While chemistry and camaraderie
are certainly not measurable quantities and we're still only about 25
games into the season; but this team is, as Lou Brown would say, “starting
to come together, Pepper…starting to come together.”
Realizing that post-game whipped
cream pies in the face mean about as much as me wearing my lucky shirt
to the game, it shows that this team is loose and playing to win and
not tense and playing not to lose. Perhaps Dellucci, Nixon, and
Hernandez do lend more to this team than 2 LH bats and a few rotten
innings of relief work.
We all pointed to Alvaro Espinoza
putting bubble gum on the top of people's hats as the great example
that the Indians of the mid-90's were always loose and in on every game.
The Indians stand at 17-8 without playing their best and coming back
to win games they have no right winning. Maybe whipped cream pies
are today's bubble gum hats.
The greatest example of this
team pulling together and acting as one unit came out tonight as Josh
Barfield came around from 1B and tried to score on a Sizemore liner
that Alex Rios dropped in CF. As Barfield headed toward home, Blue Jays'
catcher Jason Phillips (and his 2007 version of Chris Sabo Rec-Specs)
blocked his path and successfully tagged Barfield out. Phillips
got up and taunted Barfield, pumping his fist and screaming at a now-called-out
Barfield had some brief words
for Phillips, but then in comes Dellucci, from the on-deck circle, to
confront this guy that looks like that kid from the
“Christmas Story” in the line for Santa Claus. It's not clear if Dellucci
asked him if he liked the “Wizard of Oz” or maybe the Tin Man, but
harsh words were spoken and it was on. The benches cleared but
(like any baseball fight not involving Dennis Cook or Nolan Ryan) it
amounted to nothing.
But, other than Dellucci completely
endearing himself to thousands of Tribe fans by sticking up for Jesse's
Boy, the moment represented something much larger. This team is
in this thing together and they're rolling. Whether “veteran
leadership” or a sense of solidarity plays a major role in that can
never be known as it's not something that is exactly quantifiable.
Whether this continues all
season long and the team is able to cobble together one of those magical
seasons that we all desperately need remains to be seen.
Whether the additions of the
veterans on this club have anything to do with it will remain a point
of conjecture all season.
What is known, and measurable,
is that the Indians stand at 17-8, two full games up in the AL Central
and sitting on the best record in MLB.
For now, let's sit back and
enjoy the ride.