Is this thing on?

A play-by-play guy trying to survive in a mid-major world

The day Jeremy Powell almost fired a manager

It is hard to believe the 2009 season is nearing its end.  The Indians will try and snap a three game losing streak tonight vs. Columbus.  the Tribe has not had a winning season since 2006 and currently sits four games under .500.  After tonight the Indians have only 14 games remaining.  Former Indianapolis Indians and two-time World Series Champion George Foster was at Victory Field over the weekend. 

New Image.JPGThis was moments after the 60 year blazed his ceremonial first pitch over the heart of the plate.  He looks like he could still swat the ball a mile over the fence.  Foster signed autographs and was representing the Foster Safe Youth Network and the Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis.  The Reds were well represented with 1977 MVP signing for the fans and Eric Davis working for the Louisville Bats. 

Indians RHP Jeremy Powell is 33 years old and is pitching in the United States for the first time since 2001.  Following the ’01 campaign JP went to Japan and forged a very successful 7 year career pitching for several teams.  Powell made his Major League debut on July 28, 1998 for the Montreal Expos.  At the time of his promotion he was pitching for their Double-A affiliate in Harrisburg.  His manager was current Louisville Bats skipper Rick Sweet.

Rick Sweet…”I remember calling JP into my office and talking to him about playing afternoon baseball.”  Then I told him “wouldn’t it be something pitching at Wrigley Field.  Well, guess what…you are.  Pack your bags JP you’re going to the Big Leagues.”  

After the meeting JP was walking back into the clubhouse and Sweet gets his players attention and tells them they are looking at tomorrow’s starter for the Montreal Expos.  Sweet then pushes JP into the middle of the clubhouse where his teammates go nuts.  The next day, Sweet called around to different bars and restaurants to see if anyone had WGN.  He found a place in Harrisburg and told his team it was mandatory to attend and watch JP face the Cubs.  Sweet bought his team lunch and they watched the 23-year old give up one run in 6 innings of work.  The sad news is Powell lost, but he had no idea his team cancelled batting practice to watch him make his Major League debut.  After the game Powell was sent back to Double-A, but would return to make five more starts for the Expos.

It was a gesture that to this day resonates with Powell.  Little did Jeremy know it almost cost Sweet his job.  Word got back to the Expos minor league coordinators that Sweet cancelled batting practice and they wanted him fired. Sweet stood his ground and told them he would do it all over again and if they don’t like it, tough.  While his job teetered on the brink his team responded by turning around their season and winning the Eastern League Championship.  Sweet tells the story like it happened yesterday. 

1B/OF Larry Broadway (pictured with George Foster) made his second appearance as a pitcher on Friday night.  A year ago the left-hander made five appearances for the Columbus Clippers compiling a 2.70 ERA.  Although he allowed two inherited runners to score on Friday, he has not allowed a run in two innings.  Broadway throws submarine style and “features” a sinker, slider, and splitter.  The numbers don’t lie and I can’t be the only one who wonders how Broadway would do if he was a left-handed specialist.

Are you ready for the 2010 baseball season?  Here is a link to the Tribe’s Early Bird schedule.  2007 team MVP Brian Bixler gets the honor of cover boy this year.     

        

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