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Don't Look Now
April 29, 2012 - Al Stephenson
The first month of the baseball season is almost in the books and when you look at the standings there are some surprises. Don't look now, but the Cleveland Indians are on top of the American League's Central Division. As a long suffering Indians fan, was I expecting to find them to be in first place at this point in the season? Of course not!
The Tribe was pretty quiet in the offseason. While the Detroit Tigers were landing coveted free agent Prince Fielder, the Indians signed veteran pitcher Derek Lowe. You will pardon me if I suggest that the excitement meter favored the Tigers on those moves. Everyone was ready to concede the division title to the Tigers before a game was even played. When they started the season 9-3 no one was surprised. When the Indians stumbled out of the gate, again no one was shocked.
Then the Indians went on a road trip and took 7 of 9 from Kansas City, Seattle and Oakland. Admittedly not the top teams in baseball, it was still a nice road trip and the Mariners then went into Detroit and swept the Tigers. Such is the state of baseball these days.
Most Indian fans remember the start the young Tribe had last year. I recall a few people saying in late May that all the Tribe had to do was play .500 ball for the rest of the season and they might not get caught. Well they didn't do that and were easily caught. It was a disappointing season, but then again Tribe fans are used to disappointment.
No one is talking playoffs yet and that is a good idea. The Indians are just two games over .500 and the season is just a month old. The fact is though, they are in first place. It's still tough to watch them. My biggest pet peeve in the game is a hitter taking a called third strike on a pitch that is right down the middle. That should never happen, yet Tribe hitters did it at least a half dozen times this weekend against the Angels. Despite that fact, the Indians are still my team and always will be. I will continue watching, because that's what a true fan does.
The view from my seat suggests that it's cool to see the Indians in first place. Realistically it's way to early to get excited and to proclaim them playoff contenders. After all if you check the East standings you'll notice that the lowly Baltimore Orioles are also on top!
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