Do we here at Waiting For Next Year tend to focus much nihilism towards our professional play-calling directors? Perhaps. And often times, it may be laced with a dab of frustration that can lead to unwarrented blame. It is a secret to no one that the Cavaliers’ Mike Brown was a frequent target of much angst and solicitude thanks to an almost-stubborn lack of offensive execution. Frequently leaving a fan base in such a state of disbelief will oftentimes result in comparable response.
Alas, I engross this piece regarding a man in a similar position, haplessly for a similar reason: a severe lack of offense. But unlike Brown, who sticks to his virtues and says that his team focuses on – and wins basketball games thanks to - the defensive side of the ball, Eric Wedge seems uncomfortably complacent with said scarce run production.
In a post-game interview, behold the words of Wedge:
“If you compare some of our at-bats at home vs. here, they’re not too far apart. We’re hitting balls right at people. I still feel our guys are giving themselves a chance.”
A team that is coming off of a relatively warm stretch of productive games, the Indians took their game to one of the best hitters parks in all the land – to face one of the worst record-based teams in the league. The ultimate result? Two runs in each of the last two contests.
The quote above sounds eerily similar to a fan of a beaten team that goes home at the end of the season and says, “oh, what could have been.” These words, or some of the like, were muttered quite frequently at the cessation of the most recent season of the Brown and Orange. If we could have held our lead against Pittsburgh in the fourth quarter. If Derek Anderson didn’t loft a handful of interceptions against Cincinnati. If Indianapolis would have actually fielded a team against the Tennessee Titans.
To say that a team is giving themselves a chance at this point in a season is inexcusable. A chance is the fact that one who bats in this organized game gets three misses, or strikes, before having his opportunity ended. The remainder comes in execution – something that has been absent from this team for the entire slate of games, save for an occasional night where the golden egg of fortune falls into their collective laps.
We have sat many of nights, blaming weather, injuries, timing. Discounting the happenstance at the hands of track meet-canceling tail winds in Arlington, Texas, this offense has been anchored and immobile. Many have called for the occupational head of Derek Shelton, citing a similar situation not all that long ago when Eddie Murray’s time had come to an end. But this team has come to Sir Shelton’s defense, using a bevy of excuses as to why it is not the hitting coaches fault.
If said exuses stand true, why not go straight to the top of the play-calling totem poll, and say that Eric Wedge’s time has come? When you lose two must-win games – games that make or break your team in terms of contention – and are comfortable with the “chances” you are given, it is clear that the winning mentality is gone. “At least we tried are best” doesn’t cut it any longer. You can knock Chicago’s Ozzie Guillen all you’d like, but while he has the occasional spat with rationale, he also has passion, fire, and the desire to win – and it is conveyed. All three of the aforementioned traits are completely absent from Cleveland’s Manager, Eric Wedge.
Last season, our current opponents in the Colorado Rockies were confronted with nearly an entire month of must-win baseball. They needed to win, fought many nights, and did what needed to be done. Obviously, you know the rest of the story.
Sure, they have players on their roster like Matt Holliday and Garrett Atkins. But top to bottom, you’re going to declare the roster of the Rockies that of more talent than the Indians? Jeff Baker has three home runs over 105 at-bats this season. Two of them have come against the Indians over the last two nights. Pitcher Jeff Francis had won just two of his previous 14 starts. You can now make that three of fifteen.
You can also firmly plot the Indians in sole position of fourth place in a five-team division, three games out of last place. The Tigers are 8-2 in their last ten games, all against teams that they should beat. The Indians, against similar teams are 5-5 and are a game away from heading to one of the poorest parks for hitters in Dodger Stadium. Again, all set up by a lack of execution when needed most.
But hey, at least we had a chance. Or happenstance, depending on your point of view.