Rapper’s delight: Trevor Bauer’s new Indians track

Below is Trevor Bauer’s soon-to-be Grammy-Award-nominated masterpiece entitled “Gutter to the Grail,” an Indians-inspired magnum opus that details what the young pitcher envisions to be a memorable season beside Lake Erie. Enjoy.

From the gutter to the grail
We rise up to win it
Wahoos on first
With their eyes on the pennant

Goin’ all in, Cleveland Indians
From the gutter to the bling
Now they call us champions

Takin’ bases with ease,
Bourn and Brantley are the truest
Got Ubaldo always cruisin’, gettin’ stupid, throwin’ cheddar
Other teams are lookin’ clueless
Ain’t nobody do it better

We get knocks
We flash leather for days
Kip and Cabby amaze with the Top 10 plays

Cody Allen turns the heat up
Reynolds hittin’ cleanup
You know we never ease up

2013 and we’re all about the ring
Nasty Masty with the sink
Scotty K with the swings and … whiffs
Hand it off to Smith
Just a flick of the wrist
Gettin’ filthy with the pitch

Santana at the dish
Whippin’ the hose out
CP in the ninth
You know we gon’ close out

So what do y’all know ’bout
Swisher and his swag
Smokin’ pitchers like cigars
Are you picturin’ that?

From the gutter to the grail
We rise up to win it
Wahoos on first
With their eyes on the pennant

Goin’ all in, Cleveland Indians
From the gutter to the bling
Now they call us champions

From the gutter to the grail
We rise up to win it
Wahoos on first
With their eyes on the pennant

Goin’ all in, Cleveland Indians
From the gutter to the bling
Now they call us champions


Closing words on Cleveland’s closer

Media often burdens responsibility for determining which topics receive a platform for discussion. In this case, closer Chris Perez has been the much-ballyhooed focal point for the last 48 hours, despite the Indians’ 18-4 stretch, the club’s best since 2005. I’ve avoided the Perez talk mainly because I didn’t feel it warranted the attention it has been getting. Alas, I felt the need to chime in today, hopefully to serve as a means of closure to the conversation.

There are two entities in play here: Chris Perez the person and Chris Perez the player.

cp1The player doesn’t deserve the hatred that has been heaved his way. He ranks second in the big leagues in career saves among pitchers under the age of 30. He has converted 81 of 91 save chances since the start of the 2011 campaign, an elite mark among closers. Aside from the Yankees, Braves and Reds, there isn’t a team that wouldn’t salivate at the idea of having Perez’s services at their disposal.

Just look at Cleveland’s AL Central nemesis, Detroit. Would you feel more comfortable with Jose Valverde or Chris Perez on the hill in the ninth inning? Few teams have had stable closer situations in recent years. The back end of Cleveland’s bullpen has been its greatest asset.

Perez has surrendered three home runs in his last two outings. He’d be the first to show frustration with his performance. He always faces reporters after games, whether he’s responsible for a win or a loss.

Then there is Perez the person, a polarizing figure who will never shy away from speaking his mind, as portrayed in this behind-the-scenes piece I wrote during the offseason. Whether you agree with what he has to say is a separate argument. There are few fans who feel indifferent about Perez; he’s either loved or hated, fervently supported or vehemently despised by most fans. The negativity has recently outweighed the admiration in such a manner that Perez felt compelled to delete his Twitter account on Monday.

Still, there needs to be a separation of church and state. A fan who disagreed with Perez’s statements last season about ownership and fans must be able to shelve those feelings when the pitcher toes the rubber. You can’t classify someone as a fan if the person is rooting for a player on his or her team to fail. The nature of the ninth-inning beast suggests that a closer will rarely be universally adored. Mariano Rivera is the exception to just about every rule, including this one. Few closers experience longevity in the role; Perez is on his way there.

Those who have been blinded from reality by their hatred of Perez the person have enjoyed the chance to pounce on Perez the player at every opportunity. That’s not very constructive.

Frankly, Perez’s personality is ideal for a closer. He harnesses his rage and passion as a means of motivation on the mound. He prefers to pitch on the road, where opposing fans heckle him, so he can use the taunting as incentive when his manager hands him the ball.

Perez just wants to win. He shares the same goal as every fan (which is why he wants more of them in the seats). And with the team surging, he shouldn’t be — and doesn’t want to be — the focus.

Kenny Lofton: ‘I, personally, got affected by other guys cheating’

Kenny Lofton loathes the phrase “chicks dig the long ball.”

“That quote came out,” Lofton said, “and it took guys like myself — speedsters, who were very important — it took us pretty much out of the game.”

A four-time Gold Glove Award winner and six-time All-Star, Lofton tallied 622 stolen bases (15th-most in Major League history) and recorded a .372 on-base percentage during his 17-year career. His 1,528 runs scored rank 60th all-time. When Lofton surveys the Major League scene today, he sees few examples of players like him, guys whose games are predicated on speed and defense and hustle.

“Everybody is looking for home run hitters,” Lofton said.

loftonThat’s a trend Lofton said started in the mid-’90s, when he had established himself as a guy who frequently reached base and wreaked havoc once he got there. That rare skill set didn’t do him any favors with colleagues cutting corners, he said.

“I just feel that I, personally, got affected by other guys cheating,” Lofton said. “All the guys who were getting paid all of the money were the guys who were hitting home runs. After a while, guys were like, ‘We could look at Kenny Lofton. He’s not getting paid because he’s not hitting home runs.’ So all these guys were saying, ‘How can I hit home runs? That’s the only way I’m going to get paid.'”

According to Baseball Reference, Lofton earned more than $60 million during his big league career. His salary peaked at $8 million in 2001, which fell short of the top 10 in the American League that year. In 2001, only two of the top 10 salaries in the AL were earned by pitchers. Of the eight hitters, two — Albert Belle and Mo Vaughn — didn’t play because of injuries. Only three of the hitters ranked in the top 10 in the AL in home runs.

Still, Lofton contends that the league-wide power surge paved the way for massive salaries, which encouraged players to put their power on display using whatever means necessary. Lofton said players with his set of abilities never commanded the attention that the big bats garnered.

“When all this stuff was going on, guys were worried about getting paid,” Lofton said. “They weren’t worried about the Hall of Fame or any of that stuff. They were worried about getting paid money. That’s the bottom line. If you were worried about your Hall of Fame credentials, those guys wouldn’t have cheated. It’s all about getting money. It’s all about getting paid.”

lofton2As a result, Lofton feels short-changed about his Hall of Fame status. He received 3.2 percent of the vote, 11 votes shy of the 5 percent necessary to remain on the ballot in future years. Lofton felt voters spent so much time debating the merits of sluggers tied to performance-enhancing drugs that they dismissed altogether those who didn’t hit for power.

“I just felt like they were concentrating on cheaters instead of concentrating on players who were legitimate,” Lofton said. “That was the main focus: ‘Should I vote this guy in or out?’ That was what reporters were probably thinking about. I can’t say for sure, but if you cheated, you shouldn’t even be considered. But that wasn’t the case. So you’re telling people it’s OK to cheat and you’ll still have a chance to be in the Hall of Fame. That’s what this year’s voting showed people.

“I really got penalized. I felt like I wanted a chance for people to look at my numbers and look at what I did year after year after year. But now you get off the ballot your first year, it’s like you’re just kicked to the curb now. But the guys who cheated still have a chance for people to look at them. It’s just unreal. I just don’t understand. It just boggles my mind how people go about things.”

Lofton said he never actually witnessed any players using PEDs, but when revelations came to light about various players, it all added up.

“You can only get so good,” Lofton said. “Just working as hard as I did and seeing guys leapfrog over me, I’m like, ‘Wait a minute. Something isn’t right. But I had no proof. I just knew something wasn’t right. Then once all of this stuff started to co out, it’s like, ‘Ohhh, that’s why. That would make sense why this guy was doing this and I couldn’t do it.’ It makes a lot of sense now.”

The Adventures of Nick Swisher

Many people have asked if Nick Swisher’s over-enthusiastic, bubbly, happy-go-lucky act is genuine. So, I took it upon myself to find out for sure. I took him to some of the more mundane places around town, just to see if his attitude changed at all.Nick Swisher

Nick Swisher goes to the library…

Me: Nick, this is the Cuyahoga County Public Library, home to thousands of books.

Nick: Awesome, bro! I love to read!

Me: Come on, Nick. Keep it to a whisper. This is a library.

Nick: Sorry, man! I just can’t contain myself around a good novel! Like this one right here!

Me: Nick, that’s a book by Virginia Woolf, one of the most morbid authors in history. She drowned herself in a river because she was so depressed.

Nick: I love a good swim, bro!

Nick Swisher goes to the aquarium…

Me: Nick, this is the Greater Cleveland Aquarium.

Nick: Look, there’s Nemo! What’s up, my brother?!

Me: That’s just a minnow, dude. It’s in the tank to give the bigger fish some food.

Nick: Man, the food chain is so legit!

Nick Swisher goes to the history museum…

Me: Nick, this is the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Nick: This is the bomb!

Me: Well, yes, that’s a Pearl Harbor exhibit. And here’s one on the Mesozoic Era.

Nick: Earth is wild, bro! Those dinosaurs were ballin’!

Nick Swisher goes to the mall…bplace

Me: Nick, this is Beachwood Place, your prototypical mall.

Nick: Oh, damn! They have a food court here?!

Me: Uh, have you ever been to a mall?

Nick: I’m gonna get me some Asian Chao and an Auntie Anne’s pretzel!

Me: Whatever floats your boat, dude.

Nick: They have a candy store, too! Insane, bro!

Me: I don’t think you need any more sugar.



(Photo credit to Deadspin via someone else, probably)

The Most Interesting Predictions In The World

Many baseball writers unveiled their 2013 predictions this week in a typical, generic format. I prefer to stray from the norm, so I thought, “What aspects can I add to ordinary conjecture to make this more attractive to the average reader?” Uhh, hello — gambling lines, haikus and obscure athlete references, of course. Without further ado, The Most Interesting Predictions In The World: 2013 MLB Edition.


1. Detroit Tigers

Vegas win line: 92.5

Prediction: Over

Random Tiger: Bobby Higginson

Pressing question: They can get by with a closer-by-committee for now, but what about in October?


Third straight M-V-P?

No, but one award for sure

Verlander Cy Young

2. Cleveland Indians

Vegas win line: 78.5

Prediction: Over

Random Indian: Bill Selby

Pressing question: What will this starting rotation look like in September? (My guess: Masterson-Bauer-Kazmir-Carrasco-Jimenez)


Playoffs seemed impossible

To the loftiest wisher

But along came Tito

And Bourn and Swisher

3. Kansas City Royals

Vegas win line: 78.5

Prediction: Over

Random Royal: Jeff King

Pressing question: How good is the rotation really if it includes Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana?


Are they better? Sure

But everything’s relative

Eighty wins: good start

4. Chicago White Sox

Vegas win line: 81.5

Prediction: Under

Random White Sock: Joe Crede

Pressing question: As has been the case for the last six decades, will this be the year Gordon Beckham breaks out?


It’s hard to predict

What will happen in Old Comiskey

But by September, the fans

Will be hitting the whiskey

5. Minnesota Twins

Vegas win line: 68.5

Prediction: Under

Random Twin: Denny Hocking

Pressing question: Could I be the No. 3 starter on this club?


Pitching wins titles

Vance Worley is the Twins’ ace

End of discussion


1. Toronto Blue Jays

Vegas win line: 88.5

Prediction: Over

Random Blue Jay: Dave Berg

Pressing questions: Aboot how many home runs can we expect from Bautista with some protection around him, eh?


Sizing up this division

Can be somewhat tricky

But Toronto comes first

Thanks to knucklers from Dickey

2. Tampa Bay Rays

Vegas win line: 87.5

Prediction: Over

Random Ray: Kevin Stocker

Pressing question: Will the Rays’ patchwork bullpen ever fall apart?


Every single year

The same story in Tampa

Maddon gets it done

3. New York Yankees

Vegas win line: 84.5

Prediction: Under

Random Yankee: Shane Spencer

Pressing question: Anyone know the name of a good nursing home in the Bronx for the Yankees’ wounded elderly?


Murderer’s Row this is not,

As far as I can tell

Replaced are Ruth and Gehrig

With Youkilis, Hafner and Wells

4. Boston Red Sox

Vegas win line: 82.5

Prediction: Under

Random Red Sock: Brian Daubach

Pressing questions: Will the fried chicken and beer jokes ever die out?


Shane Victorino

Will earn a lot of money

While on the decline

5. Baltimore Orioles

Vegas win line: 78.5

Prediction: Under

Random Oriole: Jeff Reboulet

Pressing question: Can this team repeat its magical run of 2012? Wouldn’t bet against Buck … but I will.


Will this team again

Dominate in one-run games?

Mathematics: No


1. Los Angeles Angels

Vegas win line: 91.5

Prediction: Over

Random Angel: Ben Weber

Pressing question: Could Jered Weaver win 25 games?


It’s easy to figure out

What this team’s all about

Sure there’s Pujols and Hamilton

But it all starts with Trout

2. Oakland Athletics

Vegas win line: 84.5

Prediction: Over

Random Athletic: Frank Menechino

Pressing question: How the hell does this team do it?


If pitching is key

The A’s will be just dandy

Watch for Cespedes

3. Texas Rangers

Vegas win line: 86.5

Prediction: Under

Random Ranger: Rusty Greer

Pressing question: How can they find a way to get Jurickson Profar on the field?


Hamilton aside

Texas needed pitching help

Didn’t make a move

4. Seattle Mariners

Vegas win line: 77.5

Prediction: Under

Random Mariner: Luis Ugueto

Pressing question: How many times will manager Eric Wedge use the word “grind” this season?


Having the Astros

Certainly helps win total

But not quite enough

5. Houston Astros

Vegas win line: 59.5

Prediction: Under

Random Astro: Kirk Saarloos

Pressing question: Can you name four players on their 25-man roster?


Bo Porter is great

The talent on the roster

It is not at all


1. Washington Nationals

Vegas win line: 92.5

Prediction: Over

Random National/Expo: Brad Wilkerson

Pressing question: Could Bryce Harper, at age 20, win the NL MVP?


This Washington team

Can it win the Fall Classic?

A clown question, bro

2. Atlanta Braves

Vegas win line: 87.5

Prediction: Over

Random Brave: Keith Lockhart

Pressing question: Is the starting staff deep enough?


Everywhere you look

You see another Upton

But they don’t have Kate

3. Philadelphia Phillies

Vegas win line: 84.5

Prediction: Over

Random Phillie: Todd Pratt

Pressing question: Does Cliff Lee need to go the entire year without allowing a run to get to 10 wins?


This team could surprise people

So go place your bets

At the very least

They’ll beat up on the Marlins and Mets

4. New York Mets

Vegas win line: 74.5

Prediction: Under

Random Met: Benny Agbayani

Pressing question: How long before the Mets return to relevance?


David Wright is the new captain

So Mets fans need not panic

But he’s leading a helpless ship

Into an iceberg, like Titanic

5. Miami Marlins

Vegas win line: 63.5

Prediction: Under

Random Marlin: Armando Almanza

Pressing question: Can the Marlins match the Heat’s 27-game streak (with losses)?


Just as sure as OJ

Was riding in that white Bronco,

Your cleanup hitter shouldn’t be

37-year-old singles-hitting infielder Placido Polanco


1. Cincinnati Reds

Vegas win line: 91.5

Prediction: Over

Random Red: Corky Miller

Pressing question: Could Aroldis Chapman win the Daytona 500?


Choo will be just fine

This team has no weaknesses

Watch out for Votto

2. St. Louis Cardinals

Vegas win line: 86.5

Prediction: Over

Random Cardinal: Ray Lankford

Pressing question: Can Pete Kozma hold down the fort at shortstop all year?


The plethora of hitters

In this lineup won’t cease

No easy outs

With Craig, Beltran and Freese

3. Pittsburgh Pirates

Vegas win line: 77.5

Prediction: Under

Random Pirate: Rob Mackowiak

Pressing question: Could Pedro Alvarez hit 50 home runs?


Sorry, Pirates fans

Another year of sadness

Short of .500

4. Milwaukee Brewers

Vegas win line: 80.5

Prediction: Under

Random Brewer: Jeromy Burnitz

Pressing question: Who will regret their new partnership first, the Brewers or Kyle Lohse?


Long year for Brewers

One thing about Milwaukee

Thank goodness for beer

5. Chicago Cubs

Vegas win line: 73.5

Prediction: Under

Random Cub: Brant Brown

Pressing question: Is there a better place to watch a game than Wrigley?


This is the year

For the Siders up North

The Cubs will challenge

The Brewers for fourth


1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Vegas win line: 90.5

Prediction: Over

Random Dodger: Darren Dreifort

Pressing question: How high can their payroll go?


Out in L.A.,

Where it’s always sunny

They’ll win the division

Thanks to Magic oozing money

2. Arizona Diamondbacks

Vegas win line: 81.5

Prediction: Over

Random Diamondback: Tony Womack

Pressing question: Is Martin Prado a franchise-type player?


They are hard to gauge

Good, but not great, all around

Still, a playoff team

3. San Francisco Giants

Vegas win line: 87.5

Prediction: Under

Random Giant: Marvin Benard

Pressing question: Is there enough offense around Posey and Sandoval?


After winning two titles

Many teams get cozy

This team shall fall short

Despite that stud Posey

4. San Diego Padres

Vegas win line: 74.5

Prediction: Over

Random Padre: John Vander Wal

Pressing question: Can Chase Headley repeat his breakout season from a year ago?


When Headley and Grandal

Make triumphant returns

A bit of your respect

Bud Black’s team will earn

5. Colorado Rockies

Vegas win line: 71.5

Prediction: Under

Random Rockie: Shawn Chacon

Pressing question: How many games at Coors Field this season will feature more than 20 runs?


Last year’s pitching staff

Was downright rotten

As for adding better arms

The Rockies have forgotten


AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Tigers

NL Cy Young: Adam Wainwright, Cardinals

AL MVP: Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics

NL MVP: Joey Votto, Reds

AL Wild Card: Rays over Indians

NL Wild Card: Cardinals over D-Backs

ALDS: Tigers over Rays, Angels over Blue Jays

NLDS: Nationals over Cardinals, Reds over Dodgers

ALCS: Tigers over Angels

NLCS: Nationals over Reds

World Series: Nationals over Tigers

The Revolving Door

Think stability matters?

Since Jim Thome departed following the 2002 season, the Indians have employed the services of 30 players at first base:

Ben Broussard, Travis Hafner, Lou Merloni, Josh Phelps, Casey Blake, Bill Selby, Shane Spencer, Jose Hernandez, Jeff Liefer, Ryan Garko, Eduardo Perez, Victor Martinez, Chris Gomez, Andy Gonzalez, Michael Aubrey, Andy Marte, Sal Fasano, Chris Gimenez, Mark DeRosa, Matt LaPorta, Niuman Romero, Russell Branyan, Jordan Brown, Shelley Duncan, Jack Hannahan, Carlos Santana, Casey Kotchman, Jose Lopez, Russ Canzler, Brent Lillibridge

After the club traded Roberto Alomar following the ’01 campaign, the Indians shuffled through 34 second basemen until Jason Kipnis ultimately brought some constancy to the position.

Aaron Boone, Adam Everett, Alex Cora, Anderson Hernandez, Angel Santos, Asdrubal Cabrera, Bill Selby, Brandon Phillips, Chris Gomez, Cord Phelps, Drew Sutton, Greg LaRocca, Hector Luna, Jamey Carroll, Jason Donald, Jason Kipnis, Jayson Nix, Joe Inglett, John McDonald, Jolbert Cabrera, Jorge Velandia, Jose Hernandez, Josh Barfield, Lou Merloni, Luis Rivas, Luis Valbuena, Mark Grudzielanek, Mike Rouse, Orlando Cabrera, Ramon Vazquez, Ricky Gutierrez, Ronnie Belliard, Tony Graffanino, Zach Sorensen

What’s In A Word?

Jason Kipnis was joking, but it still kind of fit.

I polled the Indians players on Wednesday, asking them each for one, simple word to paint the picture of the Wahoos’ 2012 season. One, quick adjective — harmless on the exterior, but bursting with meaning and significance.

Kipnis swiftly replied with “burgerflickle” then “traveshamockery.” The Tribe second baseman was mocking a Miller Lite commercial, though “traveshamockery” (a fusing of “travesty,” “sham” and “mockery”) isn’t too outlandish compared to some of the actual responses. Kipnis eventually settled upon “A lesson,” which is technically two words, but he did supply four words in total.

Here are some of the other responses: