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.