So last night was my first trip to Progressive Field.
No, no, I’ve been to Indians home games since the start of the 1994 season–many, many home games, including Game Four of the ’95 ALCS–but this was my first trip to the corner of Carnegie & Ontario since it changed names because, as you may remember, I lived in scenic eastern Kentucky for the vast majority of the 2008 season.
Now, as you might imagine, there was no earth-shaking paradigm shift from my experience of games at Jacobs Field in 2007 to my experience last night at The Pro; it was new and familiar all at once. So let’s rap about it via the magic of bullet points and random observations!
- As we got to our seats, I was immediately struck by the fact that, despite the extremely light MLB schedule on Monday, there was no scoreboard anywhere in the park keeping fans updated on what was going on with the Cavs game. This may come as news to the Indians… but they are not the only team in Cleveland. I would say a good third of the people at the game last night were wearing Cavs gear, yet they had to whip out their cell phones to keep updated on the game. There wasn’t even an announcement of the score until they flashed it up on the jumbotron at the end of the third quarter. After that Ryan Pritt did a little run through the highlights mid-way through the fourth and then announced when the game as an 84-74 final. Still disappointing that we had to wait to be told. It wouldn’t be the end of the world for the Tribe to be a little more supportive of their considerably more successful neighbor.
- You’ve got to give it up for Carl Pavano so far. The much-maligned Pav may have an unsightly 6.45 ERA and a Wickman-esque 1.45 WHIP, but damnit he’s winning. His ability to get the first strike last night was critical in keeping the Chicago hitters (mostly) at bay and he let his fielders do the job on a night where the offense (thankfully) showed up.
- I was also pleased to read the AP recap when I got back to Youngstown to see this quote from Pavano: “Personally I’m disappointed: I needed to go deeper. This is a game that I should have kept the bullpen out of it.” Darn tootin’ you need to keep the bully out of it. Even though Laffey was decent and Betancourt was… err… not atrocious, it’s probably a good idea this season to not give the bullpen a chance to screw up an eminently winnable game.
- Small ball! Even with a four-run lead, I love to see the small ball. Cabrera’s stealing second in the sixth sparked another rally that hung a crooked number on the scoreboard. There’s a lesson in there somewhere, Mr. Wedge.
- Chris Getz is pretty good. His glove single-handedly killed the Tribe’s rally in the first inning and he made a number of very impressive plays ranging to his right at second base for Chicago last night.
- I believe another local blog has this angle covered, but I’ll give it a whack anyway: David Dellucci is a one-man rally-killing machine and needs to be permanently removed from the lineup. Runners on second and third in the first? No problem, he’ll ground out to first! Two on with Gavin Floyd on the ropes after giving up a pair of two-run singles sandwiched around an HBP? Fugheddaboutit, he’ll hit the softest little baby liner you’ve ever seen to Getz to end the inning. Finally, Dellucci was lifted for Ryan Garko in the sixth and, LO AND BEHOLD, Garko hits a ball out of the infield and the Indians score a run. There’s a lesson in there, Mr. Wedge.
- Mark DeRosa’s defense will prove an unimaginable asset at third base by the end of the season. I am positive of this, and not just because of the parade of bums at the hot corner that we’ve seen since Travis Fryman left town.
- Fun and random aside #1: Ryan Pritt is everywhere. Emcee and in-game producer for the Monsters, emcee for the Indians and even the in-game producer for the junior hockey team here in Youngstown, he is arguably the hardest working man in show business along America’s North Coast. Big ups.
- Fun and random aside #2: At the end of the 8th inning The Most Hated Man in Major League Baseball, A.J. Pierzynski, grabbed the ball after Jhonny struck out and lofted it to a crowd of White Sox fans sitting along the first base line (one section to the right of where I was sitting). The ball was placed perfectly, but one of the girls completely botched catching it, and it rolled all the way down to a cloud of Indians fans sitting three rows in front of them. The Chicago fans begged, pleaded and even cried to the eventual recipients of Pierzynski’s charity, but could not pry the ball loose from the Tribe fans. Good for the Tribe fans, I say, and not out of any particular enmity toward the White Sox. Look, the rules are simple for foul balls–and by all rights, the catcher throwing you a ball is treated the same way: catch it, and it’s yours; miss it, and it’s fair game. Cry all you want, but your stone hands cost you a souvenir, period. You’ll also get no pity from me; I’ve been going to Indians games since age five and have never gotten a foul ball. So boo-freakin’-hoo.
All in all, a pretty solid trip to the Pro, and apparently I didn’t even miss a very attractive Cavs game. I’ll take it. Now if the Tribe could just get nights like this more consistently.