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"You're right," says Snyder. "You have to separate your hitting from your defense. You can't take an error to the plate with you. Once I'm in the on-deck circle, I shut everything else out."
"You can't dwell on things," says Carter. "You can't let one aspect of your game influence the other two or three. When I hit, nothing affects me."
Carter insists that he is also unaffected by the contract dispute he had with the Cleveland management. He originally requested $437,000 for this season. He then lowered his price to $387,000, approximately double his 1986 salary. Carter is not yet eligible for arbitration, so the Indians were able to renew his contract at their price of $250,000. Carter left camp in protest, but he returned six days later, on March 8, still angry but vowing to put the unpleasantness behind him.
Snyder and the other young Indians were much more than casual observers of the Carter ordeal. They are concerned, as is Carter, that front-office penuriousness might bankrupt the future of this promising team.
"We've got such a good thing going," says Snyder, "why not pay a little more to keep the players happy? We're just talking about fairness, not millions. We can keep a good team here for years. Why create a situation where as soon as a player gets the chance, he'll move out? That's not fair to the fans who've waited so long. I know I don't want to leave Cleveland. I love it."
"That's it," says Carter. "We've got a new breed of player now who actually wants to be in Cleveland. It may have started with Bernie Kosar of the Browns, for all I know. He wanted to play here. Other players are impressed with the way we've turned things around. We have a lot of players who were considered suspect as major leaguers on other teams—guys like Hall, Tabler, Brook Jacoby. We all took our bumps and bruises together, knowing we had nowhere to go but up. Now we're about to restore the history of the Cleveland Indians."
"I missed the terrible part, the 102 losses," says Snyder. "But I want to stay here. I want to say that I was a part of this team."
"We can draw two, three million if we do well," says Carter. "We just have to remember where we came from and not fall back on the press clippings we're starting to get. I know the fans are behind us. You should see the letters I get. I like Cleveland. I like the down-to-earth atmosphere. Chicago was too fast for me. I didn't like all that hustle and bustle."
"It's the people," says Snyder. "The people make the town. Any city in the world has its bad sections. I remember when I came through Cleveland with the Olympic team, my first impression was that it was an ugly place, too industrial-looking. Since I've been here, I've seen what they've done to rebuild downtown, to make things better. I think all the Cleveland jokes come from people who've never been there."
The two players pull on fresh uniform shirts and grab their gloves. They are eager to get back out to the field. Carter pauses at the doorway to the dugout. "I think we've got the kind of ball club anyone would want to play for," he says. "We're all in our prime. This is not just a one-year thing. We've got nothing to look forward to but the future. They say everything that goes around comes around. Well, I think it's finally come around to us. I think our time has come."