My wife and I have spent the past two weeks moving into our new apartment. Let me just say that it’s a fat-cat’s penthouse compared to where we were in the past few years, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we think it’s pretty freaking awesome. It has an amazing view of suburban Toronto, which after living in two places that were four walls and little else, it can be breathtaking, if not even a little overwhelming. It’s amazing how I can stare off from our balcony into an infinite horizon of blue sky; looking down at those who can’t see how awesome it can be up here.

Our Indians can relate: With a current two-game lead on the AL Central, life on top is glorious.

Sure, we’ve been here before. No one will blame anyone for having that feeling that it might be tenuous at best; the dreadful waiting on the baseball deities as they scheme a brutal hailstorm of other shoes dropping from the sky. But doesn’t it feel different this time? I probably said this last year. And the year before that. But really, doesn’t it?

What the Indians have done to prior Cy Young winners, including Felix Hernandez yesterday (battering the elite club to the tune of 1-7 with a collective ERA of 8.21), is nothing short of amazing. They have pitching that, so far, has completely exceeded expectations. The big kicker is the chance that Ubaldo Jimenez might have changed the burnt-out light bulb so it can flick on in that cranium of his. That is so exciting to think about.

Could it be Mickey Callaway has discovered the broken link that previous pitching coaches, even Jimenez’ coaches in Colorado, couldn’t? I’m trying not to get everyone’s hopes up, but something is working. Finally. If Ubaldo can keep his confidence up, it can only help a rotation that is better than advertised as in the winter and spring.

The stars of week are Justin Masterson and Jason Kipnis. Masterson continued his string of goose eggs in shutting down both the Yankees and Mariners, while Kipnis is scorching hot in May, off-setting and protecting a cooled-off Carlos Santana and Mark Reynolds.

It’s not just the (walk-off) homers. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen batters one through nine hustle and battle in every at-bat. These are hallmarks of Terry Francona. His players believe in him far more than they had ever believed in the likes of Eric Wedge (whose familiar managerial shortcomings were on full display over the weekend) and Manny Acta. Francona’s World Series rings weren’t simply bought by having big-named players. It only took nearly two months to see how he pays attention and teaches the little things. His troops push with the extra effort. His players reap the rewards.

Chris Perez has a bad day and gives up two laser-shots. No problem! Just have the first three guys get on base and send the folks home happy because of hustle. I love that word when it’s our boys being the ones taking nothing for granted for a change.

So, let’s all enjoy the view, because it’s always better to be on top. And this past week seems to be the textbook example of the Tribe starting to understand what it takes to stay there.


  • Steve Alex says:

    The biggest difference between this year and the mirage fast starts of 2011 and 2012 is the talent level on this club. Everyone knew last year that the team was standing on its head in April and May with an over-achieving, under-manned lineup that wouldn’t hold up over the course of a full season. This team has good players 1-25 with no duds and the depth to compete all year. So yeah, it definitely feels different.

  • DaveR says:

    It sure feels like it could continue. The offense is a big reason. Also I think you are totally right, Francona is a key reason the record is where it stands now. It’s so nice to have the versatility and bench they have now. Myers goes down Kluber and Bauer step in. Chisenhall gets demoted, Reynolds moves over. Even the bench with Raburn, Gomez, and Aviles is a force. Who could they even turn to last year?

    The Indians will always have scares with Jimenez and Perez but now they can survive them.

  • thirdsaint says:

    Got to love how this team is playing with grit and heart. We haven’t seen that here in a LONG time and certainly never a glimmer of it with Acta. It says something about your team when you can keep winning games you probably shouldn’t. The rotation is better this year too which is huge.

  • Kendall says:

    I hated Francona in 2007 after that ALCS collapse. Couldn’t speak to my father for 3 months…. not exaggerating. I could marry the man now. This is very similar to what probably could have happened with the Lakers if they had rehired Phil Jackson. Players believe in managers who have proven success. I’m all for helping Francona get another ring on his finger.

    • thirdsaint says:

      Ha, I didn’t hate Francona after 2007. I hated Wedge, CC, Carmona (all our 2 ‘aces’ had to do that year was win ONE measly game!), and Big Papi/Manny.

      • Chris Burnham says:

        Don’t forget Skinner. Had he let Kenny keep going, well…

        • thirdsaint says:

          Yeah… I tried to forget that… at least if we make the postseason it’ll be the first time I’ve ever felt confident we won’t be out-managed unlike with Hargrove and Wedgie.

  • medfest says:

    If Ubaldo keeps this up I’m expecting to see Callaway staring in the Broadway revival of ‘Damn Yankees’.