By Mike Holzheimer
As today’s date drew near, the official start to the 2019 Cleveland Indians baseball season, the social media comments were interesting to say the least; to say the most, moronic.
When Tribe skipper Terry Francona named Corey Kluber as today’s starting pitcher, one would have thought the two-time World Series championship manager suggested sitting a veteran MVP player in favor of a young rookie for the reason of just wanting to see how a youngster would handle the overall environment associated with opening day.
I mean, fans completely lost their collective minds upon hearing Kluber, not exactly a shocker regarding getting the baseball to take the hill for the season’s first game, was Francona’s choice over Trevor Bauer.
One misguided person went so far as to say “Tito’s an idiot,” which was beyond uncalled for and just further validates the sanity level of this particular blogger.
This person’s reasoning was Bauer had a much better spring and “you go with your best.” Are you kidding me? First of all, Kluber’s resume speaks for itself, and the fact that he didn’t record mind-boggling pitching statistics in the spring is NOT a reason to opt for someone else in the starting rotation opening day.
Truth be told, Shane Bieber probably had the best of spring training efforts from the mound amongst all of the Tribe pitchers in camp. So, by this person’s “logic,” why wasn’t he upset that Bieber didn’t get the nod today?
Furthermore, taking out of the equation key absentees in today’s lineup due to injuries, if Max Moroff and Eric Stamets had better spring training numbers than Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis or Jose Ramirez, should Tito have sat proven MLB veterans and past all-starts simply because “they weren’t the best” in February and March exhibition games by comparison to a couple of rookies? That’s what this one fan is really saying, and that is asinine.
Opening day is all about tradition; always has been and always will be. And unless I’m missing something here, after today’s opener against the Minnesota Twins, there are still 161 games left, right?
If the Tribe should drop today’s contest, it will hardly be appropriate or the time for all of the naysayers, who have already predicted a disastrous finish for Cleveland even before one official game has been played, to start screaming from the rooftops, and questioning the managerial decisions of Francona.
Of course, though, should Kluber struggle today, I can hear the cries now with all of the Facebook and Twitter posts reflecting sentiments along the lines of “see, I told you we should have traded Kluber.
He’s not the same, he’s lost velocity on his fastball, and movement on his breaking pitches.” Enough already, from the armchair, self-proclaimed pitching coaches. Your arguments and observations about Kluber’s alleged diminishing skills are falling in and on the appropriate category-deaf ears!
Another claim I’m getting tired of hearing is that Francona is “too loyal to his boys,” whatever that means. One doesn’t accomplish in baseball all that Francona has by playing favorites, and not putting TEAM first.
This same social media commentator suggested Francona favors Kipnis. Well, if that is the case, explain to me why Tito just didn’t let Kipnis stay at second base last year for the postseason when Cleveland acquired Josh Donaldson?
Clearly, Kipnis wanted to stay at second base, and wasn’t exactly overjoyed with Francona’s decision to move him to the outfield.
If Francona was “playing favorites,” one would reasonably assume he would have done whatever would have satisfied the mood and the ego of one of “his boys.” Instead, Tito, knowing he had a newly acquired guy in Donaldson (third baseman) whose bat needed to be in the lineup, moved not one all-star in Kipnis, but two all-stars when he shifted Ramirez to second base.
So, let’s put all of this nonsense to bed with regards to questioning a manger, who has forgotten more about baseball than the average fan will ever come to know, and his decision making process.
The Indians’ lineup card this afternoon may not strike fear into the hearts and arms of the Minnesota pitching staff, but I believe things will be more competitive than people think. And please remember, it’s only one game folks, let’s look forward to our road opener today and the home opener April 1.
It’s time to have fun regarding all of the activities you yearly celebrate with family and friends pertaining to “Opening Day.” Enjoy the tradition, because that’s all it is.