August 3rd, 2011 DC Show Report
Ever wonder about the power of ESPN? Seen many Pittsburgh Pirates hats around all of sudden? Especially on people not old enough to have been more than 5 years old the last time the team had a winning record 19 years ago in 1992? Five, I’ve seen five people over the last two weeks wearing Pirates hats that fit this description. Which is five more than I could ever remember seeing, and not one of those folks could name me any other player than Pittsburgh’s only true All Star in the lineup, Andrew McCutchen (of course I asked). Three of those them with brand new brims on couldn’t even name who McCutchen was. This the power of ESPN.
The last two weeks ESPN has been covering the Pirates as if they’ve already made the playoffs. Something the Pirates certainly will not do. Which was true even before they lost their 5th game in a row last night. In fact they’ll be lucky to end above the .500 mark which would be a feat enough for this much beleaguered club and fan base. But ESPN started giving this story some attention (you know, while there was a story), especially while the NFL lockout was ongoing which before that ended they had time to acknowledge more than just the usual suspect big markets they adore (and sell) in baseball. The result, the underdog card was pulled and the merchandise strings were tugged. And now that kid who wasn’t even alive when that Pink Floyd record came out, by 20 years, can walk around wearing his brand new ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ t-shirt along with a brand new Pittsburgh Pirate hat to top it off. In Cleveland.
And can you tell this number five of five came in the shop this morning? At least he didn’t order an iced cappuccino.
Thank you ESPN, though at times you’re nothing more than a commercial for yourself, even when you’re not running commercials for yourself. And it shows.
I was first thinking of this last week as I was thinking of adopting either the Rangers or the Yankees as my bandwagon team o’ the week, and, thinking I should think better of it. Thinking better of it not just because my mother raised me right. Which, she did. And so anything from New York, Boston and Texas all suck until proven otherwise was part of her lesson plan. Now, I’m not entirely sure she just meant the teams from those places, but either way, it’s good advice from a very wonderful and smart woman. No, I was briefly thinking of rooting for those that shall not be rooted for just because the Tribe to start this week faced off against Boston while the two teams most knotted with Cleveland in the Central, Detroit (now 3 games in 1st) and the White Sox (5.5 back and on a 4 game losing streak) were facing the Ranger and Yanks respectively.
Then I realized I was thinking too much. And blamed ESPN for that too. Besides, not rooting for the Yankees and anything Texas is a no brainer (Boston too. Thanks again, mom). But I reminded myself that though this week is seemingly so important as the Indians face the two other AL Division leaders back to back, and on the road, I reminded myself that in a post season race such as this, every game is important. Even if it is likely made more so when the games you’re playing next are against the teams you’ll face if you do make the post season.
Right at the moment of realizing this fine line between thinking and over thinking, Jacoby Ellsbury got a walk off single and beat the Tribe 3-2.
And to quote Bill Simmons from the day before, “Booooooooo! Boooooooooooooo! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!”
Every game being important is true, but what plays in the Tribe’s favor is that ultimately they can control their own destiny in this one. With 55 games left the Tribe plays 23 of those against the White Sox (11 times, 4 at home and 7 away) and the Tigers (12 times, 6 and 6). The last 10 games of the year they face the White Sox for 4 of those games (in Cleveland), and end the year in Detroit for the final 3 games (with 3 against the Twins at home sandwiched in between). As I said, the Tribe now sit 3 games behind Detroit. You do the math of opportunity this club has here. Rooting for other teams to beat Detroit and Chicago is worthy, but ultimately it will come down to the Tribe having to beat their division rivals head-to-head. And that’s an equation the club has to feel pretty good about.
Adding this all together and looking forward, isn’t it nice to see Jason Kipnis continuing to mash the ball? He’s now hit a home run in 3 consecutive games becoming the 1st Indian rookie to do so since Richie Sexson did it back in 1998 when he hit 4 in 3 days against Oakland. Kipnis also became only the 5th player in the last 20 years to accomplish this within his first 9 games played (took Richie 33 games). You can see why the Indians viewed him so highly as a prospect. L-Chiz, another highly regarded prospect (number 1 in the organization even before they traded away Pomeranz and White) also hit a home run last night, the 3rd of his career (which is a career now up to 29 games).
Young kids. Welcome to the bigs, here’s a pennant race.
Another kid on the team though who hasn’t gotten a lot of attention of late is the speedy line drive slap shot center field artist, Ezequiel Carrera. His average is now up to .288 after batting .295 since the All Star break and .335 over his last 7 games. And here I thought he only stood a chance of getting on base if he bunted his way on when he first came up a couple months ago. Apparently he’s seeing the ball pretty well though (at least against right handers, lefties he’s batting only .231) and having someone on the team with his kind of speed is a welcome sight on any club.
As for David Huff, who was sent down to Columbus after another fine outing last night, fear not. He’ll likely be back next week and not miss a start.
Huff, the only left handed pitcher to start a game for the Tribe this year in his 3 starts since coming up July 18th, has a 1-1 record to show for it and sure uses up a lot of pitches to get things done, but getting it done is certainly what he’s been about. Over 17.2 innings in those 3 starts he’s given up but 13 hits and 4 walks while striking out 15 with a .51 ERA and a WHIP (walks + hits per innings pitched average) of .96.
With ERA you likely know that anything less than 2.0 is outstanding (he’s only given up 1 earned run total). With WHIP, anything less than 1.0 is outstanding, and if you do it for a whole season you’re a finalist come Cy Young voting time. For instance, the only four starting pitchers in all of baseball right now with less than a 1.oo WHIP is Justin Verlander (.87), Josh Beckett (.92), Jered Weaver (.94), Cole Hamels (.97) and Dan Haren (.99). See what I mean about WHIP.
Carlos Carrasco on the other hand who gets the start tonight, and will begin his suspension of 6 games after tonight’s game for his incident of stupidity in his last outing where in frustration he aimed for a players head with a fastball, has not been so good of late. And no excuses on the attempted beaning. He’s 24, and 24 year old’s brains haven’t fully formed. They do stupid things. That shows too (see kid in Pirates hat and said beaning attempt). Short of throwing a shutout or better tonight, he’s probably on his way back down to the minors. His June was quite good and the best month he’s put together over his brief stint spanning the last two years, but his July that just followed…well, that’s why he’s probably out of here. His numbers last month were 0-5 over 23.2 innings pitched in 5 starts, giving up 35 hits (8 of which were of the long ball variety), 24 runs (all earned), 14 walks and he had an ERA of over 9.13. His WHIP in July, 2.07.
This all translates to David Huff should start considering Carrasco has been giving up more runs per inning alone, than Huff has been giving up walks and hits combined. But you need a start tonight out of someone before Jimenez joins the rotation with his first Cleveland Indians start on Friday, so there you go.
That said, I plan to be in Pittsburgh for another Pirates game tomorrow night (I went last month too and PNC Park is one of the best parks in all of baseball, but more on this for Friday’s daily), and no, I will not be wearing any Pirates gear. After all, it’s still Pittsburgh. And I’m also well over 24 years old. I’ll also continue to love/hate ESPN (and respect/feel threatened by, and note on its monopolizing self interest driven power). And, I’ll not root for anything from Texas, Boston or New York.
PS – Browns notes of actual note from yesterday: 5 days of practice, 2 in pads. Punter Reggie Hodges is out for the year with a torn achilles in his left leg which occurred on a non-contact special teams drill. hooray. Phil Taylor, the Browns 1st round pick and lone rookie hold out, signed. The hold up was getting his 4th year guaranteed which he got. Apparently every pick prior to his at 21 in the 1st round also got the 4th year guaranteed but most the picks that were after him only received 3 years guaranteed. He was on the cusp, he and his agent won. Also there was more info on how the Broderick Bunckley trade with the Eagles ultimately fell through. He failed his physical. And finally, the Vegas odds were released and they have the Browns at 6.5 wins. I’m leaning towards taking the over, but only by a half game. However, I’m going to wait to make that prediction a final prediction just like I’m waiting on giving the Browns the top billing here for this Daily.
As far as that goes with these after thought Browns notes, keep in mind nothing important is really happening yet. The time is close, but they’re still just practicing. Now, I’m as excited as you and can’t wait for the season to get going and in the meantime I’ll keep giving info on what truly is important (even stuff with only remote importance), but I’m not going to waste your time just because it’s the NFL and everybody acts like it’s the only game in the world when its shield goes up and begins to blot out the sun.
Besides, giving too much attention to things that aren’t important and you might just miss out on wonderful things like this, ‘tUnE-yArDs’ on Jimmy Fallon from Monday: http://www.
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