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Tribe Madness: Previewing the Progressive Field matchups

Tribe Madness: Previewing the Progressive Field matchups
October 26, 2013
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Our tournament moves to the Progressive Field Regional where the winner of this region draws the winner of the Jacobs Field Region.

Here are the regions previewed so far:

Municipal Stadium Region
Stadium Region
League Park Region
Dunn Field Region
Quicken Loans Region
First Energy Region

#9 Ray Fosse (1970) vs.  #8 SP Rick Sutcliffe (1982)

On June 8th, 1965, MLB executives convened for the first ever First Year Player Draft.  The draft started with the Athletics taking outfielder Rick Monday from Arizona State University.  Six spots later the Indians selected Ray “Marion Mule” Fosse from Marion High School (Marion, Illinois).  Fosse arrived in Cleveland for his debut in September of 1967 but it was until 1970 that Ray finally secured a spot as the Indian backstop.   He started 120 games that year winning the first of his two Gold Gloves and making his first All Star appearance.  That first All Star game would greatly affect the rest of Ray's career. In the bottom of the twelfth inning, Cubs first baseman Jim Hickman singled off of Clyde Wright (father of future Indian hurler Jaret Wright).  Royals center fielder Amos Otis picked it up and threw home hoping to prevent the Reds Pete Rose from scoring.  The resulting collision at the plate forced Fosse to drop the ball.  X-rays after the game showed no injury so Ray played through the pain and finished the season hitting .307/.361/.469/.830 with 18 homers and 61 RBI.

When Ray was still in pain in '71, doctors discovered that he had suffered a fractured and dislocated shoulder which did not heal properly.  That season Ray would be elected to start the All Star game but was injured and he also added his second Gold Glove.  Ray would remain the Indians primary signal caller catching Cy Young winner Gaylord Perry, who credited Ray's receiving skills.  The Indians would trade Fosse to the Athletics for Dave Duncan and George Hendrick in spring training 1973.  Ray would return to the Tribe in '75.  Fosse would conclude his twelve year career with the Mariners and Brewers.  In an odd twist of fate, Fosse's nemesis Pete Rose would be incarcerated in the US penitentiary in Marion Illinois, Fosse's home town.

Just a few years after winning the NL Rookie of the Year award, the Dodger's packaged their 26-year old right-hander to the Indians in a five player deal (Jorge OrtaJack Fimple and Larry White headed west and Jack Perconte accompanied “The Red Baron” east).   Sutcliffe wasted little time to make an impact in Cleveland as he won the ERA title in his initial season (1982) for the Wahoo’s.  That season he would go 14-8 with 160 strikeouts as the Indians struggled to a 78-84 record (sixth in the AL East behind the Harvey Wallbangers … i.e. the Milwaukee Brewers).

Then the next season the Independence, Missouri native went 17-11 making his only All Star appearance with the Indians.  The Red Baron then finished his two and a half year Indian career with a trade to the Cubs.  At the time of the trade he was only 4-5 with a 6.15 ERA, but Sutcliffe would go 16-1 in the Windy City as he won the NL Cy Young award.   Sutcliffe did net the Tribe Joe Carter and Mel Hall as part of the seven player trade.  Rick ended up pitching in 18-major league seasons for the Dodgers, Indians, Cubs, Orioles and Cardinals with three All Star appearances.  For his Cleveland career, the Red Baron went 35-24 with a 3.92 ERA.

#10 OF Charlie Jamieson (1923) vs. #7 SP Dennis Martinez (1995)

Eleven Indians from the 1920 World Series championship team are represented in this tournament.  Maybe one of the least known Indians was left fielder Charlie “Cuckoo” Jamieson.  After four non-descript seasons with the Senators and Athletics, the Indians picked Connie Mack's pocket (1919) when they sent Braggo Ruth to Philly for Larry Gardner and Charlie Jamieson.  Cuckoo would win the Indians left field job in 1920 and hold onto it until 1930.

In 1923, Jamieson would lead the AL with 222 hits as he went .345/.422/.447/.869 while scoring 130 runs.  Tris Speaker’s men went 82-71 to finish third behind the Yankees and Tigers (17 games back).  In 1928, Cuckoo was the only outfielder in MLB history to initiate two triple plays in the same year.  Cuckoo would stick with the Indians until being released after the 1932 season at age 39.   That would be the final of his 18-year MLB career.   In his 14 Indian summers, Cuckoo hit .303 with a .763 OPS.  He was the last remaining 1920 Indian playing with the team.

In a move to get the Indians to their first post season in 40 years, General Manager John Hart wanted to add some veterans to supplement a strong core of young players.  Hart’s moves before the 1994 season were to get two former Orioles in Eddie Murray and Dennis “El Presidente” Martinez.  The moves most likely would have paid immediate dividends had there not been a work stoppage that aborted the 1994 season in August.  Northern Ohio baseball fans would need to wait another year but that wait would pay off when the Indians would dominate the AL Central in 1995 going 100-44.

Teaming with Orel Hershiser and Charles Nagy, El Presidente went 12-5 with a 3.08 ERA as the Indians made the post-season for the first time since 1954.  Mike Hargrove's Indians won the AL Central by 30 games and disposed of the Red Sox and Mariners to reach the World Series.  Martinez would draw the start in Game Two but would give up a two-run homer to Braves catcher Javy Lopez in the sixth inning.  That homer was the difference and the Indians found themselves in a two game hole.   After taking two of three at Jacobs Field, Dennis took the mound in Game 6 and left in the fifth in a 0-0 game.   Reliever Jim Poole would give up a solo home run to David Justice and the Braves took the World Series.  Martinez would leave after the 1996 season and pitch until 1998 at the age of 44.  His 23-year career included stints with the Orioles, Expos, Indians, Mariners and Braves and he won 245 games, was a four time All Star and pitched a perfect game with the Expos.

#11 SP Jake Miller (1929) vs. #6 OF Elmer Flick (1906)

Long before Nick Swisher put on an Indians uniform, an Ohio State Buckeye had an impact for the Tribe.  Like back in the 1920's, which is when southpaw Jake Miller from tiny Wagram, Ohio (Reynoldsburg, Licking County) had some pretty good seasons in an Indians uniform.  Three times in that decade Walter “Jake” Miller reached double digits in wins.

His best season was 1929 when the 31 year old hurler went 14-12 with a 3.58 ERA and a tournament qualifying 4.8 WAR.  Roger Peckinpaugh's Wahoo’s finished 10 games above .500 with an 81-71 record but were a distant third (24 games back) of the Athletics.  After spending eight years with the Indians, Jake Miller had one year with the White Sox.  Overall he went 60-58 with 55 of those with the Indians.  Jake's brother Russ, also a Buckeye, had a brief career with the Phillies going 1-13 in 1927 and 1928.

How good was Elmer Flick?  Well after the 1907 season, the Tigers offered the current batting champion, the 21-year old Ty Cobb straight up for the Naps outfielder.  Straight up.  Unfortunately for Cleveland baseball two things happened.  One, Cobb went on to have a great career and his Tigers edged the Naps by a half a game in 1908 for the AL pennant, and two, Flick began to experience ulcers which limited him to only 99 games for the rest of his career (three years).  Before that point, Flick was one of baseball's best players.   The Bedford, Ohio native started his career with the Phillies in 1898 at 22-years old.   He would go on to hit over .300 in his first three seasons.  In 1902 he jumped to the Athletics but was caught up in the legal issues between the NL Phillies and Athletics with Nap Lajoie.  Both Flick and Nap had jumped to the AL together despite once getting into a fight where Nap broke his hand.   Because he (and Lajoie) couldn't play in the state of Pennsylvania (due to the legal issues), Elmer, Nap and Bill Bernard were signed by the Bronchos.

With the Bronchos/Naps, Flick would win the AL batting championship in 1905 with a .308 average (only the second lowest average to win the title).   Flick came back in 1906 to lead the AL in games (157), at bats (624), runs (98), triples (22) and stolen bases (39) while hitting .311/.372/.441/.813.  The Naps under player-manager Nap Lajoie finished 89-64 which was good for third place behind the White Sox.  Sitting 7.5 games out on September first, the Naps went on a 23-9 run as they furiously tried to catch the Sox but couldn't quite catch the AL champions.   Blessed with a fine batting stroke and speed, Flick was a .313 career hitter (13 seasons) with 164 career triples.

#12 SP Bartolo Colon (2000) vs. #5 2B Bobby Avila (1954)

Between 1972 when Gaylord Perry won the Cy Young and 2007 when CC Sabathia won the award the Indians traded away five guys that would win the Cy Young: Gaylord, Dennis Eckersley, Rick Sutcliffe, John Denny, and Bartolo Colon.  Unlike the others in the prior group, the Indians would trade Colon for a guy that would win a Cy Young award (Cliff Lee) and they would get two other All Stars although Brandon Phillips would be an All Star for the Reds.   When the Indians traded Bart away in 2002, fans were not happy.  The three main pieces were guys in the minors but as it turns out the Indians made out like bandits even though Colon did go on to win the Cy Young.

Colon was signed and developed by the Indians and made his MLB debut for the '97 Indians that would go to the World Series.  Colon would rise to be the ace of staff winning 18 games in '99.  In 2000, Bart went 15-8 with a 3.88 ERA with 212 strikeouts for a team that went 90-72.  Charlie Manual's Indians fell to second that year as the White Sox took the AL Central.  In 2001, the Indians would recapture the AL Central and Colon would slump to 14-12.  The next summer, Colon was back flying high with a 10-4 record as the Indians would slide to 7.5 games behind the Twins (five games below .500) on June 27th.  That's when manager Mark Shapiro decided to pull the plug and trade the right-hander to the Expos in what turned out to be one of Shapiro's signature deals.  Colon for his part would win 20 games that year (20-8).  It was in 2005 that Colon would stamp his place in history by winning 21 games for the Angels and take home the Cy Young.  The 40 year old Colon just finished an 18-6 season with the Athletics, having pitched for the White Sox, Angels, Red Sox, and Yankees after leaving the Expos.  The 16 year veteran spent his first five and a half years in an Indians uniform going 75-45.

Talk about tough, Bobby “Beto” Avila played the entire 1954 season with a broken thumb and he won the AL batting title to boot.   Hitting lead-off that year, Avila raked to the tune of a .341 batting average as the Indians captured their first AL pennant since their championship year of 1948 and the 30-year old second sacker was a big reason.  His 112 runs, 15 homers, .341 average and .880 OPS were all career highs as the Al Lopez lead Indians won 111 games.  The 111 wins were an MLB record at the time and it propelled the Tribe to an eight game triumph over the 103-win Yankees.  The run put the Indians in the World Series but like the team, which was swept in four games by the Giants, Beto slumped hitting only .133 in the series.

The Mexican infielder joined the Indians in '49 spending his first two years plying his trade behind second baseman Joe Gordon but in '51 he supplanted Joe for the second base position.  Avila would hit .300 in three of the next four years culminating in his fantastic '54 season.  1954 would be his peak season at age 30 and his numbers would decline afterwards.   By the time he was traded away after the '58 season, Beto's average had fallen to .253.   He was traded to the Orioles and would finish his career with the Red Sox and Braves that year ('59). Ten of his 11 MLB seasons were with the Tribe where he hit .284, made three All Star teams, and finished in the MVP voting three times.

#13 SP Bill Steen (1914) vs. #4 OF Manny Ramirez (1999)

The 1914 Naps were putrid.   They just were.  The team lost 102 games (tied in 1971 and 1985) which would stand as a standard in franchise futility until the 1991 team lost 105.  Still, the 1914 team's .333 winning percentage is the lowest in team history.  The team wasn't bereft of stars either as the team's line up had Nap Lajoie, Shoeless Joe JacksonRay ChapmanTerry Turner and Steve O'Neill.   The pitching staff had Willie MitchellGuy MortonVean Gregg and a 26-year old right-hander from Pittsburg, Bill Steen.  The Indians pitching staff had a 3.21 ERA that year and Steen's 2.60 lead the staff.  The right-hander went 9-14 that season striking out 97 in 200.2 innings.

Steen joined the Naps in 1912 and went 23-31 with a 3.09 ERA in his four year stay on Lake Erie's southern shore.   The next year (1915), he was traded to the Tigers for the pennant run (which the Tigers finished with 100 wins which was one short of the Red Sox).  Most of you may have never heard of Steen (neither had I during my research).  Part of that is due to an inexplicably short MLB career (four years) as he made his last appearance on August 22nd, 1915 and his MLB career was over at age 27.

One of the most important aspects of this matchup is can Bill Steen shutdown the Man-Ram?  Or, will Manny win Bill Steen's money?  Not many pitchers in baseball could shut down the Dominican outfielder via George Washington High School (New York), especially in 1999.  In 1999, Manny and the Indians were a formidable foe for anyone.  The team scored 1009 runs as they crushed the AL Central with a 97-65 record to leave the whole division in the dust.  Manny for his part hit .333 and 44 bombs while leading the league in RBI (165), slugging (.663), and OPS (1.105).  In the playoffs the Indians drew the wild card Red Sox in a best of five.  After downing the BoSox in the first two games, the Indians looked poised to advance but things went all wrong.  They lost Game Three 9-3 and then were embarrassed 23-7 in Game Four.   This set up a do-or-die Game Five.  The Tribe died and manager Mike Hargrove was canned.  Manny hit .056 that series.

Drafted in the first round in the 1991 draft, Ramirez made quick work of the minors and made his MLB debut in 1993.  He earned the starting right field spot in '94 and didn't look back.  Manny spent eight years in Cleveland making the All Star team four times while winning two Silver Sluggers.   He left after the 2000 season via free agency.  Manny then helped the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.  Manny went on to play for the Dodgers, White Sox and Rays in his 19-year career.  With stats that would make a for sure Hall of Famer (555 homers and .312 average), Manny may never be inducted due to multiple suspensions for performance enhancing drugs.  The sad end to his career overshadows 12 All Star seasons, nine silver slugger awards, a 2002 batting title, and 2004 RBI title.

#14 RP Dan Spillner (1982) vs. #3 SS Ray Chapman (1917)

The Indians acquired Padres hurler Dan Spillner in 1978 for pitcher Dennis Kinney.  In his four-plus seasons with the Padres, Dan had success in the bullpen but struggled in his 64 starts.  The Indians would give Spillner a chance to start the following season and in 1980 the results were mixed with a 16-11 record and 5.28 ERA.  After the 1980 season, Dan opted to return to Cleveland as he signed a five-year $2 million contract.  When he was moved back to the bullpen in 1981 his ERA dropped to 3.14.

In 1982, Spillner took over the backend of the bullpen going 12-10 with a 2.49 ERA and 21 saves.  Of the 65 games Spillner took the hill, he finished 54 of them.  Closers in that day often pitched multiple innings and Dan averaged over 2 innings per appearance (133 innings).  Dan would be shipped to the White Sox in 1984 which is where he ended his MLB career.  In total for the three teams, Dan pitched 12 seasons with the bulk (seven years) as an Indian.

In today's game, a baseball lasts about six pitches.  In 1920, the same ball was used over and over until it left the field of play either by a foul ball into the stands or the rare home run.  Knowing this, pitchers would dirty up the ball.  They would smear dirt, licorice, and tobacco juice on it.  They would also scuff it up or deliberately cut the ball.  Hence when Carl Mays threw a high and tight fastball on August 16, 1920, Chapman may not have seen the ball well.   Accounts indicate that Chapman never moved and the ball struck him in the head.  Twice Chapman tried to make it to first and both times stumbled.  Ray was rushed to the hospital and surgeons identified a skull fracture.  Ray passed away the next day at the age of 29.  Chapman was on his way to the best season of his nine year career as he had already surpassed his highest batting average (.303) and OPS (.803) and tied his home run best (3).  After his tragic death, the Indians would go on to win their first World Series.

Chapman began his MLB career in 1912 as a 21-year old.  The next year he replaced Roger Peckinpaugh as the Naps shortstop and he held onto that position until his death.  Ray was excellent defensively, leading the league in assists and putouts three times.  In 1917, Chapman hit .302 with a .779 OPS.  He scored a 98 runs while swiping 35 bags.  Chapman and second sacker Bill Wambsgans formed a tough double play combo and Chapman was credited with 71 double plays as Lee Fohl's Tribe went 86-66 good for third place (12 games behind the White Sox).  One of the most popular players of his era, Chapman played in 1,051 games in a Cleveland uniform, 957 at the shortstop position.

#15 SS Woodie Held (1961) vs. #2 SP Sam McDowell (1970)

In six and a half years as an Indian Woodie belted 130 homers with 85 of them at shortstop, which was an Indians record until surpassed by Jhonny Peralta in 2009.  Woodie was another one of the many players acquired or traded by GM Frantic Frank Lane when the general manager sent Roger Maris to the Athletics for Held and Vic Power.  Held became the Tribe's regular shortstop in 1959 belting 29 balls into the cheap seats.

In 1961, Held rocked 23 long ones while hitting .267 and posting an .822 OPS for Jimmy Dykes’ Indians.  Woodie would move to second base in 1963 before exiting Cleveland after the 1964 season.   In total, Held played 14 seasons for the Yankees, Athletics, Indians, Senators, Orioles, Angels, and White Sox.  He hit 179 bombs in his career with a .240 average.  Undeniably his best years were in a Cleveland uniform.

As an 18-year old in 1961, Sudden Sam McDowell flashed the brilliance which would become a mainstay in the Indians rotation throughout the 60's.  Sam went 6.1 scoreless innings in his debut that year against the Twins’ Jack Kralick.   After leaving the game with a 2-0 lead, reliever Frank Funk blew the game by giving up three runs as the Tribe lost 3-2.  While making 25 starts the next two years, it was 1965 when the 22-year old southpaw emerged as a force.  He went 17-11 while leading the AL with a 2.18 ERA and 325 K's that season.

From 1965 through 1971, McDowell blew away hitters at a staggering pace while leading the league in strikeouts five times and earning six All Star appearances.  Turning the clock to 1970, Sudden Sam went 20-12 with a 2.92 ERA while leading the league in innings (305), strikeouts (304) and walks (131).  McDowell was sent to the Giants after the 1971 season for Gaylord Perry.  The trade turned out great for the Indians as Perry won 24 games that year and McDowell only won 19 games the rest of his career.  McDowell retired after 1975 having pitched for the Yankees and Pirates after leaving San Francisco.

#16 SS Julio Franco (1987) vs. #1 OF Joe Jackson (1912)

In 1982 the Tribe had a young stud outfielder that everyone was salivating over. Teams lined up to make offers. The Phillies came with their offer and it was an offer the Indians couldn't refuse so they sent Von “Five-for-One” Hayes east for a trove of players. Manny Trillo was an All Star second baseman, Jay Baller a hard throwing reliever, Jerry Willard a young catcher, George Vukovich a left-handed hitting outfielder and a young shortstop prospect was also included. The Indians wasted little time in putting the shortstop, one Julio Franco, into the team's shortstop position. Franco hit the field running stealing bases (32) on his way to being runner up in the Rookie of the Year race (Ron Kittle) in 1983.

Julio would hold down the shortstop job in Cleveland for six years and in 1987 put up an .818 OPS with 32 stolen bases, 8 homers, 86 runs and 52 RBI. Not bad for an awful team. Manager Pat Corrales was canned 87 games into the season and Doc Edwards couldn't right the ship. The Indians lost 101 games that year. Franco followed 1987 up with his first Sliver Slugger award. Facing the prospect of losing their star to free agency the Indians sent Julio off to Texas after the '88 season. After spending 1995 in Japan, Julio returned to the Indians in '96 and part of '97. Franco played through 2007 as a 48-year old pinch hitter then retired having played for the Phillies, Indians, Rangers White Sox, Brewers, Devil Rays, Braves and Mets. Julio collected 2586 hits in his 23-year career that included three All Star appearances and five Silver Slugger awards.

Shoeless Joe Jackson spent two seasons with the Phillies but couldn't hit his way out of a paper bag (.150) and the Phillies sent him to Cleveland to complete a prior trade. The move turned out to be a godsend for the South Carolina native as Joe got the chance to play. He seized the opportunity hitting .387 in 20 games. He followed it up by setting a franchise record with a .408 batting average (second to Ty Cobb that season). Then in 1912, his batting average dropped to .395 but he led the AL in hits (226) and triples. His 1.036 OPS thrilled Cleveland fans but the team didn't thrill with a 75-78 record for managers Harry Davis and Joe Birmingham.

With Jackson hitting .327 in 1915, the Indians sent him to the White Sox for Braggo Roth and Ed Klepfer. With the White Sox, Jackson was a member of the 1919 AL pennant winning team. A few of the players on that team conspired to throw the World Series against the Reds. This is where things get cloudy. Allegedly Joe received money to throw the series but his play did not support his involvement. With the scandal hanging over his head and team, Jackson competed for the White Sox in 1920 to retain their AL title which they were downed by the Indians. Jackson and eight other White Sox players were permanently banned from MLB baseball. At age 32, Jackson's career was over. His 89 triples are still a Cleveland record.

Here is the bracket:

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