Indians, WWW

It’s supposed to be hard: While We’re Waiting

Courtesy of Today's Knuckleball

Sometimes it is easy to forget. It is easy to forget when your depleted baseball team walks through the American League playoffs with just one loss and pushes the World Series’ favorites to extra innings of Game 7. It is easy to forget when your team wrecks all opposition by not just winning 22 games in a row, but also destroys teams throughout the streak. It is easy to forget when your team wins its division by 17 games despite the second-place team making the postseason. It is easy to forget when your team has everything go wrong- including falling behind by five runs- but still manages to find victory and put themselves within one win of the American League Championship Series. However, no matter how easy it is to forget, at some point, there will be a stark reminder that baseball is hard. Hard to play, hard to predict, and impossible to create an invincible team to guard against all possible negative outcomes.

The Cleveland Indians and their fans were reminded on Sunday night that baseball is hard when Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees gutted out a win with the only run coming from Greg Bird hitting a home run off 2016 postseason mythical-creature Andrew Miller. The Indians finally had their first ice bucket challenge of the reality fall upon their heads.

It doesn’t mean the mindset of the Tribe should change. It doesn’t mean the ALDS has changed in any dramatic way. All it means is that the fickle beast of postseason baseball is impossible to tame. Whether Game 4 is on Monday or Tuesday (pending weather), the team needs to understand the harsh reality of their place within such an existence and respond to the challenge.

Momentum is supposedly the next game’s starting pitcher, which gives the Yankees the advantage given Luis Severino was an AL Cy Young candidate and Trevor Bauer will be pitching on short rest with a not-so-great history of pitching off his regular routine (though to be noted usually with added rest, not less). Such advantages didn’t help the Yanks in the AL Wild Card game. So, the Indians need to not allow a hard-fought loss in Game 3 affect their mindset and be ready to cast doubt into the postseason acumen of Severino by helping him have another bad start. Baseball is meant to be hard, but as Tom Hanks famously said in A League of Their Own “The hard is what makes it great.”

  • MartyDaVille

    Good post, Michael.

    Not having to stand there in the batter’s box myself, I couldn’t understand why the Tribe lefties kept swinging at those sinkers that bounced to the catcher. Especially with a 1-0 or 2-0 count. Being aggressive is fine, but the coaches have to tell the hitters to make him throw you a strike with it first before you go chasing all that down-and-in stuff.

    Good game, though. Since we had a 2-0 lead, it wasn’t as stressful to watch as it otherwise would have been.

  • WFNY_DP

    My observation is that the sinker MUST look just like a fastball until right before it gets to the plate. That’s the only reason I could come up with that they kept swinging at a pitch that was almost hitting the plate at times.

    It’s also clear some guys (Ramirez, for example) are totally pressing.

  • mgbode

    It could be better scouting reports for J-Ram too. He always is super aggressive and the Yankees appear to be taking advantage of it. Ramirez usually finds that “one” mistake pitch anyway though… hopefully he does tonight.

  • WFNY_DP

    I thought he had some better at bats last night, and was one of the guys to make Chapman really work (sidebar: how is it that it looked like a rather comfortable night in the Bronx and Chapman looked like he’d just stepped out of a shower?), but I must admit that when Kipnis got the triple with one out I was a little bummed that it was Ramirez coming up because I knew he’d try to jump all over it to get the run home and get himself out. Just the way he’s looked all series.

  • Chris

    Does anyone even know what Tanaka’s fastball looks like? Everything was breaking. Without a fastball to keep hitters honest, those should be easier to lay off when they start low.

  • JM85

    The hitters were not patient last night. Hopefully this improves next game.

  • jpftribe

    If you have yet to see it, “Fastball” on Netflix is outstanding. They dig into both the science and psyche of pitching throughout baseball history.

    Tanaka and Chapman are fantastic examples of the pure math and science. Basically, we now know the timing of the brain synapsis and the last possible millisecond a hitter has to decide where to swing.

    In the case of Tanaka, it is well before the ball will break sharply downwards. Fox made a super point when they said the entire Indians roster has only seen 400 splitters, by far the lowest pitch count this year.

    In Chapman’s case, the pitch is so fast, the decision where to swing actually tests the limits of human synapsis processing. If they hit it, they have either guessed very well, or literally have extraordinary brain processing capabilities.

    They also spend quality time interviewing historic players, Bench, Gossage, Ryan, Gibson on the reality of the pitcher / hitter matchup.

    Really worth the time if you are a baseball fan.

  • JNeids

    My wife kept commenting on how disgustingly sweaty Chapman was, that his brim was so sweat-soaked it was literally dripping. I told her it was the least disgusting trait of that POS.

  • JNeids

    Frankie and JoRam haven’t started hitting. Brantley looks incredibly rusty. Andrew Miller looks almost human. As Bode noted above, we have our #3 possibly pitching on short rest vs their #1 CY candidate. And honestly, I’m a little more worried about Kluber than I think most are. And yet, we’re up 2-1 and I’m still confident we’re winning this series.

  • Harv

    I’m totally fine with all that occurred last night. Every pitch-intensity, consistent umpiring, clean play, even a fine broadcast team. It was a beautiful game that we just lost.

    Ok, except: was Judge’s catch of the Lindor drive really that spectacular? Did it deserve that much bull about the skill required? Did Judge have to wear that self-satisfied smirk for a full 5 minutes? An extremely tall dude waited at the wall, elevated maybe 10 inches and extended a very long arm. Not exactly Austin Jackson flipping over the rail, Lofton spidermanning a wall on the dead run or anything Byron Buxton does on a daily basis.

  • Chris

    They play was not spectacular, but it was critical. No different than a rocket line drive directly at a third basemen that saves a couple runs. I don’t think the commentary went too overboard on it… just that being 6’7″ makes catching a ball over an 8′ wall look pretty easy.

  • WFNY_DP

    Not to mention that, in any other park in MLB, that’s a routine fly ball out.

  • jpftribe

    I hate the Yankees. I hate that the Yankees have Judge. I can’t bring myself to hate Judge. He seems to be a good kid. If I had just robbed Lindor of a 2 run homer in the elimination game of the playoffs, my smirk would have lasted a lot longer than 5 minutes.

    Totally agree on the game and broadcast. One of the best.

  • Harv

    Guessing you’re a better person than I. I spent a good part of the game hating the NY bros in the crowd shots. Even countered wifey’s “aww” reactions to those cute little kids by reminding her ad nauseum: daddy bought a $3,427.00 seat for a 4 year old just so, when that kid is a man and has undergone years of counseling, he can counter that they did bond, and here’s the video to prove it.

  • Chris

    Speaking of scouting reports, how about the job the Tribe scouts have done on Judge (and the execution by pitchers, of course). No hits in 10 AB, with more strikeouts than walks.

  • Chris

    “FASTBALL: PART TWO – Where the hell did they all go?”

  • Chris

    Today: a cute, spoiled four year old in cushy seats
    2034: obnoxious bro Yankee fan invading front row seats across America (and southern Ontario)

  • jpftribe

    I have spent a lot of time in NYC, lived in CLT with a ton of NYC transplants and absolutely loathe the NYC elitist attitudes. But unlike Judge, I was able to turn down NYC job offers and choose not to work there. The kid made a good play when he had to and the Indians got beat. It happens.

  • Chris

    There are definitely some exceptions, but I have little issue with the Yankees that have come up through the system… even back in the 90’s. I honestly think they groom their players quite well, both from a talent and behavior standpoint.

    It’s the A-Rods, Chapmans, Clemens, O’Neills, Tino Martinezs that drive me absolutely insane. And if they get Harper, add him to the list.

  • mgbode

    He is Pedro Cerrano.

  • stryker1121

    Only thing that really bugs right now is EE’s absence, thinning out the lineup, forcing a rusty Brantley into action and turning 7-8-9 into a bit of a black hole. Jose needs to get going, though it was good to see Kipnis get a couple of solid base knocks last night. Still confident, still nervous cuz baseball. Bring it home tonight (or tomorrow), fellas!

  • JNeids

    Disagree on the umpiring. The only thing consistent about it was the inconsistency. Not saying at all that it was one-sided, I thought it was all around awful.

    Silver lining on Judge’s catch: he robbed Zack Hample of his 135,741,898th souvenir (rough estimate).

  • Chris

    If he did, he would never be allowed back in Yankee Stadium.

    Once the ball is past the plane of the wall, is it fair game for a fan? In that case, any ball prevented from being caught should still be a home run, right??

  • CBiscuit

    I share the lineup concerns.

    Jose has been overaggressive. Not getting Kipnis home was a killer (after stranding runners games prior). That guy really needs to get it going indeed.

    And man, Brantley looks like a shell. Let’s hope he can drop a single in or something. He’s certainly not going to drive the ball. Hopefully, we can sneak out of NY and get EE back soon.

  • mgbode

    It is almost like the Indians could have used a third baseman who hits lefties rather well and plays good enough defense. Maybe someone whose physical stature looms large on the absence of this roster. You know, or roster both E-Gon & Gio who are basically the same player. Good times.

  • mgbode

    By rule, it is fair game just as on foul balls if a fan knocks it out of the glove if a player reaches into their row then it is fine to knock it out of his glove.

    Here is that rule:

    No interference shall be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk. However, should a spectator reach out on the playing field side of such fence, railing or rope, and plainly prevent the fielder from catching the ball, then the batsman should be called out for the spectator’s interference.

    Good one to know when an opposing player goes for that reach. HIT HIS GLOVE (make sure he is in the stands).

  • Eric G

    Hammy wasn’t as impressed as the rest of the media world. To paraphrase: It wasn’t really a tremendous catch. He didn’t have to run back and collide with the wall or anything. He was just able to jump up because he’s so tall, but give him credit.

  • Steve

    “But unlike Judge, I was able to turn down NYC job offers and choose not to work there”

    What coulda been. Thanks Nick Swisher!

    I do wonder how Judge would be seen nationally if he had come to some flyover backwater like Cleveland.

  • Chris

    We should host a season-ticket holder training session.

  • tsm

    Agree completely. I was screaming at the t.v. that they had to – take a strike – on any pitch at the bottom of the zone. I understand that the pitch appears to be a regular fastball until it disappears, but call the guy’s bluff for goodness sake. Our guys appear over eager, especially Lindor and Ramirez.
    Finally, is there now some new analytic that says – going the other way – is bad? When Chapman can overpower you, just stick out your bat and try and poke it the other way. Especially with 2 strikes.
    Miller was unfortunate in that he made just one terrible pitch – right down the middle – and Byrd crushed it.
    I expect Tito to calm things down tonight, and at lease make Severino work hard.

  • tsm

    I was looking for a bunt in that situation. Would have surprised them. A good squeeze.

  • tsm

    My son has been bugging me all series about this roster decision. Especially since Brantley clearly appears not ready, our guy would have been a better selection.

  • Chris

    If you’re worried about Kluber, then how do you think Yanks feel about Severino? Our grass is greener, I promise.

  • mgbode

    Going the other way still smart and encouraged.

  • scripty

    Bunting on 102+ is obsene. You have to turn and get both eyes on the ball and instinct makes squaring that up and you cant be as sly. If they were bunting somewhat regularly then maybe.

  • JNeids

    Let me clarify: I’m actually worried Kluber might be hurt. Someone (Tom Withers, maybe) hinted towards that on Friday. That’s what worries me.

  • tsm

    The situation was against Tanaka after Kip’s triple. Sorry that my comment wan’t more clear. I just thought that on those splitters, a guy could square around and get the bunt down even on a very low pitch.

  • Chris
  • CBiscuit

    I agree E. Gonz or Gio but not both. But still, if the rest of the A or B players do their jobs (which they haven’t), we wouldn’t be in this stickiness.

  • mgbode

    Velocity was down a bit, which would be only indicator there. To note: believe Severino’s was vs Twins too and he looked fine last night. You never know.

  • JNeids

    Really really really hoping it was just a blip.

  • Saggy

    it was so humid here – and unseasonably warm – that it was difficult to even breathe. Sweating was immediate upon exiting any air-conditioned building.