Archive for August, 2007

The Comeback Kid…

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The one time cover boy and face of the Cleveland Browns franchise makes a valiant comeback after two serious rotator cuff surgeries.  How did he do it?  You can read more about it here and see what people will do to succeed…

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Terry Pluto: Frustrated with first place?

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Complain about first? Fans find a way

When it comes to the Indians, I receive a lot of e-mails like this one from Bob (no last names, please) of Akron. He’s a great fan and loves the local teams, but after complaining about the Indians not scoring runs and Kenny Lofton being doubled off first base when he ran wild on a fly ball to the outfield he wrote, ”It’s really hard to take the Tribe seriously any longer.”

Some of this is due to frustration, a fan seeing the Central Division as wide open and the Indians not kicking down the door to claim it. But they are in first place.

Heading into Monday night’s game against the Minnesota Twins, they had the fourth-best record in the American League. They are coming off a 7-3 trip. In the past two weeks, they have won 3-of-5 from the defending American League champion Detroit Tigers.

There’s a good chance the Tribe will be in the playoffs.

Other e-mails are like this one from a fan named Mike, who wrote, ”It’s very hard to make the playoffs or make any noise in the postseason with an offense that is de-accelerating down the stretch. . . .

ease see Pluto, C3

How about (Asdrubal) Cabrera? How about Frankie Gutierrez? It makes one wonder how a couple of fans like us can recognize talent before the manager does.”

He wasn’t done.

”I’ve lost all respect for (General Manager Mark) Shapiro as well,” Mike wrote. ”They continue to play (Jhonny) Peralta just to save face.”

Where to begin?

Peralta went into Monday night hitting .277 with 18 home runs and 63 RBI. He is second among all American League shortstops in homers, fifth in RBI, seventh with a .379 on-base percentage.

His defense is better than last year, but he’s still not average.

Peralta is not Tom Veryzer. He’s not Jack Heidemann. He’s not Larry Brown and he’s not Felix Fermin or Frank Duffy. Those are just some of the Tribe’s starting shortstops in the past 40 years.

He’s also not Omar Vizquel, and some fans will never forgive him for that.

And these are not the 1995 Indians, and some fans will never forgive them for that.

And the Dolans are cheap, or at least that’s the common theme with many fans, and they won’t forgive ownership for that.

I grew up with the Indians of the 1960s. In that decade, their highest finish was third, and still 161/2 games out of first place. In those 10 years, they never were closer than 15 games from the top.

Perhaps you knew the Indians of the 1970s. They never were nearer than 14 games out, and their best finish was fourth place. They had two winning records in those 10 years.

Maybe you came to the Tribe in the 1980s. That team never was higher than fifth place and had two winning records in 10 years.

That’s a 30-year span with five winning records, and never playing a meaningful game in the month of September.

For those of us in those dark decades of Tribe baseball, what would we have given to follow a team like the 2007 Tribe? It’s nearly September. The Indians are in first place. It’s not like they are barely above .500; they had a 72-57 record entering the big series with the Twins.

If they make the playoffs, they probably would go in with a better record than the 2006 World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals (83-78) or the 1997 World Series Tribe team (86-75). In case you missed it, this team is not terrible.

Nonetheless, I receive endless e-mails about how Casey Blake can’t hit with runners in scoring position.

”He ranks 148 out of 151 major-league hitters with runners in scoring position,” wrote Brian of Chicago. He wanted someone anyone to bat for Blake in a clutch situation of a recent game in Kansas City.

Based on my e-mails, if you dig deep enough, Blake might be behind the collapse of all those subprime mortgages.

I can tell you that Blake (.261, 15 HR, 61 RBI) is having a year as good as or better than such third basemen as the Oakland Athletics’ Eric Chavez (.240, 15 HR, 46 RBI), the Toronto Blue Jays’ Troy Glaus (.252, 17 HR, 54 RBI) and the Tigers’ Brandon Inge (.238, 12 HR, 56 RBI). The Twins are playing Nick Punto (.201, 1 HR, 22 RBI in 388 at-bats) at third.

Blake is hitting a dismal .174 with runners in scoring position. For his career, he’s .224. Yet he has come up in those situations more than any other Tribe hitter. That’s the fault of Indians manager Eric Wedge, who should drop Blake to the bottom of the order.

He’s still a valuable player. Furthermore, as a team, the Indians are terrible with runners in scoring position. Their .253 average is 26th out of 30 teams. Travis Hafner (.192), David Dellucci (.167), Trot Nixon (.224) and even Ryan Garko (.247) have struggled in the clutch.

Peralta, the guy they play just to save face? He’s hitting .292 with runners in scoring position.

All is not right with the Tribe.

The Indians do drive any fan to distraction when they waste tremendous pitching performances, as they have of late with C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona. Wedge did stay with Nixon far too long.

Dellucci was a bad signing, and Josh Barfield lost his starting second base job.

They regrouped by playing Gutierrez in the outfield and calling up Cabrera from the minors. They have patched a leaky starting rotation, replacing Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers with Carmona and Aaron Laffey.

This is a team built on pitching, with a 3.75 ERA since the All-Star break. Don’t ask how, just know that Joe Borowski leads the league in saves. Jake Westbrook is 3-1 with a 1.56 ERA in his past six starts.

The big picture is positive. The Indians entered Monday’s game with a 31-20 record in the Central Division, the best of any team. That’s a key to making the playoffs. The Tigers are 25-26, the Twins are 21-26.

The Indians are 22-20 in one-run games, which had been a problem in the past.

Whine bout the Tribe? Go ahead. There’s room for criticism.

Just remember the team is good enough to be worthy of complaining about.

When it comes to the Indians, I receive a lot of e-mails like this one from Bob (no last names, please) of Akron. He’s a great fan and loves the local teams, but after complaining about the Indians not scoring runs and Kenny Lofton being doubled off first base when he ran wild on a fly ball to the outfield he wrote, ”It’s really hard to take the Tribe seriously any longer.”

Some of this is due to frustration, a fan seeing the Central Division as wide open and the Indians not kicking down the door to claim it. But they are in first place.

Heading into Monday night’s game against the Minnesota Twins, they had the fourth-best record in the American League. They are coming off a 7-3 trip. In the past two weeks, they have won 3-of-5 from the defending American League champion Detroit Tigers.

There’s a good chance the Tribe will be in the playoffs.

Other e-mails are like this one from a fan named Mike, who wrote, ”It’s very hard to make the playoffs or make any noise in the postseason with an offense that is de-accelerating down the stretch. . . .

ease see Pluto, C3

How about (Asdrubal) Cabrera? How about Frankie Gutierrez? It makes one wonder how a couple of fans like us can recognize talent before the manager does.”

He wasn’t done.

”I’ve lost all respect for (General Manager Mark) Shapiro as well,” Mike wrote. ”They continue to play (Jhonny) Peralta just to save face.”

Where to begin?

Peralta went into Monday night hitting .277 with 18 home runs and 63 RBI. He is second among all American League shortstops in homers, fifth in RBI, seventh with a .379 on-base percentage.

His defense is better than last year, but he’s still not average.

Peralta is not Tom Veryzer. He’s not Jack Heidemann. He’s not Larry Brown and he’s not Felix Fermin or Frank Duffy. Those are just some of the Tribe’s starting shortstops in the past 40 years.

He’s also not Omar Vizquel, and some fans will never forgive him for that.

And these are not the 1995 Indians, and some fans will never forgive them for that.

And the Dolans are cheap, or at least that’s the common theme with many fans, and they won’t forgive ownership for that.

I grew up with the Indians of the 1960s. In that decade, their highest finish was third, and still 161/2 games out of first place. In those 10 years, they never were closer than 15 games from the top.

Perhaps you knew the Indians of the 1970s. They never were nearer than 14 games out, and their best finish was fourth place. They had two winning records in those 10 years.

Maybe you came to the Tribe in the 1980s. That team never was higher than fifth place and had two winning records in 10 years.

That’s a 30-year span with five winning records, and never playing a meaningful game in the month of September.

For those of us in those dark decades of Tribe baseball, what would we have given to follow a team like the 2007 Tribe? It’s nearly September. The Indians are in first place. It’s not like they are barely above .500; they had a 72-57 record entering the big series with the Twins.

If they make the playoffs, they probably would go in with a better record than the 2006 World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals (83-78) or the 1997 World Series Tribe team (86-75). In case you missed it, this team is not terrible.

Nonetheless, I receive endless e-mails about how Casey Blake can’t hit with runners in scoring position.

”He ranks 148 out of 151 major-league hitters with runners in scoring position,” wrote Brian of Chicago. He wanted someone anyone to bat for Blake in a clutch situation of a recent game in Kansas City.

Based on my e-mails, if you dig deep enough, Blake might be behind the collapse of all those subprime mortgages.

I can tell you that Blake (.261, 15 HR, 61 RBI) is having a year as good as or better than such third basemen as the Oakland Athletics’ Eric Chavez (.240, 15 HR, 46 RBI), the Toronto Blue Jays’ Troy Glaus (.252, 17 HR, 54 RBI) and the Tigers’ Brandon Inge (.238, 12 HR, 56 RBI). The Twins are playing Nick Punto (.201, 1 HR, 22 RBI in 388 at-bats) at third.

Blake is hitting a dismal .174 with runners in scoring position. For his career, he’s .224. Yet he has come up in those situations more than any other Tribe hitter. That’s the fault of Indians manager Eric Wedge, who should drop Blake to the bottom of the order.

He’s still a valuable player. Furthermore, as a team, the Indians are terrible with runners in scoring position. Their .253 average is 26th out of 30 teams. Travis Hafner (.192), David Dellucci (.167), Trot Nixon (.224) and even Ryan Garko (.247) have struggled in the clutch.

Peralta, the guy they play just to save face? He’s hitting .292 with runners in scoring position.

All is not right with the Tribe.

The Indians do drive any fan to distraction when they waste tremendous pitching performances, as they have of late with C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona. Wedge did stay with Nixon far too long.

Dellucci was a bad signing, and Josh Barfield lost his starting second base job.

They regrouped by playing Gutierrez in the outfield and calling up Cabrera from the minors. They have patched a leaky starting rotation, replacing Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers with Carmona and Aaron Laffey.

This is a team built on pitching, with a 3.75 ERA since the All-Star break. Don’t ask how, just know that Joe Borowski leads the league in saves. Jake Westbrook is 3-1 with a 1.56 ERA in his past six starts.

The big picture is positive. The Indians entered Monday’s game with a 31-20 record in the Central Division, the best of any team. That’s a key to making the playoffs. The Tigers are 25-26, the Twins are 21-26.

The Indians are 22-20 in one-run games, which had been a problem in the past.

Whine bout the Tribe? Go ahead. There’s room for criticism.

Just remember the team is good enough to be worthy of complaining about.

Jury Selection…

I’m on the Road to Recovery

You know it occurred to me.  At the very onset of this blog I often catalogued where I was.  It was kind of in line with “Where’s Jim?”.   Kind of a Where in the World is Waldo sort of a thing.  It all started in Milwaukee one warm summer day not long ago…but I digress…

But today I am in Lake Forrest, CA.  Home of Saddleback Community Church.  I can tell you one thing.  Saddleback is not a community church by some definitions.  There is nobody that could walk to this church (you can hardly walk there from the parking lot).  In fact most get on a freeway to get here.  I have heard countless testimonies of people that drive 30 or more miles several times a week to attend this church.  We have a view of Saddleback from our hotel room.  It is just across the street, (well across the freeway actually) and we have a view of the campus from the window down at the end of the hallway.  I think I am gonna go take one more look at it right now.  I will be right back…I went and took a photo but I can’t upload it right now…oh here it is…

 Beautiful weather.  It was 79 yesterday.  I know that because I looked it up because it felt like 90 plus.  It must be the sun.  Hard to believe it was only 79 degrees with the sweat pouring down.  Palm trees, wide streets, mountains, blue skies.  Who would want to live out here?

Doc Flue, Nick Handler, Donna (my princess bride) and I were out here for a three day Celebrate Recovery Summit.  There were 3200 attendees from all 50 states and at least 13 countries from all over the world.  I met one man named Karl from Norway who was attending his second summit.  His goal is to bring Celebrate Recovery to all of Scandanavia.  That is quite a challenge, particularily from a language viewpoint as of now there is no material for them in their native language.  Kind of puts starting a ministry in Tecumseh into perspective. 

What is Celebrate Recovery?  Is is a Christ centered biblically based recovery ministry.  Why Celebrate Recovery?  Celebrate Recovery changes lives.  My tears flowed time and time again at the testimonies real people shared about how God had saved their lives, restored their marraige, healed their hurst and given them their lives back again and again.  Because there are over 18 million addicted to alcohol, 3.6 million addicted to drugs, 16 million with sexual addictions, 2 million with gambling addictions and 4 million people with food addictions.  This does not take into account that most likeley there is a least one co-dependent for each addict.  Additionally millions suffer from being either sexually, physically or emotionally abused, anger issues, obsessive compulsive disorders, depression and financial and relationship addictions.  Seems like a vast unmanagable problem.  But its not.  There is no limit to what God can do.  There is a Celebrate Recovery ministry in over 10,000 churches worldwide.  All this started with a meeting 16 years ago with 43 people.  The first Celebrate Recovery Summit in 2000 hosted about 70 people.  This past friday night the Celebrate Recovery BBQ team fed over 3000 people from all over the world either a Serenety Sausage, Denial Burger, Recovery Dog or a 12 Step Chicken. 

Truthfully, we are all in recovery.  We all have our heart wound.  We all have our hangups.  We are all creatures of habit.  We have all hurt someone and all have been hurt.  We all need healing.  Celebrate Recovery can help.  But you have to do the work.

Recovery is a true Celebration.  Try to imagine worshipping side by side with over 3000 people who God has healed from addictions, habits, oppression, fear and pain.  What an authentic real group of people.  Grateful to the one true higher power, our Lord Jesus Christ.   Worship is a key element to success of this ministry.  We had 9 different opportunities to worship our Lord God over the three days.  Tears ran from my eyes almost everytime we entered in to worship.  Now I know why they call the CR praise band “The Worlds Most Dangerous Celebrate Recovery Band”…

You will be seeing and hearing more about CR-Tecumseh.  Look for the information table at NewSong Sunday service soon.  Watch the bulletin and listen for announcements.  Listen to that still small voice of God to see if He is talking to you about Celebrate Recovery.  See you Sunday, if not sooner.  I must be off…

It’s OK if prayers are full of pain

It takes guts to pray.That’s praying deep from the heart, from the depths of your pain. These are dangerous prayers, because they reveal who we are and what we feel and we might not like it.

But there’s a pretty good chance that God just might have a clue about our character and emotions, so it’s not as if we’re going to keep it secret from the Almighty.

Maybe that’s why David boldly prayed: ”Strike my enemies on the jaw, break the teeth of the wicked.”

When I began to read the Bible, I was shocked to find prayers in which the writer actually talked to God like that. Sometimes, the writer wasn’t only pleading with God, it sounded like screaming!

This was David in Psalm 3, when his enemies surrounded him. David probably figured out perhaps the hard way that every time he tried to bust his enemy’s head, it just made everything worse. So he took it to God.

He didn’t act it out, but he also didn’t stuff it down.

In Psalm 10, David wrote: ”Why, O Lord, do you stand so far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In his arrogance, the wicked man hunts down the weak who are caught in the schemes he devises.”

David essentially prays the question: ”Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Or, as Jeremiah wrote in Chapter 12 of his book: ”Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?”

Of course, it’s not true that awful people always get away with it, but there are times when it sure feels like that. I have spent more than a few sleepless nights asking God the ”Why?” question the kind in which there won’t be any clear answers coming soon.

In Psalm 43, David wrote: ”Vindicate me, O God. Plead my case against an ungodly nation, rescue me from deceitful men. You are God, my stronghold. Why have you rejected me?”

Psalm 22 begins with weeping on the page: ”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?”

Jesus made the same plea from the cross, so if you thought that and maybe prayed that, you’re not in bad company.

Some people are afraid to pray like that because it ”doesn’t sound spiritual.” Or because it somehow reflects a lack of faith. Or because we just should know better, be more mature and be able to handle the problem ourselves.

Down deep, most of us know otherwise. I can be so confident, so strong in opinions in front of others or in the newspaper and then I stare at the ceiling some nights and wonder: ”Am I doing the right thing?”

Sometimes, God answers. Sometimes, the silence is darker than Death Valley at 3 a.m.

If you read through the 150 psalms in the middle of the Bible, you find people who are thrilled with God, mad at God, scared of the future and more than a little paranoid about the people around them.

I once had a history professor who said, ”Paranoids have real enemies, too.” So maybe there were real reasons for David and the rest to be edgy.

Many of the psalms begin not with gratefulness or praise as some are taught to pray but with pain and frustration. Then they work their way around to faith, to a sense that God might not be taking me over this mess but might be carrying me through it.

But in the meantime, God, I’m going to complain for a while.

Depending upon your faith background, you might have a problem with this type of praying. Or, it all might be new to you, as it was for me.

But as Pastor Ronald Fowler of Akron’s Arlington Church of God said: ”God is big enough to handle it. God made the world, right? He can deal with your troubles.” noweb


Terry Pluto can be reached at terrypluto2003@yahoo.com.

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