally come back.

    Nick Tozzi

  • SeattleStu says:

    ok, we SUCK…watching this team scrap to keep it close with KC is embarrassing…we had the mighty bruce chen, he of the lifetime .500 record and 4 ERA, on the ropes in 1st inning….bases loaded no outs and we got all of 1-run….he then proceeded to slice through our lineup like a knife through butter….thome lovers, if you look in the dictionary next to “overmatched” there’s a picture of jimbo swinging at strike 3 after it was in the catcher’s mitt….that’s a 97 MPH fastball, old man…maybe show more sock and you’ll shed a few years….at least thome was swinging the bat…yes the strike zone was liberal, but after your first time thorugh when the ump is giving the corners, SWING THE FREAKING BAT….i cannot believe the number of down broadway no movement fastballs our ‘hitters’ just watched….where is the outrage? where is the intensity on this team?….this is kansas-city we’re talking about….they were a pitch here or there from sweeping us, after seattle nearly did the same (have you noticed since they left clevleand they are back to themselves, unable to hit?)….id hate to see our performance if we werent in the hunt for a dviision title….WE SUCK

  • SeattleStu says:

    a couple more observations – i dont need to see shelley duncan ever again in my life…whatever bus/plane/car austin kearns is on, please take duncan along with you…carerra…i’ve heard you are fast….so far i’ve seen you thrown out at second on every base steal attempt and miss every routine fly ball to center….you are not a major leaguer, son….and if we werent a hospital ward you’d be safely ensconced in AA/AAA ball with the rest of this lineup where you belong….PLAY IN YOU IDIOT….rally killer rick has been saying you play too deep for 2 months….now the cleveland newspaper is saying it….do we need to see much more of this to make an adjustment?….is playing depth really something we have to discuss at the major league level? apparently so when manny acta is calling the shots.

  • Jay says:

    The Indians offense certainly has found ways to waste the impressive season Justin Masterson continues to put together.

  • Jerry says:

    Lets talk about a better team….the 1977 Indians….

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  • Drew says:

    At what point is it fair to proclaim that the season is over? Is it when 3 starting pitchers who saw 100+ innings are on the DL? Or maybe when the when there are only three guys left from the opening day starting line-up left in the field because everyone else in on the DL.

    Guys, you have a really short memory of a season ago or 2 ago when the AAA team that the Indians fielded was only able to muster 65 and 69 wins respectively. This team will finish the season near .500 much like it did in 2008 but this time around, we won’t be reeling from the loss of a Cy Young Winner.

    No matter how you look at it, the team is primed to have some very strong talent next season. Complain all you will about Carerra, and Chisenhall but neither of these guys ever dreamed of being starters in 2011 at the MLB level. Brantley will be back and healthy next season, so will Shin Soo Choo. That is a formidable OF with our without Grady Sizemore. The infield will be anchored by Asdrubal Cabrera and what I hope will be Carlos Santana at 1B. The two 2011 call-ups Chisenhall and Kipnis will round out the infield and would-be baserunners would idiots to challenge Lou Marson’s arm.

    I know all of you hate Ubaldo but he pitches very well in Progressive Field, and wait hold on a second, where does he pitch most of his games? And he may very well be the team’s #4 starter next season.

    That’s all I have. I look forward to renewing my MLB.TV for 2012.

  • Chip P says:

    Drew – very well put. Regardless of the outcome of this season, I’m extremely happy and proud to have been excited about the Tribe all season long.

    I don’t pay for mlb.tv – instead I have the MLB At Bat app. I prefer Hammy and Hegan over Matt Underwear.

  • Eric says:

    Drew, so refreshing to see some perspective instead of the fairweather fandom (SeattleStu, I’m lookin at you) that unfortunately confirms stereotypes about Cleveland fans. The team has put together an amazing performance this year, waaaaaaaay above expectations, and no one seems to appreciate that anymore. There are so many reasons to be optimistic.

    Chip, you can actually overlay the radio broadcast over the video with MLB.tv. The audio syncs perfectly, and you can hear Hammy and Hegan with the video veed. It’s a really nice feature, actually, and it’s one of the reasons I’ll probably renew next year. The only issue is that if your connection drops or slows, the radio cuts out and tv comes back in. It takes more bandwidth with the radio I guess.

  • SeattleStu says:

    not fair weather lads….just actually going against the stereotype of beat down cleveland fans accepting these type of performances and not holding team and organization accountable….been there solid since 76….and still waiting for a world series….i suppose you guys are also jose mesa apologists?….”hey at least we were in the series, that’s a lot better than we can say for most of our history”….

  • Drew says:

    I cannot believe that any regular poster on this blog would be “fair-weather”. I agree with you, Stu, management must be held accountable but I don’t believe that competing in the Scott Boras sweepstakes is where they can maximize their value. Dick Jacobs did a great job of building an organization and trading the farm to “win now”. He wisely sold the team to the Dolans when he depleted the farm system by trading for veterans. It takes time to rebuild the farm and I firmly believe that the Tribe has done an excellent job of building up it’s farm system, as evinced by number of near-majors ready talent sitting in Columbus and Akron. The Indians could afford to make some trades because of it.
    In 2009, they sold Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez after selling CC Sebathia in 2008. I think this was a wise move because in each year they were not able to compete and were able to maximize the value of three players who they legitimately would not have been able to re-sign. Cliff Lee made it extremely clear through his agent that he would not entertain any extension offers from Cleveland; he was gone. And if you were going to sell Cliff Lee after what the farm system looked like in 2008, you might as well sell Victor Martinez because that organization was not going to compete. Call me an apologist, I’ prefer the term, “realist”.

  • SeattleStu says:

    we’re in agreement drew….i think those deals (while painful) were the right ones…but they’re not consistent w/ dealing pomeranz and white for jiminez….that hearkens to an earlier era….we either play the youth movement or we dont….and i dont know why pointing obvious fielding and managerial gaffes is seen as somehow disloyal….we had a shot here guys, and it kills me to see it pissed away in completely winnable games.

  • Susan Petrone says:

    I love you guys. Sorry we’ve been a bit incommunicado on the blog the past couple days. I’m going to post something about that in just a few minutes.

    I don’t think the Indians have as many fair weather fans as we do frustrated fans who repeatedly see what potential and talent the team does have seemingly go to waste.

  • Eric says:

    I retract my fair weather statement. It’s not the right word. Maybe unappreciative is.

    I just don’t see the point in ripping young, inexperienced kids (and managers, to an extent) for making mistakes and not overperforming for an entire season. Holding management accountable is one thing. Hating is another.

    I am incredibly grateful for this surprise of a season where we’re still somehow watching meaningful games on a team that’s at least a year ahead of schedule, if not more. Management should know that while there have been mistakes which could have been avoided, it has an appreciative fan base that will show up to support the team.

    This season has been a huge success so far, and we have every reason to be appreciative for the product put on the field and to be hopeful about the future.

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