Monday, October 22, 2007

This WAS your ticket

There's only one Choketober

The Valley View Bridge stands 212 feet above the ground and is just over three-quarters of a mile long. The Detroit-Superior Bridge is almost as high -- 196 feet above the Cuyahoga River -- but is only 3,112 feet long as it connects downtown to the near West Side of Cleveland. Just a couple hundred feet away stands the Lorain Carnegie Bridge -- also known as the Hope Memorial Bridge -- which starts downtown just across the street from Jacobs Field on Carnegie Avenue and deposits travelers in the heart of Ohio City at West 25th Street; it stands only 93 feet above the river but is more than a mile long. Then you've got the Innerbelt Bridge and the Main Avenue Bridge, which is Ohio's longest bridge at 8,000 feet.

That's at least three miles worth of Cleveland's biggest bridges, and don't be surprised if you can't go more than a few feet on any of them without seeing someone wearing an Indians cap sidling up to the edge and looking down, down, down.

For we were up 3-1 in the ALCS and when we wake up this morning we'll have nothing to show for it. Nothing at all thanks to the Boston Red Sox outscoring the Tribe 30-5 in the final three games of the series to hand the Indians their first three-game losing streak in two months and knocking them out of the playoffs.

Nothing save memories of The Skinner, the newest image to add to the Cleveland Sports Misery Pantheon. That's in honor of third-base coach Joel Skinner, who held Kenny Lofton at third base when Franklin Gutierrez roped a ball down the third base line that banged off the facing of the stands and landed 30 feet in front of Manny Ramirez. As Lofton rounded third and headed for home, Skinner threw a stop sign up in front of the fastest man in Indians history and prevented him from scoring the tying run in the seventh inning.

Next man up, Casey Blake, immediately banged into a double play. Ball game over. Series over.

Nothing save memories of Manny Ramirez, now officially a Red Sock, throwing Lofton out at second on an ill-fated attempt at a double (even though Lofton was safe). Nothing save memories of Jonathan Papelbon striking out Travis Hafner on three pitches with two on and no outs in the eighth.

It's not Tribe time now. It's nice try time now. The time where we hear about what a great season the Indians delivered, what a valiant effort they gave, what an enjoyable run we had.

We hear it too often. Wait til next year. We're still waiting.

Everything worked in the first four games of the season. The series in a microcosm: Tim Wakefield gets in the way of a double-play grounder from Asdrubal Cabrera and turns it into an infield hit in Game 4. In Game 7, Victor Martinez's hard grounder up the middle in the fourth bounces in and out of Daisuke Matsuzaka's glove and lands at his feet -- easy out at first.

Our aces had nothing up their sleeves. C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona took losses, and then uberreliever Rafael Betancourt couldn't keep the Tribe in Game 7, giving up seven runs in the seventh and eighth. He turned Dustin Pedroia into Bucky F*king Dent in the seventh, turning a one-run deficit into a three-run deficit and getting the snowball rolling downhill.

The Indians turned not into a pumpkin but a tomato can in Game 7, as we took a punch in the stomach, a smack to the head, and an uncalled shot to the groin all in order. Down we go, crumpled in a heap, once again waiting for next year.

A next year that never comes. But tears that always do.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Byrd, poop

Indians resident Christian Paul Byrd is preparing a book in which he describes the spiritual journey that he has taken throughout his career. He talks about his struggles with pornography and players cheating, with the role of faith in the clubhouse. He writes about his funky old-school windup and how when he underwent shoulder surgery in the early part of this century he prayed for a way to stay in the game despite not having the dominant stuff of other pitchers.

In the book, Byrd also talks about the role HGH played in his career. And on the eve of Game 7 of the ALCS, the most important Cleveland Indians game in a decade, the story is exploding.

Apparently Byrd bought $25,000 of HGH and related supplies between 2002 and 2005, putting the purchase on his credit card. Byrd told he never hid his HGH use because he received it via a prescription, and Indians GM Mark Shaprio is supporting his player. Still, could the timing of this revelation be any worse? Well, if Byrd were starting today's game, it could be.

But as the 2007 season implodes around the Indians, this is a story that's not going away whether the Indians win or lose today. Eric Wedge's grinders are grinding themselves into sawdust the last couple of days. First Ryan Garko, the guy who went to Stanford, lost a war or words with the Boston himbo, Manny Ramirez.

Baseball's resident flake simply made his own fans mad when he said about a possible Red Sox loss before Game 5, "If it doesn't happen, who cares? There's always next year." Meanwhile, Mr. Stanford said before Game 6 about the Indians possibly winning, "The champagne tastes just as good on the road as it does at home." Apparently such a disparaging quote inspired the Red Sox to humiliate the Indians last night.

Now this. For all their playoff success, the Indians are only 1-3 in series-elimination games in the Jacobs Field era. The lost in five to the Mariners in the ALDS in 2001, in five to the Red Sox in the ALDS in 1999, and in seven to the Florida Marlins in the 1997 World Series. The Tribe's only elimination victory came in the 1997 ALDS against the Yankees.

Paul Byrd might have thought God worked in mysterious ways before he arrived in Cleveland. Now he's getting a first-hand look at a real mystery. And we get a close-up of just exactly what happens when you put your heart and soul into a Cleveland team.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

About that World Series berth ...

Some idiot hacked into GHCS earlier today, some fool who doesn't remember 23-7 and 12-8 Boston in the 1999 ALDS, some clown who can't recall Grady Sizemore losing a fly ball in the sun and then the Indians losing six of seven in the final week of 2005 to choke away a postseason berth to these Red Sox, some moron who can't look out the window and see the signposts that mark the Cleveland city limits.

The Craigslist fools selling World Series tickets in Cleveland -- in Cleveland?!? -- before the Indians even won their fourth game in the ALCS? Gripping harder than someone holding onto the edge of a cliff. The record crowd for no game at the Jake Saturday night? Quieter than a Kent State football crowd at homecoming. The armchair quarterbacks on message boards and around the blogosphere? Ready to commit hari-kari.

It's not like we haven't seen this before in Cleveland. After all, the Indians were the first team to ever blow a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 ALDS format when they blew it against the Red Sox in 1999. After a 23-7 loss in Game 4 behind supposed ace Bartolo Colon, Charlie Nagy couldn't hold a 5-2 lead after two innings in the fifth game, thanks mostly to a home run from Troy O'Leary. When Pedro Martinez came marching in from the Boston bullpen in the fourth inning with the game tied in that one Jacobs Field became as quiet as a wake. And it became one when Pedro shut the Tribe out the rest of the way as Boston went on to win 12-8.

That's the scenario we fear tomorrow, when Jake Westbrook faces Daisuke Matsuzaka. Dice-K might not be looking over his shoulder, but the rest of us will be, to see if Big Game Beckett is warming up in the bullpen.

It was supposed to be relatively simple for the Tribe after taking a 3-1 lead. Boston had to beat both C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona to even get to Game 7.

Guess what? It wasn't all that hard. And now we're looking at a repeat of 1999. Or 2001, the Indians last appearance in the playoffs, when they lost the final two games of the ALDS against the Seattle Mariners after holding a 2-1 lead. Or the 1998 ALCS when the Indians lost three straight against the Yankees after taking two of the first three.

Or even the 1954 World Series when the Tribe was swept by the New York Giants despite posting the best record in baseball.

It's been sunny with unseasonably warm weather in Cleveland the last few weeks. The Indians play has made it feel like another world. We'll be waking up Sunday morning remember just where it is we live.

Curse is foiled

It's over, folks.

Hanging on Grandpa's every word because he remembers watching the Indians win a World Series, something you've never done? It's over.

Reading old newsprint about a Cleveland past that included championship after championship because you can't find it in any current newspaper? It's over.

Hand-wringing about The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot -- heck, the entire city? It's over.

Tonight around 11:30 p.m. we'll be celebrating another shot at the World Series once the Tribe conquers Curt Schilling and the Boston Red Sox. And in a couple weeks we'll be watching a downtown parade as the Indians and Cleveland finally, finally, FINALLY come home with the brass ring.

FACT: the Indians are 3-0 in series when they have held a 3-2 lead (1948 World Series, 1995 and 1997 ALCS). FACT: The Red Sox are just 2-3 in series when they have trailed 3-2 (including the famous 2004 ALCS comeback from down 3-0 agains the Yankees. FACT: The Tribe's win pattern follows that of eight other best-of-sevens in all sports, and the team up 3-2 won the series seven times. FACT: Considering all sports, the Indians have a 78% chance of winning the series since they lead 3-2.

It's over, folks. Juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust because they're the CLEVELAND Indians we worry about the 3-1 ALCS lead evaporating. And juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust because they're the Boston Red Sox, the only team to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a baseball playoff series, we're gripping a little bit as we head back to Boston to finish the series. We're a fanbase with nothing but tough losses in our memory banks, just like a dog who was constantly beaten on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper as a puppy. So we moan and clutch and worry.

But there's nothing to worry about anymore. The Cavs made the NBA Finals just a few months ago, remember? Sure, they lost, but just to make it was a magical carpet ride, unexpected by anyone not wearing a Cavaliers jersey. And the Browns have jettisoned Charlie Frye and turned into a decent team as easily as Clark Kent throws off his glasses and becomes Superman.

Apparently God's a bit upset with Notre Dame right now, because things are going right with Cleveland sports. They've been going right for a little while now.

Now that our team is again on the brink of success it's become cliche to think they are instead on the brink of disaster. Get that World Series logo off our clothes, even though the World Series logo is on everyone's clothes. Josh Beckett's warming up for Game 7. Stephen King's ready to write a new one about this certain comeback.

Huh-uh. It's over, folks. The Indians have their best pitcher going tonight against a fallen hero of old, Curt Schilling. Only Beckett's been able to beat the Tribe so far, and he will be pinned to the bench tonight. And when the Tribe does beat the Red Sox, they'll be facing a far inferior team in the World Series.

That's right. The Indians will be prohibitive favorites in the World Series against the Colorado Rockies. But wait! Didn't the Indians already lose to an expansion team in the World Series?

It's ancient history. All Cleveland sports history is about to become ancient history. We're on the brink right now. The dam is ready to burst; get ready to be swept away in the tidal wave.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Just one more win

One win away.

One win away from the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.

One win away from the Cleveland Indians in the World Series and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals just five months apart.

One. Just one.

One win away thanks to Casey Blake's solo homer to start the fifth inning, then his RBI single to end the inning.

One win away thanks to Paul Byrd's double-pump, Paul Byrd's quick pitch from the stretch, Paul Byrd's one pitch that cracked 90 miles per hour, Paul Byrd's five-plus innings of two runs allowed.

One win away thanks to Rafael Betancourt's total dominance of the Red Sox -- two more perfect innings in ALCS Game 4.

One win away thanks to the Red Sox not allowing Dustin Pedroia to field any balls in the fifth inning. Kevin Youkilis and Tim Wakefield saw to that.

One win away thanks to yet another ALCS three-run home run from Jhonny Peralta.

One win away thanks to Kenny Lofton partying like it's 1999. And 1998. And 1996. And 1995.

One win away from telling Manny Ramirez to take his home-run pose and go home.

One win away from becoming the first team to beat both the Red Sox and Yankees in the same postseason.

Just one, just one win.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Live blogging away!

(8:55 p.m) If the Indians were really any good, Casey Blake would have grabbed Shoppach and thrown him over the dugout to make the catch. Colossus and Wolverine could have done it.

(8:51 p.m.) At this rate, Byrd's going to last three innings even if he doesn't allow any more runs. Get Roger Wholestaff ready!

(8:41 p.m.) Paul Byrd is about five seconds away from throwing an ephus pitch, and 10 seconds away from taking a seat.

(8:31 p.m.) It's kind of like those Blue Diamond Growers -- two runs an inning, that's all we ask.

(8:30 p.m.) This game is starting to resemble Game 7 of the ALCS, when the Yanks folded in the first two innings. Johnny Damon smacked a grand slam to finish New York early in that one. Someone named Victor Martinez needs to go deep right here.

(8:25 p.m.) And it looks like someone told Mike Mussina it is still August. Feels like it anyway!

(8:22 p.m.) Apparently Joe Torre should have started Mike Mussina. Problem for Torre was (a) he's getting fired after this game and (b) he couldn't have thought he'd be getting the 1997 Mike Mussina instead of the 2007 Mike Mussina.

(8:16 p.m.) Bunting is great! Especially when you get hit by the pitch. The hand is not part of the bat, though baseball urban myth says it is. Joe Torre comes out to fix the mistake of Wang.

(8:05 p.m.) Kenny Lofton runs in from 1995 to make the catch and keep the Yankees scoreless after one.

(8:02 p.m.) Byrd comes with the heat to whiff A-Fraud. At this point, Torre might last longer in The Bronx than the Yankees' third baseman.

(7:58 p.m.) And here goes Paul Byrd. Is C.C. warming up in the bullpen?

Take that, shift!

AND THE CHEERING BEGINS DOWNTOWN!! Grady Sizemore shows up and Paul Byrd is thankful. Six more of those and we'll all feel good.

The difference between last night and the first two games, according to TBS's crew: offensive adjustments by the Yankees. Real reason: Jake Westbrook was pitching.

It's Wang's first career start on three days rest. Maybe Joe Torre is the dummy. No wonder Steinbrenner wants him fired!

Secret Shoppach

Could the Indians season hinge on Kelly Shoppach's performance tonight?

Eric Wedge has opened the door to critics since the series shifted to New York. First, it was Trot Nixon in right. Since Trot had fared well against Roger Clemens prior to this series (13-for-35 career), Wedge went with his gut and trotted Nixon out. It started well with a Nixon homer, ended well with a Nixon RBI double, but in between there was an error that allowed two runs to score. Wedge came out even on the decision; Trot had no one to smack with a pie.

Tonight, Wedge plays it like a regular-season game by leaving Paul Byrd's personal catcher in. Shoppach has caught Byrd every time out since the middle of July. The problem is that this sends Ryan Garko to the bench as Victor Martinez moves to first.

The other problem is that Shoppach hit just .167 in 90 at-bats since the beginning of July. So now the Tribe has weakened its offense at a time they might just need some big bats. After all, Paul Byrd is on the mound.

We'll see how apt Wedge is to manage as if it's a regular-season game once the game starts. If Byrd is shaky, he should be replaced fairly quickly. But if Byrd does leave early, does Shoppach stay in? And if Shoppach comes out early, that hurts the Tribe's versatility later in the game.

Lining them up

One good thing for the Indians tonight -- the Yanks continue to leave Jason Giambi on the bench. Doug Mientkiewicz stays in at first base because of his defense while Giami stays on the bench because of his defense. Sure, Giambi's only 3-for-14 against Byrd in his career, but he's a whole heck of a lot more likely to go deep than is the Consonant One.

CF Grady Sizemore
2B Asdrubal Cabrera
DH Travis Hafner
1B Victor Martinez
SS Jhonny Peralta
LF Kenny Lofton
RF Franklin Gutierrez
3B Casey Blake
C Kelly Shoppach

P Paul Byrd

LF Johnny Damon
SS Derek Jeter
RF Bobby Abreu
3B Alex Rodriguez
C Jorge Posada
DH Hideki Matsui
2B Robinson Cano
CF Melky Cabrera
1B Doug Mientkiewicz

P Chien-Ming Wang

A little Byrdie will tell you

Paul Byrd is not like a box of chocolates. You pretty much know what you're going to get.

And that's got all of Cleveland ready with their collective vomit bags.

Here's what you're going to get with Paul Byrd: an ERA right around league average, lots of hits, few walks, and probably six innings. About as exciting as a loaf of bread.

Problem is if we get what we got from Paul Byrd in his one start against the Yankees on Aug. 11 -- seven runs in two IP -- or what we got from Paul Byrd following his shutout of the White Sox on Sept. 1 -- 22 ER allowed in 30 IP -- then we've got a major problem. If we get September from Paul Byrd, then we've got Game 5 back in Cleveland on Wednesday night, with all of Cleveland remembering every sports disaster we've ever had.

Only four times has a team come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a best-of-5 baseball playoff series since the wild-card era began. One of them was these Yankees, against the Oakland A's en route to the 2001 World Series title. Remember the Derek Jeter flip to home plate to nail a non-sliding Jeremy Giambi in the Yanks' 1-0 Game 3 victory? Another of them was the Red Sox, who became the first team to do when they came back against these Indians in the first round in 1999. Remember the 23-7, Game 2 victory for the Red Sox in that series?

The Indians might very well remember it. And that memory might be what led Eric Wedge to stick with Paul Byrd as his starter today instead of going with ace C.C. Sabathia on three days' rest. In that game back in 1999, Bartolo Colon started on three days rest and didn't make it out of the second inning. By the end of three, the Indians were behind 10-2 and were one day away from watching Pedro Martinez stroll out of the bullepn and silence both Jacobs Field and the Indians' bats.

Should C.C. start today it would be only the second time in his career that he went on three days' rest. It's not something he's used to; it's not something the Tribe has practiced all year. Wedge makes his decisions and sticks to them like flypaper.

Meanwhile, the Yankees are turning to Game 1 starter Chien-Ming Wang on three days' rest. Why is the strategy good enough for the goose but not the gander? After all, this is Wang's first start on three days' rest, and he was horrible the first time around in this series.. The Yanks are desperate. Joe Torre's supposedly out the door if New York doesn't make it past this round.

So, Cleveland fans, get ready for your loaf of bread. It's good for you. But the Tribe will need a little bit more than that tonight. Remember, man can't live on bread alone.

Friday, October 05, 2007


It should be all about the Indians thrilling victory over the Yankees today, the Tribe's first playoff win since a guy named C.C. Sabathia beat the Seattle Mariners. It should be all about the grit a guy named C.C. Sabathia showed in keeping the fifth-inning door closed while the Yankees were mercilessly pounding away at it. It should be all about the Indians offensive explosion, about Kenny Lofton finding the Fountain of Youth in a Gatorade cup and about Asdrubal Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner, and Ryan Gark hitting homers.

And today Indians/Yankees Game 1 is the talk of the sports world. But the talk about the Indians/Yankees isn't focusing on the game. Instead, they're talking about LeBron James -- Akron native LeBron James, Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James -- wearing a Yankees hat to a playoff game at Jacbos Field.

LeBron was booed, and rightly so. Anyone whose ever worn a Pittsburgh Steeler or Baltimore Raven jersey in the Muni Lot before a Browns game thinks he got off easy. For this is our icon, the symbol of Cleveland's sports rebirth, a man known round the world basically jabbing a stick in the eye of Cleveland Fan.

Jim Rome's talking about it on his radio show today. ESPN's First Take television show is talking about it. They've written about it in the New York Times and Yahoo! asks
if LeBron's a traitor. They're arguing about it on blogs, on message'>message boards, and in bars.

Tribe legend Bob Feller had the best response when he said he would wear a Pistons hat and sit
right behind the Cavs bench
. He's also the kind of guy who appreciates history, the kind of guy who knows of former France president Charles De Gaulle's famous quote: "The graveyards are full of irreplaceable men."

Cleveland's been around a lot longer than LeBron James has, and it will be around a lot longer when he's gone. He might very well be leaving when his contract is up in three years, heading off to the Big Apple he apparently loves so well to play with his buddies on the New Jersey Nets. Or so the theory goes. Wearing a Yankees hat to a Jacobs Field playoff game against the Yankees does nothing to dispel that notion. And it also won't make us sad to see him go should he pull a few more stunts like this. We've lived with our sports misery for more than 40 years; don't tell us we can't keep doing it.

It's certainly not a dealbreaker in our love affair with LeBron, but it's not exactly forgetting to tell your wife that you're coming home late for work. Cleveland fans have trust issues and self-confidence issues. Even with championship-caliber basketball and baseball teams in town, we still look in the mirror and wonder if we look fat in these jerseys. (Well, all except Browns fans -- they DO look fat in these jerseys.)

Seemed that LeBron understood all this as he's done and said the right things ever since he joined the Cavs. And while he's said and done them, he's led our team to the NBA Finals. Now we've caught him out looking at other teams at our very important celebratory dinner.

This will happen when you're young and basically still a kid. LeBron doesn't turn 23 until the end of the year. He's surrounded himself with business partners he went to high school with, guys who think it's OK to speed at nearly 100 miles per hour. Guys who apparently aren't wise enough to tell LeBron he's going to take a big PR hit.

And while he's at it, he'll stain our enjoyment of a great night at Jacobs Field. Don't do it again, LeBron. We can live without you.

Yankees, go home

Awwwwww, poor Yankees. And poor Yankee fans. They might just not add to their 26 World Series championships this season.

This would be terrible for the Yankees! After all, can you imagine making the playoffs 13 straight seasons, and only having five World Series titles to show for it? And none since 2001? TRAGIC

Poor Derek Jeter. The Yankees have made the playoffs every year of his career. But he hasn't won the World Series every year of his career! Something's obviously wrong here.

And can you imagine the stress poor old Joe Torre is under? He might actually be fired for not winning every game by 10 runs. He even used some guys named Ross Ohlendorf and Jose Veras who weren't even in the postseason media guide. What is he thinking? Guy had a losing record until George Steinbrenner put him in charge of the team with the highest payroll in baseball; he must have reverted back to his losing ways using those two nobodies.

Alex Rodriguez is probably ready to pack his bags, too. The guy hits 54 home runs, and then the Indians walk him almost every time. Ten million New Yorkers probably booed their TV sets every time he headed to first base, they are so ungrateful.

Maybe Jason Giambi should go back on the juice so he can get a hit or two -- or even get into the starting lineup. Or maybe Jorge Posada should stop swinging at crappy 3-0 pitches; hey, Jorge, what happened to Yankee patience at the plate when you had the chance to walk in the tying run? Or maybe the Yankees starting pitcher should do something that doesn't get him nicknamed Chien-Mien Gong.

Yeah, it's so sad that the Yankees got their butts handed to them by the Indians. They were so bad in Game 1 of the ALDS they even embarrased our biggest star, LeBron James.

Because right now it looks like the NY on that cap is just the beginning and end of one short sentence -- "No waY".

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Yankees lose,
theeee Yaaaankeeeees lose!

Those of you waiting for 1995 to return to Jacobs Field got your wish in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees last night.

Those of you waiting for C.C. Sabathia to put together a defining performance in a clutch spot got your wish in the fifth inning last night.

Those of you waiting for the Indians offense to explode got your wish from the first inning on.

And those of you waiting for the Indians to get their first World Series championship since 1948 -- and that's all of you covered in the above and everyone else who doesn't care how they do it -- might have just witnessed the first step in the process.

In the Indians' 12-3 victory over the Yankees to start their playoff series, we got a glimpse of The Ghost of Indians Past when Kenny Lofton knocked in four runs, all after two were out. We got a glimpse of The Ghost of Indians Present when C.C. Sabathia sweated and grunted and struggled and nutted it up through five innings and 114 pitches, coming back from a bases-loaded, one-out, 3-0-count-on-Jorge Posada jam in the fifth inning to keep the Tribe ahead and watch as they went further ahead. We got a glimpse of The Ghost of Indians Future when Asdrubal Cabrera smacked a homer, the Raffies Perez and Betancourt combined for three shutout innings in relief and Jensen Lewis (can you say future closer?) broke his playoff cherry by retiring A-Rod on a pop out to start the eighth.

We even got a glimpse of a humbled LeBron James, who had to take off and hide his disgusting New York Yankees hat by the time some guy named Russ Ohrendorf was pitching in the sixth inning. That's kind of like the Pistons using Carlos Delfino to try to get past the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals. Who? Exactly.

Cleveland started the night with a bit of sabotage when a local cameraman hired as a freelancer by the Yankees' YES Network stepped on New York first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz's ankle, knocking the letters in his name around and eventually knocking him out of the game after a few innings. The camerman was fired, but he did his job. Friday night, the Indians will hire him and tell him to film only around A-Rod and Derek Jeter.

The Tribe overcame a fifth-pitch homer from Johnny Damon that was first ruled foul, then ruled fair. They overcame a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the fifth when Jorge Posada looked like he would erase the Tribe's thin 4-3 lead like it was writing on a chalkboard. C.C. gave up a run-scoring double to Bobby Abreu, then intentionally walked A-Rod and his 54 homers. Up came Posada, who took three pitches. Somehow Sabathia came back to whiff the Yankee backstop, who hit a career-high .338 during the regular season. Then Hideki Matsui popped out to Jhonny Peralta and by the slimmest of margins and fattest of pitchers, the Tribe remained ahead.

That gave the Tribe the boost they needed. Three batters into the bottom of the fifth Victor Martinez gave the Indians the two runs back with a jack into the right-field seats. Then with two outs, Good Ole Kenny Lofton -- good and old Kenny Lofton -- knocked one up the middle to score Peralta. Lofton then turned back time, stole second, and scored along with Franklin Guttierez on Casey Blake's double.

That's Casey Blake, who has more at-bats as an Indian than anyone else on this team save Good Ole.

And after the five-run inning it was a celebration at Jacobs Field. It was the fans screaming O-H-I-O so loud they heard it in Columbus. It was Travis Hafner and Ryan Garko adding homers just because. It was rocking and rolling and partying at the Jake just like it was 1999. Or 1998. Or 1997. Or 1996. Or 1995.

Game 1 showed the Indians weren't a fluke, that their 93-win 1995 season wasn't a tease, that the Yankees are not a team to be feared simply because it says NY on their caps. No, these are the Yankees that haven't won a playoff series since 2004, the year they pulled off the biggest choke in sports history against the Boston Red Sox.

The Yankees lose, theeeeeeeeeeeeee Yankeeeeeeeeeees lose.

But even better, Indians win.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Had a good day

That was the moment that we needed the most
We kicked Raven ass and their magic is lost
The Yankees' blue skies will turn to gray
Your Cleveland sports passion is back to stay
And now the Tribe's going to march on

So the Cavs made the NBA Finals in June, the Indians are at home for the first round of the playoffs, the Browns looked like a halfway decent team in beating the Baltimore Ravens, and the Pittsburgh Steelers played like hacks and folded.

The only thing that could have made it a perfect day in Cleveland sports is if Art Modell died while the Ravens were walking off the field.

Cause we had a good day
We took Baltimore down
We sang our fight song when we scored those touchdowns
We watched our leads grow
We know it's no lie
We work up a smile when we think of the Tribe
We had a good day
The standings don't lie
The Yanks are coming to town and we really don't mind
We had a good day
We had a good day

We'll settle for a little less than perfect. The Browns, our misfit child, have grown a few inches and heard their voices deepen since the thumping they took rom the Steelers to open the season. If not for a blocked field goal against the Raiders the Browns would be tied for first in the AFC North. The last time that happened a month into the season, there wasn't an Internet around to tell you about it.

Really, was sending Charlie Frye to Seattle the solution to the entire Browns' problem? Maybe Charlie was like the guy in the disaster movie that has to die so everyone else can escape. If the Browns were Poseidon, then Charlie Frye was Captain Robert Ramsey. At least he got those propellors going before he died!

Well you need a blue sky holiday
Nobody's laughing no more at what you say
And now the Tribe's going to march on

The Browns' victory is not even the most exciting sports happening in town right now. No, Indians Playoff Week kicks off Monday evening with a rally at Gateway Plaza at 5 p.m. It's part of Rally Monday, where every city that's got a team in the playoffs rejoices. We've got Michael Stanley and the Resonators performing for us; Boston's got to settle for The Dropkick Murphys. And, hey, what's Chuck Finley doing at the Angels' rally? He's pitched in more playoff games for the Tribe than for the Angels. Plus we got Coco Crisp for him, who in turn brought us (ahem) Andy Marte.

Cause we had a good day
We took Baltimore down
We sang our fight song when we scored those touchdowns
We watched our leads grow

We know it's no lie
We work up a smile when we think of the Tribe
We had a good day
The standings don't lie
The Yanks are coming to town and we really don't mind
We had a good day
We had a good day

We had a good day!