Showing posts with label Terry Francona. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Terry Francona. Show all posts

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Tribe earns fan appreciation blog

"In Tito, we trust."

That's a phrase that's been bouncing around The Land about the Cleveland Indians' expert manager — Terry "Tito" Francona. We Tribe fans love this guy, and we give him major credit for the Tribe's success.

Yes, the Tribe has not won a World Series in my lifetime. The last time that happened was in 1948. It would be nice if they delivered this postseason, but that possibility is three playoff series wins away. I do know this much: I will be cherishing each moment of the postseason, just like this regular season, win or lose.

Man, it's been fun to watch a fundamentally sound, well-managed and dominant team. Thank you, Tribe and Tito!

The Tribe rarely makes mistakes. They have the second highest fielding percentage in the major leagues (the Miami Marlins are slightly higher), but here's why that statistic is doubly awesome. The Tribe's pitchers have the most strikeouts and fewest walks of any team. Incredible statistics. In other words, they're the toughest team to get the ball in play against or get a free pass, and we have an excellent fielding team if you do get it in play.

During Tito's past five years at the helm, the Tribe's Achilles' heel has been hitting. But this year, they are ranked fifth in the major leagues in hitting. Of course, they set an American League record for a 22-game winning streak and have the best record in the American League. Could this be the year to finally win it all?

Strange as it may sound, I don't care as much as you might think. Now that LeBron and the Cavs gave Cleveland the championship it desperately deserved, I'm pretty chill.

My mindset has changed, and I actually think the Tribe and Tito share this mindset: We're going to put a team out there that is hard to beat. We won't beat ourselves. And if you beat us, we will tip our hats to you. We might even carve a baseball that looks like you.
Poetic. The Tribe's season has been so special that I'd have to call it "poetic." We are in the professional sports era of mega-million dollar contracts, analytics and free agency. Tito and the Indians front office understand this extremely well, and we still had the best record in the American League with an opening-day payroll of $124 million (17th highest of 30 teams). The Dodgers won the National League, but nearly doubled the Tribe in payroll with its league-leading $242 million.

Back to Tito, there certainly is no other manager I'd prefer at the helm. He is battle tested, having won two World Series titles with the Red Sox. For God's sakes, if he could break the Red Sox's 86-year-old championship drought, he certainly can help break the Tribe's 69-year-old championship drought.

Of course, anyone worth anything could say enough is enough with pro sports. But the truth is that when pro sports are done correctly, they bring communities together, give fans a water-cooler topic and even span generations. That's what happened with the Tribe this year. Our playoffs start Thursday!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Talent is a myth

What the hell is going on here?

My Tribe — the team that I follow religiously day in and day out — is one game away from the World Series.

Look. This does not necessarily mean the Tribe will win the World Series. But right now, I'm feeling major feelings of validation that have taken 43 years to obtain.

Maybe, just maybe, the Tribe has done it right all along. When it comes to baseball, what are the necessary ingredients to win? ... Now and for a long time, the answer has been a given — talent and payroll. But here we are again, not seeing those ingredients prevail.

When it comes to baseball — and life — I believe that desire, humility, team work and guile trump talent. Basically, I believe this: Talent is a myth.

Look. There is no doubt that LeBron James had immense talent when he was at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. He might very have well been the most talented high school basketball player ever.

However, that did not make LeBron into what he is today. Prep stars flame out repeatedly. LeBron didn't. He had the necessary work ethic, grit and desire to become the man that brought Cleveland its first championship in more than five decades.
It's not as if I am making this theory up out of thin air. It's out there, and I recommend the new book "Grit" by Angela Duckworth if you truly want to explore how the idea of talent hinders us as opposed to elevates us.

As I look at my own life, I realize that I went into writing, even though I typically had better test scores in math. It turns out I really loved writing, put 30,000 hours into it and become passable at it. It's not about talent. It's about where we put our time, understanding the big picture and accepting our own foibles.

Now, that's why I love this 2016 Tribe. They are not "supposed" to be here. They have the 22nd highest payroll of 30 teams. Six teams have double the payroll of their 25-man roster. Those are the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Cubs and Giants.

I believe money well spent is a better trait than simply spending money, and no doubt about it, I want the Indians to win it all, not only for my own connection to them, but because it would mean more than even the freakin' Cubbies winning it.

Francona matters. The use of the bullpen matters. Going to second on a ball in the dirt matters. That is more important than the Cubbies' freaking $176 million payroll.

When it comes to success, grit trumps talent. I'll tell you what. As hard as it pains me to admit it, the Tribe in the 1990s tried to do it on talent alone. It did not work.

Plus, our 1990s manager Mike Hargrove did things often because "that's how we always do it." Oh god. That was a recipe for pain and disaster.

 Right now, the Tribe is definitely in good hands with Tito Francona who knows how to adapt on a fly — even when his starting pitcher can not make it past the first inning!