The Baseball Report Volume IV Issue 7
From The Editor,
Hey all! Sorry for the delay in the issue. To make it up we've got a relatively large issue, with four articles, including one from a write making his TBR debut! Email us and let us know what you think.
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Now, onto the issue...
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Tribe Offense in Hibernation by Chris Ricker
With the supposed "most dreaded lineup" in baseball, the Cleveland Indians are supposed to be beating teams to death by the beginning of May to compensate for their mediocre pitching. After all, this is a team that in 1999 was winning games 10-9, 11-8, 15-10. No one expected any different from a lineup that was virtually unchanged and supposedly focused on that ultimate prize.
So here we sit a month into the regular season with these cold hard facts ringing in the fans of Tribe fans across Northeast Ohio:
The Indians are batting .261 as a team which is good enough for 11th place in
the American League
The Indians are at 13-13 and still trail the Chicago White Sox by 3 1/2 games in
what is still arguably the weakest division in baseball
Is it time for panic in Cleveland or can we just chalk this up as a one month batting slump?
Despite the slumbering of the wood, the Indians pitching is currently 3rd in the American League and much improved from the embarrassment in the Division Series last year. Pitching has been the handicap of the Indians the past couple of years, but this year it is beginning to resemble the staff of a serious World Series contender - this is a good thing Indians fans.
As far as hitting goes, the Tribe has had other extended batting slumps in recent seasons, it is just not as noticeable in August and September when your division lead is double digits and you are coasting to the playoffs.
So to Indians fans abroad I say, "Hakuna Matada" (which means "no worries" for all you non-Disney people). This offense is too experienced and too good to remain stagnant for too much longer. Watch for the explosion...its coming soon to a ballpark near you.
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How Stupid Can We be? by Terry Monroe
Today I am grinning from ear to ear. As much as I love my Pittsburgh Pirates, I have to like the way the game went down on Sunday afternoon. I sat in my usual seat just inside the left field foul pole. I know, not the best pace in the word with Griffey Jr. in town, seein as how he pays center and hits homers to right, but it was sweet anyway
See, I could hear the heckles in left fied. This is not to say that there was no one in the park. The Pirates had a good crowd, but by no means a great one. They were really just giving it to the big man that bad, and that loudly. This is why I relished Junior's game deciding dinger all the more. It was to right field, and long, long, long.
Under normal conditions I would have loved to see the Buckos beat their proverbial asses, but I had to sit there and listen all day about why Kenny is not all that good.
"He doesn't hit in the clutch," one idiot burts.
"Look at that pathetic average," chimed another equally dimwitted moron.
So, when Junior went yard I was quick to point out that it was a cutch hit, since his team was behind. As for the pathetic average, I was certan to let my fellow Pittsburh Homers know that Mr. Griffey came into Sunday's game with 6 home runs and 21 RBIs. Who cares about average anyway? Kendall is hitting .320 or so but has only one dinger and an equallly pathetic number of RBIs. Who is the better player? Who is hepling the team win games? I might suggest that it is the guy putting runs on the board. So much for inteligent fans.
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My Team or McGwire? by Terry Monroe
Last night Jason Kendall performed a feat not accomplished by another Pirate since the 1989 season when he hit for the cycle. Kendall led the evening off with a homer. A double and single followed on shortly thereafter. Then, Jason struck out in the 6th. Kendall came up in the 8th inning and belted a pitch into right center. The ball rolled to the wall as Kendall rounded second and made it into third with a stand up triple.
What else happened at Three Rivers Stadium? Well, Kris Benson pitched a complete game 3 hitter, allowing only one run, 2 walks and hitting two batsmen. Oh, did I mention the 11 K's?
What makes all of this so remarkable? Well, for one Benson is finally showing some of what he gave us a taste of in the spring. Second, he did this against the St. Louis Cardinals. They only have the best, deepest, most powerful line-up in the NL, and possibly in all of baseball.
It was great to watch Benson strikeout Big Mac. I am one of those strange fans that desires to see all players from the opposite team get put out, unlike the apparent majority that would rather see their team lose than have McGwire go through an entire night without bouncing one out of the building. I would rather have that game in the win column than see McGwire march even closer to a record he should probably not be approaching, but that is another story for another time.
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The score is three to two and there are two outs in the bottom of the eighth. There is activity in the Braves' bullpen. Chipper Jones just grounded out to the shortstop to end the inning. Suddenly, there is a quiet, fearful hush among the crowd. Eyes wonder and heart race, wondering if "he" will make his appearance to close the game out. Then without warning, the gate opens, and the raging bull, with fire in his eyes, literally runs to mound to kill the opponent. The crowd is fired up and the adrenaline is pumping wildly throughout the stadium. His first victim hides the utter fear he experiences and quivers with an overwhelming powerless feeling.
His 98 MPH fastball is called for a strike. Before the batter realizes what is going on, he is called out on three quick strikes. That was 1999. Then the off-season came.
Headlines swarmed the covers of magazines, newspapers, editorials, and topped the news stations. John Rocker's cruel and shocking statements left spectators, followers, and lovers of America's greatest pastime drowning in amazement. Even non-followers of baseball took part in the conflict which hovered around Rocker and his comments.
But somewhere in an American document is some short paragraph about talking with freedom. It states in The Constitution that we have the freedom of speech. So does it makes John Rocker's comments excusable? Many speculated, and still do, that they were uncalled for, rude, out of line and especially eye-opening.
With so much confusion, MLB stepped in and felt obligated to make some decisions. But what could they do? John Rocker has freedom of speech.
With Rocker's harsh statements baseball HAD to do something. So a suspension was dealt. But through all of this, did Rocker have a point? Did Rocker open the eyes to our multiracial country? Was he right? This "Mouth form the South" could have been totally right and totally wrong. There are hundreds of different races in this country.
Did Rocker lash out in anger or frustration? Only John Rocker knows the answer to that question. Nevertheless, his comments should have been kept to himself, even if he is guaranteed freedom of speech.
But things move on. Baseball is almost through it's first full month and Rocker is back from his suspension that had him out almost all of spring training and the first two weeks of the season. I think it will be interesting to see how fans from different parts of the country react to his return when he bolts out of the bullpen. No doubt, Rocker uses this for fuel to hurl those 98 MPH fastballs. So to all of Baseball, I have four words: "Beware, Rocker is back."
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