Friday, October 05, 2007

One Down, Two To Go

If you'd told me before last night's game that C.C. Sabathia was going to give up a home run to Johnny Damon during the first at bat of the first inning, walk six and get pulled after five innings and 114 pitches, I don't think I'd have put a lot of money on the Tribe.

So much for the conventional wisdom. C.C. may not have dazzled his future teammates with his command last night, but he had to have impressed them with his guts. Sabathia may have struggled, but never stopped trusting his fastball and he never stopped challenging Yankee batters. For fans of a team that saw their best chance for a World Series championship in the past 60 years slip away because Jose Mesa refused to trust his best pitch when he was struggling in a key situation, C.C.'s performance was heartening, to say the least.

Nowhere were C.C.'s guts more on display than in his epic battle against Jorge Posada with the bases loaded in the fifth. After spotting Posada a 3-0 count, Sabathia responded with a blazing inside fastball that Posada fouled off. He continued to give Posada a steady diet of heat and ultimately sent him down swinging with a 96 mph fastball high in the zone.

Sabathia then got Matsui to ground out to end the inning, at which point the Indians then proceeded to give C.C. more run support in a single inning than they gave him in the entire month of August. From the fifth inning on, Game 1 of the ALDS turned into a combination of a bad baseball video game and "turn back the clock to 1995" night, with the Tribe shellacking every Yankee pitcher as they coasted -- yes, coasted -- to a 12-3 win.

All in all, it was a great night. In fact, perhaps the only negative was LeBron James, who appears to be taking advice from O.J. Simpson's image consultants. Okay, LeBron, we get it-- you're a Yankee fan. That's nice, and you're welcome to root for whoever you want. But you're also Cleveland's most high profile athlete since Jim Brown, and for you to publicly flaunt your allegiance to the Yankees during your SNL gig was a pretty low rent move. Even more disappointing was your decision to top that by showing up at Jacobs Field with your Yankee hat on and mugging for the Fox (oops, I meant TBS) cameras. Yeah, we were all witnesses, and we weren't impressed.

LeBron, if you want to go to the games, please have the decency not to publicly rain on Cleveland's parade. Find yourself a nice loge to park in, and just go away until the NBA season starts. I think I speak for everyone when I say we've seen enough of you for a while. We love you, man, but you're being a jerk.

So after last night's impressive display, the Indians find themselves up 1-0 with Carmona taking the hill this afternoon. That's a nice position to be in, but we also need to keep history in mind. All too often, Cleveland's postseason offensive eruptions are followed by games where the Indians can't beg, borrow or steal a run. Remember 2001, when the Tribe followed up its 17-2 annihilation of the Mariners in Game 3 of the ALDS with a 6-2 defeat in Game 4? Or how about the 1998 ALCS, when the Tribe smashed four home runs in Game 3 to beat the Yankees 6-1 , only to follow that up with a 1-0 loss?

This series is far from over. In fact, it's just begun. Still, all things considered, I'd rather be an Indians fan than a Yankees fan this morning. That's a situation that we haven't found ourselves in too frequently, so I plan to enjoy it.

1 comment:

Vinny said...

I was there. It was great. I also saw a few celebrities. The Chocolate Starfish was near the right field foul pole, telling the people around him that Damon's disputed homer looked fair. The other fans didn't look too pleased with his expert analysis. I also saw Joey Peeps a few rows in front of me. He was holding a nice 24 oz. chilly one in his hand. He didn't seem to have offended anyone, although he may have urinated on a Yankee fan sitting next to him at one point.

All in all, it was a good game and a good night.