The Cleveland Kafkaesque Indians

Bob Feller

Franz Kafka‘s poor, more-acted-upon-than-acting, Gregor Samsa woke up one morning after a night of bad dreams to find he had been been turned into a giant crawling insect. I know how he feels. I woke up this morning to find myself believing the Cleveland Indians will be on top of the baseball world in November.

Cricket readers: we baseball fans know spring training is into only its second or third week, three more to go before the season begins and all the pundits (I’ll be joining that misguided chorus soon enough, stay tuned) start badgering us: it’s the Phillies, it’s the Red Sox, it’s surely another Yankees season, and let’s not forget the Giants that stormed to a World Series victory in 2010.

What about “The Indians of Cleveland” as Hemingway‘s old man amid the fish, Santiago (see earlier post), might call them? A little Instant Karma (chameleon) anyone? If the Giants could do it for the first time since 1954, why not Cleveland, which has been in a World Series drought since 1948?

Cleveland! Home of Bob Feller (who died in 2010: RIP Rapid Robert), Herb Score (cricket fans and younger baseball lovers, nota: Score, who lived into 2008, might have been the greatest left-handed pitcher ever if not for really bad luck, speaking of karma), Satchel Paige, Rocky Colavito; and way more recently CC Sabathia, 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Roberto Alomar, Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel (a wonder of a shortstop at something like 44, I’m not sure where he’s plying his trade this season), Cliff Lee, and others.

Here I am gazing at the Cleveland roster in these preseason days, and I discover only two Indians born in the 1970s: 1977 and 1979 to be exact. I see 1987s, 1988s, a bunch of 1985s. Under the ebullient Manny Acta, Cleveland is, in fact, the youngest team in Major League Baseball. Average age: 26.

When he’s healthy, center fielder Grady Sizemore is an elite player. You gotta be “strong up the middle,” so joining Sizemore I find Luis Valbuena (OK, “good field, no hit”) at second base and Carlos Santana behind the mask. Pitchers Fausto Carmona and Justin Masterson are top of the line, and there is hard-throwing 25-year-old Chris Perez as the Closer of the Present and Future.

It was no bad dream. I may not be a giant crawling insect, but I’m getting in on the ground floor and looking up to the Cleveland Indians in 2011.


About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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