Saturday, July 16, 2005

10 years ago today

The resurgence of the Cleveland Indians might have had its breakthrough moment on July 16, 1995, when the Indians staked their claim as the rally kings of the decade.
The Indians and Athletics battled through 11 innings at Jacobs Field until Oakland scratched out a run in the top of the 12th for a 4-3 lead. On came Dennis Eckersley, Oakland's now-hall-of-fame closer.
Cleveland managed a baserunner before getting two outs. Manny Ramirez stepped to the plate as the Tribe's last hope and proceeded to foul off a number of pitches against Eckersley.
He was looking for a pitch he could drive. Eck eventually served one up.
Manny made it count.
The ball went about as high as it did far, eventually landing deep in the left-field bleachers, the thunderbolt that delivered the Indians to a 5-4 win.
As he walked off the mound, Eckersley mouthed the word "wow," making no attempt to hide his amazement at how far the ball traveled.
If the Indians and Ramirez hadn't arrived prior to then, they certainly had when that ball reached the fans.
Albert Belle had his own encore two days later against the Angels' Lee Smith, depositing a walk-off grand slam into the center field picnic plaza at Jacobs Field for a 7-5 win. Smith later said the ball landed "in the barbecue."
(Personal side note: I went to the game on July 17 that year, an 8-3 loss to the Angels started by then-rookie Chad Ogea. So, one step away from history on both sides, I went to the dud game sandwiched between two of the most memorable finishes of a memorable season. Such is life.)

1 comment:

Zach said...

It's important to look at 1995 for a few reasons.
The first reason is that this is not 1995.
I needed to get that out of the way because Eric Wedge is managing the team like it is.
Watching the Indians offense this weekend has been like watching a man try to walk on a broken leg.
The Indians, who are batting a man cleanup today with a .220 average, need to understand that the lineup is not going to dominate. They need to manufacture runs. If that means a bunt, so be it.
A perfect example was in the first inning today. Sizemore leads off with a walk, and Crisp comes up. But instead of a bunt, a hit and run or even a steal, Wedge stands pat and Crisp hits into a 4-6-3.
This becomes all the more irritating when Martinez hits a single that could have brought in a run.
Wedge has been waiting for a three-run homer all series, and it's just not coming.
Look, Wedge can argue that the team doesn't have bunters, but whose fault is that?
The other reason to look back is to remember that as good as the Indians were in 1995, they didn't win it all. As much as I've criticized the Indians, Mark Shapiro does understand they need to keep the farm system strong and focus on pitching.