When the Cleveland Indians signed the biggest major league free agent, Edwin Encarnacion’s supposedly imaginary parrot also changed addresses. In a second WFNY exclusive, we discuss “Eddie’s” thoughts on various topics as we approach 2017 Opening Day.
Greg: Good to see you again – have things settled down for you and Edwin? You’re with a new team, but you’re back into a routine, I hope?
Eddie: Oh, yeah. And who doesn’t love this time of year? Sure- first you get sick of eating fish, then you get sick of boiled eggs, but there’s better weather, right? And baseball. My favorite.
Greg: After the last time we spoke, several questions came in for us to ask you. Would you like to jump right in and field a few?
Eddie: Bring em on!
Greg: Well this one would be good to start with. It’s from Roger in Chardon: “Dear Eddie: What are your impressions of Clevelanders and Toronto-ites?”
Eddie: I’m glad you asked the question, Roger. Edwin and I had a great run in Canada, and the fans there were good to us. It’s “Torontonians,” by the way.
Now, I understand how baseball fans of other cities – especially Canadian cities – might consider Torontonians to be entitled, self absorbed, superficial…
Greg:So, basically they’re Cubs fans?
Eddie: Haha not really. You’re really funny though, Greg. And highly intelligent too. When Washington State football coach Mike Leach called Cubs fans “yuppies with BMWs,” he could have been describing a lot of Toronto fans.
Listen, Toronto will always hold a special place in Edwin’s and my heart. You know, the town reminds me a lot of New York City. Skyscrapers, neon lights, street food. Sales tax is 15% there in Toronto.
We’ve found Clevelanders to be enthusiastic, passionate. Maybe a little too defensive about their city. It’s a great town. There is a Cleveland accent, by the way. Clevelanders typically cannot detect it. “You hee-ave to paark the caar near the gaarden.”
Greg: We have a question from Clint in Mentor. Clint asks, “Dear Eddie: Do people call you ‘Little Edwin’?”
Eddie: Little Edwin?
Greg: Wait- was that a classic parrot mimic from you?
Eddie: I think that question was an Elvis Presley joke. This is family-friendly, no?
Greg: OK, let’s see… Here’s one from the WFNY commentariat. It’s from NankirPhelge, and he says, “Question for Eddie: Are you still seeing Polly? TMZ says that the romance is on the rocks.”
Eddie: I prefer to keep my private life out of the public eye. I do understand that it is a public life that I have chosen, but it’s not fair to my loved ones if I subject them to the kind of scrutiny that comes with fame… what?
Greg: Sorry, I guess I was staring. I was just half wondering if you were going to start speaking in third person. Without referring to anyone specifically, how, may I ask, can you tell if a parrot is a boy or a girl?
Eddie: (Sigh.) Got any baseball questions?
Greg: Wellll, we have a question from Grace, in Oxford. Grace asks, “The Wave: good or bad?”
Eddie: Grace, that is an interesting question. You may consider The Wave to be something done by non-fans, often started by a “bro” at inappropriate moments in a game (while you wonder why it is never done between innings). You may be of the opinion that The Wave is about as worthwhile as fans barking in a contrived, stale Dawg Pound, thirty years after it was fresh. You may believe that The Wave needs to be relegated to the dust bin of sports fandom, along with Sweet Caroline, the overly-testosterized “AIR-BALL, AIR-BALL” chant , and the scoreboard plea to MAKE NOISE.
And, you may be right. But, I think such an opinion is secondary to the encouragement of the marginal fan. We need those folks in baseball. And really, how harmful is it to be subjected to Don’t Stop Believin’ 81 times a year?
Greg: Wow, it sounds like you’ve spent a lot of time contemplating this. My impression is that they do The Wave in Toronto maybe more than anywhere else in the world.
Greg: I wonder if your perspective of wanting as many marginal fans in the ballpark has possible has any ties to Encarnacion’s contract escalators that kick in at certain attendance levels.
Eddie: No comment.
Greg: Deb in Cincinnati has a question. “Dear Eddie: What did you think of the 2017 World Baseball Classic?”
Eddie: What a tremendous success. It’s gotten better every time, since it started about a decade ago. And, more popular. And going back to having fun in the stands, how much fun do the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico fans have? It was fine with me that the Dominicans didn’t repeat- the USA winning was great. Maybe the sport will begin to catch on in the US like it has in the DR. (Don’t @ me people – that’s a JOKE!)
Greg: Eddie, let’s turn our attention to the 2017 Cleveland Indians. What are you most excited to see this season?
Eddie: I love Edwin. Without EE of course, I’m just one of a thousand pretty faces basking in the tropical sun.
But tell me- where is the weak spot on the pitching staff? Danny Salazar seems ready. Kluber is Kluber, and Cookie Carrasco is set to pitch the home opener, so it sounds like he is healthy. I am not as high on Bauer as some, but I like having him in the back of the rotation where anything above-average from him is a bonus. And Tomlin showcased how much of a gamer he is by his performance last fall. Nobody in Columbus is forcing his way into this rotation, but guys like Clevinger and Merritt have a little experience to draw on now.
And, the bullpen was already good, before midseason last year. Then, they picked up the best reliever in baseball in Andrew Miller. This past offseason, they added another solid lefty in Boone Logan.
This pitching staff will keep the team in almost every game, and manager Terry Francona understands that it isn’t always best to wait until the ninth inning to use your best relievers.
Greg: Let’s go back to the mailbag. Allan in Los Angeles asks, “Eddie, do you have any quick thoughts about the Tribe that you can share?”
Eddie: You mean do I have any “hot takes,” Allan? Why yes. Yes I do. My vote for the 2016 Most Valuable Player on the Cleveland Indians would have been for Bryan Shaw. Before last year, there was concern that Tito had already run up the odometer too much on his arm- and then he went out and pitched nearly every other game again. There were a couple games where he got shelled, but most of the time, he did his job.
Here’s another: Lonnie Chisenhall needs to stay in right field. Tyler Naquin needs to prove he can lay off the high fastball, but he belongs in center. But for the love of all that is good in the world, I sincerely hope those two are practicing shagging fly balls every day. By that, I mean together, until they are comfortable calling each other off. They about gave Cleveland fans a collective heart attack in the World Series.
Since it is beginning to look like Michael Brantley will be in the Opening Day starting lineup, my strong opinion is to slot him into the three-hole right from the start. Some think the Tribe should drop him in the order, to take pressure off of him at the start of the season. I disagree. If he’s ready, he’s ready. We’re not concerned about Dr. Smooth handling pressure, are we? Before last year, he carried the offense, without much protection in the batting order. Now, he could have Frankie on base and Edwin on deck a couple times a game. And the guy’s a pro, a veteran.
Here’s my hottest of takes: While I wouldn’t do it as often, I don’t mind Tito bunting early in a game. I know that statistically, trading an out for advancing a base keeps a lot of runs off the board over the course of the season. But there are early game situations when I think it’s worth moving a runner to put pressure on a tough pitcher. And ensuring that ‘a’ run gets on the board can help your own pitcher, mentally.
— Pat Chiesa (@PatChiesa) March 16, 2017
Greg: Before we sign off today, I wanted to thank you for the Dominican Republic cigar tips you gave me last time we spoke. I remain an Arturo Fuente fan, and the Curly Heads are my go-to. They are up to $4 at the local shop, but not many types are much cheaper these days.
What is a suggestion you can offer for a Dominican beer to try?
Eddie: Presidente. You can get it here, too. It’s a Dominican-produced Pilsener that they’ve been brewing since 1935, I think. The company was founded by a US entrepreneur, and the beer was named for the guy who was the DR president at the time.
It was actually a dark beer, until they changed to a Pilsener in the 1960s. I don’t know if I want to share this, but their breweries were recently acquired by a Brazilian company.
Greg: Eh, maybe some of the mystique is removed with that news, but look at the large US breweries. In fact, I see that the parent firm that ultimately owns Presidente’s breweries also owns Anheuser-Busch. The Miller Brewing Company is owned by Molson Coors.
Eddie: Presidente is a mass-produced, lowest common denominator type of pale beer, but is worth trying, for its iconic status if nothing else.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to route questions for Eddie either in the comments below this article or directly to email@example.com.