Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Manny Acta”

Manny being Manny a winner

It’s easy to love this Indians team.

They have the best record in baseball at 29-15. The largest division lead by far in baseball – seven games. What’s not to like?

But it is more than that.

It’s the team never quitting, especially at home.

It’s a different player coming through seemingly every night.

If it’s not Travis Hafner hitting a game-winning home run against Seattle, it’s Travis Buck hitting a late-game homer against the Reds or Asdrubal Cabrera going 5-for-5 on Sunday to lead a sweep of Cincinnati.

It’s a starting rotation that has 19 wins against only 10 losses. And a bullpen that is the best in the American League.

And it’s manager Manny Acta.

We admit we were neutral when the Indians hired Acta last year. We don’t follow the National League – their snootiness about pitchers hitting and over-exaggeration on the “nuances of the double-switch” make us ill – and Acta had managed in Washington so we didn’t know much about him.

But we like his approach to the game. He takes things day to day – not in the soul-less “grind it out” way of Eric Wedge – but more of a “let’s take care of today” mentality. He worries about what he can control and deals with the rest when he has to.

The injuries to the pitching staff are a perfect example. While some were worried about what the team would do when Mitch Talbot was ready to come off the disabled list, Acta knew things would work out.

It’s unfortunate that the decision was made for the team as Alex White is now out for the next three months, but the fact that Acta kept the team focused on each day’s game – just worrying about what they can control – fills us with confidence that the Indians have the right guy in charge.

Just another reason to like Manny being Manny.

***

The Premier League season came to an end on Sunday, with Blackpool and Birmingham joining West Ham in being relegated in the closest race in league history.

And after putting on such a strong run since Kenny Dalglish took over in January, Liverpool lost its last two games of the season to miss out on European play for the first time since 1999.

“The end of the season has come at a good time for us,” Dalslish told the Daily Mail. “I’m proud of the players and the way they turned it round. It’s been a long time since this club hasn’t been in Europe but we have to get used to it. This club didn’t build its history and tradition on losing games. We don’t want that to be a habit.”

If the team can add a few more players and pick up next season where they left off this one, that shouldn’t be a problem.

“The squad only needs tinkering,” Dalglish said. “If people want to see the best players and assets of the football club wearing a red shirt, that’s what we want to try and provide. We want to get the highest quality of player in that we can. That’s what position we have been put into, and that’s what we will try to do.”

Sounds good to us.

***

Had some quiet time this morning at Red Right 88 headquarters, so we put on the DVD of the Browns 1989 opener against Pittsburgh and a couple of things stood out to us.

The Browns starting backfield was Tim Manoa and Keith Jones. No wonder the Browns drafted Eric Metcalf for that season.

Who didn’t love the Bubby Brister era in Pittsburgh? In that game, Bubby was 4-of-8 in the first half for seven yards and two interceptions. Even Derek Anderson mocks those numbers.

We forgot how much fun it was to watch Webster Slaughter, Brian Brennan and Reggie Langhorne abuse the over-rated Rod Woodson twice a year.

The Browns defense, at least that first year under Bud Carson, was really good. Guys swarmed to the ball, hit people and made things happen. We haven’t seen that around here for a while now.

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Just another night at the ballpark

It was a normal night on Friday at Progressive Field – at least for the Indians.

The Tribe won its sixth consecutive home game in their last at-bat, beating the Reds, 5-4.

There seems to be no obstacle the team can’t overcome right now, especially at home.

The opposing pitcher is throwing a no-hitter into the sixth inning and you are losing 4-0? No problem.

A couple of hits, a hit batter, a few walks, a sacrifice fly and the score is tied.

“These guys are not going to give up,” manager Manny Acta said in published reports. “We’ve done that a few times now. They do feel they are never out of it and that’s a good feeling to have.”

Runner on third with two outs in the bottom of the eighth? No problem.

Just send rookie Ezequiel Carrera to the plate and have him bunt for his first major-league hit, driving in Shin-Soo Choo with what would turn out to be the winning run.

“It was a perfect spot for Carrera,” Acta said. “We needed a hit. We didn’t need an extra-base hit. Even if he hits a ground ball, he might beat it out.”

Need the bullpen to shut down the opposition so you can get back into the game? No problem.

Joe Smith, Tony Sipp, Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez combined for four innings of shutout ball.

Just another night of the Tribe being the Tribe.

The Indians have baseball’s best record at 27-15, and lead the Central Division by six games over Detroit and Kansas City.

Acta has the players believing anything is possible. With more than 30,000 in attendance Friday night and a sellout in place for today’s game, the fans are starting to believe as well.

After Friday night’s win, is there any reason to doubt?

What’s the Next Move Dan?

“It’s a mess, ain’t it?

“If it ain’t, it will do until the mess gets here.

Now that Dan Gilbert has taken the easy path and fired Mike Brown, sacrificing him to appease the hoople heads, we’re left hoping that the next mess doesn’t arrive.

As we explained last week, firing a coach is the easy part. Terry Pluto made the same, correct point in today’s PD. Zydrunas and Mo Williams also agree.

Now Gilbert has to find the answer to the question: who are you going to hire? And if he can’t find someone who will produce better results than Brown, then what was the point, exactly? Brown was not only the most successful coach in franchise history, he was the sixth winningest coach in NBA history, percentage wise.

Read that sentence again. Only five other coaches in NBA history have had a better winning percentage than Brown. Think that will be easy to replace?

Brian Windhorst ran down a list of possible replacements in today’s PD: Other than Phil Jackson, who’s not coming to Cleveland, the list shouldn’t inspire confidence or excitement among the fan base. Consider the “accomplishments” of some of the names on that list:

  • Byron Scott, .498 winning percentage, only eight playoff wins in his last seven years as coach.
  • Dwayne Casey, .434, no playoff wins.
  • Maurice Cheeks, .498, five playoff wins.
  • Lawrence Frank, .483, no playoff wins in his last three years as coach.
  • Mike Fratello (please, no), 20-42 career playoff record, only two playoff wins in his last 10 years as a coach.
  • Sam Mitchell, .452, three playoff wins.
  • Terry Porter, .460, one playoff win.

You really want one of them running the team for the next three years – because, let’s face it, that’s about how long one of them would last if they were hired. Is there anyone on this list that gives fans any reason to hope that they will be the ones to lead the team to a championship?

And let’s not even go down the road that would end in disaster if the Cavs hired a college coach.

But I guess it’s not all bad. We still have Manny Acta (.385 career winning percentage) and Eric Mangini (.438) in the Cleveland coaching fraternity. That will put an extra hop in your step.

So now the search is on and Dan Gilbert faces the latest in a seemingly never-ending list of “most important decisions” facing the franchise.

“The expectations of this organization are very high,” Gilbert said Monday in published reports. “Although change always carries an element of risk, there are times when that risk must be taken in an attempt to break through to new, higher levels of accomplishment. This is one of those times.”

We have to all hope that Gilbert is correct. Who knows, maybe he is the owner that can break the championship drought that has hung over Cleveland for almost 46 years.

If not, there’s no telling what kind of mess the Cavs will find themselves in.

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