And it seems like more and more of you are reading these!
I've got some suggestions for future lists and other rosters. I encourage all of your input, but PLEASE let me finish one insane project before I take on another one!!!
Let's get back on task.
Today we focus on the Cleveland Indians... and man it will be hard to stay positive!
First of all, I'll say it.
The Logo is Racist. It is. I'm sorry. I'm not overly politically correct, but it's pretty bad.
And maybe a change of names and logo can help turn some of the Tribe's fortunes! It helped Tampa!
The Indians have gone since 1948 with a World Series title.
They had a 35 year period where they finished as high as third place one time.
And as I wrote before, they couldn't even win the World Series in the Major League movies!
A voodoo left fielder is fine... but a World Series parade in Cleveland would be a little too much to believe!
So you'd think there wouldn't be that many great players to choose from...
But you'd be wrong. There are MVPs, Rookies of the Year and two pitchers who didn't need the Cy Young Award to cement their greatness.
Cleveland had good if not great teams over five decades... and when the playoffs expanded to include a Division Series, the Indians became regular playoff participants.
And got to the 9th inning of Game 7 of the World Series with a lead...
Alas this is Cleveland. It's been 45 years since any Cleveland team won their sports title.
But could 2009 bring some hope for Cleveland fans. The Cavaliers look like they have as good a shot as anyone of winning the NBA title, although in terms of playoff mojo having a Cleveland team take on either the Celtics or the Lakers must be daunting.
And the Indians, after a step back in 2008, look like they are stocked with young talent and ready to make a run.
As always the roster rules can be found here.
So keep anything flammable away from the river and let's start listing!!!
ALL TIME HOME GROWN INDIANS TEAM
If the Indians are going to have a shot of winning the World Series soon, chances are Victor Martinez will play a big role. Since becoming a regular in 2004, Martinez has been one of the most reliable hitters in Cleveland. He's had a pair of All Star selections (homering in the 2007 game), driving in 100 runs twice and came up big in the 2007 post season.
He homered and went 3-5 in Game 1 of the 2007 Division Series and finished the series with a .353 average and an OPS of 1.009.
He was hurt for two months of the 2008 season. When he came back, the Indians finished strong.
Is that a coincidence?
Stay healthy Victor... Cleveland needs you!
STARTING FIRST BASEMAN
When my dad and I went to a game in Cleveland Stadium on August 13, 1993, and it was a great home run display. Indians sluggers Reggie Jefferson, Paul Sorrento and Sandy Alomar Jr all homered against the Rangers, but the game was still tied going into the 8th.
Sorrento singled home a run to give the Indians the lead. Then with two outs and a runner on, a new player came up.
Jim Thome had had cups of coffee with the Indians in 1991 and 1992, but this was his debut of 1993. He CRUSHED a homer to the opposite field. The place went nuts and my Dad and I looked at each other.
"That's going to be a good player!" My dad thought.
He wound up hitting 334 homers, most in Indians history and added 17 more in 11 post season series (including 7 post season shots against the Red Sox!)
We still talk about that 1993 homer every time Thome comes to bat.
STARTING SECOND BASEMAN
Avila was a big star in Mexico in the late 1940s, right around the time that both the Dodgers and the Indians were integrating the game. Both organizations wanted Avila. Leo Durocher went to Mexico in the off season to try and woo him, but when he was suspended for the 1947 season, he wasn't able to offer a contract.
Bill Veeck figured he'd make the offer and he became an Indian.
He was worth it as he became a three time All Star and won the AL batting title for the 1954 AL Champs.
If Leo hadn't interacted with those gamblers, he'd be on the Dodgers all time team!
Few people can claim credit for a World Championship quite like Lou Boudreau and the 1948 World Series.
He was already a seven time All Star heading into the '48 season, winning the 1944 batting title. But '48 was his best all around season. His .355 average was second in the league and his 18 homers and 106 RBI were both career highs.
He became the first shortstop to ever win the MVP. You'd think he'd be his manager's favorite player.
Then again he WAS the manager. That's right, he had an MVP season while managing the team to the World Series title.
Folks, THAT is earning your dough for a team.
STARTING THIRD BASEMAN
The original Hebrew Hammer!
A super slugging infielder who lost the 1953 Triple Crown by one point. He also was willing to fight everyone who flung an anti semitic comment at him.
Later he became one of the best GMs in baseball. Not many people get to win an MVP and Executive of the Year awards.
Originally I had him as the Reserve Infielder, with Jim Thome at Third and Hal Trosky as the starting first baseman... but the good folks at Let's Go Tribe informed me that made this ENTIRE POST laughable.
Fair enough... my research not withstanding, they know Indians baseball better than me. So Rosen starts!
STARTING LEFT FIELDER
I was a huge Mo Vaughn fan in 1995, and I'll say it:
Mo Vaughn was NOT the MVP in 1995.
It was Albert, he of the .317 average... the 1.091 OPS... the 50 homers... the 126 RBI... the 377 total bases... and more jaw dropping highlights on Sports Center than anyone else in 1995.
Never before had a player been so deliberately scolded by the press for being a jerk than his denial of the MVP.
Maybe writers were confused and tried to write in "Joey Belle."
STARTING CENTER FIELDER
Averill became the first player to homer in his first big league at bat... and he kept up the pace as he had a terrific Hall of Fame worthy career. He had four top 10 finishes for the MVP, was a consistent 100 RBI man, a regular .300 hitter with a ton of extra base power always finding himself among the league leaders in doubles, triples and homers.
He wanted to get into the Hall of Fame, but he didn't want it to be a posthumous honor and told his family to reject it if they elected him after his death. That is a WONDERFUL foot down stance. Basically saying "Hey writers! Either I'm in or I'm out... but my stats aren't changing. Make a decision before I become an all you can eat buffet for worms!"
He was elected in 1975 and he was very much alive.
If only Joe Gordon had the same stance.
STARTING RIGHT FIELDER
The second African American player in big league history, Doby suffered the same indignities that Jackie Robinson went through, but didn't receive the public praise for it.
I guess the second pioneer isn't as impressive as the first. But as I wrote in my talent pool post, the late Larry Doby deserves more attention.
And let's not put praise on him as if it is charity. He was a great player. He had the highest OPS in the AL in 1950 was always among the league leaders in slugging. He was the runner up in the 1954 MVP vote when he led the league in homers and RBI.
And he was a pioneer in being the first African American player to hit a World Series homer when he slugged one of of Johnny Sain in Game 4 of the 1948 World Series.
Later he became the manager of the Chicago White Sox. Naturally he was the second African American manager... Robinson was the first. (Frank Robinson.)
He was usually the center fielder, but he played right in Game 6 of the 1948 World Series... the last ever title for the Indians and the first ever integrated team to win it all.
STARTING DESIGNATED HITTER
I remember watching in 1993, my senior year at NYU, a ballgame on TV between the Indians and the Yankees. I was curious about the Indians because I saw them in Cleveland and was interested in the emerging team. They already had a ton of young talent. But in this game, they had a young kid from Fort Washington, New York playing his second ever game.
And the Yankees, only a pair of games behind the Blue Jays for the Division Lead, seemed to be playing a road game in the Bronx.
Manny Ramirez brought what seemed to be all of Fort Washington to cheer him on. And he gave them reasons to cheer. He hit a ground rule double against Melido Perez in the second, and then crushed a gigantic homer into his cheering section in the 6th inning. For good measure he crushed another homer in the 8th inning to left.
Say what you want about Manny... but he always knew how to put on a good show.
THE STARTING ROTATION
I remember hearing Bob Feller be interviewed by Mike and the Mad Dog sometime in the late 1990s or early 2000s. Feller was 80 something but still sharp as a tack and ready to argue.
He was still complaining about how he never got to pitch in the 1954 World Series. Instead Al Lopez used Bob Lemon on short rest to pitch the fourth game and that was the last game.
1954 wasn't Feller's best year, but he was still 13-3 and effective.
And hey! He was RAPID ROBERT!
He won more games in Indians history at 266. He would have won 300, but he was too busy fighting World War II where he was a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy.
He won 5 games as a 17 year old in 1936, striking out 76 in 62 innings.
He led the league in strikeouts 7 times. He won the pitchers Triple Crown in 1940 (and had 4 saves to boot).
He threw three no hitters including one on opening day.
The Hall of Famer was quite simply one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.
Feller had every right to be angry!
When Bob Lemon was a light hitting minor league infielder, Indians manager Lou Boudreau suggested that he try pitching.
Lemon became a 20 game winner, named to seven all star teams, threw a no hitter, won the clinching Game 6 of the 1948 World Series, was considered by Ted Williams to be one of the best pitchers he ever faced and was elected to the Hall of Fame.
That Boudreau had some good instincts.
Can you imagine how Herb Score's career (and maybe even the Indians fortunes) would have been different if Gil McDougald didn't hit a line drive off of Score's face?
The 1955 Rookie of the Year won 20 games in 1956. He also was a blazing fastball pitcher, logging more than a K per inning.
Two seasons in he had two All Star appearances and two strikeout titles.
Then McDougald hit a line drive off of his face and he was never the same pitcher. He may have been a Hall of Famer in the making. Certainly he was an ace to replace the aging Bob Feller... but it didn't happen.
He DID get the love from Indians fans as he was their radio announcer for decades, but the trajectory of his career is one of the great What If's in history.
C. C. SABATHIA
Oh he'll get booed his first game back to Cleveland... but when he was traded away last summer he was the defending Cy Young Champ. He is that rare type of pitcher... a true workhorse (who looked like he ate a horse.)
He gets the strikeouts, he's always among the league leaders in starts, complete games and shutouts.
So what if his career ERA in 5 playoff games is 7.92?
Playoff performance isn't that important in Yankee land.
Addie Joss looked like he was putting together one of the all time greatest pitching careers in baseball history.
He won 17 games his rookie year of 1902 and never stopped winning.
Nobody has a lower career WHIP. His career ERA of 1.89 is second only to Ed Walsh. He threw a pair of perfect games and in less than 9 seasons won 160 games. But his 1910 season was cut short as he had tubercular menigitis.
He was dead before the next season began.
67 years later he was elected to the Hall of Fame. Had he lived, he probably would have been spoken in the same breath as Grover Cleveland Alexander, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson.
The definition of Home Grown and Acquired gets a little hazy sometimes despite my hard fast rules. I have put players who came over from the Japanese Leagues as acquired. I feel Ichiro Suzuki, Hideo Nomo et al were truly acquired via free agency.
Players from the Negro Leagues I considered to be homegrown because those players were trying to catch on with any team the way that an amateur player would.
That being said, Satchel Paige is the toughest test of that hard tested rule. He was already a legend, already a draw and well past his prime when he arrived with the Indians in 1948.
He was the product of no farm system.
And he made himself useful with a pair of complete game shutouts and he pitched briefly in the 1948 World Series.
I'll stick with my rule and put him with the Home Growns... but we all knew no scout discovered Satchel. No farm system developed him.
He was an American icon who just happened to drop on the Indians lap.
When Narleski broke in with the 1954 Indians, there was no room in the rotation. With Early Wynn, Mike Garcia, Bob Lemon, Art Houtteman and Bob Feller on the team, it was tough for a rookie to make his mark.
They even had future Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser on the team.
But Narleski made his mark in the bullpen. He saved a team high 13 games and posted a 2.22 ERA over 89 innings and pitched in the World Series.
The next year he went 9-1 with 19 saves out of the pen. He developed arm troubles after he began to start more games.
Why mess with him?
He had found his niche!
Bell, AKA Ding Dong in Ball Four, was a decent starting pitcher who became an even better reliever.
He saved 12 and won 10 for the 1962 Indians and later posted a career high 17 saves in 1965.
Evidently he hated relieving, but he was good at it.
I don't remember why he was called Ding Dong.
Mel Harder was a mainstay in the Indians organization for more than literally decades.
As a pitcher he won the 1933 ERA title, won 20+ games in 1934 and 1935 and won 223 games and saved 23 over his 20 year playing career, being named to 4 All Star teams along the way.
As a pitching coach he helped develop Bob Lemon, Herb Score, Sam McDowell, Luis Tiant and Tommy John.
From 1928 to 1963, he was in uniform every year for the Indians except for one season... 1948.
That's right. The one season out of those 35 he missed, the Indians won the World Series!
"Sudden Sam" looked like he was going to be the next great pitcher. Certainly his five All Star seasons in Cleveland (including his 1970 season where he won Pitcher of the Year from The Sporting News) made it seem like he might be Hall of Fame bound.
The Indians took a chance and dealt him to San Francisco for Gaylord Perry. It turned into a wonderful deal for Cleveland as Perry won the Cy Young Award and McDowell's career fell apart.
Eventually his drinking cost him his career, his marriage and all of his money. Cleaned up he works as a counselor for baseball players battling addiction.
Supposedly the character of Sam "May Day" Malone was based on him. No word of who Diane was based on.
(I know it is a stretch to put him in the pen... but he DID throw 12 saves for the Indians and it makes it a closer Sam Malone comparison.)
For Sabermetrics fans who covet players who avoid striking out, they should have a picture of Joe Sewell hanging somewhere in their home.
Sewell joined the Indians after Ray Chapman was killed by a pitch in 1920 and played in the World Series for the champion Indians. And he was tough to strike out.
Five times in his career he played 150 games in a season and yet had a strikeout total of less than 10.
Read that sentence again. He would strike out less than 10 times ALL YEAR!
Ryan Howard strikes out 10 times a series!
The future Hall of Famer finished with the greatest At Bat to Strikeout ratio in the history of baseball.
Not the sexiest record in the world... but one that make Money Ball fans drool.
Initially I was reluctant to put Hal Trosky on this list. I mean there must be a better infielder in Indians history than some guy named Hal Trosky.
Besides, he played all but one game at First Base! It's not like he had a lot of range as an infielder.
Have you ever looked at Hal Trosky's stats?
I am guessing the answer to that question is "No" unless you are in the Trotsky family.
His rookie year (1934) he hit 35 homers, 142 RBI, batted .330 and had an OPS of .987.
He had a 1.026 OPS with a .343 average, led the league in RBI and total bases in 1936. Yeah in and year out he put up outstanding power numbers and hitting well over .300.
And yet he retreated into obscurity... never being named to an All Star Game... not getting any Hall of Fame consideration...
There's no dishonor putting Trosky on this list.
(Not Trotsky... he's the Russian revolutionary.)
Cory Snyder was the cover boy along with Joe Carter in the infamous April 1987 Sports Illustrated issue that predicted an Indians pennant.
You have to forgive SI for their enthusiasm. But Snyder looked terrific once they moved him to the outfield. He hit 24 homers in 1986, his rookie year. He followed it up with 33 dingers in 1987 and 26 more in 1988.
Eventually his strikeout totals and injuries caught up with him but he DID play for a playoff bound team with Joe Carter: The 1991 Toronto Blue Jays.
Maybe SI was predicting THAT team.
A terrific all around leadoff hitter, Mitchell batted .336 for the 1948 World Champs. He also hit a lead off homer in Game 5 of the 1948 World Series and doubled and scored in the World Series clinching game 6.
He finished his career with the Dodgers and made the last out in Don Larsen's perfect game. Can't blame Mitchell... Larsen got everyone else out that day too.
Apologies to Jim Hegan, but Fosse was a better player.
Before Pete Rose bowled into him, Fosse was a .300 hitting, Gold Glove winning All Star catcher.
And AFTER he got bowled over, he still won a Gold Glove and had double digit homers (and later helped the A's win a pair of World Series.)
So let's not talk like Pete Rose CRIPPLED him, shall we?
Apologies to Ken Keltner, who was a terrific player and who was a one man wrecking crew against the Red Sox in the one game 1948 pennant playoff.
But until the Indians win a World Series, people will bring up Rocky Colavito.
When the Indians dealt Colavito, the defending home run champ, to Detroit after the 1959 season, some felt it cursed the team. And indeed, they didnt contend again until 1995 and have yet to win a World Series since.
It's not as sexy a curse as the one for The Bambino and not as whimsical as the Billy Goat... but the Indians aren't as sexy nor glamorous and it is the best curse that they have!!
One thing is for sure, with Bob Feller, Herb Score and Sam McDowell on that pitching staff, they will be throwing smoke on the Home Grown Team.
But how about the acquired team?
Do they have any hitters who can hit that smoke?
And how about the acquired pitchers? Are any Cy Young worthy?
Oh they have one that is undeniably Cy Young worthy!!!
ALL TIME ACQUIRED INDIANS TEAM
SANDY ALOMAR JR.
Stuck behind Benito Santiago in San Diego, Alomar was liberated when he came to Cleveland in the Joe Carter deal.
Alomar won the Rookie of the Year in 1990 and basically was one of the first cornerstones that the Indians lay down to make the 1990s different than the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s for Cleveland fans.
He hit the dramatic homer off of Mariano Rivera to save the Indians season during the 1997 Division Series and would have been the 1997 World Series MVP if the Indians had held on.
Can you imagine how worshipped he'd be in Cleveland if he pulled THAT off?
STARTING FIRST BASEMAN
I really struggled with this choice... it was Eddie or Andre Thornton .
With no disrespect to Thornton, I am giving it to steady Eddie for reasons that are playoff related.
Besides batting .323 and providing steady leadership for the 1995 team, Murray's value skyrocketed when the playoffs started.
He was the Sully Baseball Retroactive 1995 Division Series MVP when he hit 385 with an OPS of 1.236 against the Red Sox. He continued his hot hitting against the Mariners, getting three hits in the critical game 5 and then hitting the walk off single in Game 3 of the World Series.
I know it wasn't Thornton's FAULT he never played in the post season... but Eddie was the first playoff hero the Indians had in generations.
STARTING SECOND BASEMAN
How big was LaJoie for the Cleveland franchise?
When he came over in a bizarre contract fiasco involving the AL and the NL teams in Philadelphia, the Cleveland team was called the Blue Birds.
LaJoie became such a sensation (and an attraction) that the team was officially renamed The Cleveland Naps.
THEY NAMED THE TEAM AFTER HIM!
Today you will never see the Seattle Ichiros, the Tampa Bay Longorias or the Washington Guzmans.
Heck, you didn't even see the New York Ruths.
But LaJoie could honestly say "This team is named for me!"
It would have been nice for the dignity of native Americans to maybe change it back!
Hall of Fame arguments are always based on offensive numbers.
But I wonder what Omar Vizquel's chances are for Cooperstown. I hope voters at least consider him.
I am not going to list his hitting stats here... they are fine but certainly not jaw dropping. But I wonder how many hits he stole... how many RBI chances he stymied... how many averages dropped because Vizquel picked one up the middle.
I wish there was a reliable way to figure that out, because with that system I bet he'd be in Cooperstown.
STARTING THIRD BASEMAN
Part of the haul from Atlanta for Len Barker, Jacoby looked like of the solid building blocks to a potentially great Indians team in the mid 1980s.
The great year for the team never happened, but it wasn't Jacoby's fault.
He made a pair of All Star Teams, played a solid defense and had an OPS of .928 in 1987.
He was dealt to the A's during the 1991 season but came back the next year.
How many people leave the Bay Area for Cleveland?
STARTING LEFT FIELDER
SHOELESS JOE JACKSON
I bet you thought he was only a White Sox player.
Actually he was originally a Philadelphia Athletic (I wonder if Connie Mack could have taught him to read a sentence or two?)
He became one of the biggest stars in baseball history starting with his .408 mark in his rookie season in 1911, his first full year in the bigs He hit 26 triples in 1912.
He also looks NOTHING like Ray Liotta.
Not ALL of the Red Sox moves involving Harry Frazee and the dismantling of the Red Sox meant shipping players to the Yankees. He shipped a few elsewhere including Tris Speaker.
Arguably the best center fielder of his day (Ty Cobb would no doubt argue against that).
He won his lone batting title with the 1916 Indians and would bat .388 for the World Champion 1920 Indians. He tripled home a run in the clinching Game 7.
Speaker's nickname was "The Grey Eagle." If the Indians had won titles for generations starting with Speaker's sale to Cleveland, maybe there would have been a "Curse of the Grey Eagle."
STARTING RIGHT FIELDER
The Detroit Tigers coveted Elmer Flick.
Flick was a .300 hitter, a batting champ with speed and power. Cleveland had him and Detroit wanted him.
They offered a solid young prospect in return, but Cleveland said no way and kept their future Hall of Famer. The prospect, Ty Cobb, turned out to be a good player too.
There would have been something so perfect that Ty Cobb would have played for a team with the most racist nickname.
STARTING DESIGNATED HITTER
Stolen from the Texas organization in the Einar Diaz trade, "Pronk" became a well rounded slugger for the Indians.
He led the AL in OPS in 2006 and it was his extra inning single that won the infamous "midges" Game 2 of the 2007 Division Series.
He needs to come back strong for the Indians to have a shot in 2009.
THE STARTING ROTATION
I included Perry on my Mariners list, my Padres list, and my Giants list.
So is it overkill to put him on my Indians list?
Well he DID win the 1972 Cy Young Award as a member of the Indians.
He finished second in ERA, first in wins, had the third best WHIP, the second most innings and the most complete games.
So no... it's not overkill.
He was a great player who just happened to be great for a LOT of teams.
Wynn was already an All Star when the Senators traded him to Cleveland before the 1949 season.
He joined the Defending World Champion Indians (that looks strange when typed, doesn't it?) and with help of pitching coach Mel Harder, blossomed into not only an MVP candidate but a Hall of Famer.
He had four seasons of 20 wins or more in Cleveland, including 23 for the 1954 AL Champs. He pitched well but lost Game 2 of the '54 World Series.
Evidently was a nasty guy on the mound, he came back to Cleveland after a Cy Young stint with the White Sox in order to win his 300th win. He did and retired, basically living out the scenario of Bernie Mac's character in Mr. 3,000.
The pick of Len Barker is as much an emotional pick as anything else... but these can be emotional lists, so indulge me.
Growing up in the 1980s, Barker was one of the few true stars for Cleveland. He was a 19 game winner for the 1980 Indians and threw a perfect game on May 15, 1981.
Looking at his stats and they are a hell of a lot less impressive than I was expecting.
Ah who cares? Barker WAS the Indians for me growing up, and that's what matters to me!
Orel Hershiser came over to Cleveland to basically turn the very image of the Indians around. He gave the Indians a playoff tested warrior in the rotation and after winning 16 regular season games in 1995, he really earned his paycheck in October.
He pitched 7 1/3 shutout innings to win Game 2 of the Division Series, just a night after the bullpen was exhausted in the 13 inning marathon game 1.
In the ALCS, he came into a hostile Kingdome. The Mariners were on a 4 game post season winning streak and looked like they might just shoot past the Indians. Hershiser let up a Griffey homer but little else as he won Game 2.
With the series tied going into Game 5, Hershiser pitched six strong innings and the Indians won. That game was critical not only because it put the Indians on the brink of the World Series, but made sure the Indians didn't face Randy Johnson in an elimination game.
Hershiser was named ALCS MVP joining a select group of post season MVPs in both leagues.
Originally Lee wasn't on the list... but someone at Let's Go Tribe pointed out that Addie Joss was actually home grown.
So I moved him to the Home Grown squad and found room for the 2008 Cy Young Award winner.
The only Indian to win in double digits in 2008, he led the league in wins, ERA, winning percentage, walks per 9 innings, shutouts and was second in the league in innings pitched.
A far cry from his 2007 where he was sent to the minors and left off of the playoff roster.
Along with Grady Sizemore made the Bartolo Colon trade to Montreal look like an All Time steal for the Tribe.
Yeah yeah yeah, I know.
I know he was on the mound, with a lead... needing only three outs... eventually needing only two outs... and the Indians would have won the 1997 World Series.
Yeah yeah yeah I know. He melted down and began his rivalry with Omar Vizquel, possibly the strangest feud in recent baseball history.
But think of the good times.
In 1995, when Mesa was an obscure mediocre starter converted into a middle reliever, he was given a chance to close. And holy cow did he ever.
He converted his first 38 saves and was an out away from making it his first 39 saves when Chad Curtis homered off of him on August 25th. At that point the Indians already had an 18 1/2 game lead.
He converted 46 of 48 saves, never lost a game and finished with an unheard of 1.13 ERA. He would later close out the 1995 ALCS.
Albert Belle thought he was the team's MVP. He was probably right. He later closed out the 1997 Division Series and ALCS as well.
Lots of good memories with Mesa.
But I grant you, blowing Game 7 of a World Series is big.
Wickman lost part of his index finger as a child when he was working on his family farm. Some people would consider losing part of a digit to be a bad thing.
Wickman? He developed a sinker ball and became the Indians All Time Save leader. He led the AL with 45 saves with the 2005 Indians as they nearly won the Central.
You kids on farms today... don't get any ideas and chop part of your finger off!
When I had the honor of directing the great Fred Willard in my film I'll Believe You, I discovered what a passionate baseball fan he is.
He loves the Cleveland Indians and between takes he was looking through a book chronicling past World Series. He lamented there wasn't much about the 1948 World Series, the last one the Tribe won.
I talked a little about the series and he was impressed that I knew a lot about the team.
He mentioned Gene Bearden and I said "Sure, he beat my Red Sox in the one game playoff for the Indians to win the pennant."
Fred reminded me he threw a complete game victory in Game 3 of the 1948 World Series.
And I countered that he came out of the bullpen and was the last person to ever clinch a World Series for the Indians.
Fred was impressed. I'm not sure if my directing impressed him, but my baseball smarts did.
Do you get the sense that Doug Jones' career was as much a surprise to him as it was to us?
The unassuming and not exactly spectacular junk ball reliever was bopping between the Minors and the bigs as a middle reliever. In 1988, manager Doc Edwards made Jones the closer after his modest total of 8 led the sad Indians in 1987.
Turns out they had a real closer in Jones. He had 20 saves and a sub 2.00 ERA by the All Star break, where he was named to his first of three squads as an Indian. He would save 37 games in 1988 and continue his solid pitching, including saving the 1989 All Star Game, winning the 1994 All Star Game and pitching for the Indians in the 1998 Division Series.
It's a good thing Doc Edwards gave him a shot.
The future Hall of Famer developed into a 20 game winner throwing the spit ball. When the pitch was made illegal, he was still allowed to throw it... kind of a gradual phasing out of the spit ball. (No, they can't do that with 'roids users.)
He had four straight twenty win seasons for the Tribe between 1918 and 1921.
And in the 1920 World Series, he pitched a complete game victory in games 1, 4 and the series clinching game 7, posting an 0.67 ERA in 27 innings.
So why the heck is he in the bullpen?
Well besides completing 20 some odd games a season, he would frequently make a relief appearance as well.
Four different times, he finished in the top ten for saves.
Plus, I couldn't keep him off the list and I am already about to deny enough great Indians. There's no need to snub a Hall of Famer... spit ball or not!
I went to a game in Cleveland Stadium during their last season there in 1993. There was excitement about the new ball park but also because the team, while still not a winning club yet, was putting some pieces into place.
And Carlos Baerga looked like he was going to be the best player of the bunch. He had already developed into a .300 hitter, a 21 homer man, a 100 RBI switch hitting slugging second baseman.
The most obscure player in the Joe Carter trade looked like he was going to be a cornerstone of the franchise.
And in the biggest game for the Indians in 41 years, he homered off of Randy Johnson in Game 6 of the 1995 ALCS to seal the pennant.
Didn't it seem like Baerga was there for the whole run?
It's easy to forget that he was dealt to the Mets the next year and never played another playoff game with the Indians.
But he did help lay down the foundation... and he deserves a place here.
All due apologies to Joe Gordon, but Robbie Alomar was the best second baseman I ever saw play.
He only played three seasons in Cleveland (the first two with his brother Sandy), but he had two top 4 MVP finishes with the Tribe. He had his career highs in homers and RBI with the 1999 Indians and had his last great season of his career in 2001.
He won the Gold Glove (his third with the Indians and 10th overall) was third in the league in hitting and his .956 OPS ranked him 7th.
Forget the guy who flopped with the Mets and Diamondbacks. Remember the all around star in Cleveland.
My father and I saw Lofton play basketball for University of Arizona. They were playing Stanford and I remember thinking he was going to be a heck of a player.
He was... just not in basketball.
It's hard to believe the Astros wanted Eddie Taubensee so badly that they'd give up on Lofton so quickly. It was the Indians gain as he won four Gold Gloves and made five All Star teams as an Indian.
He won the coveted Sully Baseball Retroactive Division Series MVP for his wrecking of the Red Sox in 1998.
Yeah, I know he has bounced around and managed to be part of classic collapses for the 1999 Indians, 2002 Giants, 2003 Cubs, 2004 Yankees and 2007 Indians. And the fact that he never won a ring is mind boggling.
But it says something that he always found himself on a winner, isn't it?
Originally I had Joe Carter here, but I got a lot of Indians fans clamoring for Sizemore.
And if Sizemore wins an MVP for the Indians, which he might, then that means the Tribe would have acquired a Cy Young winner (Cliff Lee) and an MVP for Bartolo Colon!
Sizemore is a Gold Glove Ceterfielder, a Silver Slugger and evidently the apple of Indians fan's eyes.
And I already awarded him the Division Series MVP in 2007 against the Yankees.
So he's on the list! I aim to please.
Game 1 of the 1995 Division Series was an underrated classic between the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox best shot of upsetting the 100 win Indians was to take game 1 and put the Indians on their heels going into Fenway. And the game went back and forth with clutch relief, a game tying shot for the Red Sox in the 8th and both the Red Sox and Indians hitting homers in the 11th.
So with an Indians team filled with sluggers like Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Eddie Murray, Carlos Baerga and Paul Sorrento... who is the one who hit the walk off homer and crush the Red Sox hopes in the 13th inning?
Indians reserve catcher (and former Red Sox Gold Glove winner) Tony Pena who crushed a 3-0 pitch from Zane Smith.
I'm sure Smith thought when he threw it "Come on! What's Pena going to do with it?"
The Red Sox didn't even put up a fight in games 2 and 3.
Oh there were so many people I could put as the 25th man here.
ALCS MVP Marquis Grissom.
Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, Rookie of the Year Joe Charboneau, All Stars Joe Carter, Juan Gonzalez and Julio Franco.
Or maybe even Mike Hargrove, an All Star who led the Indians back to the World Series... twice.
But I am going with Denton True "Cy" Young.
My reasons are simple and complex at the same time.
The simple reasons are he is f---ing CY YOUNG! He's won more games than any pitcher in history! Nobody will EVER reach 511 wins
He's thrown more games, completed more games and threw more innings than anyone in history.
He had five 30 win seasons and ten more 20 win seasons.
And he had most of his best seasons in Cleveland.
Here's the complicated part: He had most of those great years for the Cleveland Spiders of the National League, not the franchise now known as the Indians.
He was the Spiders best pitcher (obviously) and their biggest star. But in 1899 when the owners of the Spiders took over the team now known as the Cardinals, they took all of their best players with them. The Spiders went 20-134 that year and were such a horrific draw that teams often refused to come to Cleveland.
The team was disbanded in 1901 and the team now known as the Indians were formed in the new American League.
Cy Young returned to Cleveland 10 seasons later and had his last 19 win season for the Tribe.
He never won double digits again.
His career with the Indians was inconsequential. His time in Cleveland was not.
It's my list. I can't snub Cy Young.
WHO WOULD WIN A HEAD TO HEAD SERIES?
This would be a tight one... the acquired have a better all around line up, but the Home Growns bring the firepower.
In the end, two factors put this in the home grown's favor:
Bob Feller leads a pitching staff that could pitch with anyone (and one that brings Satchel Paige out of the pen._
And the homegrowns aren't going to trade Rocky Colavito again.
VERDICT: THE HOME GROWN TEAM WINS... BUT ONLY AFTER JOSE MESA BLOWS A BIG LEAD IN THE NINTH!!!
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One more down!
That's the Indians
And the Tigers
And the White Sox.
And the Royals
And the Brewers
And the Reds
And the Dodgers
And the Blue Jays
And the Pirates
And the Diamondbacks
And the Mariners
And the Nationals
And the Angels
And The Padres
And The Twins
And The Orioles
And the A's
And the Astros
And the Giants
And the Rockies
And the Mets
And the Rangers
And the Marlins
And the Yankees
And the Red Sox
5 to go...
NEXT ALL TIME HOME GROWN VS. ACQUIRED TEAM:
THE CHICAGO CUBS