The End May Be Drawing Near
Do you realize how spectacularly a Cleveland team has to be playing to bump the Cavaliers down to second billing in The Weekend Wrap?
Well I don't either but it has to be pretty damn spectacular.
And spectacularly bad qualifies.
Losers of four straight games, seven of their last ten and now officially the worst team in all of Major League baseball, the 11-21 Indians have ‘earned' this week's top spot.
How bad is this team going? Well, when consecutive Indian hitters singled late in Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Tigers it marked the first time since Thursday that Indians hitters had strung consecutive hits together. That offensive outburst didn't help the Indians from being swept by the Tigers to extend this miserable stretch of baseball.
Speaking of miserable, Grady Sizemore is hitting .227. Jhonny Peralta is hitting .229. Kelly Shoppach is hitting .218 and has struck out in 40% of his at bats. Ben Francisco is at .247 with a hole in his swing bigger than a Buick. Rafael Perez has been demoted to Columbus. Jensen Lewis and Masa Kobayashi should be nicknamed "Dry Brush & Lightning Strike" and 40% of the starting rotation that began the year in Cleveland has been replaced.
Aside from those guys and Mark DeRosa, Jeremy Sowers, Zach Jackson and Rafael Betancourt, everyone else is performing up to expectations. Except for Kerry Wood, Anthony Reyes and Joe Smith. All the while manager Eric Wedge nervously talks about playing through the adversity, taking things one game, one at bat and one pitch at a time and thinks about replacing Luis Valbuena and his .200 batting average with Josh Barfield.
This bears repeating: I don't care if Eric Wedge is let go yesterday. Got that? I don't particularly care for the way Wedge uses a lot of words to say nothing nor do I particularly appreciate the fact that he wrings every bit of joy out of the game for me with his business and process approach to running his club. But this organization is worse off if they let him go today.
Imagine if you will (and dance if you must) that Wedge is let go tonight. Who takes his place in the dugout? You are not getting an established man to step into this stinking pile of sewage right now. It just doesn't happen that way for a myriad of reasons. One of which is no manager wants to own the toxic site the previous guy left him. The other reason is that any manager who is going to step in and change the culture and philosophy of this team is going to want to do so with his own people. Those people, hopefully, are employed already. And if they aren't I'm not sure you want them.
So that means what you end up with on May 12th until the end of the season is an organizational placeholder making out the lineups for the next 120 games. That means no organizational change but rather just a different voice issuing the same messages. That means another 125 games of bad baseball (in all likelihood) with Joel Skinner presiding over the clubhouse and 60+ home games with 4,000 people in the seats wondering how they got roped into being in Progressive Field for another dispiriting loss.
As much as it may frustrate, disappoint and anger the fans who support this team, the best option is to stick with Eric Wedge for another 30-35 games. By that time the miraculous will have happened, the Indians will have gone 20-10 and they will be back in the AL central race. Or, they will be 20 games under .500 and the hue and cry will not be able to be ignored, Wedge will get the boot and it's interview time at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario for the next three months.
I do think you'll see some superficial changes. Whether Derek Shelton is the first sacrificial lamb is anyone's guess, but some changes have got to be coming. And I think you'll see Wedge hold onto his job for at least the next month or so. That allows you the opportunity for the miracle turnaround if Wedge's key contributors get their heads out of their backsides and if they don't it just further greases the skids.
Sit tight Tribe fans. You just may get your blood. But you don't want it right this minute regardless of how thirsty you are. Because that means the 2009 season has been sacrificed to quench your thirst.
The End is Definitely Near
It must be a terrible feeling to give everything you've got in an athletic endeavor and still fall woefully short of your stated goals. Personally I've never been in that position other than most of my life but the Atlanta Hawks definitely know what I'm talking about.
The Hawks played their best game of this second round series against the Cavaliers, actually took a short lived lead or two, and still lost by 15 points to Cleveland on their own Georgia court Saturday night.
That puts the Hawks in a huge 3-0 series hole heading into Monday night's clincher...err...Game 4.
At some point you just run out of platitudes with which to heap upon LeBron James. This is not one of those times. LBJ was magnificent on Saturday night in the ATL. His 47 points came in every variety of way and he answered the real, if brief, challenge the Hawks presented the Cavs in Game 3.
Game 3 is what has to pass for adversity right now with the Cavs. The fact that no one has presented them with more adversity, much less a serious challenge, speaks both to the level of competition they are facing as well as the level at which they are playing. I'd like to think it's far more the latter. Because as it stands right now every Cavalier playoff game (all seven of which the good guys have won by 10+ points, a new NBA record) seems like another step to a coronation parade as opposed to just an early round match up with the Eastern Conference's cannon fodder.
I've been around long enough to know full well it's going to get a lot more difficult, but I can't say I'm disappointed that the Cavs have efficiently and consistently gone about removing any drama from the proceedings.