Monday, August 20, 2007

The Polish Pop-gun

"Dropped once, never fired." That's the old joke about the seller's description of a Polish rifle. When it comes to the Tribe's closer, Joe Borowski, a better description might read "Throws strikes, mostly meatballs." This is why, from here on in, I'm going to have to refer to him as "The Polish Pop-gun." Yesterday's blown save was yet another example of why, even though he has miraculously racked up 34 saves, The Polish Pop-gun needs to be recalled like a cheap Mattel toy. I was at the game, and was super-excited to catch my beloved Tribe in Tropicana Field. C.C. Sabathia was going for us, we'd won the first two games of the series, and had a chance to widen our lead over the Kittens (they'd eventually lose against the Yankers). Although C.C. was masterful, going 8 solid innings and giving up just 2 runs, our suddenly anemic offense was only able to muster up 2 runs as well, so the game went into extra innings. In the top of the 10th, Asdrúbal Cabrera (one of my new faves -- crazy name, unbelievably fugly, and sporting a pair of ears that would put Dumbo to shame) scorched a solid single off Al "El Asesino" Reyes (GREAT nickname!), watched "Cool Papa" Lofton inexplicably strike out looking (Bill Simmons' nickname, not mine -- very fitting, though), took third on Tricky Trot Nixon's pinch-hit single and, after Grady Sizemore was nicked by a pitch to load the bases, scored easily from third on bad-ass Vicky Martínez's towering sacrifice fly to right (missed being a game-icing grand salami by a few feet -- Vicky just got under it). I prayed for the Pronk to come up with a two-out base-hit, because I did NOT want the Polish Pop-gun coming in to close out a one-run game, but his underachieving ass grounded out to end the inning.

If you've followed the Tribe at all this year, you know what happened next, because it's been sickeningly typical of the Polish Pop-gun's performance: he blew away the first two hitters by getting them to look at his meatball BP fastball, then nailing them with his hanging breaking pitches. How he's been able to rack up so many saves with his ridiculously below-average stuff, I'll never know... but I digress. The next hitter was the catcher, Dioner Navarro, who was batting a "scorching" .205 and had looked absolutely helpless in his first four at-bats. The Polish Pop-gun proceeded to fall behind 3-0, threw two meatball strikes, the second of which was JUST missed by Navarro, then bounced a lollipop five feet in front of the plate, effectively walking the worst hitter in the entire ballpark (yes, this included the fans). At this point, I turned to my pal Dr. Vincentstein and said, "I can't believe this arse-wipe just walked that Punch-and-Judy jackass -- the next two hitters are lefties, and lefties have eaten him up all f*cking year!" Sure enough, both Iwamura and Crawford scorched singles, and the game was tied. Long story short: we eventually ended up losing a game we coulda shoulda won in the bottom of the 12th.

The point: the starting pitching has been extremely solid (C.C. and Dr. Fausto are on fire, Westbrook is coming on strong now that he's finally begun locating his sinker, and even Byrd has shown flashes of competence), the bullpen has actually been a pleasant surprise (Betancourt and Pérez have been solid, Fultz and Mastny have been acceptable, and Lewis looks promising), and although our hitting has been pretty disappointing at times (especially the Pronk), the team is still scoring plenty of runs (bad-ass Vicky Martínez and Garko are having excellent years, Sizemore is having a deceptively productive season, and Peralta has really bounced back from his horrible sophomore slump). Hell, even the defense has been pretty solid. Be that as it may, this team will not have a successful post-season run if the Polish Pop-gun is still closing. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts. No lead will be safe, the hitters will press, and hitters that press in the playoffs are easy outs. To quote Fat Bastard, "it's a vicious circle." The Polish Pop-gun must be disarmed, and he must be disarmed NOW!!!

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