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Thread: Indians in full choke mode already

  1. #76
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Indians in full choke mode already

    http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/


    Pain …
    October 21st, 2007
    Friends will tell you that I’m an optimistic person by nature. It’s true. I keep buying REM albums even though I haven’t liked any of them since Automatic for the People. I am not afraid to drive with the low-gas warning light on because I believe that a gas station will emerge when I really need one. I lost an iPod and a 2000 Olympic watch in a New York hotel room like three years ago, and I still feel sure I will find them someday. I believe in my heart that someday everyone in America will have health insurance, someone will invent a car that can drive itself and a weight-loss diet made up of fries, pasta and chocolate cake, and the the Royals will win. Someday.

    And yet, all day Sunday, I knew that Cleveland was going to lose to Boston in Game 7. I knew it. This wasn’t about optimism or pessimism or any other ism. This wasn’t paranoia. I knew it like I know the sound of my youngest daughter’s crying. There was never even the slightest doubt in my mind. We’ve been here before, us Clevelanders. We’ve lived with Cleveland sports pain for 40-plus years now, and we know the telltale signs. We all have HM — Heartbreak Meters — mine was growling on Sunday.

    “How do you feel about tonight?” I emailed my hero Scott Raab during the day. This is one thing we do when the HM starts raging. We reach out to other Clevelanders for a little hope. Scott may be significantly more cynical than me about any number of things, but he believes in the Indians. Hell, the guy’s got Wahoo tattooed on his arm.

    “I feel confident in the Tribe’s chances tonight,” he wrote back. “I truly do.”

    I appreciated him saying that. It didn’t help though. I still knew the Indians were going to lose. I knew it. I felt it throughout my body.

    So the defeat was certain. The only thing that I wondered — and I wondered this all night Saturday and all day Sunday — was this: How would the fates get me this time? How would they trick me into believing?

    There’s a story I once heard (don’t ask me where or when) about a Rabbi who was trying to cheat death. I’ll probably get the details wrong, but I guess there’s some sort of old Jewish legend that death cannot take you when you are in the midst of praying. So this Rabbi somehow found out what day he was supposed to die, and he spent the whole day praying so that the Angel of Death could not get him.

    Well, it worked for a while. The Angel of Death kept trying to grab the Rabbi, but he kept on praying. Thing is, you don’t get promoted to Angel of Death without knowing a few tricks. So AOD called for the Rabbi to come outside. The Rabbi, hearing his name called, walked outside — praying all the way — then he walked down some stairs, only the Angel of Death had removed one of the stairs. The Rabbi slipped, he stopped praying for that instant, and the Angel of Death got him.

    All of which is a long way of saying, I kept wondering how the Dark Angel of Cleveland Sports was going to get me this time. Because I came into the game determined not to fall for things this time around. I wasn’t going to let another Cleveland team break my heart. Not a chance. When I was 20, sure, I was vulnerable then, and I clearly remember sitting on the floor in our living room, nose inches away from our 19-inch color TV (colors included blue and yellow, maybe something resembling red) and watching Brian Brennan (or as Don Criqui called him, “The-undersized-overachieving-wide-receiver-from-Boston-College-Brian-Brennan”) pull down a pass from Bernie Kosar and then pull away from his defender, run into the end zone, touchdown, Browns led 20-13 in the wind and cold at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. The Broncos muffed and fumbled around with the ensuing kickoff and ended up with the ball at their own 2-yard-line.

    And I was never so sure of anything in my whole life: The Browns were going to the Super Bowl. It was one of the five happiest moments of my life — if, you know, you could freeze that moment right there. Which you can’t.

    Then, of course, John Elway drove the field, the game went into overtime, Denver’s Rich Karlis kicked the game-winning field goal (that even now, 20 years later, I KNOW was wide left) and I silently and unwillingly promised myself that I would never, ever get my hopes up again for a Cleveland sports team.

    The very next year, the Browns and Broncos played in the AFC Championship again, and I knew the Browns were going to lose, I knew it, and this time the Broncos more or less dominated the game from the start. So it was easy to just sit back and mope about the fate of being a sports fan born in Cleveland. At least they hadn’t broken my heart.

    Only then, stunningly, unexpectedly, the Browns started to come back. It’s quite a thing when your team surprises you. They came all the way back, and they were about to score the game tying touchdown, and (I couldn’t help it) hope returned, that feeling came back, the Browns really were going to the Super Bowl this time …

    Then Ernest Byner fumbled going into the end zone, and I went into a depression coma. I kicked myself for a whole year after that for allowing myself to get fooled again.

    And so on. It was always the same thing. I knew the Cleveland teams would lose. And yet, something always happened during the games that would cause me to drop my hands and take yet another right-cross to the chin. That wasn’t going to happen Sunday. No. I’m a grown man now, kids of my own, a lawn that needs to be cut, and I KNEW the Indians were going to lose, so, move on. Two friends I greatly admire — Bill James and Allard Baird — work for the Red Sox. I would try to be happy for them.

    Then the Red Sox took the 3-0 lead early off of Jake Westbrook, and I almost smiled to myself. “This is too easy,” I thought. “The Cleveland fates aren’t even bringing their A game.” I suspected the Red Sox would pull away to a huge victory, and I just wasn’t going to get worked up about it. I’m proud to be from Cleveland. It’s a real city with real people. Losing sports just happens to be the cross we bear.

    And then … well, you know what happened. The Indians started showing some backbone that, frankly, I did not think they had (maybe this was because C.C. Sabathia was nowhere near the mound). Westbrook toughened up. Ryan Garko had a terrific at-bat and he whacked a bomb high off the wall near center field. The score tightened up to 3-2.

    And then Boston — unbeatable, untouchable, unshakeable Boston — blinked. With one out in the seventh, Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo dropped a pop-up. Flat dropped it. Kenny Lofton limped/jogged/strutted into second. A Cleveland friend of mine instant messaged me immediately: “That’s how you lose Game 7s.” He was right. The Red Sox suddenly looked a little shaky. The crowd suddenly looked a little nervous. And that was my missing step. I started to believe. It was an impulse. It was an involuntary reaction. Cleveland’s Franklin Gutierrez ripped a ball down the left field line. FAIR BALL! A run scores. It’s tied up. I’m off the chair. I’m wondering if Gutierrez reached second. And then I look up …

    Lofton was still at third base.

    I kept blinking and looking back at the television, like maybe there was something in my eye, maybe a speck of dust that looked exactly like Kenny Lofton. But no, it was real, Lofton was still at third base. It was not even remotely possible. How did that happen? They showed a replay. And it was just like I saw live. Gutierrez whacked a ball down the third base line. It was fair. Definitely fair. And the ball whacked off a signboard or something, rolled into left field and the run scor … oh no.

    Oh no.

    Third base coach Joel Skinner held him up.

    Then they showed it from another angle. And another angle. But no matter what angle they showed it from — and no matter how much I WANTED to see something else — Joel Skinner kept on holding up Kenny Lofton at third base. Now, from what I can tell, Joel Skinner is a good man. I sort of liked him as a player — as much as you can like a light-hitting backup catcher — and I’ve always heard good things about him as a coach. But when you hold up the tying run at third base in the seventh inning of Game 7 with MannyBeingManny still chasing the ball, well, here’s what I instant messaged my friend instantly …

    Sipe. Byner. Ehlo. Fernandez. Skinner.

    If you’re from Cleveland (or read my oppressively long email about being a Cleveland fan) you know that list. It’s like the Cleveland most wanted. It hurt to put Skinner in that group. But not as much as it hurt watching the play itself. Another baseball writer emailed me to argue that it wasn’t so clear cut — that Manny might have thrown out Lofton at the plate. I think he was just baiting me. It’s clear from every replay that Manny would not even have thrown home (I liked MBM’s quote after the game, actually: “I would have thrown it to the cutoff man and let him deal with it.”)

    Anyway, after the replays, I felt that feeling in the pit of my stomach again. Heartbreak. The fates had gotten me again. Damn them. Of course Casey Blake immediately hit into the double play. Of course Blake followed that with an error (how often do you see it) which was followed by Dustin Freaking Pedroia’s home run over the monster, which was followed by a complete and utter collapse by the Indians. Of course. Of course. And no one can talk to a horse, of course.

    I’m not saying Cleveland wins the game if Lofton scores. I have nothing logical to stand on there. They Indians were outscored 30-5 the last three games. They got to the brink of the World Series and then suddenly they were not ready for prime time. I don’t know if it would have made any difference if Lofton scores.

    All I know is Lofton didn’t score. He was held up. Incredible.

    After the game ended, I sat slumped in my chair and tried to feel happy for Bill and Allard. I wasn’t too successful, but hey, it’s the thought that counts. Then I got another email from my man Scott. It was a condolence email, the kind Cleveland sports fans have become used to sending. It ended like so:

    “I think I’ll continue weeping now.”

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  3. #77
    RZ Chamber of Commerce Unassisted's Avatar
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    Re: Indians in full choke mode already

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill View Post
    Skinner's bonehead "call" completely changed the mometum of the game. I can't believe Betancourt implodes if they tied the game there. This will go down with the "shot", the "catch" and the "fumble". Cincinnati's teams have shown ineptitude for some time now, but ability of all Cleveland teams to choke when so close is perhaps worse.
    I disagree. The Sox torrid hitting in the 8th inning made that bad call moot. The Indians blew too many chances to win this series across games 5-7 to hang the fate of it on Skinner.
    /r/reds

  4. #78
    Member NJReds's Avatar
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    Re: Indians in full choke mode already

    Quote Originally Posted by Wheelhouse View Post
    Ugh, I hate the way that team behaves.
    It's not just the way that they behave that bothers me, it's that they completely overreact when other teams 'slight' them in some way.

    For instance, Beckett flies off the handle and screams at Lofton the other night after Lofton thought that he had worked a walk and put his bat down. This, the night after Manny did his statue of liberty impression watching his home run, arms raised, when his team was down 7-3 ... not even running until the ball lands.

    But they've been like this for years. Hypersensitive to what other teams do, while ignoring their own obnoxious behavior.
    "The players make the manager, it's never the other way." - Sparky Anderson

  5. #79
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Indians in full choke mode already

    But they've been like this for years. Hypersensitive to what other teams do, while ignoring their own obnoxious behavior.
    That's Tony LaRussa too, it's not a Red Sox only behavior.

  6. #80
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    Re: Indians in full choke mode already

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou View Post
    That's Tony LaRussa too, it's not a Red Sox only behavior.
    True. But we weren't talking about LaRussa. Can you imagine if LaRussa managed the Red Sox?
    "The players make the manager, it's never the other way." - Sparky Anderson

  7. #81
    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
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    Re: Indians in full choke mode already

    Lofton getting held up by Skinner is hardly in The Drive/Red Right 88/Byner/Ehlo class.

    Starting in game 5, the Indians had that deer in the headlights look. Once Sabithia didn't come through, I thought the Tribe was in big trouble going back to Fenway.

    Pay attention to the open sky

  8. #82
    Member blumj's Avatar
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    Re: Indians in full choke mode already

    Honestly, a lot of 3rd base coaches make that mistake at Fenway, including the Red Sox own 3rd base coach. And the opposite mistake, too, if they send the guy and the ball bounces right back to the 3rd baseman. It only looks easy once you see it in slow motion.
    "Reality tells us there are no guarantees. Except that some day Jon Lester will be on that list of 100-game winners." - Peter Gammons

  9. #83
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Indians in full choke mode already

    The Rockies have been sitting around sipping O'Doul's and watching the snow fall for a few days, so I predict a Sox championship in 5 games.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

  10. #84
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Indians in full choke mode already

    In the 3rd base coaches defense, the crime of stopping a player is much much less than the crime of getting a guy thrown out. While he clearly made the wrong choice, I'd rather my 3rd base coach make that mistake every time and avoid making outs at home plate. It takes a lot of bad stop signs to add up to the negative value of a bad green light.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  11. #85
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    Re: Indians in full choke mode already

    Blake, while he contributes greatly to the team filling in for the failed Marte, hits into a fair amoutn of DPs. With the Sox closer warming up and the ball heading toward Manny not Lugo, Skinner has to send the guy then. Wedge dropped his head as soon as it happened. Blown call.

    Cleveland has come back a lot this year. Betancourt has been as good as setup guy in the league this year. When they did not score, the air just went out of them. I have no doubts Betancourt is a different pitcher coming into a tie game.

  12. #86
    Just The Big Picture macro's Avatar
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    Re: Indians in full choke mode already

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Footstool View Post
    The Rockies have been sitting around sipping O'Doul's and watching the snow fall for a few days, so I predict a Sox championship in 5 games.
    I've seen a graphic somewhere in the past few days (I think it was on a FOX game broadcast) that showed that something like eight or nine teams in a row that had to wait five days or more went on to win their next series. I think the last one to wait that long was the Tigers, and they lost, of course. So, it would seem that the wait is not detrimental.

  13. #87
    The Lineups stink. KronoRed's Avatar
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    Re: Indians in full choke mode already

    Quote Originally Posted by macro View Post
    I think the last one to wait that long was the Tigers, and they lost, of course. So, it would seem that the wait is not detrimental.
    According to Todd Jones that's the only reason they lost last year
    Go Gators!

  14. #88
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Indians in full choke mode already

    Quote Originally Posted by macro View Post
    I've seen a graphic somewhere in the past few days (I think it was on a FOX game broadcast) that showed that something like eight or nine teams in a row that had to wait five days or more went on to win their next series. I think the last one to wait that long was the Tigers, and they lost, of course. So, it would seem that the wait is not detrimental.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/

    Prior to last year, you have to go back to 1995 to find a year in which one team swept their LCS while the other didn't. In fact, since the LCS went to best-of-seven in 1985, only Detroit (2006), Atlanta (1995), and Oakland (1988 and 1990) have swept their LCS. Those teams are 1-3 in the World Series.

    But even so, the Rockies are a unique case. I think finally getting a break after a month of high-pressure games will result in a psychological letdown for the Rox. The Sox, on the other hand, have underachieved for a couple of months and seem to be peaking at exactly the right moment.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

  15. #89
    Member Sea Ray's Avatar
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    Re: Indians in full choke mode already

    Quote Originally Posted by MrCinatit View Post
    Wow, the Indians lose this one, and the 3rd base coach will have a huge "goat" sign tagged on him forever.
    It looked like even Lofton couldn't believe it.
    I was watching the Steeler game with the baseball game on in the PIP-- a small corner of my set-- and even then I couldn't believe Lofton didn't score. It was that obvious Skinner should have sent him.

  16. #90
    Member Sea Ray's Avatar
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    Re: Indians in full choke mode already

    Quote Originally Posted by remdog View Post
    I'm not sold on the Rockies other than they have had an incredible run.

    Rem
    I hope it's a good series but I see Boston winning it in 4 or 5 games


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