Yesterday was the nine-year anniversary of The Impossible Return. If you don't remember, it was the game the Indians battled back from a 14-2 deficit in seventh inning to defeat the Seattle Mariners miraculously, 15-14.
I spent some time on a website that allows you to listen to the play-by-play from Tom Hamilton and Mike Hegan for all the key plays of the comeback. It was exciting to reminisce on such an amazing moment in Tribe history, yet at the same time sad to hear the roar of the crowd that no longer exists at the corner of Ontario and Carnegie. The events that occurred between 1994-2001 made me not only believe that anything truly could happen at the ballpark, but actually come to expect it.
I just realized how long it has been since Tribe fans expected late-inning magic during the summer, and quite frankly, I really miss it.
Back to the game in 2001, now it was certainly one of best comebacks and finishes in Cleveland sports history, but it will be forever marred by one of the worst botched celebrations in baseball history. Eddie Taubensee, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING.
If you don't remember, Kenny Lofton scored the winning run on Jolbert Cabrera's single, was subsequently greeted at homeplate by the journeyman catcher Taubensee. Lofton leaped into Taubensee's arms much like a quarterback would to his center after a touchdown pass. So far so good.
Inexplicably, Taubensee throws the star center fielder over his shoulder as if he were Santa Claus and Lofton was a sack of toys. Grabbing him around the thighs sending Lofton's torso plummeting groundward and his feet pointing at the sky. Worst of all - his head uncomfortably close to Taubensee's hindquarters.
The unforgivable gaffe can be seen here.
One wonders just how long Taubensee toted Kenny around in this awkward manner. Did he head to the clubhouse and proceed toward the showers before Lofton finally hollered, "Hey you journeyman catcher who's name escapes me, PUT ME DOWN!"
Now I'd like to just address Travis Hafner. There is something I've been meaning to say to the Tribe "slugger" that I believe he needs to hear.
Hey Tonka, or Pronkster, whatever they call you. Here's the deal. I know there was a time when you could hit the stuffings out of the ball, but if I can be brutally honest here, watching you these last few years has been nothing short of excruciating.
Now I don't blame you for the ridiculous contract the Indians gave you in 2007, only a fool would walk away form that kind of money. But bro, this ball club has paid you tens of millions of dollars to produce Wil Cordero numbers. I realize you are still owed $13 million in each of the next two seasons. But this team is in full rebuild mode, and basically man, you are killing them.
We all know you aren't in the future plans, but at that kind of cash, they are forced to play you. Can't you just cut the Dolans a break and ask for a buyout and become one of the biggest heroes of recent Cleveland sports history? I mean you would become the anti-LeBron! Some other team will sign you for significantly less money, but you will still be getting paid seven figures to play a kid's game. So everybody wins right?
I'm not expecting you to make any rash decisions over night, but just consider it huh? And sometime before now and Spring Training '11.
I'm not going to get into how or why, but I end up at Progressive Field for a majority of Tribe games. Anyone who has attended a game should be familiar with the Hot Dog mascots, One is ketchup, one is mustard and the third, onion. They are famous for running the Hot Dog Derby after the fifth inning.
When they aren't racing each other on the field, the Hot Dogs make their way through the concourse, high-fiving adult fans, hugging the younger fans and stopping for countless pictures.
During the last homestand I saw them doing their thing and had what I believe to be a brilliant idea. I pitched it to my buddy of mine, who is known for doing crazy things in public, and needless to say, it may happen someday.
It goes like this. My buddy will see one of the Hot Dogs walking towards him, expecting to exchange the usual high five. Intead said buddy engages the unsuspecting mascot in a bear-hug a la Bill Murray in this clip from Groundhog Day and utters the same phrase into the Hot Dog's ear as Murray did to Ned Ryerson, "I don't know where you're headed, but can you call in sick?"
Are you telling me that would NOT be one of the top five funniest ballpark moments ever?
I thought so.