In the Cleveland Indians' 2006 season, there weren't many things you could depend on. Jake Westbrook would follow a great start with a nonsensical outing. Jhonny Peralta would follow a game-winning homer with a preposterous baserunning gaffe. Victor Martinez threw out a basestealer. Aaron Boone got a hit. Cliff Lee got someone to hit a ground ball. Ramon Vazquez ... okay, well, actually, you could depend on Ramon Vazquez. But on the field, there was very little you could depend on, day in and day out.
Off the field, though, you could depend on The B-List to provide you with a unique combination of statistical analysis, snide wit, and obscure references that gave you a reason to follow up on every Tribe game. Now, for the first time, you can get every B-List column plus two bonus columns in one handy paperback, just in time for Christmas shopping, bathroom reading, or just adding color to your bookshelf. You'll find completely unsubstantiated accounts of a typical day in the life of a Chicago White Sox relief pitcher:
And it wasn't the most annoying in the division, because the White Sox were Evil.
In fact, consider the top four back-end relievers for the White Sox. Here is a typical day in the life of Neal Cotts: upon waking up in the morning, Cotts would jump into his baby seal oil powered car at 5 AM and rev its two-stroke engine for ten minutes to maximize the number of neighbors disturbed and the amount of foul-smelling smoke into the air. He would then speed ruthlessly through neighborhoods to the local Starbucks, where he would buy the largest, hottest coffee he could, pay with counterfeit money, and then toss the scalding hot coffee at homeless people on his way to the animal shelter. After picking out the very cutest puppy and kitten from the litter, he would take them home and pan-fry them for breakfast. He would then roto-till the neighbors ' yards with ground road salt, superglue the elementary school' s doors shut, drive back to Starbucks, pretend to have spilled the coffee, get a free refill, and scald the local safety patrol volunteers near the middle school. After a brisk game of Ground Glass Roulette with his children 's breakfasts, he would ...
Well, okay, he didn' t do any of that. But he was Evil, okay?
You can hear the sad tale of Shapetto and the Little Bullpen That Couldn't:
That night, a magical fairy came. Since Shapetto was poor, he did not get the high-class fairy with a diamond-encrusted crown and beautiful gossamer wings. Instead, he got Milt, the bus-driving fairy, who had three-day stubble and smoked the stub of a very smelly cigar. Instead of gossamer wings, Milt used an oil-burning Vespa, and instead of a magic wand, had a magic 8-ball. Still, magic is magic, and the little wooden bullpen was excited to see him.
You can wonder exactly how Cleveland lost to the eventual World Series Champs:
I'm not sure I can do justice to just how squanderrific last night 's loss was. The fact is, I was very excited to see the Tribe come back in the eighth inning: it is unusual for a team 2 runs down as late as the 8th take the lead. And it was a pretty strange rally, involving significantly bad defense (by St. Louis) and enough good karma to suggest some sort of cosmic balancing or smiling Fortune. And then the Indians showed ... well, I dunno whether it makes sense to make any sort of sweeping global generalizations for a very, very bad inning all around. The defense was bad, but at least Really Big Bob couldn 't throw strikes and gave up a booming double to allow the tying run to score. To blame this on Wickman is disingenuous, but the phrase "comedy of errors" doesn 't seem to fit, as "comedy" implies "humor." To me, the combination of Kelly Shoppach botching a popup and Jhonny Peralta channeling Steve Sax smacked more of "pathos."
Or enjoy Steve expound his pet theory, or at least the pet theory he had at the time:
Sabathia's "contactability" came into play yesterday, as he only struck out three in 7 innings. This by itself doesn 't mean much, but consider the following sequence:
Marcus Thames: Strike (foul), Strike (swinging), Foul, Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Ball, Ball, M Thames walked
Craig Monroe: Strike (foul), C Monroe doubled to left
Magglio Ordonez: Strike (foul), Ball, Strike (foul), Ball, M Ordonez doubled to deep left, M Thames and C Monroe scored
Carlos Guillen: Strike (foul),C Guillen singled to center, M Ordonez to third (he subsequently scored on a double play)
Since this was pretty much the ballgame, I focused on this. Sabathia threw 11 pitches that were nominally in the strike zone. Of the 11 pitches, exactly ONE did not make contact with a bat. Now, these guys are free swingers, I am not expecting a lot of called strikes. And this is the sixth inning, the third time up for these guys, who form the titular heart of the Detroit order. But all those foul balls ... man, I got to watch that inning, and Sabathia simply wasn 't fooling anybody. There's something to be said for "pitching to contact," and Sabathia did induce three double plays, but that something to be said is, "Stop doing it." In all, the Tigers fouled off THIRTY-FIVE PITCHES; they had SEVEN swinging strikes. I have no idea if this is significant or unusual, but it sounds terrible. Of the three walks Sabathia yielded, two of them came after a batter fouled off a two-strike pitch.
The B-List has been called "the best daily Indians column on the net" (albeit by the guy who publishes it). Regardless of the source, though, there's something for everyone: a deeper look at the games, made-up words like "surgence" and "taterosity," and comparing players to fungi. Unless you are Ramon Vazquez or Danny Graves, you're sure to enjoy reading The B-List: 2006 until you stop.
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