Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Losing Baseball

I've come to my own understanding that the Indians are out of the playoff race by now. I think we all sort of come to that understanding on our own terms - usually days or weeks before math confirms it for us. I felt it stirring a little bit ago, but after today, I'm fully on board.

It's ok though, because I feel really free now. I can go back to the excitement I felt last season while we lingered in the basement and played snippets of amazing baseball. And the excitement I felt in the beginning of this season watching new guys and their new talents unfold. It's once again not about wondering what the same old guys will be doing each game but wondering which new or old - or even older - guy will prove the hero. If only for a moment.

Today's momentary hero was Shelley Duncan, who actually was the hero of the entire game. Not Justin Masterson who has been steady on as the ace all season. He gave up 4 runs. But Shelley Duncan, who I believe has been back and forth from Columbus 5 times this season, got 4 runs in the form of two 2-run homers. Off Justin Verlander.

Yeah, really.

Verlander - who is hopefully going to win the Cy Young Award and possibly even the MVP - has now given up 22 home runs this year, which is sort of middle-of-the-pack as far as homers go (of the top 10 innings-pitched pitchers in the AL, Masterson leads with 7 HR and now Verlander is last with 22). However, Duncan's second home run pushed him over the top as far as Verlander's own home-runs-per-season record, previously at 21. Heynow!

Oh yeah he also got a third hit, going 3 for 4 on the day, because he is amazing! Guess who I am going to try to get to sign the foul ball that I caught (er, collected) and he hit? Shelley Duncan is who!

That's the kind of little junk you can be totally excited about when free of the yoke that is playoff contention.

And, how about Trevor Crowe?! @tcrowe4 has been on Twitter for AGES, posting from all the exotic locales to which he travels as a player on the Columbus Clippers and cheering on his big brothers up north. I had no idea he was coming to the bigs today but there he was! It was like my neighbor was suddenly drafted to play left field or something!

Little Brother didn't do anything at the plate, but he laid it out in center field getting his starchy new uniform all grassy. Yeah buddy!

Oddly enough today's other hero at the plate was our once-exciting rookie and now "ugh, Hannhan is hurt?" replacement 3rd baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. After being seriously oogy at the plate for about 3 weeks now, he belted one off Phil Coke in the 7th to bring us back to within 1 of actually beating the Tigers.

Alas, it wasn't meant to be. Our usually-two-runs starter relinquished 4, and one more with the help of the fielders (I won't mention which of the above heroes committed that error...) and our usually-no-runs #bullpenmafia gave up 3 runs over 4 guys in 3 innings.

We saw most of April and May what happens when we've got it all together - pitching, fielding, batting. Today we score a surprisingly high number of runs off Verlander and Co. (albeit only on 6 hits with most of the team going hitless) and the Tigers score a surprisingly high number off the pinnacle of our staff.

At least there was baseball today, and baseball they did play. My life is going to be much less complicated come September 29, but also a little bit empty.

No time to think about that now. There's more baseball tomorrow! David Huff is comin' to redeem himself at 8:10 in Chicago. See you there!

Radio Chatter:
"Boy he can hit a fastball a mile."
- Tom Hamilton on Shelley Duncan

"All that work to come back and, oh yeah, it's Verlander you're facing."
- Tom Hamilton welcomes back Trevor Crowe

"This just goes to show why I don't play poker. If I were a betting man, with these two pitching, what do you think the over/under would be? About five?"
- Mike Hegan on the inordinate number of runs in today's game


  1. You're right about coming to grips with not winning the division, but I think you forgot one thing... I still want 2nd place!

    The White Sox are gross. I'm not sure why I say that, but I just don't like them, and after being the hottest team in baseball through 45 games, I don't want to see the Indians let the damn White Sox past them for 2nd.

    Go Tribe!


  2. You've got a point there.

    MAN, I wish I would have taken home that foam hand holding up 2 fingers when I got it earlier this year. It was a movie promotion thing. I could totally be holding it up screaming "We're number two!" now!