|Highest WPA||Lowest WPA|
|Casey Blake||.293||CC Sabathia||-.216|
|Franklin Gutierrez||.281||Rafael Perez||-.193|
|Rafael Betancourt||.233||Asdrubal Cabrera||-.111|
Today, finally, mercifully, the Cleveland Indians played baseball. It was an opening day game for the ages. The game was harrowing; we saw a poor performance out of our best pitcher and incredible heroics out of (hopefully) a superstar in the making and the most maligned Cleveland Indian in recent history.
Things started out shaky as Sabathia spotted Boo "Radley" Thome a 2-run homer in the top of the first. Boo also sunk a pair of scrapbooking scissors into Victor's thigh later in the game, and El Capitan is listed as day to day.
The offenses were briefly quiet until Tribe Time arrived, and our heroes exploded for 7 runs in the second, including a 3-run jack from Franky G, who luckily was able to make the game despite his duties being the best singer in Menudo and the president of the Czech Republic, and a solo shot from Grady "Yes, I'm still getting better" Sizemore. The Sox chipped away at the lead, touching up three of the Indians' best pitchers, while Chicago's normally shaky bullpen held down the Tribe until the game was tied in the seventh.
Some truly odd though perhaps (?) correct umpiring happened in the meantime, but the game crystallized in the bottom of the eighth when Casey Blake stepped in with the bases loaded, two outs and hammered a ball against the left field wall.
I wanted to write a full-on recap of the game but, frankly, I'm not sure I'm up to the challenge of making this game any more fantastical than it already was. Any one of the mainstream sites can tell you what happened, from the bizarre umpiring to the improbably squashed comeback, and the events you'll read about stand on their own merit. Today, to me, is not a day for recounting but instead one for reflection.
I've literally just finished reading Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, for reasons we're not going to discuss. With apologies to Ms. Blume, I've adapted the end of her book here, in what seems to me to be both the most fitting end to a terrific opening day and the most fitting beginning to the 2008 season. Let's Go Tribe.
I went back into the house. I had to go to the bathroom. I was thinking about Franklin Gutierrez and about how I liked to stand close to him. I was thinking that I was glad he wasn't an Alex Escobar and I was happy that he hit in our lineup. Then I looked down at my scoreboard and I couldn't believe it. There was Casey Blake on it. Not a lot-but enough. I really hollered, "Mom – hey Mom – come quick!"
When my mother got to the bathroom she said, "What is it? What's the matter?"
"I got it," I told her.
I started to laugh and cry at the same time. "My first win. I've got my first win!" My nose started running and I reached for a tissue.
"Are you sure, Margaret?" my mother asked.
"Look-look at this," I said showing her my scoreboard.
"My God! You've really got it! My little season!" Then her eyes filled up and she started sniffling too. "Wait a minute – I've got the equipment in the other room. I was going to put it in your summer camp trunk, just in case."
"Yes. Just in case." She left the bathroom.
When she came back I asked her, "Is it Private Lady stuff?"
"No, I got you Teenage Softies."
"Good," I said.
"Now look, Margaret – here's how you do it. The critical hit fits inside your scoreboard and –"
"Mom, I said. "I've been practicing in my room for five months!"
Then my mother and I laughed together and she said, "In that case, I guess I'll wait in the other room."
I locked the bathroom door and peeled the paper off the bottom of the critical hit. I pressed the sticky strip against my scoreboard. Then I got dressed and looked at myself in the mirror. Would anyone know my secret? Would it show? Would Dombrowski, for instance, know if I went back outside to talk to him? Would K-Love know it right away when he came home for dinner? I had to call the Tigers and Twins and Royals right away. Poor Tigers! She'd be the last of the Pre-Teen Sensations to get it. And I'd been so sure it would be me! How about that! Now I am growing for sure. Now I am almost a championship season!
Are you still there Shap? It's me, the Indians 2008 Season. I know you're there Shap. I know you wouldn't have missed this for anything! Thank you Shap. Thanks an awful lot ...