August 17, 2014

Oh CC – Where Was This Two Years Ago?

ALCS Yankees Angels BaseballNobody loved CC Sabathia more than I did. I still love the hefty lefty and root for him. You know you all were in the tank for him last season when he made his incredible run to the playoffs with Milwaukee. It was different then – the Brewers are essentially a NL version of the Tribe. Small market team, hadn’t been to the playoffs in ages, going for broke even though they had no shot to keep CC long-term.

But after his amazing regular season where he went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA for the Brew Crew, CC was completely spent by the time his first postseason start rolled around. That is what five straight starts on three days rest and 253 innings pitched does to you. He couldn’t make it out of the fourth in his NLDS start against the eventual World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

He gets a mulligan for that.

But in 2007 as a member of the Tribe, he won the Cy Young award and was lined up as the team’s #1 starter in the ALDS against the New York Yankees. In Game One in Cleveland, CC was way too charged up. Sabathia earned the win despite walking six in five innings, and departed after throwing 114 pitches. Luckily for him, the Tribe staked him to a 4-2 lead before exploding for five runs in the bottom of the fifth.

I chalked that up to first game jitters. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just a one game stumble. In a Game One ALCS loss to Boston, CC couldn’t make it out of the fifth, allowing eight earned runs on seven hits and five walks. But his team took the next three games and handed the ball to him in front of the home fans at Jacobs Field with a trip to the World Series resting on his arm.

What did he do? Six innings, 10 hits, four earned runs, and a loss. You know what has happened to the Indians organization since then.

So while I am personally happy for CC that he has been able to exorcise his postseason demons as a member of the evil empire Yankees, it pains me to ask the man “where was this two years ago when you could have made yourself a Tribe lifetime legend?”

In three starts, a much better rested Sabathia is 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA and an 0.88 WHIP. He has allowed just three earned runs  on 17 hits in 22.2 IP. He also has a 20/3 strikeout to walk ratio. Pretty impressive. But as our ole’ buddy Scott just said to me “its much easier to relax with a 10 run lead.” CC’s eight inning, one run performance on three days rest last night was very impressive. He has shaken off his past and has been worth every dollar the Yankees spent on him this past winter.

Ironically, we are just one win away from a CC/Cliff Lee World Series Game one armageddon that would make all Tribe fans cringe. Don’t think that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel isn’t salivating over the opportunity to start Cliff against CC to stick it to the man who fired him, Mark Shapiro.

  • Scott

    I, like many other Indians fans, have been thinking about this a lot lately. I too have been rooting madly for both Cliff and CC, and I am very happy that both are doing well. I just kills me that one decent start from CC and we are most likely WS champs. Welcome to Cleveland I guess…

  • kingdiesel

    game 1.. if it is CC vs Cliff… could be just brutal for our city.

  • DJ

    All the more reason I haven’t paid a lick of attention to the baseball playoffs. Don’t care.

    Besides, a CC v. Cliff matchup would just make me more mad, though not enough to watch it.

  • mgbode

    for Cleveland and Milwaukee, CC had to completely tax himself just to elevate those teams into the postseason….

    for NYY this year, they were able to relax his innings in September and he was much more fresh in October.

    there’s a reason it seemed he ran out of gas in the postseason before….he had.

  • Matt#2

    I almost sent you a “tip” this morning to cover this CC thing.

    For my part, I think there’s something to having experience playing into cold dates. Maybe there’s a few things a person learns about himself in October weather after a full season that he can learn no other way but being there.

    Any stats on first-timers in cold stadiums in the post-season versus second and third-timers? Bueller?

  • tsm

    @4 excellent point. It is also much easier to pitch when you know you have big time hitters that will get you runs, so that the game is not riding on every single pitch you make. Also, I attribute it to his maturation as a pitcher. Last night he was getting hitters out with a variety of off speed stuff, and getting them to put the 1st or 2nd pitch into play, thus limiting his pitch count. It takes some pitchers many years before they finally mature.
    This is one reason why we can’t give up on some of our young pitchers who are good one game and bad the next game or two. I know how difficult it is to be patient as a Cleveland fan, but especially with young pitchers, e need to be. I just hope the next manager gets a pitching coach who is a very good teacher and has patience.
    I will also find it hard to bear seeing CC vs Cliff in game #!, and then have to put up with all the pundits gushing about how these two were teammates in Cleveland

  • Nicko

    Actually I hope CC and Cliff Lee do well. Who cares.

    Of course I don’t really follow MLB and won’t until the entire MLB isn’t a farm team for about four/six teams.

  • http://www.60bpm.com Robbie

    Maybe it’s the ink… I don’t remember him with the sleeve in Cleveland.

  • jack

    I agree that it would be absolute torture to listen to that idiot Joe Buck talk about nothing but the past for 6-7 straight innings if this comes to fruition. And although I loved him with the tribe, my hate for A-roid and the Yankees will force me to root against CC.

  • Nicko

    Just a quick question to you all.

    When the Cavaliers win the title next year, will you guys care about about people leaving and doing well in other places?

    (because I hope everyone realizes with baseball, that this is not going to end anytime soon with good players going to the big market teams)

  • Harv 21

    Too many innngs is not what I remember as the source of his problems here. I remember him faltering in games where he felt pressure earlier in the season, like when he got hit hard when he pitched in Oakland with lots of family/friends there. There was much discussion by CC himself of being “too amped up” and not “staying within himself” after poor performances when we needed him.

    Guessing he’s just matured, and agree there are lots of lightening rods in NY to let him relax a little.

  • Joseph

    The way I see it is both of them did great things for our team in the past and the fact of the matter is they’re both gone now.

    It looks likely that there’ll be a Phillies/Yankees World Series which means one of them will get their ring; whomever it is kudos to them.

  • Matt#2

    @10
    I no longer follow, as far as the NBA goes, the big-market theory. The incentives to control salaries in the NBA are strong. And living in glitz is not necessarily better than periodically visiting glitz.

  • Harv 21

    @10: market size much less relevant in the NBA with the Bird Rule, and certainly in the NFL with revenue sharing, a hard cap. That’s why star QBs have stayed in Green Bay, Denver and Indy for a hundred years.

  • MC

    well put, your loss is our gain. I like the dig to Shapiro at the end, however, I do hope you’ll pull for the NYY over the Phils…miracles can still happen. Hope all is well in Cleveland.

  • Cee L

    That is NOT an attractive picture–and that is all I’m gonna say because #4 stated what I was going to say….

  • DKH

    I’d be happy for a Lee/Sabathia World Series game 1 matchup. I mean, sure, they’re not with the Tribe anymore, but both are products of the Tribe and consecutive Cy Young winners. Shouldn’t that make Tribe fans proud? Maybe I just come at it differently, especially since I’m not in Cleveland any more myself.

    Anyway, the cynic in me says of course he’s pitching better now, for the Yankees, than he did for Milwaukee or Cleveland. The strike zone instantly got bigger.

  • Alex

    @DKH, they were also beneficiaries of the worst call I’ve ever seen above the little league level in game 4.

    I’m happy for both of them, but especially CC. He’s done as much as humanly possible for the Indians for years, Brewers for part of a year, and the Yankees. He’s a generally good guy for an athlete and he’s been giving the game his all, so it’s nice to see him be rewarded for it on a team with a chance to win him a ring. Doesn’t hurt that he’s pitching inhumanly well.

  • Mark P

    I could never cheer the Yankees. I wish CC the best personal success but if it’s a game 1 Cliff vs CC, I’m pulling for Cliff and the Phillies all the way. Maybe Ben Francisco can have a game winning pinch hit peppered in there as well.

    As an aside, caps have been mentioned. Does someone at WFNY have the knowledge/interest in writing what will happen if the NFL becomes uncapped in 2010?

  • Shawn Kemp

    Its called experience. CC made the playoffs only once before 2007 when the tribe made it in 2001 and it was only his rookie year. In 2007, he was still learning what the playoffs were all about and how to pitch and manage himself in the playoffs. He gained even more experience in the playoffs with the Brewers in 2008 when he did not have a great postseason either. Now in 2009, he is coming to form and dominating in the postseason. Its a shame he couldn’t pitch like he is now in the playoffs when he was with the Indians. The tribe would have definitely won the world series that year.

  • bobby

    Game one of the WS is gonna be Lee vs. CC. Way to go tribe….

  • Blue

    @19 Mark P

    You can get ready for a lifetime of Pittsburgh Stillers dominance. It’s not a pretty picture.

    Whoever said the thing about the MLB being a farm league for five teams, you’re right and it makes me sick. The fact that two of those teams will ALWAYS be the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees make it all the worse, but the whole structure is in desperate need of a serious cap.

  • Kevin

    What makes me sick is that after this year (and maybe not even this year) the big time media will forget that CC or Cliff ever played in Cleveland, similar to manny’s situation.

    How can you seriously root for a team(s) that continually buy their ticket to the playoffs? The yankees should not even have a scouting department for the draft.

  • Isis

    What’s the point of continually attacking/bashing players when they leave to play elsewhere, in this case a no-brainer for CC? Seriously, is it like therapy and make you feel better? The guy was a Cy-Young winner, consistent performer……sure, he was flat in his first playoff experience, but so freakin what? Please tell me which coach HELD Lofton at third with the winning run when the Tribe was up 3-1?

    Cmon…….CC’s a good dude and a great pitcher who’s maturing and getting better over time. He’s now a Yankee, and like it or not destined to get ring(s). What’s the point?

  • Omega King

    It’s Mangini’s fault.

  • mendy

    @22
    “You can get ready for a lifetime of Pittsburgh Stillers dominance. It’s not a pretty picture.”

    I don’t agree with that at all. The reason Pittsburgh is able to do so well in a relatively small market in football and so poorly in baseball is exactly the point that many folks make as a reason that there needs to be a hard cap in baseball and a better form of revenue sharing.

  • Mark

    @#24 – You’ve got a point, but it’d be nice to have gotten a ring..then not be able to pay our players.

    Because of teams like the Yankees Cleveland has no shot of competing for years. It IS sad and a good reason to hate big market teams.

    And of course Joel Skinner should’ve sent Kenny.

  • doug1121

    Can’t root for CC…he’s lights out for the Yankees of all teams after failing here. My lizard brain and lifetime C-town allegiance will not allow me to root for him, “good guy” or no. I’d be fine with Lee winning a ring, but it’ll make me sick to watch Lee/CC in Game 1 of the WS. It’ll be just another ‘woe-is-us’ moment for Cleveland fans and I don’t want to hear it.

  • Jason

    anybody else remember this:

    http://www.cleveland.com/sports/wide/index.ssf?/sports/wide/cc_ad.html

    I salute athletes like CC who acknowledge the patrons of their business. In this case, fans of baseball. The good guys in this game exist throughout baseball, not just in Cleveland…and the reverse is true, too… after all, we did have Joey, Juan, and the spitter on our team in the 90s

    CC vs Cliff in any game of WS + Fox analysts = repeated badgering of Cleveland, lots of yelling at the screen, and a hangover for me the following morning.

    @25- I respectfully disagree, Omega. I blame Art Modell for EVERYTHING! (j/k…sort of)

  • Blue

    26,

    The Steelers have a massive, nationwide, obsessive fanbase. Although Pitt itself isn’t that gigantic market, emigrants and others make it effectively a large market team. Same with “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys. The Pirates have no such privilege because they had the misfortune of just.. too much losing, games and their fanbase. The Steelers, though, have a huge fanbase locked and hooked on them by a generation of dominance. The very reason that in a generation, pending a 2010 resigning, the Cavaliers go from a distant third to the biggest show in town.

  • CLESportsFan

    I’m sorry, but it doesn’t make me proud that Lee and CC are former Tribe products doing well … we don’t get to raise a WS banner or get rings if they do well on other teams.

    It makes me sick that we cannot keep our own prospects because teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Angels, Dodgers, etc… exist with their expansive payrolls and unlimited “budgets”.

    It kills me because I LOVE the game of baseball itself, but I will not watch the WS this year.

    They are ruining baseball for generations by not having some kind of salary cap to even out the ability of teams to be competitive for free agents.

  • Blue

    The point is that winning gets your fanbase to care, market size facilitates winning because there’s more money but how many Mets fans do you know? The MLB has certain teams locked in dominant positions because there is no salary cap so the large market guarantees permanent winning.

    Take away the Yankees’ endlessly deep pockets and you take away their endless winning and you finally erode their bandwagon fanbase. And that, we can all agree, would be awesome.