Things are going great for this Indians and Vandy fan
Posted: Wednesday September 21, 2005 1:08PM; Updated: Wednesday September 21, 2005 2:00PM
Aaron Boone's second-half turnaround has sparked Cleveland's sizzling run.
If you're wondering what that tapping sound on Tuesday night was, it was me knocking on wood as I write this. (Not only was I knocking on wood, I was listening to Eddie Floyd's Knock on Wood as well as Otis and Carla's version of the song in a continuous loop.) At various times, my knocking ranged from gentle taps on the end table to smacking my hardwood floor like a hopped up ref at Wrestlemania.
Why? Well, let me tell you three things about myself: 1) I'm a sports fan. 2) I am a Vanderbilt alum. 3) I am fiercely loyal to my city of birth: Cleveland. Which is kind of like saying: 1) I'm in a band. 2) I'm tone deaf. 3) I don't have the use of my fingers. Normally, the last two things don?t engender warm, fuzzy feelings vis-a-vis the first.
These days, though, it's good to be Mark Bechtel. Hence, the current fisticuffs I always seem to find myself engaged in with various and sundry bookcases, doors and whittled ships. "How was your weekend"? someone asks. "Great. Vandy beat Ole Miss, the Tribe swept the Royals. Things are going well and this could be a good autumn. Now, is that brooch you're wearing made of birch, and if so may I knock on it"?
Let's look at these two stories.
The Indians. OK, so they lost on Tuesday, and a defeat Wednesday will pretty much end any dream of winning the Central. My big fear all along has been that once the bubble bursts and they lose a few games, it's all going to come apart. (Increased knocking here.) A game like Tuesday's might be especially tough to swallow, because they really should have won. But I love what the Indians were saying after the game. "When we came in here after the game, there were smiles on our faces," Aaron Boone said. Coco Crisp said, "This was one of the best games I've ever played in." Point is, they're not down, they're not hanging their heads.
Following this team has been more fun than any other year, except maybe '94 (chasing the Sox when the lockout started) and '95 (when they ran away with the Central for their first division title). The Tribe of the late '90s was stacked; this team is talented, but they don't have a middle of the lineup featuring the likes of Albert Belle, Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez. They scrap, they win tight games, they play D (usually), they get gutsy pitching. And there's a certain thrill that comes with pursuing, rather than dominating. No matter what happens from here on out, I'll be able to say this was a great year.
The really intriguing part of the story to me, though, is the flip side: Chicago's collapse. I'd love to know what it's like in that clubhouse now -- how tight those guys must be. No one seems to want to talk about it, though. No one wants to suggest that maybe everyone was jumping the gun by anointing Ozzie Guillen as a genius and declaring the Scott Podsednik for Carlos Lee trade to be the best of the year. As many folks have pointed out, the Sox are scoring fewer runs this year than last. And since July 23, Podsednik has six stolen bases and has been thrown out 14 times. I realize he's been battling injuries, but if he's that hurt, don't you think Guillen might tell him to STOP TRYING TO STEAL?
But nobody will say anything bad about Guillen. (Steady knocking picks up.) On Monday night, literally one minute after the White Sox bullpen gave up two runs in the eighth to blow the first game of the Indians series, Harold Reynolds said on Baseball Tonight (and I'm paraphrasing, because I was too stunned to jot his exact words down) that we should give Guillen credit for managing his bullpen in such a way that he was able to get the right pitchers in the game.