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Stephen Strasburg Bringing Excitement To Cleveland Indians Game

Baseball at Progressive Field all of a sudden got a lot more exciting over the last week.

The Indians had a four-game set against the Boston Red Sox, winning two of those games, Carlos Santana was called up, and now Stephen Strasburg will be toeing the mound to the delight of baseball fans everywhere.

Once it was announced that Strasburg would be starting, tickets for today’s game started selling like crazy. The good part of that equation is there will be a much fuller house today than has been the norm at Progressive Field this year.

The bad news is that a lot of these people, even though they may be Indians fans, probably are there to watch Strasburg dominate the Indians lineup.

On the other hand, you know the people who bought tickets are baseball fans, so they’ll be there to watch the game and it should be a great atmosphere.

On the Indians side, they’ve tried to counter the Strasburg hype by calling up Santana, who had a great night on Saturday with a homer and a double.

Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, struck out 14 batters in seven innings of his winning debut last Tuesday in front of a home crowd. He allowed no walks, an amazing feat for a rookie debut.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Indians are expecting a crowd of at least 30,000, which would be the second-largest home gate behind the Opening Day sellout.

In a season that never really began for Cleveland, it’s nice to see the front office trying to give the fans a reason to show up for the games by calling up Santana and really hyping the Strasburg appearance, even if he does play for the other team.

The only game comparable to this one in my memory would be in 1993, when Nolan Ryan made his last appearance on the mound in Cleveland during Municipal Stadium’s last year.

I was fortunate enough to attend that game, and the Indians lost, but Ryan was fantastic.

It will be great if the Indians find Strasburg’s number, but if Strasburg pitches another gem, it’ll be one of those rare occasions where the losing experience is just as fun.

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Perfect Game Blown Call: An Indians Fan’s Take on Jim Joyce-Armando Galarraga

As a baseball fan, witnessing a perfect game is something you want to see, even if it’s happening to your own team.

Granted, being on the losing end of a perfect game isn’t as fun as being on the winning end, but when something that rare happens in front of you, it makes for a special evening.

What makes the almost-perfect game thrown last night by Armando Galarraga so interesting from a Cleveland Indians fan’s standpoint is that the Indians ended up benefiting big time from what will go down as one of the worst blown calls in history.

Because Jim Joyce got it wrong, there is no 21st perfect game, third of the 2010 season, in the record books today.  There only is a one-hit shutout.

As everyone reads the blogs and watches ESPN or the MLB Network, the talk is going to revolve around expanding instant replay in baseball, but it’s a little late for Galarraga on that point.

For Indians fans, this loss is just yet another in a season that rapidly has become more about how team ownership is trying to live through the consequences of one bad business decision after another than trying to contend.

Jason Donald, a rookie, now forever will be the answer to a trivia question if nothing else, although he’s showed a lot of promise in his short time with the club.

Lost in Galarraga’s brilliant performance was the fact that Indians starting pitcher Fausto Carmona also had a great night.

Carmona struck out three and allowed two earned runs in eight innings. He threw 96 pitches, 66 for strikes, giving up a leadoff homer to Miguel Cabrera in the second. The Tigers added two more runs in the eighth.

Indians fans today are shrugging their shoulders over the matter even though as baseball fans we’ll readily admit it was a bad call. Joyce has to live with this, and so does Galarraga.

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Cleveland Indians In Unique Position To Take A Stand Against NY Yankees

Friday night’s game against the New York Yankees saw a lot of bad umpiring in the form of blatant hometown calls.

As if the latest meltdown from the bullpen wasn’t bad enough, umpire C.B. Bucknor called Robinson Cano safe on a lead-off single that replays clearly showed Jason Donald’s throw beat him to the bag.

Donald and Bucknor weren’t done, though, as Donald was called out at first in the seventh inning on what appeared to be an infield single.

The problem here is the Indians have no real recourse against the umpires for making such bad calls, and the fact is the Indians aren’t the only team in the league to be on the receiving end of bad calls from umpires in a game versus the Yankees.

What the Indians should do is make a stand. Before you read any further, understand I’m not crazy and that I’m fully aware this would never, ever happen unless the moon was aligned with Venus, while Sagittarius was rising and the entire front office of the ball club decided to go insane.

So with that in mind, the next time the umpires start clearly giving calls to the New York Yankees, manager Manny Acta should just pull his team off the field, and call commissioner Bud Selig and demand immediate action.

When you have a replay clearly showing the umpire is either blind or biased, there should be repercussions.

If a team like the Indians, who would have nothing to lose this year if the commissioner ordered the game a forfeit would do this, it could end up being a watershed moment for the league as it would firmly shine the spotlight on one of the game’s darkest secrets.

Everyone knows teams like the Yankees and Red Sox tend to get favorable calls in situations teams like the Indians or Royals wouldn’t, yet it’s accepted. This needs to stop.

What makes the idea of just walking off the field and telling the umpires to go pound sand even more attractive is it’s not like calling the commissioner will mean the Indians won’t get close calls anymore because that obviously isn’t happening anyway.

The series versus the Yankees continues today, the only question being, how many bad calls will the umpire crew make today?

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Grady Sizemore and the Art of Hitting a Baseball

The Cleveland Indians aren’t hitting very well.

According to Yahoo! Sports, the Indians are batting .245 as a team. While that’s not the worst—the worst would be the Houston Astros .228 average—it’s not something Indians hitting coach Jon Nunnally should be putting on his resume should he be let go.

While watching the game last night, and listening to the play-by-play from Tom Hamilton on the radio, Hamilton noted Grady Sizemore’s swing had gotten longer in an effort to generate more power.

The reason to generate more power would be to hit more home runs. Since Sizemore’s only home run this season was wiped off the books due to a rainout, Sizemore currently has no home runs.

But Hamilton’s comment exposed the problem, that being Sizemore seems to be TRYING to hit home runs.

I’m not going to pretend to be an out-of-work hitting coach, or tell you I’m a guru on the art of hitting a baseball, but I do have a philosophy, and that philosophy is: HIT THE BALL!!

Sizemore currently is sitting just above the proverbial Mendoza line with a .208 BA as we head into Saturday night’s game versus the Baltimore Orioles. The only reason he’s hitting that high is he’s actually started getting a few more hits in the last two weeks that allowed his 0-4 Friday night to still keep him above .200.

But back on point, Sizemore should stop worrying about hitting home runs and start worrying about just getting hits.

Most knowledgeable baseball fans will tell you they’ll take a lineup that’s hitting an average of .340 with few home runs over a team that’s hitting .240 with two power-hitters getting all the home runs.

Getting men on base always is a good thing, and while I obviously have no idea what Fannelly is telling Sizemore (or the rest of the lineup) in the batting cages before the game, he should be stressing good contact and putting the ball in play—not home runs.

The Cleveland Indians only have hit 18 home runs as a team, so if Nunnally has been stressing the longball, he’s not doing a very good job of it.

The Indians aren’t a very good team this year, so this isn’t some kind of frustrated, “get your head out of your keisters” rant. It is a plea to the powers-that-be to keep things simple, and stress the basic art of just getting a hit.

There’s nothing wrong with smallball.

To invoke one of the game’s greats, Ty Cobb never was known as a big home run hitter. In fact, Cobb disdained guys who tried to always hit the ball over the fence, believing the proper way to play the game was a hit-and-run style.

While home runs are sexy and dramatic, Cobb wasn’t wrong. Getting baserunners and then moving them around the diamond is not only an effective way to score runs, it’s an effective way to wear down the pitcher and get into the opposing team’s bullpen.

No one is expecting miracles here, but it would be nice to see the Indians, Sizemore specifically, to start hitting closer to .300 than .200.

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Cleveland Indians Brass Reaching Out To Fans

On Friday night, I had the distinct pleasure to attend the Minnesota Twins/Cleveland Indians game at Progressive Field as a guest of the team.


I joined several other social media heavyweights in the Cleveland area in a very nice little enclosure next to the bleacher area on the edge of the Home Run Porch.


The first question on everyone’s minds appeared to be, “Why are we here?”


The answer to that was simple, “We want to reach out to you guys,” said Rob Campbell of the Indians Public Relations Department.


In short, the upper management of the organization is well aware the fan base has been burnt pretty badly the last few years, and that trading away two Cy Young Award-winners, C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee, in consecutive years just didn’t sit well with a lot of people.


The Indians lost Game 7 of the ALCS in 2007 after being up 3-1 in the series going into Game 5. It was all downhill after that, and the hostility on the call-in shows, online forums and chatrooms has been relentless.


Going into 2010, the Indians have a new manager, Manny Acta, and a bunch of new faces as the campaign goes through its early stages.


Tuesday night will be another large gathering of social media in the bleachers, and word is being spread among Twitterverse. Check @tribetalk to see the latest updates from the PR staff.


This past weekend wasn’t the only time the team intends to reach out to the fans, it’s going to be a season-long endeavor. The team constructed the “Social Media” deck and seats will be able to be obtained through an application process, or an invite from the team.


The application process still was being worked out, but is supposed to go live on the Indians Web site sometime very soon, if not this week.


The team also has taken one of the Loge boxes and turned it into a “Fan Cave.” The Loge features a pool table, wall-to-wall flatscreen TVs, and the opposing team’s logo on the toilet paper in the bathroom.


Every team goes through ups and downs, and Cleveland fans know all to well about the “downs.” The effort I saw on Friday night was genuine and I hope more people get to see what I saw as the season goes on.


Of course, it helps if the Indians can start winning more games, but that should go without saying.


But, since I have this forum, I will make a few suggestions to the Indians various marketing and sales departments about making it more attractive for the fans to come down to the ballpark when the season isn’t going so well.


1.Make the food cheaper– I understand the basic economics of concessions, but paying more than $4 for a hot dog is excessive, especially in today’s economy. No one should have to plan going to games around a Dollar Dog Night.


For a family of four, averaging two hot dogs per person, that’s more than $40, and we haven’t even gotten to pretzels or drinks yet.


2. Make the Drinks Cheaper– Now we’re at drinks, the non-alcoholic variety, which also were in excess of $4 a cup, including bottled water, and that was for a medium. Large drinks were north of $5. Alcohol is its own animal I’m not bothering to address.


Now you’re really piling on the money for a family of four and making it cost-prohibitive for a family that may only have $20-30 to spend on entertainment. Going to a game then becomes something the family has to “save for.”


And that’s about it because the ballpark “experience” at Progressive Field really is top notch. There really is not a bad seat in the house, and I’ve sat all over that stadium since it opened in 1994.


For those who are interested, the Indians did lose Friday night, I didn’t catch a homerun, but I still had a great time. Thanks again to the Indians Public Relations Department for the invite.


The catch by Grady Sizemore pictured above was every bit as spectacular as it looked.

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