Not So Fast, Indians Fans

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Sunday, Oct. 30.

Yes, the Indians have a 3 games to 1 lead now on the Cubs following their 7-2 demolition of the North Siders last night. I have no idea what people in Cleveland do when they plan a celebration for a victory that hasn’t happened since the Truman administration. But before you do whatever it is you do in Cleveland,(tip over a car, set it afire, set the river afire perhaps)  take a deep breath. Now exhale.  This isn’t a 3 out of 5 series, it takes 4 out of 7 to win the World Series.  5 times, a baseball team has come back from 3 games to1 and taken the win. The Pirates did it twice, in 1925 against the Senators and 1979 against the Orioles.   The Yankees did it in 1958 against the Milwaukee Braves, winning both games 6 and 7 in relatively new County Stadium in Milwaukee. Most recently the Royals did it in 1985 thanks to a blown call that would be overturned under the modern system. And in the year of the pitcher, the 1968 Tigers behind Mickey Lolich came back from being down 3 games to 1 against the Cardinals, winning games 6 and 7 in a version of Busch Stadium that still had fresh paint on it.

The Cubs don’t plan to curl up and die just because the Indians have the advantage on them right now. The cavalry is coming in the form of 3 pitchers: John Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks. One managerial tactic that can’t continue is Cubs’ manager Joe Madden’s ridiculously short leash with his starters. In these 3 games if it goes that far, whoever is starting has to go until he physically can go no further.  The Cubs clearly don’t have the bull pen the Indians do.  We figured that out when Jason Kipnis hit a 3-run home run that went so far it must have had stewardesses on it. John Lester is the one lefty of the 3 starters I have mentioned. At 32, he’s faced tougher foes than the Indians. Whatever their bats can do, they can’t physically kill him.

Cancer could have ended his life but he faced it down and won. That victory happened while he was a major league rookie. He lost a year of action but is a survivor. He even met his wife in Greenville,SC,  a city where he never would have been asked to pitch if he hadn’t struggled with cancer.      He has a 146–84 record in the show since his 2006 debut. Another good year and he’ll have 2,000 strikeouts. He joined the Cubs before 2015 after an unexplainable trade to the baseball purgatory that is Oakland. And he’s only the first of 3 excellent starters the Cubs can call on if they have one more comeback in the offing. Jake Arrieta has fired two no-hitters in his Cubs’ career after being given up on by the Orioles.  And the possible game 7 starter, Kyle Hendricks had a 2.13 ERA, the lowest in the National League.  In game 3 he was pulled much too early with the excuse that he was wanted for a possible game 7. If that game 7 happens, he can rest until next April as long as he pitches with all he’s got. If game 7  doesn’t happpen his talent has largely been wasted. Like the Mets last year, the Cubs  have the pitching. They haven’t hit and their defense has shown  more holes in it than a Hillary Clinton alibi. But with the pitchers they have available, it wouldn’t take a vast offensive improvement to win this World Series.

Joe Panik, who may have the greatest name in modern baseball is all of 26.  If only the Boomer, Chris Berman were still doing baseball tonight, he would either say Joe “Widespread Panik” or Joe “Don’t Panik,” just for starters.  The Yonkers native played his college ball at St. Johns, though the Red Storm were past their great baseball days when they were the Redmen and had John Franco and Frank Viola. The Giants took him in round 1 of the 2011 draft. He won a batting title in his first pro league which is a major accomplishment. Most kids who are used to metal bats struggle when they switch to the wooden weapons the pros use.   It seems like he’s been around longer but Panik  only began playing second base in the bigs in June, 2014. In his short tenure he’s hit .280 and copped a World Series ring.  His team was also in the NLDS this year, losing out to the Cubs. He was an All-Star in 2015 but was hampered by a stress fracture in his back during the second half. He recovered and returned to form this past season.

Power-hitting first baseman and outfielder Joe Adcock was  born this day in 1927 and died, at 71 in May of 1999.  He, along with Henry Aaron and Eddie Matthews were the booming bats of the Braves’ two World Series teams, the winners of 1957 and the close losers of 1958.  Adcock was a Cajun decades before anybody outside of Louisiana knew what a Cajun was because he hailed from Louisiana. The massive flooding that put the state on the map and inspired a popular song had happened a few months before his birth. He went to LSU before it became a baseball power.  In a day of huge ball parks and exceptional pitching, he hit .277 with 336 home runs. Early on he was called “Billy Joe,” particularly by a very young Vin Scully, but nobody called him that as he became better known. In his first season with the Braves, he crushed a pitch into the center field bleachers at the Polo Grounds, an insane 483 feet from the plate. Such a thing had never been done, and would only be done twice more before the Polo Grounds was demolished. The other two monumental blasts (hit to the Eddie Grant monument in center) were by Henry Aaron and Lou Brock.    Adcock  played for a decade with the Milwaukee Braves after a brief spell with the Reds.  He is best remembered in a Milwaukee uniform, not as a Red, Indian or Angel though he played for all those teams. Such was the competition that he was only an All-Star in 1960, when All-Star games were played in Kansas City and at Yankee Stadium.  As a Brave he hit 4 home runs in a game on the final day of July, 1954. He once hit one over the Polo Grounds’ roof which very few men did.  On May 26, 1959, Harvey Haddix pitched a dozen perfect innings for the Pirates against the Braves, but Lew Burdette kept the Pirates off the board.  In the home 13th, Felix Mantilla reached on an error, Henry Aaron walked and Joe Adcock hit one out of sight.  He wasn’t given a home run because Aaron  went to the dugout rather than rounding the bases.  Only Mantilla’s run counted but Bob Prince called ’em as he saw ’em.

Adcock  might have been an All-Star more often except the league had both Gil Hodges (Brooklyn) and Ted Kluszewski (Cincinnati) who were usually chosen over Adcock. Joe managed the 1967 Indians to a 75-87 record and was replaced at the reins by Alvin Dark. He was a horse rancher when baseball was done.

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