A few things that have irked me, while reminding myself it's only a game:
U One theory on why the Indians are struggling: too many batters taking an undisciplined approach at the plate. One of the factors in Cleveland's 11-1 start was their patience on offense. They were forcing opposing pitchers to throw a lot of pitches.
In their six-week slide, however, the Indians have gone away from that approach. Former players like Kenny Lofton and Roberto Alomar were terrific at working counts, but this season only Omar Vizquel and Ellis Burks have really continued that approach. To a certain extent, so have Matt Lawton and Travis Fryman.
Jim Thome, despite drawing many walks over the years, could hardly be considered a patient hitter, not when he swings from his toes regardless of the count.
U Then there's Russell Branyan; he was quoted earlier this week, "You can't tell me that Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle didn't struggle at times." Wonder if Branyan thinks just a little too much of himself? Note to Russell: Try to hit like Babe Didrickson Zaharias or Mickey Rooney before you think about comparisons to the Sultan of Swat and the greatest switch-hitter in baseball history.
Stat of the times
There's no better statistic to symbolize the Indians' offensive struggles this season: Bartolo Colon entered 2002 with a career earned run average of 4.09, yet was 22 games over .500 (65-43). This season, Colon's ERA is a terrific 2.79, but his record is only 5-3 going into today's game in Toronto.
U Tiger Woods is unquestionably the best player in golf today and before he retires could be the best ever. Still, I lose a little bit of respect for him every time he stomps off the course without speaking to the media after a poor round, as he did Thursday following a first-round 74 at the Memorial. Woods, whether his play is good, bad or indifferent, is focused on by the galleries and media at every tournament he plays. There's nothing that forces him to answer questions following every round, but he should realize he's setting a poor example for the millions of young golfers who idolize him.
U Today many of us will watch the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." In February, NASCAR staged the "Great American Race," the Daytona 500. Indy may still outdraw Daytona in attendance, but the stock car race certainly is narrowing the gap. One reason could be that the machines in NASCAR more closely resemble the sedans we see on the highways every day (and there are a few of you on 680 who seem to think you're at Daytona or Talladega) than the "bullets" that will fly around Indy today. Also, the fact that the good ol' boys in NASCAR seem more accessible than the many foreign drivers in the Indy cars.
Change the format please
Always trying to be helpful, here's a suggestion for the Ohio High School Athletic Association: Change the regional baseball format from the current Friday-Saturday setup to one a little more fan- and player-friendly. The unpredictable May weather is always a threat to play havoc with such a tight weekend window.
Also, fans are forced to choose one site to attend each day, instead of district tournament week, for instance, where one could attend a game every day. Spreading the games over the entire week could also permit one site, like Cene Park or Cafaro Field, to hold more than one division. For instance, the Division III semifinals on Tuesday and the Div. I semifinals on Thursday (keeping the following days open in case of rain-outs). In this format, there could be a championship doubleheader on Saturday.
XRob Todor is sports editor of The Vindicator. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.