Mark Townsend

  • How a fan helped Kenny Lofton get to Cleveland for World Series first pitch

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 11 hrs ago

    An Indians fan came to Kenny Lofton’s rescue Monday night, ensuring the team’s former center fielder would make it to Cleveland in time to throw out the first pitch prior to Game 1 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs.

    Lofton’s crazy adventure started in Los Angeles, where he was scheduled to take a red-eye flight to Cleveland late Monday night. However, the plane was overbooked and delayed twice, which led to Lofton being placed on a standby list. As time ticked by and Lofton’s urgency to get to Cleveland hastened a bit, he was met by a fan who recognized him and offered his seat so Lofton could make an earlier flight.

    According to FOX 6 in Cleveland, Ken Kostal, of Marblehead, Ohio, was in the last group to board the delayed plane when he became aware of Lofton’s predicament. It’s reported he did not hesitate to give up his ticket, which resulted in Lofton being the most relieved man in the airport.

    — Jeff Melton (@JeffMelton3) October 25, 2016

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  • Indians beat writer plunges into Lake Erie after losing World Series bet

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 13 hrs ago

    You better believe Cleveland Indians fans take their “BelieveLand” mantra seriously. If you doubt their now pennant-winning squad, you can expect to be called out or even challenged by the masses on the social media platforms such as Twitter.

    Trust us, we know the feeling.

    Fortunately, we weren’t challenged like beat writer Paul Hoynes, whose lack of faith led to him plunging into the chilly waters of Lake Erie before Game 1 against the Chicago Cubs after losing a bet with a confident Indians fan.

    @MarronMatt It's a deal.

    — paul hoynes (@hoynsie) September 21, 2016

    — Matty Cleveland (@MarronMatt) October 25, 2016

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  • Terry Francona and Tyronn Lue are typically awkward acquaintances

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

    Indians manager Terry Francona and Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue are the leaders behind the sports renaissance in Cleveland. They’re also typically awkward acquaintances who this summer were on the opposite ends of a text message that left one feeling awkward and the other feeling empty, perhaps.

    According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, the two men first met years ago in Boston when Francona was managing the Red Sox and Lue was an assistant coach for the Celtics. As a result, they’ve become supporters of one another with an occasional exchange of text messages. However, as Lue revealed on Friday, there was one pretty important text from Francona that he completely disregarded and had to explain when touching base after the Indians pennant-clinching win on Wednesday.

    We’ll also say this: It’s better to have disregarded Terry Francona if you’re Tyronn Lue instead of someone like, say, LeBron James. That one would be a little tougher to explain to the bosses, who some would argue is actually James.

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  • Ten moments that fueled the Cubs run to the World Series

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 days ago

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    Has it sunk in yet? For the first time since 1945, the Chicago Cubs are going to the World Series.

    Now all that stands between them and ending a 108-year championship drought is four wins against the Cleveland Indians.

    That will be easier said than done, of course. Then again, nothing seemed more improbable than the Cubs actually winning a pennant to begin with. They’ve cleared that hurdle with relative ease thanks to a 103-win regular season and four- and six-games victories in the NLDS and NLCS respectively. Now it’s theirs for the taking, but since the taking doesn’t begin until Tuesday in Cleveland, we might as well spend some time reflecting on the season it’s been so far.

    Here’s one word that comes to mind: Juggernaut.

    As a result of their talent and depth, the Cubs also produced a lot of great moments. Moments that propelled them to heights not experienced in generations. There were literally dozens, but we’ve narrowed it down to roughly 10 worth acknowledging.

    Do it for Dorothy!

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  • Cubs pennant-clinching celebration includes celebrities and Speedos

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    A celebration 71 years in the making was every bit as epic as we anticipated.

    The Chicago Cubs clinched their first trip to the World Series since 1945, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday night, and not surprisingly Wrigley Field and the surrounding neighborhoods turned into party central.

    The number of people crammed into those streets in astonishing.

    Meanwhile, the scenes inside the ballpark and inside the clubhouse would best be described as pandemonium. Fans, celebrities and Cubs personnel were part of the fray, with everyone from Bill Murray…

    … to musician Eddie Vedder…

    Eddie Vedder gets a beer shower

    — CJ Fogler (@cjzero) October 23, 2016

    … to Cubs legend Billy Williams ….

    Champagne Billy Williams is everything. ????

    … wearing their emotions on their sleeves.


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  • The Cubs are going to the World Series for the first time since 1945

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    It’s finally happening. For the first time since 1945, the Chicago Cubs are going to the World Series.

    The Cubs wrapped up their historic berth by topping the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in Game 6 of the National League Championship on Saturday. They’ll move on to face the Cleveland Indians, who by virtue of the American League winning the All-Star game will host Game 1 on Tuesday night. The Cubs will be seeking their first championship since 1908.

    The night itself belongs to Chicago and Cubs fans all over the world. In a baseball sense though, it was Kyle Hendricks world, and we were privileged to be living in it. The 26-year-old right-hander, who emerged as a surprise Cy Young candidate this season, was nearly untouchable. In fact, he retired 22 straight batters after Andrew Toles greeted him with a single leading off the game. Hendricks ended up going 7 1/3 innings, allowing just two singles.

    For a little perspective, Chicago had eight plate appearances with runners in scoring position in just the first three innings. They had just two the entire game in Kershaw’s Game 2 start. Chicago tallied five runs against Kershaw over his five innings, and the Dodgers never recovered.

  • Does Kyle Schwarber's AFL assignment signal chance of World Series return?

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    Here’s some news that will no doubt pique the interest of Chicago Cubs fans. It should also have the Cleveland Indians paying close attention.

    Injured slugger Kyle Schwarber, who hit a franchise-record five home runs during a remarkable postseason last season, is reportedly headed to the Arizona Fall League to continue his recovery from knee surgery.

    According to the Chicago Tribune, Schwarber has been added to the Mesa Solar Sox taxi squad and will serve as their designated hitter Saturday night. Being on the taxi squad means a player can only play Wednesday and Saturday. It would be fitting for a player that’s limited physically. However, there’s already strong speculation the Cubs are mainly looking to test Schwarber’s knee and perhaps knock some rust ahead of a potential return in the World Series.

    Yeah, it might sound like a long shot. But that’s better than no shot.

    Oh, and the medical reports sound good too.

    Theo after Schwarber's six-month checkup: “We got news that was beyond better than we could have expected by any reasonable standard."

  • Three reasons we shouldn't count out the Dodgers in the NLCS

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    As the first pitch of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series nears, almost all of the focus is on the Chicago Cubs opportunity to make history, reverse curses and reach the franchise’s first World Series since 1945.

    We doubt the Los Angeles Dodgers are too upset about that.

    If any team has needed a 48-hour break to clear its mind and perhaps even allow the pressure to shift to the other side, it’s this Dodgers squad. They were dismantled physically, mentally and strategically during lopsided losses in Games 4 and 5. They were frustrated by their own struggles. They were rattled by some calls they didn’t agree with. Mostly, though, they were beaten down by a dominant and determined team on a mission.

    That mission won’t change on Saturday night, but that doesn’t mean the Dodgers are a lost cause either. As they have shown many times throughout the season, when injuries ravaged their roster, they’re a resilient team. As long as they’re alive, they have a fighting chance.

    Here, we’ll look at the three biggest reasons they’re capable of flipping the scripts and breaking Cubs fans hearts all over again.

    Ignore the odds The odds don’t favor the Dodgers this weekend.

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  • Why the last living member of 1948 Indians is upset with the team

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 days ago

    With the Cleveland Indians four wins away from the franchise’s first World Series championship since 1948, the mood around the team and the city has been mostly celebratory. Unfortunately, that joy isn’t being shared by Eddie Robinson, the lone surviving member of the 1948 Indians team.

    Robinson is upset that he has not been contacted by the team at any point during its run to the 2016 World Series, according to the New York Daily News.

    “That’s the funny thing about it. I haven’t heard a damn word from Cleveland. Not a word,” Robinson told the Daily News. “I’m disappointed. It just seems like they would want to talk to any member of the ’48 team, let the press talk to them. I don’t understand it. Maybe they’ll get in touch with me.”

    For his career, Robinson was a four-time All-Star who finished with 1,146 hits and 172 home runs.

    According to the Daily News story, the 95-year-old Paris, Texas, native now lives in Fort Worth. He is also currently the oldest living player to suit up for the New York Yankees.

    About this first pitch nonsense:

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  • Indians hoping Danny Salazar will be ready for World Series

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 4 days ago

    Long layoffs are not typically welcomed by teams in the midst of a postseason run. However, the Cleveland Indians can’t really complain about the six days they’ll have to rest and heal ahead of World Series Game 1 on Tuesday.

    As everyone knows by now, the Indians are a beat up team, particularly in the starting rotation. But Friday offered optimism that the extra days of rest could allow two key members of their rotation to return at or near 100 percent. That includes Danny Salazar, who had been shut down since early September due to a right forearm strain.

    According to manager Terry Francona, the All-Star right-hander threw a two-inning simulated game on Sunday that went according to plan. Salazar is scheduled to throw another simulated game this weekend. If that goes well, Francona left the door open for Salazar to pitch and perhaps even start a World Series game. He concluded his comments with six very encouraging words.

    “I think he’s ready to pitch.”

    Francona on Salazar, who could be available for the World Series. #Indians

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