The Cleveland Indians’ 2012 season is shaping up to be eerily similar to 2011. In both years, the Tribe played well early, surprised everyone by grabbing the lead in their division, reached their high point at about 10 games over .500, and then tried to hang on for dear life. In 2011, the Tribe ultimately collapsed and fell far behind the Tigers. With the Tribe in the midst of a six-game losing streak and now five games under .500, 2012 looks like it will be a carbon copy of 2011.
The problem is obvious. The starting pitching has been fine, and the bullpen has kept the team in games. Unfortunately, the Tribe can’t score runs — and you have to score if you want to win in baseball. The Indians’ roster is filled with .230 and .240 hitters with little power; the glory days of the 1990s offensive wrecking crews that featured Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, and Omar Vizquel, among others, are increasingly distant memories. Opposing pitchers must rub their hands with glee when they get a chance to face the banjo hitters wearing the Chief Wahoo caps.
It’s hard to complain too much about the Tribe. The organization is trying to be competitive on a shoestring with a team made up of prospects, retreads, and long shots. This year, like last year, it looks like lightning won’t be striking.
Although it’s disappointing to see the Tribe once again skidding to oblivion, I have to thank the team for making the first part of the season interesting. The Tribe kept me intrigued until football training camps opened — and that’s a start.
We’ve had a brief but enjoyable and productive trip, had some good meals and good walk, and learned that Missouri is now a member of the Southeastern Conference. (Who knew?) I expect we’ll be visiting again.
Often we Americans take our easy, seemingly limitless freedoms for granted. I was considering that reality this week, as I bounced on the springy seat of a rental truck and we moved Richard from Chicago to Columbia, Missouri.
We rented a 10-foot truck from Budget Rental Car Company that was perfect for our needs and reasonably priced. We plopped down our credit card, dealt directly with the friendly woman (with two office dogs!) at one of Budget’s Chicago outlets, drove the truck away, immediately loaded it ourselves, and then steered the truck onto superhighways that allowed us to drive the hundreds of miles separating the two cities in a few hours. We unloaded Richard’s stuff in a Columbia apartment he arranged through the internet and were done in one day.
We didn’t need to get governmental approval for our rental or Richard’s move. We weren’t required to hire designated movers to load the truck or drivers to drive it. We didn’t need to buy a special operator’s license, or slip a corrupt government bureaucrat a few bucks to get on our way. We didn’t pay tolls to use those well-paved, safely designed superhighways. Richard didn’t have to register for housing and then wait months until a unit opened up. All of those things that didn’t happen might easily be required in many of the nations of the world.
But not here. One family, one truck, one hard day’s work and driving, and a move of hundreds of miles goes off without a hitch. It’s just one reason why this is a great country. We shouldn’t forget that.