Jack City

My name is Scott Miles. I'm a Cleveland native and a die-hard Cleveland sports fan. I am in my second year at Capital University where I write for the school paper, work in the Sports Information Department, and used to play baseball and golf. This blog focuses on Cleveland and Ohio State sports, along with Capital. Feel free to give me feedback!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I was shocked to see that the Kansas City Royals, with a record of 46 wins and 81 losses, rank 13th in Major League Baseball with a .270 team batting average.

"With the way they hit against the Indians," I thought, "they should be in the top-five."

Entering tonight's game (in which Kansas City has already scored 13 runs through seven innings), the Royals carried a .304 team batting average against the Tribe this year. That's almost an extra three and a half hits per 10 at bats.

Or put it this way: take out the beating that they put on Tribe pitchers, and the Royals lineup hits only .265, dropping all the way to 21st in the league.

I hate seeing the Royals on the schedule. Nothing good ever comes out of it. If you beat them, so what? You're supposed to beat them. It's just the Royals; they have as much of an emphasis on winning as Nicole Ritchie has on eating.

If you lose to them, it's like getting beat up by your little sister. So far the Indians are 8-6 against KC this season, which I guess is respectable given that our overall record stands 12 games below .500.

Then I look at it the other way and see that 13 percent of Kansas City's wins are against Cleveland.

Sportstime Ohio put up the stat during the seventh inning that tonight, the Royals 3-5 hitters were 11-for-13. 11 hits in 13 at bats? That's ridiculous for slow-pitch softball, let alone a major league pitching staff.

Catcher John Bucks is batting .237 this season. Against the Indians: .400. Doug Mientkiewicz, David DeJesus and Mark Teahen are all close to .300 for the season, yet all sport .400+ batting averages against the Tribe, including Teahen's ridiculous .478 and an 8-for-8 stretch to start this series.

(I know I used ridiculous in each of the past two paragraphs, but that's how strongly I feel about this. When guys like Shane Costa, Esteban German and John Buck help derail what should have been a special season, you get bitter.)

It doesn't even stop there. The Royals rank last in the bigs with a 5.66 ERA, which seems to see just a slight improvement when facing the Indians (5.46). Keep in mind, though, that it counts the infamous Luke Hudson game, in which he gave up 11 runs (only 10 earned though) in just one third of an inning. That works out to an ERA of - get your calculators out kids, the formula is earned runs divided by innings pitched times nine - 270.00. 270.00!!!!!!!!!

(Exclude that start and the team ERA is a more respectable 4.76).

As I prepare to post this and go to bed, the Indians have rallied from a 10-1 first inning deficit to tie the game at 13. It's the bottom of the ninth and Rafael Betancourt struck out Mark Teahen, the first time in nine at bats he's been retired this series. Betancourt even took down Mike Sweeney, who as my friend Stu says, is likely the captain of the Indians Killers squad.

Ordinarily I'd stay up to watch the end of the game. But I'm not.

After all, it's only the Royals.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Has it really been almost a week? Shoot. Well, without further ado, here is Part III of my Ex-Indians All Star Team: The Pitchers!

After about an hour of research, I found only four - four! - former Tribe starting pitchers still in the bigs. Yikes. Bartolo Colon (Angels) has only made 10 starts this year and will miss the rest of the season. Another group of three ex-Tribe starters - Zach Day, Ryan Drese, Billy Traber, all with the Washington Nationals - have combined to pitch 10 games this season. So they're out. That leaves us with this starting rotation...

* Kevin Millwood, SP, Texas Rangers - 2006 stats: 12-8, 4.58 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, .286 BAA, 26 starts. 2006 salary: $7.9 million

Scott's View: It would have been great to keep Millwood after the season he put together last year, but just not financially feasible. ERA inflated due to pitching in the hitter-friendly Ballpark at Arlington (6.14 home ERA).

* Jaret Wright, SP, New York Yankees - 2006 stats: 9-7, 4.50 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, .285 BAA, 23 starts. 2006 salary: $7.66 million

Scott's View: Ahhh, good ol' Jaret Wright. This is why I try not to get too excited about young players who play well in their first season. Because then you end up like Jaret Wright, with a career record of 66-57 and a 5.09 ERA. The next Bob Feller, huh?

* Scott Elarton, SP, Kansas City Royals - 2006 stats: 4-9, 5.34 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, .267 BAA, 20 starts. 2006 salary: $4 million

Scott's View: Has a lower WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) and opponent batting average than Jaret Wright, yet worse ERA? Strange. The pitcher signed to replace Elarton as the fifth starter, Jason Johnson, is 3-12 with a 6.35 ERA with both Cleveland and Boston this year.

Now, there have been numerous relievers pitching pretty well this year who used to sport the Chief Wahoo logo. Sadly, even having one or two of these guys here this season might have made a difference. I'm going to select two setup men and one closer to round out this pitching staff.

* Bob Howry, RP, Chicago Cubs - 2006 stats: 3-3, 3.15 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .243 BAA, 19 Holds. 2006 salary: $3 million.

Scott's View: No surprise here - Howry proved over the course of the last two seasons that he's one of the most effective setup guys in the business. Pitched so well, in fact, that he outpriced himself for the Tribe to keep.

* Justin Speier, RP, Toronto Blue Jays - 2006 stats: 1-0, 3.05 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, .227 BAA, 22 Holds. 2006 salary: $2.25 million.

Scott's View: Shocked, absolutely shocked, to see Speier pitching this well. Had one good season and one atrocious season in Tribe uniform. Funny how that works out.

* Bob Wickman, CP, Atlanta Braves - 2006 stats: 1-4, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, .247 BAA, 23 saves. 2006 salary: $5 million.

Scott's View: There's a reason why he's saved the most games in Indians history. He's been lights out since joining the Braves, converting all eight saves. For the record, fewer blown saves (three, albeit fewer situations) this year than Billy Wagner and Jonathan Papelbon (five), B.J. Ryan and Trevor Hoffman (four), and same as Mariano Rivera. Say what you will, big Bob knows how to finish games.

Here are the other pitchers who didn't make the cut:
Bartolo Colon (Angels) - David Riske (White Sox) - Ron Villone (Yankees) - Scott Sauerbeck (Inmate number 277452) - Dan Miceli (Devil Rays) - Brian Tallet (Blue Jays) - Danys Baez and Chad Paronto (Braves) - Guillermo Mota (Mets, just traded today) - Kent Mercker and David Weathers (Reds) - Jose Mesa and Tom Martin (Rockies) - Arthur Rhoades and Rick White (Phillies) - Alan Embree (Padres) - Steve Kline and Tim Worrell (Giants) - Zach Day, Ryan Drese and Billy Traber (Nationals)

(Before I go any further, I thought I should share the fact that Jose Mesa has 320 career saves and 1,000 career strikeouts. He's 40 years old now and has 17 years of big league experience. Just in case you're interested.)

I have selected 17 players to my 2006 Ex-Indians All Star Team: three starting pitchers (Millwood, Wright, Elarton) , three relievers (Howry, Speier, Wicky), five outfielders (Manny, Kenny, Coco, Roberts, Giles), five infielders (Broussard, Phillips, Omar, Bell, Bard) and one DH (Thome). Together, they have a combined salary of about $90.5 million this year ($104 million if I included Bartolo Colon with the starters).

Obviously, it's not realistic to have a real team like this. It assumes that you don't lose anyone to free agency or make any bad trades, and that you must have pretty deep pockets to keep all these guys (insert George Steinbrenner/Yankees joke here). It's also not even a full 25-man roster. Still, I thought it was fun to look back at all of the players who used to grace our presence "on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario", see who was still playing and where.

I'm also amazed that I could remember some of these guys, such as Tom Martin (24 innings pitched in '98 and '99) who couldn't crack the lineup or rotation of those great teams from the 90's. It also led me to think about some other guys who are now out of the league (where have you gone, Steve Woodward? Cameron Cairncross? Jolbert Cabrera?). Hopefully you guys enjoyed reading this as much as I did putting it together.

I'm still looking for more suggestions for my all-time Indians Killer team, so if you can think of a player who just flat-out owns the Tribe, let me know.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Two big stories involving Cleveland sports today, a little shocking because the Indians had an off day, the Browns are still in training camp, and the Cavs are months away from opening tip-off.

- Browns RB Lee Suggs traded to the Jets for DB Derrick Strait: With Curtis Martin hobbled, the Jets needed a running back. With Gary Baxter and Daylon McCutcheon banged up, the Browns needed a defensive back. Plain and simple.

Just a few hours before this trade, I sent a message to my roommate Dan, a Redskins fan. 'Skins running back Clinton Portis went down in their preseason game last night with a separated shoulder and is out for a few weeks, might even miss the opener. I told Dan we should trade Suggs or William Green to Washington in exchange for a "fat guy who can snap a football." Center, another position of need for the Browns with the LeCharles Situation and the Bob Hallen "Walk Away From My Hometown Team With Fake Back Injury" Situation, could have been addressed in a trade. And it still might; with Reuben Droughns in firm control of the starting role and Jerome Harrison, the rookie who's supposedly impressed during camp, Green could still find himself traded.

Suggs showed flashes of potential in the backfield, but he just couldn't stay healthy. It was a matter of numbers, and Suggs got crunched. Now the odds are that he'll rush for 1,800 yards and 12 TD's each of the next five years, but so be it.

Let's just hope Derrick Strait doesn't blow out his ACL during the first play of scrimmage.

- Drew Gooden signs 3-year, $23 million contract with Cavs: Gooden is among the most talented power forwards in the league, grabs rebounds and plays solid defense. Although I'm sure Roger Brown will point out that two teams gave up on him in his first two years in the NBA, Gooden is still just 24 years old and could emerge as one of the premiere 4's.

He'll split time with Anderson Varejao again, but I like that; I don't think Varejao is ready to take over the starting role full-time. I love the enthusiasm and hustle (who doesn't?), but his offensive game is rawer than frozen beef, and he commits way too many stupid fouls. When he develops a post game and learns a little more control on the defensive end, he can really shine in the NBA.

Annnd now, because I know you are all dying to see it, Part Two of my 2006 Ex-Indians All-Star Team: The Infield!

* Ben Broussard, 1B, Seattle Mariners - 2006 stats: .303 batting average, 16 home runs, 50 RBI. 2006 salary: $2.48 million.

Scott's View: Broussard has been known as a streaky hitter and this year finally seemed to eliminate the 0-for-25 stretches that always seemed to plague him. Of course, he still can't hit lefties, his defense has been atrocious, the Indians stunk and traded him for Shin-Soo "Big League" Choo, and he's slumped since joining the Mariners. Yeah, things are definitely going well for ol' "Benny Brou". Put up almost all of those numbers with Tribe.

* Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati Reds - 2006 stats: .291 BA, .342 OBP, 11 HR, 57 RBI, 21 stolen bases. 2006 salary: not available, likely $400-600,000.

Scott's View: (Sigh). Traded (pre-maturely as this turns out) to the Reds after spring training for a player to be named later, who turned out to be Lake County Captain pitcher Jeff Stevens. Stevens is 6-1 with a 3.19 ERA and 3-4 years, at best, before competing for a spot on the Tribe roster. Phillips is finally playing like he actually cares about the game, something that lacked during his stint with Cleveland.

* Omar Vizquel, SS, San Francisco Giants - 2006 stats: .321 BA, .391 OBP, 3 HR, 39 RBI, 18 SB, gold-glove defense as usual. 2006 salary: $3.64 million

Scott's View: "Omar y Amigo!" It's funny how everyone still loves Omar, yet Jim Thome gets booed when he came back to Cleveland. Umm, they both left as free agents to teams offering more money. Anyway, I knew Omar was playing well in San Fran, but I was shocked to see his batting average so high. Good for him.

* David Bell, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers - 2006 stats: .272 BA, .337 OBP, 6 HR, 39 RBI. 2006 salary: $4.7 million.

Scott's View: Not a very strong position for former Indians, but Bell has been the steadiest here. Just got traded from the Phillies to the Brewers before the deadline. Indians traded him to Cardinals as part of the Ken Hill deal back in 1996.

* Josh Bard, C, San Diego Padres - 2006 stats: .330 BA, .403 OBP, 7 HR, 30 RBI. 2006 salary: $353,400.

Scott's View: Splits catching duty with Mike Piazza and has redeemed himself nicely after being forced out of Boston. Even though he batted only .193 with Cleveland last year, I always remember him hitting the ball hard, but just right at people. Part of the Coco trade this past offseason.

* Jim Thome, DH/Utility, Chicago White Sox - 2006 stats: .297 BA, .416 OBP, 35 HR, 87 RBI. 2006 salary: $14.16 million.

Scott's View: The man can hit. And now that he's back in the AL, he doesn't have to play the field. Which means all he has to do is hit. Did I mention how well he hits? Signed with Phillies in 2003 and traded to Chicago this year.

Including those guys above, I counted 19 former Indians infielders on major league rosters. Among them, a glut of first and second basemen who I had to leave off: Jeff Kent (Dodgers, 2000 NL MVP), Richie Sexson (Mariners), Sean Casey (Tigers), and Ronnie Belliard (Cardinals, also slumping like Broussard after trade). Those are some quality players right there. Here are the rest of the infielders to receive consideration:

- Sandy Alomar (White Sox) - Einar Diaz (Dodgers) - Alex Cora (Red Sox) - John MacDonald (Blue Jays) - Julio Franco (AARP, err, Mets) - Damian Jackson (Nationals) - Macier Izturis (Angels) - Marco Scutaro (Athletics) - Eduardo Perez (Mariners)

Regrettably, I left the immortal Ricky Ledee (Mets) off yesterday's list of former Tribe outfielders. Deep apologies for the oversight, but check out his stats and answer me how he is still in the major leagues?

My next and final update of this series will showcase former Indians pitchers, as well as the total payroll and how I think they would stack up in the AL Central this year. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

It's always nice to play your best baseball down the stretch in August and September, as the season winds down and a few breaks here or there could mean the difference between playing in the postseason or planning your winter break.

The Indians have now won six straight games, matching their longest win streak of the year. Coupled with the five game skid that Detroit is on right now, the Tribe seems poised to have another stellar surge like they did in 2005 chasing the White Sox. With 45 games left this season, Cleveland trails the Central-leading Tigers by...

23 games.

On the bright side, we're only 17.5 games behind the White Sox for the Wild Card. And on a brighter note, by sweeping the Royals this weekend, we have essentially clinched fourth place in the division.

I wandered back to the break room at Classic Park shortly before 2:00 today, just in time to see Travis Hafner exchanging high-fives in the dugout after his grand slam, and just in time to see the scoreboard read "11-0". In the first inning. Royals starter Luke Hudson (who???) allowed 11 runs (only 10 earned though) in 1/3 of an inning. His ERA jumped from 4.65 to 6.39. Yikes.

But enough on the Indians. The current Indians, I should say. See, I was watching Sunday Night Baseball with the Dodgers and Giants squaring off. At one point, Kenny Lofton (Dodgers)grounded out to shortstop Omar Vizquel (Giants). I waited for the inevitable and unimaginative comments from Joe Morgan and Jon Miller.

"Those guys used to be teammates," Morgan keenly pointed out.

"Yeah, those were some pretty good Cleveland teams," Miller astutely observed.

That was it. End of story. How about the dominance of the Central Division for half a decade? How about two World Series appearances in three years? How about 455 consecutive sellouts? How about giving hope to an entire city where there once was none?

Oh well; nothing to do about it now. What I can do, though, is unveil Part One of Ex-Indians All Star team! The nostalgia of seeing Lofton and Vizquel on the same field, albeit in the National League and about 3,000 miles away from Cleveland, overcame me.

Every year, just for kicks and giggles, I've created a fantasy baseball on Yahoo stocked with nothing but former Indians players. Yeah, yeah, pretty lame I know, but it was a lot of fun and a nice little challenge. Usually I would finish in the middle of the pack, with pitching being my biggest Achilles' Heel. This year, I didn't have the time or energy to create my Ex-Indians fantasy team, but here is my time to shine.

(NOTE: This is for active players only...I don't want any comments about Roger Maris or Chris Chambliss, etc. As far as I can tell, there are 14 outfielders currently on big-league rosters who were once a part of the Indians organization. Part One, below, includes the five outfielders I would have on my team, and what it would cost the Indians to still have them.)

* Manny Ramirez, LF, Boston Red Sox - 2006 stats: .323 batting average, .432 on-base percentage, 32 home runs, 93 RBI, 27-game hit streak. 2006 salary: $18.3 million.

Scott's View: Umm, it's Manny Ramirez. Signed a billion dollar contract with Boston in 2000.

* Kenny Lofton, CF, Los Angeles Dodgers - 2006 stats: .311 BA, .365 OBP, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 20 stolen bases. 2006 salary: $3.8 million.

Scott's View: Even at the age of 39, Lofton has shown that he can still play at a high level. Traded by the Indians to Atlanta before '97 season, returned as a free agent after that season, then signed with the White Sox after 2001 season.

* Brian Giles, RF, San Diego Padres - 2006 stats: .272 BA, .382 OBP, 8 HR, 60 RBI, 6 SB. 2006 salary: $7.7 million.

Scott's View: After some All-Star caliber seasons in Pittsburgh and SD, Giles is finally starting to slow down but remains a fine hitter. Traded to Pirates, straight up, for Ricky Rincon after the '98 season.

* Dave Roberts, CF, San Diego Padres - 2006 stats: .307 BA, .383 OBP, 35 SB, 2 HR, 30 RBI. 2006 salary - $2.25 million.

Scott's View: Never given a fair shake in Cleveland, Roberts proved to be a solid pro and enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame with the Red Sox during the 2004 postseason. Traded to Dodgers before '02 season for two minor league stiffs.

* Coco Crisp, CF, Boston Red Sox - 2006 stats: .276 BA, .327 OBP, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 16 SB. 2006 salary: $2.8 million.

Scott's View: Similar numbers to Milton Bradley, but slight edge to Coco here because of the stolen bases, though both missed significant playing time due to injuries. Plus he's not an asshole and I love his batting stance. Traded to Red Sox this past off-season, along with Josh Bard and David Riske, for Andy Marte, Kelly Shoppach, and Guillermo "Groove a Fastball Down the Middle" Mota.

Other outfielders included Bradley, Todd Hollandsworth (Reds), Russell Branyan (Devil Rays), Willy Tavares (Astros), Luke Scott (Astros), Jeromy Burnitz (Pirates), Jody Gerut (Pirates - on the DL), Ryan Church (Nationals) and Alex Escobar (Nationals). I found a little interesting that the Red Sox, Padres, Astros, Pirates and Nationals each have two former Indians patrolling the outfield, at least part-time.

Coming up in the next installment: Ex-Indians All Star Team, Part Two - the infield! Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

This has been a great week in Cleveland sports, hasn't it?

- The Indians lost four straight one-run games before beating the Angels 4-0 tonight. Jake Westbrook, after allowing seven hits in the first three innings and tottering like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, showed some resilience and yielded only two more hits the rest of the game. We should have scored about ten runs off Angels ace John Lackey but managed only four. Still, it was a well played game by the Tribe, some nice defensive plays by Joe Inglett in left, Andy Marte at third and - gasp! - Jhonny Peralta at short. Sadly, this is what I've been forced to doing with the Tribe, looking for some positives one game at a time.

("We're talking baseball, Indians baseball - we're talking Tribe!")

- Cleveland's starting lineup included Inglett in left, Shin-Soo "Big League" Choo in right, Marte at third, Hector Marinnaro Luna at second and Ryan Garko at first. Yeah, this is definitely the lineup we expected to have in August after winning 93 games the previous year.

- Todd Hollandsworth was traded to the Reds for a player to be named later. Maybe it will be Brandon Phillips.

- Browns center Bob Hallen, pressed into the starting lineup after the LeCharles Situation, injured his back Monday morning, then apparently left to go to San Diego for "personal reasons". One problem: Hallen didn't tell anyone he was leaving. He eventually did talk to coach Romeo Crennel, who said in an article on clevelandbrowns.com that "He [Hallen] gave me good enough reason to have some concern on my part.”

The Plain Dealer reported that Hallen left to get a second opinion about his injury. Now, Hallen is a Mentor native, and while I've certainly taken my (well-deserved) shots at that city, is he too stupid to realize that the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals are about the best in the nation? Say what you will about Cleveland, but don't knock our hospitals - when you got shot after a botched robbery, you've got a good chance to live.

- Michael Reghi is out as the Cavs announcer. Unbelievable. Reghi provided solid and entertaining commentary for the team's broadcast. If the team played well, he was a great cheerleader. If the team stunk, he wasn't afraid to point it out. Dan Gilbert, in his ongoing quest to change the team into the Detroit Cavaliers (or Cleveland Pistons), brought in Detroit's announcer Fred McLeod to handle the mic. Get excited, because Fred is a local guy! Only problem is, he hasn't worked here for over 20 years.

I will mis Reghi's steady voice, the "Flight 23!" exclamations, the way he gave precise distances for desperation last-second heaves ("Snow, from about 67 feet"), how long three's were "launched from Shaker Heights" and just his general passion for his profession. If I ever make enough money to get NBA TV, I'll be tuning into Reghi's broadcasts frequently.

(Good news though - Ronnie Duncan is out as the PA announcer! I liked Ronnie when he did the sports on WUAB and WOIO, but he became insufferable doing the PA. "Eric let it Snow, let it Snow, let it Snow"? The first game I went to this year, people spent more time complaining about Duncan's style then paying attention to the game - myself included.)

- In a developing story, LeBron James contracted the bird flu while in China. Coach K said the team stopped at a KFC after their exhibition game with China's national team, and...

OK, I made that last one up. But it sure makes you feel better about Bob Hallen, right?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Today, Tiger Woods won the Buick Open with a score of 24-under, putting together four straight rounds of 66. He beat a tough field that included the likes of Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk. More importantly, he notched his 50th career win and proved yet again why he's the best golfer, and possibly athlete, in our generation.

Think about it: 50 wins in ten years. Shoot, I don't think I've beat Solitaire 50 times in the past 10 years, let alone taming an entire sport like Tiger has.

Arguably the most impressive stat for Tiger is his Mariano Rivera-esque ability to close out tournaments. Tiger has held a solo lead heading into Sunday 21 times in his career. He has won every single time.

(Maybe he could help shore up the back of the Indians bullpen. Sorry, I couldn't write a column without taking a jab at the Tribe. It's just because I love them so much and can't stand to see them like this.)

I was maybe a little too young to fully appreciate Michael Jordan in his prime, but I have yet to see another athlete command such a presence, an aura, over his peers as much as Tiger has. At the beginning of his career, other golfers admitted to being intimidated by him. Eventually some challengers rose, including Singh, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and most notably, Phil Mickelson. But I would take Tiger over any of them on any given day.

Tiger entered the day with a two-shot lead, but it might as well have been 15 shots. I watched most of the tourney yesterday and today, and never did any doubt enter my mind about his chances of winning. At this point, I'm more surprised when Tiger doesn't win a tournament than anything else. He's only played in 11 events this year and has won four times. For those who may not be all that familiar with the PGA, that's a pretty good stat line.

Ever since I started taking golf seriously about, oh, four months ago, I've reached a greater appreciation for all of Tiger's accomplishments. There are so many things that have to go right in your swing, I could spend three whole columns devoted to the basic principles, and it still wouldn't be enough. Then you have to factor in all the other conditions: practice time, weather, course conditions, mental focus, etc. Not to mention all the pressure and expectations that Tiger faces on a daily basis that the other golfers need not worry about.

Now, the next step for Tiger is the PGA Championship, played at Medinah Country Club. The last time the PGA was held there in 1999, guess who won it? Yup, and now he's looking to capture his 12th major title and 51st victory overall.

I wouldn't bet against him.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Sorry about the lack of posting this past week but I was busy with my business trip/vacation to Columbus. So I have prepared a special, two-part post for you, my loyal and dedicated readers! Enjoy...

PART I: I attended the OAC's Football Media Day Wednesday, a great experience. One of the funnier moments (besides the interview with Heidelberg's coach, whose team perennially finishes 0-10, and listening to him explain why they'll be better this year) came during the interview with Capital's very own quarterback, Rocky Pentello. OAC Commissioner Tim Gleason asked Rocky what he plans to do upon graduating, and Rocky answered, "I'd like to be a firefighter, but I can't take the exam because I have four out-standing speeding tickets." Completely brought the place down. Later, Larry Kehres, the legendary Mount Union football coach, walked by our table and said to Rocky, "You know, you're NCAA ineligible with five speeding tickets."

While our quarterback can't take the firefighting exam yet, John Carroll's player representative, Matt Lemke, a Pre-Med major with a 3.9 GPA, has been working with the Cleveland Clinic all summer researching cures for cancer. He said he chose JCU in part because of the brand new science center they had built, and he also works with the campus emergency medical team.

That's nice and all Matt, but the Blue Streaks finished last year 7-3 and fourth in the OAC - we went to the NCAA playoffs, set a school record with 10 wins, and oh by the way, almost knocked off Mount Union in the quarterfinals. Most of that success came behind Pentello's arm. Maybe if Lemke spent less time studying molecular biology and more time studying game films, John Carroll would move up the rankings.

PART II: The Lake County Captains have a break room with a TV. If the Indians are playing at the same time as us, we usually put them on TV, and I'm able to watch a few batters here and there during the evening. I wandered back there last week when the Mariners were in town, just in time to see M's outfielder Raul Ibanez swat a home run. "He always kills us," said Luke, who works in the Captains ticket office and watching the game too. I agreed, thinking back to the informal list my friend Brian and I made about "Indian Killers" awhile back. Ibanez was a prominent member on that list. To be an "Indian Killer", you must fit several basic criteria:

1. You can't be that great of a player to begin with - for example, Manny Ramirez or Johann Santana aren't on the list because they dominate just about everybody, not just the Tribe.

2. Every time you see him come to the plate/on the mound, you know you're screwed. Or when you know his team is coming into town, you pray he's on the injury report, or just pitched the day before and can't play.

Now, Raul Ibanez is a solid player overall - a career .282 hitter, .341 on-base, decent power. Going back to his days with the Royals, though, it seemed like he turns into a Hall-of-Famer versus Tribe pitching. In nine games against the Indians this year, he's batted 15-for-38 (.395 batting average) with an on-base percentage of .439. He has one home run, eight RBI's, four doubles, a triple and seven runs scored.

But the beauty of the internet! I did some research on the nefarious Raul Ibanez to see his career numbers against the Indians and turned up the following (thanks to http://www.mlb.com 's "Batter vs. Pitcher" stats). Between 2001-2006, Ibanez:

- In 76 games, batted .297 (79-for-266) with 11 home runs and 56 RBI's, as well as 17 doubles
- Has a .363 on-base percentage and scored 48 runs
- Struggled against us in 2001 with KC (.231 BA) and his first season with SEA in 2004 (.212 BA, .235 OBP)

Based solely on the numbers, it seems that Ibanez actually isn't the Roy Hobbs-esque slugger that we Indians fans fear. Rather, he's playing just a little bit better than his career stats show. Will that make me rest easier the next time he steps into the batter's box against the Indians? Heck no.

The Indians, after sweeping the Red Sox this week (wait, we lost two of those games? But we held the lead in the ninth inning in both games!) face the resurgent Detroit Tigers, with a lineup that seemingly includes Ty Cobb, Alan Trammel, Al Kaline and Hank Greenberg, along with Hal Newhouser and Mickey Lolich in the starting rotation. Needless to say, they're playing pretty well this year. I glanced at their real roster and after ruling out Magglio and Pudge (too good), noticed one potential Indian Killer - Dmitri Young, a career .290 hitter. He's had his fair share of success against the Wahoo's, I'd say:

- In 72 games (with Cincy and Detroit, from 1999-2006), he's 81-for-268 (.302 BA) with 17 homers and 57 RBI's and 51 runs scored
- Absolutely slaughtered Tribe pitching in 2003 and 2004; 12 home runs and 35 RBI's total in 31 games, to go along with 37 runs scored and an OBP upwards of .440.
- This year, batting .545 (6-for-11) with two homers and two RBI's, with a .667 OBP and four runs scored
- In eight seasons against the Indians, has only batted below .300 twice; in 2000 with the Reds (3-for-24, .125 BA) and 2005 (14-for-57, .246 BA)

Cliff Lee, Paul Byrd and C.C. Sabathia, you have been warned.

If you have any suggestions for more Indians Killers (or Browns and Cavs Killers, for the fall and winter), let me know and I'll do the research. At the conclusion of this baseball season (which pretty much ended for the Tribe two months ago), I'll put together an all-time Indians Killers Team, with players from the past 5-10 years. I'll also be revealing my Ex-Indians All Star Team, with the greatest players of our generation who were either traded or not re-signed. So be sure to stay tuned here to Jack City as I'll do my best to keep it updated more frequently.