August 26, 2014

The Tribe overcame a 12-run deficit 13 years ago today

Every Indians fan in the world claims they were there. Well before I was a blogger, I was watching this game (wait for it) in my parents’ basement.

It’s incredible to watch still to this day. Omar Vizquel and Kenny Lofton are your heroes. Lofton had four hits and three runs in the game as well as the game-winning run scoring from second on Jolbert Cabrera’s broken-bat single. The rest of the lineup for that game included Roberto Alomar, Juan Gonzalez, Jim Thome, Ellis Burks, Travis Fryman and even a pinch-hitting Russell Branyan. The starter that day was Dave Burba and John Rocker ended up with the win.

Watch the clip for maximum goose-bumps.

Hat is tipped to Tony Mazur

Tribe “Deep Tracks” Trivia, Vol. 1: Reliving Yesteryear

Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

You’ve been studying the franchise your whole life. You structure your schedule around their daily rhythms, nine months out of every year.

Typical Cleveland Indians trivia questions? They add little to the catalog of knowledge you have cultivated. The top highlights of the team’s past are fine for the national media to discover every couple years1. But you have long moved past such ‘low hanging fruit.’

The history of the Indians franchise is rich with stories that are full of texture. Some are humorous, others are poignant, and still others hold intrigue as a sign of their times. The best trivia is rooted in such stories.

Expressed in terms of a radio format, you could listen to your local FM Classic Rock station. You’d hear some nice tunes- your Hendrix air guitar is well-rehearsed, as is your Grand Funk Railroad air drums. It may be natural for you, precluding the need for the “white man’s overbite.” But having heard those hits over and over, you may have long ago become tired of them. That’s why you favor a “deep tracks” approach, Sirius/XM-style. Those seldom-heard gems – from top-selling and unheralded albums alike – expand your experience and challenge your insight.

With this in mind, take a shot at some “deep tracks” Tribe trivia questions. Feel free to share your own thoughts below, or to disagree with mine.

[Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. as in inhaaaaale theIndianswon111gamesin1954andweresweptinfourgamesandWillieMaysmadeagreatcatch… []

“So this David Justice is Albert Belle’s Replacement?” Reliving Yesteryear

David JusticeAfter forty seasons, all of Cleveland was awash in the excitement of playoff baseball.

John Hart had completed what Hank Peters had begun. In the late 1980s, working under the anonymity of yet another Indians rebuild, Peters began collecting the building blocks of a true big league powerhouse. He and Hart famously identified a pool of young players who they considered worthy of long-term contracts. The players forfeited free agency in return for multiple years of guaranteed money. The franchise gained some cost certainty and multiple seasons of player control.

Not all of the Indians players during the early seasons of that era actually panned out as ‘core players’. For every Albert Belle, Carlos Baerga and Sandy Alomar, Jr., there was also a Carlos Martinez, a Mark Lewis and a Wayne Kirby.

But of course, they had way more ‘hits’ than ‘misses’. They augmented the roster with veterans, star players on the back end of their careers who plugged holes in the lineup while assuming leadership roles in the clubhouse. The first wave of these vets included pitchers Jack Morris and Dennis Martinez, and position players such as Eddie Murray and Dave Winfield. [Read more...]

Alex Cole: Tribe’s Real Life Willie Mays Hayes? Reliving Yesteryear

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Commonly, major league baseball teams come up with some reasons for their fans to believe—some points of interest which they hope will cause the fan base to buy tickets, however contrived they may seem. The Cleveland Indians have boasted various mantras over the years – official or otherwise. The current #TribeTown qualifies. For some reason, I recall: “Come Alive with the Tribe in ’75.” Of course, there is the ever-handy, “We Will Spend When the Time is Right.”

Back in 1991, the franchise was listing. They’d recently wilted under the national media’s expectations of playoff contention. Hank Peters was the president of the Tribe; he’d previously enjoyed success at the helm of the late 1970s/early 1980s Baltimore Orioles. Peters was beginning to put some of the pieces in place which would set the Indians on a path to success. These moves would prove crucial in the transition from Cleveland Stadium to the new ballpark ‘at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario’.  

In 1991, Peters’ marketing focus included center fielder Alex Cole.

[Read more...]

Nick Swisher and Kenny Lofton are both right in MLB playoff debate

Nick Swisher Kenny Lofton Rocky 3

The good news is that the Cleveland Indians are coming off a season in which they made the playoffs! The bad news is that one of the most popular Indians of the past 20 years not only looked to invalidate that in the press this off-season, but might have alienated himself from these new Cleveland Indians in the process. Anthony Castrovince uncovered the tale of playoffs, current Indians leader Nick Swisher and the archetype Cleveland Indians center fielder, Kenny Lofton and it reads a bit ugly for someone like me who always wants everyone to get along. The thought of Swisher and Lofton being at odds when the Indians seem set on potentially doing something good in this new Terry Francona era makes me sad. It’s especially sad to me when I think they’re both right in their own way. [Read more...]

The Top Five Outfield/DH Units of the Past 20 Years

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In the third of our series, we look at the best outfield/DH groupings of the past 20 years. The Jacobs/Progressive Field era has seen so many powerful bats, but easily the top of the heap came from this group. From Albert Belle to Travis Hafner, we have been blessed to see some incredible performances. But who was the best of the best? I’m sure it won’t be hard for you to guess….. [Read more...]

Scott Raab – Browns lose, Mike Brown gets tossed, Indians idle – WFNY Podcast – 2013-12-16

WFNY Podcast LogoScott and I had another good chat this week running down all the Cleveland sports stories worth talking about. As usual, here’s the email I sent to Scott on Sunday night…

———————

Hope you had a nice weekend.

Some thoughts this fine Sunday evening…

The Browns should know conclusively that Jason Campbell is a nice backup and nothing more. Probably better than Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme, so not a candidate to be the long-term starter. Maybe they really did know this all along as he was consistently their last choice all year until they mercifully concluded that Weeden couldn’t play either.

Edwin Baker ran hard and it didn’t leave me impressed with him as much as I’m shocked that the Browns haven’t been able to find guys to run the ball with that level of energy all the time. Even Brandon Jackson seemed to run with more urgency than Willis and Fozzy. Seems like it should be easy to find, although maybe it’s confidence. Confidence is something rarer.  [Read more...]

Video: One of Kenny Lofton’s greatest games

I was reading on Twitter this morning that it is Kenny Lofton’s birthday. That led me to go to YouTube to see if I could find the highlights for one particular game. I found it. Kenny had four hits, five steals and hit the walk-off homer to win the game in extra innings against the Orioles.

Happy 46th birthday to one of the greatest Cleveland Indians of all time. Now, bask in the highlights.

[Related: Indians prospect Trevor Bauer releases new rap song (with lyrics)]

Building Cleveland’s Eleven

Clevelands11The great heist. You’ve seen the movies. An all-star cast gets together to pull off one big job. Along the way there are hi-jinx and laughs. Plot twists force our gang to change plans or everyone gets caught. It’s a great concept.

So I was thinking what if we made a team with Cleveland athletes?

I proposed the question twitter and took in some responses. [Read more...]

“Crushed” Kenny Lofton speaks out against steroids, Hall of Fame voting

With me being off the ballot, what I accomplished during the steroid era meant nothing. You look at the people who voted for the Hall of Fame. I think there might have been 600. They still voted for people who were cheating the game. It boggles my mind that the people you know cheated, who admitted they cheated, are still on the Hall of Fame ballot. That is sad. It’s really sad for baseball. [...] For me to go out and cheat it that way, that’s not respecting the game I love. I just feel the reason these guys cheated was because of the money. They didn’t care about the Hall of Fame. If you would have cared about the Hall of Fame, you wouldn’t have even thought about cheating. It was all about money.

– Former Cleveland Indians outfielder Kenny Lofton, 40, in a recent conversation with Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Lofton, who despite hitting .299 with 2,428 hits and 1,528 runs while making the postseason 10 times, only received 3.2 percent of the vote in one of the  more controversial Hall of Fame seasons ever. He will no longer be eligible for the ballot without an exemption from the Hall of Fame’s veteran’s committee — an excruciatingly slow process to endure.

[Related: On the 2013 Indians starting rotation and narratives]

While We’re Waiting… More Lombardi Talk, Kenny and Hoops, and Greg Oden

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Leading off, Chris Pokorny at Dawgs By Nature gives his take on Mike Lombardi joining the Browns, “Banner clearly liked working with Lombardi during their short time together in Philadelphia. I think Tom Heckert could have stayed with the team if he had been able to retain the general manager position in the same capacity, but I don’t think he was interested in a reduced, collaborative role that he would have had to play with Banner and others. Without question, I would have preferred Heckert over Lombardi. Heck, given the negativity surrounding Lombardi, I would have preferred a lot of other candidates over Lombardi. Given the fact that we knew this would be a reduced role, though, I just don’t think this is, “the end of the world.”” [Dawgs By Nature]

Former beloved Tribe centerfielder Kenny Lofton used to play hoops pretty well, you know. The Classical has a really great profile about it, “The Wildcats celebrated their coming out party with a good old-fashioned snowball fight, and Lofton played a starring role in that battle, too. “Basically, it was Kenny versus the rest of us because he had such a ridiculous arm. He was throwing snowballs like 100 miles per hour, just knocking guys off their feet,” Mason Jr. remembers. “Afterwards, we said to him, ‘Man, you should play baseball.’” Eventually, Lofton would take the suggestion seriously. But the East Chicago, Ind. native had some work left to do on the hardwood before he’d trade in his sneakers for spikes.” [The Classical] [Read more...]

MLB News: No players elected to HOF; Kenny Lofton and Sandy Alomar off ballot

If you were reading and paying much attention to the buzz surrounding this year’s HOF voting, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the BBWAA didn’t elect anyone to the hall this year. Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and those associated with the steroid era were denied. The closet was Craig Biggio, who fell 39 votes shy of the 75 percent required for election.

Cleveland Indians Kenny Lofton (3.2%) and Sandy Alomar Jr. (2.8%) did not receive enough votes to remain on the ballot for next year.

[Related: the Lofton HOF case]

MLB News: Lofton, Alomar Jr, Mesa and Franco make 2013 HOF ballot

In what is another sign of the Indians’ heyday of the mid-90s being a distant memory, several members of the teams to make it to the 1995 and 1997 World Series have been named to the latest release of the MLB Hall of Fame ballot.

As notated by The Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes, long-time Indians Kenny Lofton, Sandy Alomar Jr., Julio Franco and Jose Mesa could potentially be enshrined in Cooperstown, joining Roberto Alomar and Eddie Murray as players from the same era. All first-timers, these four Tribe greats are joined by Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Craig Biggio and Sammy Sosa among the ballot freshmen.

The left-handed Lofton finished his illustrious career having made six All-Star teams, earning the Gold Glove award four times and leading the league in stolen bases on five separate ocassions. Lofton wrapped up a 16-year career tallying 622 stolen bases and was, per Baseball-Reference, worth 65 wins.

Alomar, presently the bench coach for the Cleveland Indians, spent 11 years as a player with the Tribe, representing the team six times as an All-Star. He was Rookie of the Year in 1990 and garnered MVP consideration in 1997. In his 20 seasons at the big league level, Alomar recorded an OPS of .716 and was worth 11.5 wins.

The ageless Franco was arguably one of the best pure hitters to wear an Indians uniform, averaging .298 over the course of his 23-year career. Appearing in three All-Star games and winning the Silver Slugger award each of those three seasons, Franco obtained MVP consideration in 1988, 1991 (where he hit .341)  and 1994. Recording 2,589 hits despite several stints overseas, Franco was worth 39.7 wins.

Mesa, who may be the least popular member of this bunch, was in the league for 19 years, seven of which were with the Cleveland Indians. Saving 46 games in 1995, Mesa was second in Cy Young voting and fourth in MVP voting. He recorded 321 games over the course of his career.

The Hall of Fame Class of 2013 will be announced on Jan. 9, 2013

[Related: Face Transplants, Rebuilds, and the Case for Trading Asdrubal Cabrera]

Kenny Lofton on Chris Perez- “He doesn’t know anything about Cleveland”

Everyone has a take on the comments made by Indians closer Chris Perez over the weekend. Everyone including former Indian Kenny Lofton, who expressed his opinion via twitter.

When responding to questions by fans what he thought of Perez’s comments, Lofton had this to say-

“crazy …he doesn’t know anything about Cleveland”

“Just win and stop disappointing the fans”

Lofton certainly benefited from outstanding fan support during his stints with the Tribe. Looks like he is trying to return a little of the love.

UPDATE: Lofton went on the Baskin and Phelps show on 92.3 The Fan this afternoon and expanded on his thoughts. Worth a listen.

[Related: Chris Perez's comments, the good, the bad...]

A Little Perspective on Carlos Santana

I can still remember the feeling in my gut last year when the Tribe was playing the dastardly Boston Red Sox and Carlos Santana did (what we thought at the time was) a Joe Theisman impression.  It was soul crushing because the Indians hadn’t even been all that interesting up until the point that Santana showed up in Cleveland.  I love the Tribe, but even the most die-hard have to admit that Santana’s arrival injected some life into a relatively lifeless year last year.  According to DP who was already in full man-crush mode on Santana from watching him in Columbus, we just had to see his swing.  The minute he showed up we could see it.

In Carlos Santana’s second game he went two for four with a homer and three RBI.  That was June 11th.  By the end of the month, Santana was putting on a show.  He had his average all the way up to 0.345 with an on-base percentage of 0.458.  In 18 games that June Santana went hitless five times, had one hit seven times and had more than one hit six times.  He had 15 RBI in eighteen games.  We were talking about a kid who hadn’t played a lot of baseball in Columbus let alone at the major league level.  He played 57 games in Columbus before getting time behind the plate for the major league squad. [Read more...]

Recapping the 2011 Greater Cleveland Sports Awards

In what is annually one of the best celebratory events of the year, the 2011 Greater Cleveland Sports Awards went off without a hitch last night, commemorating the best of all things Cleveland sports.

Taking place once again at Cleveland’s Renaissance Hotel, 1250 individuals joined together for the annual fund-raising event benefiting the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.  Amongst the main sponsors and local corporations in attendance, the GCSA allows for a very interactive evening as those in attendance have the opportunity to mingle with some of the area’s more beloved athletes of past and present.

[Read more...]

Indians On Pace For Worst Attendance Totals Since 1992

The Cleveland Indians are officially on pace to have the worst home attendance totals since the 1992 season.

With 59 home games in the books, the Indians have drawn 1,051,837 fans – a number which has been boosted as of late thanks to back-to-back (rockin!) firework nights and the induction of former center fielder Kenny Lofton into the team’s Hall of Fame.  While these events have been beneficial for walk-up sales and all-around fan morale, every other non-event game since opening day has been sparsly attended at best, compounding the term “non-event.” [Read more...]

The Ex Files: Gentlemen Jim and Kenny

LoftonIts an extremely slow news day here in the 216/440. Not exactly chock full of things to talk about, so I figured it would be nice to check in with two old friends.

Kenny Lofton, who was last seen being held up at third by Joel Skinner (UGH!), will be inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame on August 7th before a game with the Minnesota Twins. During a stellar 17-year career, Lofton’s time in Cleveland was what he is most remembered for. A four-time gold-glove winner and a five-time all-star during his three stints with the Tribe, Kenny retired (not to his liking) after the 2007 season as the Indians all-time stolen base leader. As an Indian, he hit .290 (1512-5045) with 87 Home Runs, 518 RBI, 975 runs scored, and 452 stolen bases. [Read more...]

Tribe and the Trade Deadline – A History of the Jacobs Field Era – 2003-Present

In the third and final part of the Tribe trade deadline history, we examine the sell-off of ’06, the re-emergence of contention in ’07, followed by what we now see is the reality in ’08, causing another fire sale that included one of the greatest Indians pitchers of all time.

max-ramirezJuly 20, 2006 Indians trade RHP Bob Wickman to Atlanta for C Max Ramirez – After reading in Part two what Wickman had done for the organization, there is no point to rehash it again. The Braves were looking for a closer, since John Smoltz had moved back into the rotation, and Wickman was a proven veteran there for the taking.

With Kelly Shoppach not yet in the organization, there was a void of top catching prospects in the system after Victor Martinez. Ramirez was tearing up A ball, hitting .292 with 13 homers and 63 RBI’s. With Max still a couple of years away from making a major league impact, it was a no brainer for the Braves.

We would hear from Max Ramirez again later…. [Read more...]

10 Most Beloved Cleveland Sports Athletes

Shaq is coming to town. He’s a pretty popular guy. I was inspired by the trade and our friends at the Ghosts of Wayne Fontes. The idea here is the most beloved Cleveland sports athletes of my time. Figure a starting point of 1980. (I was 8, and really that is about the earliest I remember following the scene closely.) These are not my favorites, just the ones that I think the city embraced the most. Hence the most beloved.  So here we go-

1. Bernie Kosar- If LeBron James signed a 6 year contract extension tomorrow he could leap-frog Bernie I believe. But Bernie was the real deal. He wanted to play quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. It was his dream. He wasn’t a very graceful player, and he had terrible mechanics, but he was one of us. Much of that has come to light in the last few weeks with the attention he has gotten over his finances. Make no mistake- during the mid to late ’80s Cleveland was Bernie’s town. Songs were written. Boys were named for him. When he was unceremoniously dumped mid-season it cemented his place in our hearts. He never wanted to leave. He was run out of town by his coach.

2. LeBron James- Simply put the most talented athlete ever to wear Cleveland across his chest. [Read more...]