Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Memory Lane

Watching the Tribe attempt to play baseball and field a winning team this season is truely a trip down memory lane. When I was a boy.....

I have rooted for the Tribe since 1959 ( I was born in 56, so I figure that 59 would be my earliest memory). My favorite player was Rocky Colavito. I mimicked his mannerisms, from the way he stretched in the on deck circle by putting his bat behind his back, to the way he pointed the bat at the pitcher when he was in the batter's box. I was heartbroken when Trader Frank Lane traded the Rock to Detroit, and rejoiced when he returned to Cleveland later in his career.

I learned early on as an Indians fan that players come and go, and more often than not, good players leave and cheaper, more inexpensive players take their place. The replacements may not be better, but they have Indians across their chest and they become one of our own.

I learned that baseball season started in February when hopes were high and ended in June when the Indians were out of contention. Players would be traded to contenders and fans would then look forward to football season in late June.

Some things never change, do they? My kids are tired of hearing me say that these Indians are just like the Indians of my youth. And they are, from the way they play the game, to the trades that they make. Yes, as you can tell, I am presently underwhelmed by the Cliff Lee trade. As fans we can only hope for the best, because the present is so discouraging.

Yes, this 2009 season is just like a trip down memory lane. The only difference is that we are looking forward to a potential championship from the Cavs and not the Browns. The Indians potential challenge for a championship is now put off for a couple of years. For a Cy Young Award winner we get four minor league players, the centerpiece of the deal having not pitched in a while because of a tired shoulder.

I think I have watched this rerun before.

It seems that if you are an Indians fan, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Blowing Up The Tribe

What do we do with these Indians? Picked by some to make the playoffs, they now reside in the bottom of the AL standings. As a lifelong fan, I suggest to blow up the Tribe as they are currently constructed. My suggestions:

Keep Mark Shapiro conditionally. Shapiro has done a good job of talent evaluation from other organizations, but a lousy job drafting and developing home grown players. Besides Victor Martinez, who is on this roster that is homegrown (drafted and developed by the organization) AND making an impact at the Major League level? If I were running the Tribe, I would seriously look at overhauling the scouting department, and place more value in drafting and developing high school players, as they have more of an upside than college players.

Fire Eric Wedge. Wedge consistently does NOT have the team ready to roll coming out of Spring Training. Under Wedge, the Indians have been consistently a team slow getting out of the gate. The one time they started the season by winning 10 of their first 11, they didn't make the playoffs. The one time they need to win a game or two to make the playoffs, they couldn't. The one time they needed to win a game to get to the World Series, they didn't. This team has under performed under his leadership. It is time for Wedge to go.

Trade trade trade. Peralta, Pavano, Garko, and bring up the kids, such as Gator for God ( the twitter name of Matt Laporta), Andy Marte (yes the same Andy Marte who has failed in previous attempts), and Micheal Bradley. See what the kids and do and give them experience now.

Keep Lee and Martinez, unless the price is right. If a team will not overpay for these guys, keep them for next year.

Develop, trade, beg, borrow, and steal for Pitching, Pitching, and more Pitching. Pitching is the name of the game. Find starters that will go deep into the game, rely on them rather than a bullpen to pitch four or more scoreless innings. I remember when Billy Martin was manager of the Oakland A's, he worked his starters deep into the game. Why? Because they were his best pitchers. Guys in the bullpen are there for a reason, because they can't last longer than an inning or two. Find guys who can do deep into a game and rely on them.

Let your best players play. In search of flexibility, Eric Wedge has turned everyday players into utility players. Only recently has he gone with a set lineup, yes, I know that there were injuries, but seriously, have you seen Ryan Garko play the outfield? He makes me yearn for the days of Leon Wagner.

Be patient Tribe fans. Why? Because we have waited so long for a winner, I am willing to wait for the Tribe to get it all together at sometime in the near future. Well, after all, as a minister I am supposed to be a man of faith.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to Make Soccer Popular in the States

Soccer is a great sport. I like watching it, my favorite teams are the Columbus Crew, Arbroath Red Litchies, Glasgow Rangers, and a few EPL teams thrown in just for good measure. I want to see soccer succeed and grow in the States. If there is one thing that will make soccer popular in the States, it will be legalized gambling. What? A minister in favor of gambling? Well, not exactly. I don't advocate gambling, in fact, I don't like to gamble, with the exception of the occasional lottery ticket for the kids at Christmas in the stocking. I really believe that gambling for the sake of gambling is a sin (because you are being a terrible manager of the money the Good Lord gave to you). But for the sake of discussion, if those in the leadership positions of US Soccer want to really make it popular, push for the ability to bet on soccer games in the States.

Just look at what happens in the United Kingdom. Betting parlors are on every street corner, beckoning the punter to lose his wages. Go to a soccer match, and you will find gambling kiosks INSIDE the stadiums. The lines to bet are sometimes longer than the beverages lines! I know and understand that soccer is in the DNA of those fans who live in the UK, but I also know that betting on soccer is EXTREMELY POPULAR. I suspect one reason why the fans in the UK are so passionate about their teams and sport is because they have money riding on the games that they are watching.

It isn't a stretch to say that a reason why sports are popular in the States is because of the ability to gamble. Baseball has its fantasy leagues where prizes are awarded to the top teams. College and pro football games are popular to bet on (note the line which is published in the sports pages), and March Madness has its office pools. People follow these sports because of the games they play with their money in following the sports. Why should soccer be any different?

So if you want soccer to become popular in the States, do what they do in the UK. Allow the fans to bet on the games. Now, to be certain, you won't find me in the betting lines ready to lose my money. But I wouldn't be surprised that if sports gambling were legalized, that soccer would become a most popular sport.

You can bet on it.

Hi Sports Fans

It's the Minister of Sports. I am an ordained clergyman who happens to like sports. No, I don't love sports, that would be breaking the First Commandment (Don't have any other gods besides Me), but I do like sports. So I will be writing on sports, all things sports, things that interest me, and hopefully you. With the Good Lord's blessing, maybe something will come of this. And if you like this, visit my other blog: Lutheran On A Mission.