Nobody expected the Cleveland Indians to do much in 2011. Before the beginning of the season, I think most Indians fans were cautiously optimistic about the offense, assuming the offense stayed healthy, Travis Hafner produced more, Grady Sizemore came back at 100% from his microfracture, and a hitting fairy paid a visit to Matt LaPorta (or really, any right-handed batter in the Indians organization). I think Indians fans were cautiously optimistic about the bullpen, assuming everyone stayed healthy, Chris Perez continued his strong showing as Indians closer, and a couple of veterans like Joe Smith were able to guide the young Indians ‘pen. But I think Indians fans were decidedly lukewarm about the Indians starting pitching, even if everyone stayed healthy, Fausto Carmona kept his mind, and Justin Masterson grew some hair.
In short, there were a lot of things that could have gone wrong. As Indians fans, we’re accustomed to everything that can go wrong going wrong, so no one predicted the Indians riding a 9-game winning streak and a 14-game home winning streak to a 30-15 start. No one predicted them hanging on to first place for much of the summer, and then staying competitive until early September. The Indians fell short of the postseason this year, but there’s no doubt there was tremendous improvement. My year-end grades for the Indians, plus playoff predictions, after the break.
Last weekend, I flew up to Minneapolis, Minnesota to meet up with two college roommates and friends and take in some baseball. As it happened, the Indians were in town, so it turned into an opportunity for me to see them in person for the only time this year. As it further happened, when we planned the trip and bought the tickets in July, Jim Thome was playing for the Twins, but by the time we arrived in Minneapolis on September 16, he was a Cleveland Indian again. This was also the first time I’ve visited a stadium that wasn’t Progressive Field more than once, so I was able to get a great look at Target Field, the newest stadium in baseball until next April. My review of Target Field, after the break.
Three thousand, nine hundred eighty-one days ago, on October 17, 2000, a small water craft slammed into the side of the USS Cole, killing seventeen American sailors and injuring thirty-nine. While Americans mourned the loss of their sailors, there’s no way we knew – there’s no way we could have known – that the attack on the Cole was an ominous harbinger of a far more deadly attack to come. Nearly eleven months later, on September 11, 2001, four airliners crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and a remote field in Shanksville, PA. Ten years later, as the country continues the long healing process, seems an appropriate time to reflect. I’m not really sure why I’m writing this: around this time last year I decided I’d try to write it, but I’m not sure anyone else but me will find it useful. Maybe it’ll offer closure. Or maybe it’s so I don’t forget.