December 21, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
28°F
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Ignoring the Indians is a true travesty

It’s probably the best-kept secret this side of which legislative branch, if any, The Shadow known as Dick Cheney (a.k.a, Vice) actually operates under.
We’re talking about the Cleveland Indians, who have been toiling in relative anonymity — not just in the Central Division, but within the confines of their own city.
This, after all, has always been a town which suffers from acute attention deficit disorder (A.D.D.) when it comes to the citizenry supporting things: one hot new restaurant at a time, one mall, one team, one plan for a city’s revitalization, one dream, one pity party at a time. Anything more than that and our circuits overload.
Since we’re talking about the Indians here, I can only say to them what Daniel Day-Lewis said to Madeleine Stowe in “The Last of the Mohicans.” And that is: “Stay alive. Whatever you do, stay alive. I will find you!”
We haven’t found them yet. Not really. And here we’ve been all through the postmortems on the Cavaliers — our city’s once and future love affair. (Or, they are as long as No. 23 is wearing the dark red and gold.)
We drained every tear duct, milked every ounce of emotion and excuses and still we can’t seem to let go of that four-and-out tar-and-feathering at the hands of Duncan, Ginobili, Parker and Little Eva.
It’s a little bit like the little old lady in tennis shoes (and a long black veil) going into the confessional to tell the priest (her s’s whistle as she speaks) about an illicit affair.
“And is this affair still going on?” the priest asks.
“Oh, no, Father,” the little old lady in the black veil replies, “this happened more than 50 years ago.”
“Why are you only confessing it now?” the priest asks.
“Well …. I just wanted to talk about it a little bit,” the little old lady says, smiling to herself in the darkened
confessional.
Memo to Cleveland: GET OVER IT ALREADY. MOVE ON.
The Cavaliers’ season is over … LeBron is going to play in the World Games and there’s nothing more we can do or say or write about that … the NBA Draft — which after the first five picks had all the excitement of an ESPN fishing show in which our catch-and-release wimps throw their bounty back in the water — is history … the Browns minicamp is over … Kirsten Dunst and little Toby McGuire are still as vapid and as androgynous a pair as ever in Spider-Man III and, well …
Folks, we’ve just plum run out of excuses for not being at Jacobs Field on these lush, warm nights.
Gosh, remember when it was THE place to be? Oh, yeah, ’twas the ’90s: the Browns were terrible … and then gone …the Cavs were also bad … and boring. The town actually supported two things back then — the Indians and The Flats.
And then our 15 minutes were up. Gone in 60 seconds, we were. From both The Jake and The Flats. Sigh …
Unlike the little old lady who wanted to talk about the past just a wee bit, I’ll resist the urge to go back in time. The present is just fine, thank you. In fact, this team is even more loveable than that Cleveland club of the ’90s. It doesn’t, after all, have Albert Belle on it.
Memo No. 2 to Cleveland: If the season were to end today, the Cleveland Indians would be in the American League playoffs — as the wild-card team.
With three months to go in the regular season, the Indians are in a virtual tie with the Detroit Tigers for first place in the Central Division. In other words, folks — we have a pennant chase on our hands.
We also have the following:
*The best damn catcher in the league in Victor Martinez, who, like the Indians, remains a secret. Pudge Rodriguez and Jorge Posada are yesterday’s heroes. Martinez has overcome his catching deficiencies of last season and is now solid behind the plate. With a bat in his hands, he’s murder. Especially in the clutch. Try .318 with 14 HRs and 62 RBIs.
* Grady Sizemore is the best damn center fielder in the league, the most versatile and our matinee idol. He’s also a manager’s dream. He is to a manager what a Maytag is to a repairman.
(bullet) Josh Barfield. Little bit by little bit, he sort of reminds you of Roberto Alomar, doesn’t he? Without the pout. He’s as smooth as George Clooney with the glove and his bat keeps getting better and better. Give him two years and he’ll be a .300 hitter. Betcha.
* Casey Blake. I know … I know. You don’t like the beard and he’s not a star. But every team needs a gnarled, get-down-and-grubby guy like this. He fields his position, he runs the bases well, he hits a bit, especially when it matters — and by golly … people like him. Especially teammates. (See also Trot Nixon, Jason Michaels.)
* Jhonny Peralta. Told ya he’d bounce back. Last year was one of those mirages that sometimes occurs to good players. If he keeps improving and keeps his head down, he can maybe be as good as, say, Edgar Renteria some day. And, believe me, that’s plenty good.
* We also got ourselves a fairly splendid rotation in C.C. and Jake and Fausto and Cliff Lee and Old Man Byrd. This Stanford kid looks plenty fine in a pinch, as well.
* Raffy Betancourt has a death grip on the eighth inning and Joe Borowski, whose grip on the ninth innings can be sometimes loose and slippery, manages to do his job well enough and often enough to tie for the A.L. lead in saves. He would be the half-brother of Bob Wickman, only without the stomach and all the arm ailments.
Memo No. 3: FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD, GET THE HECK DOWN TO THE JAKE ALREADY, WOODJA?!
Mark my words: The best is yet to come with this team. Travis Hafner can only be held down for so long. And Sizemore hasn’t really gone on a tear yet.
After this weekend (with Tampa in town, it’ll probably be another tepid weekend at the gate), the Indians go on the road until after the All-Star break. By then, we’ll just flat-out be insulting these guys if at least 35,000 of us don’t start showing up regularly.
And that would be on us. Not the Cleveland Indians.
Contact Doug Clarke at ctsports@chroniclet.com.