"We've gotta keep going," Aspromonte said. "We gotta hope some breaks go our way. We've actually been playing excellent baseball, but we've got guys struggling at the plate. All six bats in the middle of the order are quiet. We can't seem to get one guy hot. This is the same type of club the A's had at Kansas City. Look how they came along. All we need is a little more experience, a little more confidence. I'm very optimistic."
Aspromonte may be comforted to know that his boss has confidence in him. "Everybody fired Kenny last year but me," said Mileti, strolling around the construction site of the $20 million coliseum he will open south of Cleveland in October as the home for his Cavaliers basketball and Crusaders hockey teams.
Mileti directed a visitor's attention to one of the 1,000-watt light bulbs that will illuminate his dream palace. "Look at that. The man who invented those things lived right up the street from here. A man named Thomas Edison. What you have to have is stability in any sports enterprise," he continued, abruptly abandoning the Wizard of Menlo Park. "That's what the Indians need. Cleveland hasn't had the reputation for being a class city, but it's all here, man, all here. Eighth largest market in the country."
Mileti is not a whimsical hirer and firer of the Charlie Finley stripe. His radio station, WWWE, is liberally staffed with his cousins. Indian Executive Vice-President Ted Bonda is his close friend. Aspromonte has been his only manager. And by his own assessment, he is probably the nation's largest employer of alumni from his alma mater, Bowling Green State University. "When you are a Sicilian peasant's son, you have a long memory," says Mileti.
So must Cleveland fans, who can only look longingly back to 1954 and Larry Doby, Al Rosen, Bob Lemon, Mike Garcia, et al. for solace. Even with Beer Nights, 20 years is a long time between drinks. But the city is caught up now in a kind of boosterism more characteristic of another Ohio town, the fictional Zenith. On Aug. 16 the Indians will help celebrate something called "Rally Around Cleveland Day." Last week it was rally around the Indians time as the hopes for a championship season seemed to wane.
Then along came Bosnian, who had pitched fewer than 40 innings and won only one game before his masterpiece. The lone runner to reach base, Sal Bando, made it there on Bosnian's own error. Otherwise he was flawless, throwing only 79 pitches.
The fans exulted in him, cheering continuously through the final three innings and rising to their feet at the finish. "The crowd meant a lot," Bosnian said in the steamy clubhouse afterward. "I had to go back out there and thank them."
It is a tough town on losers. But, oh, how they love a winner.