Wednesday, November 30, 2011

As seen in the Little Rock airport

It's not everyday you get to see anything related to the Tribe in Arkansas, so I was happy to see this ad!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cards from The Readerman

A few days ago, perhaps a tad longer than that, I received a bubbleope from Rod "Readerman" Richards.  When I picked it up, I heard a bit of rattling around in there, so my curiosity was certainly raised a bit.

When I opened the package, I tilted it a little and sliding out came four small buttons.  Rod loves to read and to post his reviews and thoughts about the books he reads on  as you may recall, he recently reviewed my debut novel (I got a well-deserved "B" with tips on making into an "A").  The buttons each contained literary references:

My favorite of the lot, of course, "I'm Bringing Paperback."  Even my daughter "got" the joke! Excellent stuff!

Of course, what I really wanted to get after: the cards!  Send in the cards!  (Okay, bad parody of a line from "Die Hard," but what can I say?)

First up: 2011 Heritage Clubhouse Collection Relic Arodys Vizcaino, 2011 A&G Chris Perez, and 2011 A&G Carlos Santana. I had to look up Vizcaino because I am not familiar with him. Turns out, he is a Braves "future star" that ultimately figures in to the Derek Lowe deal with the Tribe. How? Well, I figure if he stays up in the majors (he saw some time last year evidently), he may show that getting rid of Lowe was the best move more the Braves. I can't say I disagree. I can't I agree with the Tribe getting Lowe, though. I digress. The card itself is Heritage classic: wood grain background, washed-out/faded image, nice sturdy card stock. The Allen & Ginters are VERY nice this year! I know, not everyone is a fan, but I am. I love the trim/border and the colored logo area. Great stuff. And, I get Perez and Santana to boot! Wahoo!

Next up, a trio of 1988 Score cards: Cory Snyder, Carmen Castillo, and John Farrell. Synder, of course, is one of the Indians all-time fan favorites. He played nearly every day, every chance he got. He wasn't "Hall of Fame" level, but he was "Get in there and get to work" level. And, in Cleveland, that's what matters. Carmen Castillo didn't play as often as Synder, but still managed to hold his own with an AVG that mirrored Synder's as well as an OBP that was about the same as well. John Farrell served as part of the Indians starting rotation through the late 80's into 1990, then made a brief return in '95. I'm not crazy about the purple borders on these, and the double border design seems to shrink the photo even more than it already is. In any case, I love getting Tribers from days gone by!

The next cards include 2008 UD First Edition Update Jhonny Peralta, 2008 UD First Edition Update Paul Byrd, 2011 Bowman Chrome Prospects Kyle Blair.  I love these UD First Edition cards.  Large photos with text that doesn't overtake the card and they are borderless.  Nice stuff here!  The Bowman Chrome makes the photo look like it was tacked on as an afterthought - so small... So small... (Okay, that double "so small" is a reference to Stephen King's short "The Man in the Black Suit.").  The Kyle Blair card threw me a bit because the auto doesn't say "Kyle Blair."  There's a good reason for that: his name is actually Blair Kyle Carson, and the auto is, of course, his legal, contract-binding name.  So, mystery solved.  Is he likely to see The Bigs in 2012.  I'll vote yes.

The next three Tribecards are 2011 Topps Lineage Grady Sizemore, 2011 Topps Lineage Cy Young, and 2011 Topps Mitch Talbot.  I think I've said this before, but I love the look of the Lineage cards! They are, how do you say, "modern retro."  Haha, something like that.  And, I also happen to like the 2011 base product design as well.  Grady Sizemore is coming back to the Tribe for another year of "maybe he'll play today, maybe he won't."  Cy Young. Perhaps you've heard of him?  There's some kind of pitching award handed out with his name on it.  You didn't know?  Yeah, he was one of the best freaking pitchers out there.  Yeah, he played for the Indians!  In his pitching debut (for then Cleveland Spiders), he pitched a 3-hitter.  Just sayin.  Talbot has elected free agency and might be picked up by someone - if they overlook his horrid 6 gazillion ERA. Ouch. 

So, check these bad boys out: 2011 Topps Diamond Anniversary Gold Sparkly Kosuke Fukudome (yes, that's what I'm calling it, got a problem with that?), 2011 Gypsy Queen Carlos Santana, and a 2011 Topps Update (or something or other) Lonnie Chisenhall.  The gold sparkly ROCKS!  Man, that is one sweet card!The Gypsy Queen is an interesting fella.  The border is a bit big, but I can't help but like the text on it and the weird cell-shading effect of the player.  Cool card.  Chisenhall was gonna save the team.  That's a lot to ask of a kid.  Just ask Sizemore.  Overall, though, a sweet triplet.

The last three cards feature a 2011 Topps Lineage Albert "freakin" Belle, 2011 Bowman Platinum Moments Carlos Santana, and a 2011 Topps Jeanmar Gomez.  Any time someone sends me a player like Albert Belle, I go bananas.  I know, I know, he had his "moments" on and off the field, but you cannot dent his on-field awesomeness.  Flat out rockin.  The Bowman Santana card is something to behold.  Man, this is one fantastic card!  THIS is what chrome/foil/shiny should have been all along.  Thick card stock, great photo and color, and even the text/logo scream "class."  One of my favorite styles yet.  Topps did something right with this set!  Gomez looks like he is pitching in the desert. Wait, this was probably taken in Goodyear.  (Ah, I hear the calls of "NO S***, SHERLOCK!" now)

I want to thank Rod for a VERY cool surprise package!!  These are some great Tribers and a handful of cool literary buttons to boot!!  Not often those two worlds collide for me, and it's nice to see they make a neat pair!  In fact, I think it's time to sit down and start a baseball-related novel.  I mean writing one, not reading one, although there may be some of that too.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Add "BaseballDigest Online" Contributor to the list!

A couple weeks ago, Bill Ivie of BaseballDigest asked for folks to submit a "Report Card" for their favorite team(s).  I volunteered to take an honest, hard look at the Indians.  Let me assure you, it may not be easy reading if you are the type of fan who only sees the team through red-and-blue-colored spectacles.

The Indians finished 2nd in their division in 2011, which is great.  But, they also finished just south of .500, which is basically average.  Well, in my book, it is average.  Mind you, the writers were not given any kind of rubric with which to base their findings, so I made up my own.  Namely, I see a .500 season as "average."  After all, a 1.000 season would be an A+, a .750 would equal a "B", a .500 is a "C", a .250 a "D" and anything short of .250 is failing.  I may very well be the only writer to evaluate their team that way, but, as I said, I made it up.  Feel free to agree or disagree.

So, overall, the Indians were a "C-/D+" team in my opinion.  And, after reading about injuries and lack of player continuity at just about any given position, hopefully you will see why I graded the way I did.

I love the Indians, and have for a long, long time.  I outgrew the "blinders-on" fandom back in the 80's.  I want to see the Indians do well, play hard, stay healthy, and make good, solid management decisions.  Looking back on a season with extreme highs and devastating lows, I believe I have provided a solid representation of my beloved Indians in 2011.

And so, without further delay, I present my 2011 Cleveland Indians Report Card:

NOTE: Thanks to the WayBackMachine, I was able to find the original article. It is posted here for your perusal:

Note from the editor: When Baseball Digest first started in 1944, the magazine gathered writers from all across the country to provide insight to the teams that they covered on a regular basis.  This provided content and coverage that was in depth and more insightful than having national writers cover teams and players that they barely knew. aims to keep up that tradition.  This season, we bring you a Report Card on each team in Major League Baseball from writers that cover that team directly.  At the bottom of each write up, you will find the writer’s name, website, and any other pertinent information.  

The Indians started off slowly with two losses but then the Tribe surprised much of the baseball community by becoming the best team in the league for quite a stretch.  Much to the chagrin of its fans, however, the league-leading days were numbered and the Indians found themselves quickly far behind the Tigers in the AL Central.  They did manage to maintain second place in their division, mainly because the season came to a gracious end.

Between injuries and awful performance, this hard look into the Indians of 2011 will not be pretty and will not even have sugar-coated sprinkles on it.  Though, even with the bitter flavor of the past season, there were some nuggets of sweetness.  Unfortunately, those nuggets provided very little reprieve.

Rotation: C

The Indians biggest failure belonged to the players who couldn’t stay healed enough to play.  From Sizemore to Hafner to Chisenhall, the Indians had to make the best of the players who could actually serve in the rotation.  Though some fans might say the rotation is a “B” considering what the team had to work with, the fact that the Tribe had trouble actually keeping a working rotation knocks them down to simply average.  There were a few stand-outs in Asdrubal Cabrera (who secured a Silver Slugger award), fan favorite Jack Hannahan, and Travis Hafner (when he was healthy).  In fact, the Indians only had four players to play in more than 100 games during the season.  Of course, much of the rest of the regulars on the team shared rotation duties.  Seven players rotated through 60 or more games during the 2011 season.

Bullpen: C

Chris Perez stood out as the Indians closer-to-beat.  He pitched in 64 games and managed end with a 3.32 ERA despite an almost perfect distribution of runs, earned runs, and walks (24, 22, and 26 respectively).   Fausto Carmona started the Indians off with the worst ERA in history for an Opening Day, allowing 10 runs and generating a 30.00 ERA before getting pulled.  Fortunately, the Indians found a groove to lead the league before allowing the team to slip into second place in the AL Central. Other notable pitchers in Ubaldo Jimenez (who was brought in to save the Tribe from themselves, but found himself failing to do so – ending with a 5.10 ERA and leaving Indians fans scratching their heads), Justin Masterson (12-10, 3.21 ERA), Rafael Perez (5-2, 3.00 ERA), and Josh Tomlin (12-7, 4.25 ERA).  Tony Sipp was something of a surprise, finishing out with a 6-3 record and a 3.03 ERA.  And Joe Smith had a very impressive scoreless streak from May to July, mainly due to his facing twice as many righties as lefties.  Still, a great highlight in the Indians season.  Alas, once the team lost its rhythm, none of the mound masters could not save the team from itself.

As for starters, there was none better than Justin Masterson.  His 12-10 record coupled with a 3.21 ERA demonstrates the tip of the iceberg.  He let up only 11 home runs (though, admittedly giving up 77 earned runs) and struck out 158 batters in 216 innings pitched.  Of the runs scored against him, 55/77 came from lefties and 9/11 homers were hit by left-handed batters.  Even that, though, was an improvement over his 2010 lefty stats.

Catchers: C

There are two words that come to mind when thinking about the Indians catchers: Carlos Santana.  He had a great start to the season (taking part in a triple play on April 3, then hitting a grand slam later the same month).  Unfortunately, he had a rough time defensively.  He ended up 4th overall in errors by a catcher.  Granted, he had to split his time between catching and 1B after Matt LaPorta’s meltdown.

Infield: D+

There is no easy way to say it: The Indians bombed defensively in 2011.  Sure, the Indians has moments of greatness (like the above-mentioned triple play) and sometime made the “Top 10″ plays of the week on a particular sports network, but when taking the season as a whole, the Tribe ended up as the scum on the bottom of the barrel.  Orlando Cabrera, Jason Kipnis, Matt LaPorta, and Carlos Santana (among the other players the Indians threw in to try to save the team) simply looked like a B-Movie version of “Major League.”  And not the second half of the movie, either.  This was a “Back to the Minors” season for sure.  The bright spot defensively came from Jack Hannahan.

Offensively, Asdrubal Cabrera earned himself a Silver Slugger award, batting .273 on the year with over 600 at-bats producing 87 runs on 165 hits, 32 doubles, 25 homers, and knocking in 92 RBIs.  No one else on the team came even close, regardless of position. Well, okay, Santana came close.  He had just over 550 at-bats, scoring 84 runs on 132 hits, 35 doubles, 27 homers and 79 RBIs.  He ended the season with a .239 batting average.  Looking at the numbers, the Indians appear to have done pretty well offensively which accounts for the great early to middle-of-the season record for the Tribe this past year.  In fact, it is the offense that saved the Indians from receiving a flat-out F in the category.

Outfield: F

Here’s a quiz: Name the Indians outfielder with the highest fielding percentage who played in more than 100 games. Oh, wait, there was only one player to play in more than 100 games: Michael Brantley.  How about more than 90 games? The same. More than 86? The same. Drop the threshold to 85 or more and Shin-Soo Choo appears on the list. In order to see anyone else, the appearance number must drop to 64 (Carrera).  It is not until we drop the threshold to 50 or more that we see the “I thought these guys were going to be great/used to be great” additions of Kearns, Sizemore, and Fukudome.  Between injuries and a general head-shaking collapse of the entire outfield, the Indians simply could not pull together any combination of players to bring the team out of its downward plunge.  What saved the team?  The huge jump they had at the start of the season.

Offensively, the outfield wasn’t abysmal, but weren’t very good overall, either.  Sure, Brantley, Duncan, and Choo all batted better than .250, but aside from Sizemore, they also led the team in strikeouts.  Duncan led the Tribe with 11 home runs. Yes, you read that correctly. Sizemore hit 10 and Brantley had 8 homers.  The Indians outfield was just about as invisible at the plate as they were in the field.

Top Offensive Player

It is no wonder Asdrubal Cabrera secured a Silver Slugger Award in 2011.  In the list of Indians appearing in at least 100 games, he led in at-bats, runs, hits, RBIs, stolen bases, batting average, and slugging percentage.  Take into account the entire team, and he led in at-bats, runs,  hits, RBIs, and stolen bases.  Take out Tomlin, Kipnis, Duncan, and Thome (who were all non-everyday batters anyway) and Cabrera leads in slugging percentage as well.  Overall, he was Top 5 in nearly every offensive category for the Indians in 2011 and receives my vote as the top offensive player.

Top Pitcher

While many Tribe fans would undoubtedly choose Chris Perez as having the greatest impact on the team from the mound in 2011, Justin Masterson served as the leader in the middle of the diamond.  As stated above, he made a vast improvement over 2010 against lefties.  Masterson proved to the team that he no longer deserved to be relegated to the back of the rotation.

David “Tribecards” Henderson

Tribe Cards


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Seriously. Let him go.

Ah, yes, word on the street is that the Indians and Grady Sizemore's people are close to a 1-year deal to bring him back to Cleveland.  Am I the only Tribe fan that sees this as a horrible, horrible thing to do??  He was once a great outfielder. There is no doubt about that.  He even did "okay" last year for a guy who was plagued by the same injury-proneness that has followed him for years.  And, therein lies the rub: he cannot stay in a playable condition.

Please, let the man go. Let some other team deal with injuries and rumor and speculation of playability.  We need new, healthy players in the Tribe clubhouse.  We have got to look FORWARD with both eyes instead of glancing forward while keeping our team's head turned to the past.

The Indians management needs to grow a pair and cut loose that which drags the team down.  At the same time, quit pulling in players that only serve to increase the average player age of the team.  Age and experience can be good things. No doubt there.  But, sometimes, you have to just keep swimming.  Keep moving forward.  It's worked pretty well for Disney. Let's try it in Cleveland.

Here's the MLB article regarding the deal as of Friday.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tribecards and Alaska

About a week or so ago, Jesse from asked for volunteers to participate in a project he was developing.  So, a few days ago, he dropped me a line to ask for my input regarding a few ex-Alaska League players who are part of the Indians organization.  Admittedly, I had not really heard of the players since I don't generally follow the prospect scene.  But, I agreed to the project because I thought it would be a fun challenge.  It was!

I did as much research on each player as I could, then culled together my thoughts based on stats, info, and general "gut feelings."  I guess we'll see how close I come when the Tribe take the field in 2012.

You can check out the article (which is really a Q&A) on the site:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wherefore art thou, Tribecards?

Oh, I know, you think I fell off the face of the Earth after posting how I was going to write more and do better.  Evidently, I am not a very good steward of the Tribecards name, especially in the off season.

Well, as a teaser, I can tell you that I have been working on a series of articles for Baseball Digest Online (along with a slew of other folks) that recaps the 2011 baseball season, looks at the team's off season, and then looks ahead to next year.

Once my article has been edited, approved and posted, I'll share it with you, along with additional thoughts that didn't make the summary.  I have a feeling my submitted piece will get cut a bit as I wrote a tad more than double the requested word count.  And, I didn't even digress in it!

I suppose that comes from my MA in BS...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A most EPIC adventure - vicarious living!

So, you had to watch Game 7 of the World Series on TV with the majority of folks (including myself)?  What if... Just, what if... You and two of your buddies decided to hop in a car and head to Game 7 without any tickets and not really much of a plan?

Well, follow along with these three guys as they did just that!  I had a BLAST reading along* as they spelled out each part of their trip.  In fact, I see a movie deal in the making with this one.  So, like most of us, I am living vicariously through the awesomeness that is DiamondHoggers:

*Note: I **DID NOT** go on this trip. I am merely sharing an incredible tale!  Heck, I don't even know the guys involved.  And, even if I did, I'd probably have to claim I didn't after their adventure anyway for legal reasons!