Jack Hannahan Gets a Stocking Full Of Kryptonite

IMG_2850I am sad that Jack Hannahan — a.k.a. Cleveland Indians third baseman Supermannahan — has not been tendered a contract by the Tribe for 2013. There had been rumors about this for a while; The team wanted to make way for Lonnie Chisenhall at third.

Jack Hannahan batted .244 with four homers last season. Chisenhall played less than half as many games, and batted .268 with five homers.

Hannahan was gracious, as always.  “The writing is on the wall as far as Lonnie getting a chance to play every day,” he told MLB.com. “I’m excited for him to get that opportunity to showcase what he can do.”

“I had two great years in Cleveland.  I love playing in Cleveland. I love the fans of Cleveland… I really believe in what they’re doing there as far as getting a team that can contend and play in October.”

From your lips to the baseball gods’ ears, Jack.

Hannahan is renowned for being a great teammate in the clubhouse.  Fans will remember the story of Indians players passing the hat to pay for a private plane, so that he could be on hand for the premature birth of his son in August 2011.  He will be missed.

Tribe pitcher Vinnie Pestano reacted on Twitter; “Upsetting news about Hanny. Part of the business but he’s the best teammate I’ve ever had. Not gonna find anyone who cares more for his guys.”

Over the first 30 games of 2012, before being sidelined by a back injury, Hannahan batted .287 with three homers.  Here’s hoping he lands well, and can do it again.

Enjoy some of my favorite Supermannahan photos, taken when the Indians played the Giants in June 2011, and last season when they took on the Oakland A’s.  Wonder if Jack would fancy northern California?  The weather that day in Oakland was unreal.

He wouldn’t be the first to be bitten by the Bay Area bug…

Wise Up! It’s Time For Instant Replay In Baseball

Dewayne Wise
Photo courtesy of USA Today

I make no secret of the fact that I am a Cleveland Indians fan by birth, or that I am also quite anti-New York Yankee.  That said, I wasn’t really looking forward to this week’s series between the two teams.   The Tribe has been sputtering a little (they can’t all be Jason Kipnis) while the Yankees are en fuego.  Not encouraging.

The Yanks won Monday’s game 7-1, but I still felt compelled to watch tonight’s game.  You know, to support the team, just like Indians closer Chris Perez says I should.  When “Pure Rage” says jump, I ask, “How high?”.

In the 7th inning, Jack ‘Supermannahan’ Hannahan hit a ball foul, and Yankee left infielder Dewayne Wise made a dive into the stands to catch it.   He missed the ball by probably a foot or more – it’s clear from the replay — but when he fell into the stands a Yankee fan actually PUT THE BALL INTO HIS GLOVE.  (That’s right, guy in the red t-shirt.  I’m talking about YOU.)  Wise emerged from the scrum with a ball in his hand and a smirk on his face, and umpire Mike DiMuro called it a catch.  Hannahan was out.

When Hannahan objected and politely invited DiMuro to review the replay, DiMuro ejected him.  Later, though, DiMuro took a peek and admitted his error.

“Now that I see the tape it’s obvious that the ball fell out of his glove. … I should have asked him to show me the ball.”

Wow, ya think?

I am not in favor of wide use of replay in baseball.  For one thing, it’s already far from a fast-paced game.  If every questionable ball or strike were challenged, baseball would turn into cricket.  So I generally accept that umpire error will hurt my teams sometimes, but benefit them sometimes too.  With any luck, the mistakes will end in a wash.

That said, Major League Baseball umpiring is under more scrutiny than usual these days, for good reason, and instances like this support the case for limited use of replay.  Call it sloppy work by DiMuro, or cut the guy some slack by assuming his view of the non-catch was somehow limited.   With the aid of replay, his mistake is indisputable.  Even the Yankee commentators acknowledged it (then quickly moved on).

If each team were allowed, say, two challenges – on defensive plays only — per game, it would be worth the delay.  In the age of jumbotrons, radar guns, and electronic strike zones there’s no excuse for shunning established technology that has been adopted by virtually every other sport to make them more fair and more credible.

That’s my $.02.  We need instant replay.

Also… Yankee fans are cheaters.

My Diamond Level Best

Jack Hannahan

As a die-hard San Francisco Giants fan, I buy plenty of tickets to games each season from either the Giants, or StubHub.  I avoid keeping a tally because I don’t want to know the out-of-pocket – although it’s safe to say that Suze Orman would not approve.

This season, I decided to branch out and also buy a ticket to see my other favorite team – the Cleveland Indians – play the Oakland As.  Not surprisingly, As tickets are much easier to come by than Giants tickets, and the “best available” option online can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your budget.

My best available seat for Sunday’s game at Oakland Coliseum was on the Diamond Level.  The name suggested that I wasn’t going to be stuck in the bleachers, but you never know, right?  Maybe there’s also a Krugerrand Level or a Platinum Level?

Another clue?  The fact that you don’t really see signs for the Diamond Level anywhere in the ballpark, which I assume is intentional.   I had to ask five different ushers for directions, and each time was told cryptically to “turn left/right at the hat stand”.  It felt very prohibition-era, like I might be expected to know a secret handshake or password to get past the bouncer.

When I finally found the secret passageway next to “the hats”, an usher gave me directions to the bowels of the stadium.  (Perhaps the Diamond Level also got its name because getting there feels a bit like descending into the mines?)  I was then coached on protocol.  It was at this point that I began to understand why my ticket cost so much.

The walk to my seat was like slipping backstage at a Springsteen show – except it was very quiet.  The usher pointed to tape running along the floor, splitting the walkway in half.  I was to stay to the left, because players from the opposing team (a.k.a. the Tribe) would be walking back and forth to their locker room on the right.  I was advised not to speak to the players, and that photos are strictly verboten in the hallway.  In fact, I was not even allowed to carry my cell phone in my hand, because I might be tempted to snap an iPhone pic.

Are you kidding me?  The only thing separating me and lovable Jack “Super Mannahan” Hannahan would be a sliver of masking tape?  Sadly I passed Jack and Jason Kipnis on my way down… and dropped my head to stare at my sneakers.  I was nervous and shy, so I suppose I defaulted to Zoo Rules:  Don’t try to touch the player (he may bite!), make eye contact with him, or feed him your hot dog scraps.

Speaking of food scraps, food is free on the Diamond Level – well, given the ticket price I guess it’s more accurate to call it complimentary – through the seventh inning.  And they have LOBSTER ROLLS down there!  Food orders are taken, and food is delivered, by very handsome waiters.  Too bad no one told me all this in advance, before I bought a bratwurst up on the concourse.

As these photos attest, my seat was right behind home plate, a few yards from the on-deck circle.  Before and after the game, I could photograph players going to/from the dugout, which I’m sure they hate.  A few of them rushed past like they were running the gauntlet.

All in all, my foray into super-luxury seating was a blast, despite the game’s final score.  (The Tribe lost 5-1.)  I got the kind of photos I’d hoped for – not a ton of variety but amazing detail, like Justin Masterson’s facial expressions when he pitches.  I also scored one lobster roll, awesome ballpark nachos, two Sam Adamses, two bottles of water and a bag of peanuts (still in my purse).  Throw in some above-average Bay Area baseball weather and I’d say I broke even.

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