Our Experiences and Suggestions at Progressive Field

Last Monday was Memorial Day.  The weather was gorgeous, sunny and warm, and the Cleveland Indians were playing the Texas Rangers with a 4:05 start time.

A perfect day to take in a ball game.

13,000 people showed up.  And keep in mind, the Indians made the wild card game in 2013, and went to the last weekend of the season in 2014 before being eliminated.

Even in Tampa, a city which probably shouldn’t have a major league baseball team, and hasn’t ever warmed to the Rays, drew 15,000 folks.

In Miami, another city not known as a baseball hot spot, they had over 21,000 in attendance.

And it Pittsburgh, a blue-collar town very comparable to Cleveland, more than 39,000 poured into PNC Park to watch the Pirates.

We understand the fans don’t trust the ownership and front office of the Indians, and although local television rating are high, no one ventures to Progressive Field.

We have attended three Tribe games downtown this month and here are our impressions.

Although we mocked the new bar in right field, it is very nice.  Our objection was to taking seats out of the park instead of giving fans a reason to buy tickets for the seats the organization removed.

And there are certainly many, many different foods and beverages to consume.  It is very different from when we attended games as a kid and people looked at you weird if you wanted a hamburger instead of a hot dog.

We don’t like how the upper deck in right field looks.  Your eyes are drawn to it because it is kind of a monstrosity, out of place with the rest of the park.

We did attend Corey Kluber’s 18 strikeout masterpiece against St. Louis.

What was strange about the game is we really didn’t know how many strikeouts Kluber was racking up.  It wasn’t publicized to our knowledge, and we look at the various scoreboards a lot.

We finally went on our phone to keep track of Kluber’s accomplishment.

And when the right-hander fanned his 18th hitter in the top of the eighth, once again, we did not detect any mention that Kluber had tied Bob Feller’s club record for strikeouts in a game.

Very, very strange.

We also bought tickets at Progressive Field the day of a game, which is a ridiculous experience.  We paid almost double what the tickets are listed at on-line.  This is mind-boggling.  It is almost that the front office is trying to discourage fans who may be downtown at the casino or a restaurant from going to the game.

With attendance the way it is, they should be embracing anyone who wants to enter the gates.

We understand the Indians want people to buy seats in advance, but at the very least, they should be the same price as what you could buy them at the day before.  You are being penalized for making a last second decision.

Gone are the days you could decide at 6PM to go see the Tribe, we guess.

And if you want to buy tickets from a human being, good luck, they want you to buy from their ticket kiosks electronically.  There aren’t many ticket windows open.

The Indians need to do something to get people inside Progressive Field.  A good start would be to end this practice.

Progressive Field is still a great place to watch a baseball game.  It has excellent sight lines, and great food/beverage choices.  Yes, it is a little expensive, but you are a captive audience.

Start having different promotions.  Embrace their inner Bill Veeck.

Someone on Twitter suggested a “Support Chief Wahoo Night”, something the politically correct front office would never go for, but would draw fans in our opinion.

We know they have bobble head nights, fireworks nights, and dollar dog games.  Those are fine.  But, they need to start thinking out of the box.  Make it fun to go to the ballpark.

In our opinion, that’s lacking right now.

MW

Two Teams Left in NBA, And One of Them is The Cavs!

Next week, something will happen that doesn’t occur all that often in these parts.

A Cleveland team is playing for a professional sports league championship.  And as not to offend the indoor soccer fans in northeast Ohio, it is happening in one of the “big four” sports.

The last time a team from Cleveland had a chance to bring home a title was 2007, when the Cavaliers were swept in four straight by the San Antonio Spurs.

But when you think back since the Browns won the NFL Championship in 1964, there hasn’t been many times where one of our teams had a chance to end our championship drought.

The first time was in 1965, a time when we didn’t have a jinx or a curse, because the Browns were among pro football’s elite.  They were the defending champions and went into Green Bay and were defeated by Vince Lombardi’s team, 23-12.

Little did we know then that the Browns wouldn’t have another chance to win a title, now called the Super Bowl.  That string continues to this day.

It took 30 years before another Cleveland squad played for the ultimate prize, when the Indians dominated the American League with 100 wins in a 144 game schedule and ran through the playoffs to win the AL Championship and get to the World Series for the first time since 1954.

Alas, the Atlanta Braves defeated them 4-2 to take the trophy.

It didn’t take long to have another chance, as the Tribe returned to the World Series just two years later, and got as close as any team to winning the big prize, carrying a lead into the ninth inning of the seventh and deciding game, before the Florida Marlins tied it and won it in extra innings.

There have been stories told about how the Commissioner’s Trophy was in the Indians’ locker room, and the clubhouse was being readied for a celebration, only to have it all taken away.

That one stings the most. A championship was right in our hands, and it was taken away with the snap of a finger.

It was ten more years before Cleveland got another shot at a title with the Cavs in 2007, and it has taken another eight years before this opportunity.

For all the soul crushing moments we have endured as a fandom, outside of the ’97 World Series, they occurred before a chance to play for a title.

The Browns’ heart breaks all occurred in the AFC Championship game, a step before the Super Bowl, and “The Shot” happened to the Cavaliers in a first round series against the Bulls.

Our point is this, savor the moment.  Even though the city has waited 51 years for a professional sports title, what is even more stunning is there haven’t been all that many opportunities.  This is just the fifth in the last 50 years.

Of course, if the Cavs were to lose to Golden State in The Finals, that wouldn’t make the pain and the disappointment wouldn’t be any less.

Just let it soak in, there are only two teams remaining in the NBA, and one of them is from Cleveland.

JK

Punishment Should Be Tougher For Playoff Cheap Shots

The NBA has a problem with dirty play in the playoffs, and we in Cleveland, have seen first hand that there is one.

Look, we are not talking here about physical play.  The league has homogenized itself and the “hard” fouls of the 70’s and 80’s aren’t present anymore.

Can you imagine what would have happened to Kevin McHale today, when he clotheslined Laker forward Kurt Rambis driving to the basket in the 1984 Finals?  He would have been given a Flagrant II foul (we love the roman numerals the league uses here), been ejected, and probably suspended for at least one more game.

Instead, the Celtics won in seven games.

The difference back then is the players in those days were sending a message.  There were going to be no easy points to be had.  The Pistons of the late 80’s and early 90’s, led by Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn, kind of started the gratuitous violence, the cheap shot plays that have now been outlawed.

We in Cleveland can all remember Mahorn’s elbow to Mark Price’s head in 1989, which ruined the Cavs chance at winning the Eastern Conference championship that year. Cleveland was 41-12 heading into that contest.  They were 16-15 the balance on the season.

Now back to the league’s problem.  In game four of the first round series against Boston, we are all familiar with Kelly Olynyk’s dislocating the shoulder of Kevin Love.  Love is out for the playoffs, likely missing his first appearance in the NBA Finals.

Olynyk received a one game suspension, to be served on opening night of the 2015-16 season.  That’s not really a big price.  The Celts were already down 3-0 in the series, so what consequence was there for any Boston player?  They were done.

In the next series, against the Chicago Bulls, there was another cheap shot in the game that decided the series.  With the Cavaliers up 3-2, Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic clotheslined Cavs’ guard Iman Shumpert as he was driving past him.  Mirotic wasn’t ejected for the play.

Again, even if he had been kicked out of the game, what’s the real penalty here.  Shumpert’s squad was advancing, and he could have missed a game or two (he didn’t) because of Mirotic’s play.  If he was assessed a flagrant foul, he likely would have missed the Bulls’ opener this fall.  Big deal.

In both cases, what is the risk for the team that is going home?  None, absolutely none.

Olynyk’s foul put Love out of the post-season, and Shumpert could have been seriously hurt as well, missing time in the playoffs.  The penalty should be much tougher for the player committing the act.

Would either player have done the same thing is he knew a 10 game suspension was at stake?  Would a coach condone that type of play knowing he would lose a player for that amount of time?

Not likely.  This is where the “brotherhood” Al Horford talked about should be focused on, not players making hustle plays.

We write this because tomorrow night is another night where the Cavaliers are playing a game that can eliminate their opponent.  WIth tensions running high because of Horford’s ejection last night, it would not be surprising for the Hawks to send a cheap shot toward a Cavaliers’ player.

To prevent stuff like this, the NBA must enact tougher policies on these types of plays.  Before another key player on any team, not just the Cavs ends up missing the balance of the playoffs, just like the player who is delivering the blow.

JK

Kluber’s Resurgence Sparks Tribe

When Corey Kluber took the mound on May 13th against the St. Louis Cardinals, he had an ERA over 5.00, and hadn’t won a game.

He showed his Cy Young Award winning form that night, striking out 18 hitters in eight scoreless innings, and allowed one hit in a 2-0 victory.

The Indians’ pitching staff seemed to rediscover itself on that night.

In the last 11 games, including that night, the Tribe pitchers have allowed just 30 runs, an average of less than three runs per night.  You will win a lot of games when you hold the opponents like that.

And Cleveland has, they have won eight of those contests.

It seems that getting Kluber straightened out has sparked the club, and the other starters have followed the ace’s lead, starting with Trevor Bauer, who the next day, pitched a gem of his own, striking out 10 Cardinals in 7-1/3 innings, before Marc Rzcepczynski gave up a two-run HR to Matt Carpenter.

Yes, the offense is performing a little better, particularly since Terry Francona moved Jason Kipnis to the leadoff spot, but in this recent run, the Tribe is only averaging four tallies per game, scoring three runs or less in six of the 11 ballgames.

Everyone thought the starting pitching was the reason Cleveland would be a contender in 2015, and right now they are living up to those expectations.

When your starters perform like the Indians’ hurlers have over the last 10 days, you have a chance to win every single night.

And it helps that veteran Shawn Marcum gave his team a strong outing in his first start, beating the White Sox, giving up only two solo home runs in 6-2/3 innings of work last Wednesday.

Up to that point, the fifth starter spot had been a black hole for Cleveland since the first turn through the rotation.

Francona also made some changes in the bullpen too, as Nick Hagadone and Scott Atchison have taken a backseat after a few shaky outings.

Cody Allen seems to have better control and as a result is looking more and more like the pitcher we saw in 2014.  He picked up his 9th save today, and has fanned 25 in 17-1/3 frames, although the 12 walks is still a scary statistic.

Zack McAllister seems to be the primary set up man, with a 1.64 ERA out of the ‘pen and 27 whiffs in 22 innings as a reliever.  Rzcepczynski is the situational lefty of choice used by the skipper right now.

It was telling that the other night when Danny Salazar could only give the team six innings, that Francona went with newcomer Ryan Webb, who has allowed just five hits and three walks in 12-2/3 innings.  Webb seems to be getting a more prominent role in the bullpen right now.

Bryan Shaw has been prone to giving up the longball, allowing three bombs in 13-2/3 innings to this point in the season.  It appears he has lost the eighth inning spot he had in 2014.

But it starts with the starters giving Francona and Mickey Callaway six solid innings on most nights.  That means the relief corps does not get overexposed and keeps them fresh.

That needs to continue.

If it does, the Indians may just be able to climb over the .500 mark and stamp themselves as the team everyone thought they would be at the beginning of the season.

It would be nice if they would hit a little better and catch the ball better too.

However, this is a team built on starting pitching and the ace of the staff seems to be back on the beam.  That’s what got the Indians pointed in the right direction.

MW

Cavs Need to Show Some Greed.

An impressive defensive performance in the second half and J.R. Smith’s hot shooting gave the Cleveland Cavaliers a huge road win last night, as they defeated the Atlanta Hawks 97-89.

The Cavs wrested home court advantage from Mike Budenholzer’s squad with Game 2 taking place Friday night in Atlanta.

David Blatt’s team needs to get greedy and not settle for the split on the road, because they can drive a stake in the collective hearts of the Hawks with a victory tomorrow night.

Remember, the Bulls didn’t have that greed in the conference semi-finals, losing in the second game in a blowout.  Our guess is that LeBron James will not let his teammates get complacent.

There has been some discussion as to whether or not Kyrie Irving, who seemed to aggravate his sore knee last night should play in the second game of the series so he can get healthy.

We see that point, but if the medical staff determines that Irving cannot hurt himself more by going out there, Irving should be out there again tomorrow.

As we once read, nothing is given, everything is earned.

If Irving were to sit out, it could send a message that the coaching staff is fine with the split in the Peachtree State, instead of showing a preference to get this series over as soon as possible.

Unless something shows up in an examination between games, Irving has tendonitis in his knees, so it’s just a matter of playing with the pain.  Having an extra two days off, won’t help once he starts playing again.

There were five days off between ending the Chicago series and last night’s game, and once Irving started playing, the pain and discomfort returned.

Besides, it wasn’t as though Irving wasn’t effective when he was in there.  Yes, he did have problems keeping Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder out of the paint, but he also had 10 points and six assists, and hit two big hoops when LeBron James was hobbled after turning an ankle.

We aren’t saying this is going to happen, but if Cleveland wins in Game 2, they are set up very nicely for a sweep, which would end the series next Tuesday night in Cleveland.

Since The Finals are slated to begin on June 4th, that would give the Cavs more than a week to heal up the assorted injuries they currently are saddled with.

We don’t think the Cavs will take their foot off the gas one bit, and as evidence look at the end of the game, when Iman Shumpert wouldn’t even allow Teague to get a meaningless three-point shot off before time expired.

James even acknowledged this in a comment today, saying his team “is just as desperate as the Hawks are”, despite having a series lead.

This is the veteran LeBron.  He understands there is no relaxing in the playoffs now, and every game has to be approached as another opportunity to squash the will of the opponent.

Was it a nice win?  Yes. However, the Cavaliers haven’t won anything yet.  They still need three more wins and make no mistake, the Hawks are a good team, and they will probably shoot better on Friday.

We don’t expect Smith to be that hot again tomorrow, but maybe it will be Shumpert, or maybe Matthew Dellavedova will make a shot. Or perhaps Irving plays like he did in Game 5 vs. Chicago.

James and Blatt have a foot on Atlanta’s throat. No time to let up now.

JK

What Can Be Learned From Cavs-Hawks Regular Season Games? Not Much.

As the Cleveland Cavaliers head into the Eastern Conference finals against the Atlanta Hawks, much has been made about the Hawks winning the season series 3-1, and taking the last three of the contests between the two teams.

And as many have pointed out, only one of those matchups occurred after GM David Griffin reshaped the wine and gold by trading Dion Waiters and draft picks to obtain Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and Timofey Mozgov.

In that game, the Cavs were in the midst of a stretch were they played 12 out of 15 games on the road, and the game on March 6th, which Cleveland lost 106-97, was the third contest in a four games in five nights stretch.

Meanwhile, Atlanta was well rested, coming off of two days with no games.

The Hawks raced out to a 36-19 lead after one quarter before the Cavs got their bearings, cutting it to a 53-43 deficit at halftime, and then closed to within two heading into the fourth quarter at 81-79.

Kyle Korver hit a couple of big threes at that point after being bottled up for most of the game to that point, and Atlanta won going away, perhaps because David Blatt’s squad ran out of gas just a bit.

What can we learn from that game?  We would say it should be a heck of a series because even though the Hawks were the more rested team, the Cavs fought back and were in the game in the fourth quarter.

As for the other three matchups?

The first occurred on November 15th at Quicken Loans Arena and the wine and gold blew out the visitors from Georgia, 127-94, mostly because they hit 19 of 31 shots from beyond the three-point line, while the Hawks went 3 for 22. Atlanta was playing their third game in four nights, while Cleveland was on the second night of a back-to-back.

The second game was also in Cleveland with the opposite result, the Hawks hammered the Cavaliers, 127-98, behind 16 of 28 shooting from long distance, while the Cavs were 8 of 30.  Pretty much a mirror image of the first contest.

The wine and gold’s other visit to Hotlanta occurred on December 30th, with the Hawks winning 109-101.  LeBron James was just beginning his time off to recover from his various back and knee issues, but Atlanta did not have Al Horford, who is perhaps their best player.

Atlanta had two days off prior to that game and two more days off after, while the Cavs were in the middle of a three games in four nights stretch.  The rest advantage goes to the Hawks.

So, can any conclusions be reached from the previous meetings?  Not really, because the Cavs are a completely different team than they were in the first three meetings, and in the last game, they were in the middle of a brutal schedule.

The fact that Blatt’s team overcame a huge first quarter deficit to make it a game late despite that should bode well for this series, as will the fact that Cleveland has the best player on the floor.

Still, the home court disadvantage could be huge in this series.  Atlanta didn’t win 60 games by accident, and when they are playing very well, they move the ball better than any team not named San Antonio.

No doubt it will be a huge challenge for Blatt and James. However, based on the toughness this team has shown against the Bulls, we wouldn’t bet against them.

JK

Lack of Consistency Killing Tribe

It has been well documented that the Cleveland Indians have had issues stringing together wins.  When they emerged victorious both Friday and Saturday in Texas, it marked the first time the Tribe has won two in a row since the first week of the season.

The biggest problem?  Consistency.

Terry Francona’s club simply can’t put anything together on a day-to-day basis.

For example, in their last seven games, the Indians have had games where they are tallied eight runs twice, and another where they scored ten times.  In the other four games?  Cleveland scored one run twice, two runs once, and three runs once.

Since it is difficult to win games where you score three runs or less (although the Tribe did win 2-0 on Corey Kluber’s gem on Wednesday night), this team can’t put together any kind of streak.

The pitching isn’t any better.  In the same seven games, Cleveland hurlers had contests where they had a shutout, allowed two runs twice, and three runs once.  That’s good, right?

Except that in the other three games, the pitching staff allowed eight runs twice and five runs on another occasion.

Even individual players have had the same ups and downs.  Now, we realize that not everybody can be like Michael Brantley, but some of the Indians players have been woefully inconsistent.

While the starting pitching looked to be a strength coming into the year, the main starters have yet to reach a point where they are good most times they take the hill.

Kluber has had four of eight starts where he has thrown six or more frames allowing two runs of less.  The other four appearances?  23 innings pitched allowing 19 earned runs.

Carlos Carrasco has been about the same.  In four of his eight starts (we threw out the game he was hit by the line drive), he has pitched 24-1/3 innings and allowed eight runs, for an ERA of under 3.00.  In his other starts, he has pitched 19 innings, allowing 14 earned runs.

To be fair, Trevor Bauer has been good in five of his seven starts and Danny Salazar in five of his six opportunities.

The fifth spot has been an out-and-out disaster, with southpaws T.J. House and Bruce Chen combining to allow 38 hits in 19 innings of work.

The bullpen has been most up and down as well, with only Zack McAllister and lately Bryan Shaw showing solid efforts on most nights.  Long man Ryan Webb has done his job well also.

That’s not good enough if you want to put together a winning streak.

The hitters aren’t immune either.  Brandon Moss was counted on to be a power presence in the middle of the order, and he does lead the club in home runs (5) and RBI’s (23).  That’s great until you see three of those dingers and 13 of the runs he has knocked in have come in THREE GAMES!

In the other 32 games, he’s hit 2 homers and knocked in 10, which is about what David Murphy has done in part-time duty.

We will leave Jason Kipnis out of this because he’s been torrid for about a two-week stretch, it hasn’t been a select few games.

We know Nick Swisher is battling back from surgery on both knees.  He came into today at 9 for 35 on the year.  He was 7 for 8 in two games, and in the other eight games he appeared in, he was 2 for 27.

Until the Tribe starts getting good performances on an almost nightly basis from their hitters and pitchers, they are going to keep scuffling.

What makes players good is consistency.  Many guys can have a good night every once in a while, and right now, that’s what’s happening here.

It has to change soon, because the other teams in the AL Central are all playing pretty well.

KM

Thompson and Delly Fit Perfectly on This Year’s Cavaliers

It is fitting that two of the three players on the podium after last night’s series clinching win over the Chicago Bulls were Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson.  After all, they contributed mightily to the Cleveland Cavaliers blowout victory in the Windy City.

Most of the press surrounding this year’s Cavs have fittingly been about the team’s “Big Three”, the triumvirate of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, all-stars who probably rank among the NBA’s top 25 players.

Then you have the three players who were acquired in trades in January: J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mozgov, who contributed greatly from elevating the team from the .500 mark at the time of the deals into the team that had the best regular season record from the time of the trades until the end of the campaign.

No doubt they are primary reasons the wine and gold are one of the four teams remaining in the NBA playoffs.

Thompson and Dellavedova are the quintessential players who are perfect fits on good teams.

There are a bunch of NBA players who are good players on non-playoff rosters.  Until this year, Evan Turner is the guy who fits that bill for us.  They are stat compilers.  On those teams, somebody has to take shots, score points, and grab rebounds.  That doesn’t mean they are good players.  They are just the best player on a bad team.

Some players have skill sets that don’t fit with bad teams.

Think about both Thompson and Dellavedova on last year’s Cavs team.

Thompson was highly criticized because of his lack of offensive game and that he wasn’t more of a shot blocker.  Those were things the pre-LeBron Cavaliers needed.  So much of the offense depended on Kyrie Irving, and since Thompson was the fourth overall pick in the draft, people felt he should be able to contribute on that end of the floor.

With the addition of James, Love, and Smith, Thompson no longer needs to score, and Mozgov takes the role of rim protector.

So, Thompson does what he does, which is provide energy and is a monster on the glass, exactly what this group needs.  And he does it as at a high level.  Those things are important on teams that are competing for a title.

As for Dellavedova, his ball handling is questionable, which made him a target for critics, especially because the guy he backs up might be the best dribbler in the league.

And if he was forced to play 30-35 minutes on a nightly basis, his warts, that is to say, the reason he wasn’t drafted, would show through.

But he doesn’t have to play those kind of minutes in Cleveland.

What Delly does do is play gritty defense on both point guards and shooting guards alike, and can stick the occasional three-point shot.  He’s a solid passer, being able to find the open man.  He’s added a penetration move this year which he caps off with a lob pass to Thompson or Mozgov for dunks.

Last year, when the Cavs were headed for the lottery, he was a guy that we wondered why he got the time he received from then head coach Mike Brown.

We get that coaches love him, he plays hard and defends.  But a bad team needs more from the back up point guard.

Again, on a winning team, Delly fits perfectly.

If they left the Cavs and went to lottery teams, the fans in those cities would probably be disappointed by what they would get out of either player.

However, on a winning team, they possess skill sets that playoff teams need.

What a difference a year makes.

JK

Blatt Can’t Win, No Matter What Happens

David Blatt is in a no win situation.

He knows it.  It goes along with the territory when you are coaching the league’s best player in LeBron James.

When James’ team wins, he gets the credit, and when his team loses, the coach takes the blame.  Not LeBron.

So, the big to-do about James waiving off the play Blatt was calling in the huddle before the game winning shot, is nothing.  Blatt wanted James to be the inbounder, probably to find J.R. Smith, who knocked down three shots from beyond the arc to get the Cavaliers back in the game.

James said he wanted the shot, and the coach obliged.

That’s why Blatt made the comments about “picking up the tab” in his post-game press conference.  James wanted the check and Blatt gave it to him.  There’s nothing to the story.

We’ve heard many people refer to the movie “Hoosiers”, about this situation, and we admit we thought the same thing.

In the movie, Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) was calling a play with the game on the line for another player, with his squad staring at the coach in disbelief.  Hickory High’s star, Jimmy Chitwood, told the coach he would make it, and the play was changed.

No word whether or not Dale was skewered on Twitter the next day.

The other thing Blatt is being hammered about was trying to call a timeout when there were none to call.

We hate to tell people, but that’s on one of the assistant coaches.  If you have ever coached at even the high school level, you know the head coach has assistants make sure he is aware of things like how many timeouts he has and the foul situation on individual players.

Our guess is that no one reminded Blatt the Cavs didn’t have any timeouts remaining.

And that’s not something he can say to the media and not sound like he is throwing someone under the bus.

And as usual, Blatt doesn’t get any credit for the wine and gold’s comeback from an 11 point deficit late in the quarter, and for the squad’s defensive effort in the fourth quarter which allowed Cleveland to have a five point lead with around two minutes left.  That’s a 16 point swing.

Nor does he get credit for staying with Timofey Mozgov staying in the game in the fourth quarter because he was playing well.  Blatt is a “feel” coach, and he played the hot hand, something he has done throughout the year.

As for the inbound play, we think James Jones, who was the trigger man on the play was a little too conservative and forced the use of at least one timeout.  There appeared to be players open, but Jones didn’t want to make a mistake with a turnover.

It turned out, the refs forced the turnover anyway when they called an offensive foul on James, who was getting hit repeatedly by Derrick Rose and Mike Dunleavy Jr. when they were trapping James.

The point here isn’t to say Blatt is a perfect coach, but merely to point out that he is not a complete idiot either.

We have said from early in the season that Kevin Love and Blatt were the go-to guys whenever this basketball team had problems.  And the national media is quick to point every flaw out because he’s an outsider in NBA circles.  They don’t know him.

Yes, he’s arrogant. He’s confident in his ability to coach and win at any level.

He’s learning his way around the NBA and has become more humble at least to the media.

He just can’t win because of the situation. Just realize it’s a tough spot to be in.

JK

Tribe Front Office Can’t Afford To Be Patient Anymore

Although the ever patient front office of the Cleveland Indians says you cannot evaluate a team until they play 40 games, we have always done the first look-see of the club after they have played 1/6th of the schedule, or 27 games.

The Indians hit that mark after Thursday’s loss to Kansas City, and the results aren’t good at all.

The Tribe sits at 10-17 on the year, a pace that will give the club its first 100 loss season since 1991, when they were still playing at old Municipal Stadium.

It has been a total team collapse.

The offense, which ranked in the top half of the American League in scoring runs last season, is currently 10th, and has scored three runs or less in 11 of the first 27 games.  So, there is a good chunk of games where they would be lucky to win the way they score.

We have always said you need seven solid hitters to win in the AL, putting pressure on the opposition pitching staffs.  If we set the benchmark as an OPS over 700 (which is below the league average), in terms of everyday players, Terry Francona has four at his disposal:  Michael Brantley (935), Carlos Santana (797), Brandon Moss (736), and Jason Kipnis (722).

Ryan Raburn and Mike Aviles qualify too, but they only play against left-handers.

And to be fair, Lonnie Chisenhall is creeping closer to the 700 mark at 691.

That means on most nights, pitchers can relax after the first four or five Tribe hitters.  The worst offenders are Michael Bourn (522) and Jose Ramirez (455).  The front office’s stubborn refusal to bring up Francisco Lindor and to continue to play Ramirez is mind-boggling.

Now, we understand Lindor isn’t tearing up the International League, hitting just .248.  But his OPS is 683, more than 200 points higher than Ramirez.  And Lindor is a better defensive player.

The pitching staff hasn’t fared much better, ranking second to last in the league in ERA.

The main culprit here has been control, the Tribe ranks 12th in the AL in walks, and a terrible defense.  This week’s Sports Illustrated has an article saying Cleveland’s defense ranks among the worst of all time!

Moss is not a RF by trade, he’s more of a 1B/DH.  Bourn doesn’t cover ground like he used to in CF.  Ramirez isn’t good, and losing Yan Gomes to an injury after five games isn’t helping either.

The ballclub’s best defender by metrics?  The much maligned Chisenhall.

Corey Kluber’s struggles have been well documented. The defending Cy Young Award winner is 0-5 with a 5.04 ERA.  T.J. House wasn’t good, but didn’t really have a rotation set, so between that and his shoulder troubles, we will give him a bit of a pass.

The bullpen has been chaos, however.  Cody Allen, the closer, has allowed 15 hits and eight walks in 10 innings of work.Nick Hagadone’s control troubles have resurfaced.  Scott Atchison is starting to pitch like a 39-year-old. Bryan Shaw’s workload over the last two seasons look to have caught up to him.

The best reliever on the team has been Zack McAllister, who has a 1.72 ERA out of the ‘pen.

This is an area that can be fixed because bullpens can be interchangeable parts, but it will take some tough decisions by the front office.

Austin Adams has pitched well in Columbus and looked good in two appearances here.  Why not get him up here?  C.C. Lee has a live arm and did some good things at the end of ’14, get him up here too.

GM Chris Antonetti and president Mark Shapiro preach patience all the time.  It is no longer early.  Right now, the Cleveland Indians are a bad baseball team.

The time to start fixing the team is right now, before it gets too late and what shaped up as a fun summer of baseball is totally ruined.

MW