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Indians trade one of the good guys

True team player headed to L.A.

July 26, 2008
By B.J. LISKO

There isn't much reason for me to cheer for the Cleveland Indians anymore - not that I was the biggest fan anyways.

Still, the Tribe shipped off one of their good guys on Saturday dealing Casey Blake to Los Angeles for two minor leaguers.

A running joke I've had since Blake burst onto the scene in Cleveland - and you can ask anyone that's ever been in my presence when watching an Indians game - was that every time he was up to bat, I would remark "Casey's going yard."

It was uncanny how many times that actually happened, too.

Cleveland is looking to build for the future, and despite Blake being the Tribe's strongest player in the clutch, the fact is Cleveland is still in dead last. Hitting nearly .400 with runners in scoring position doesn't mean squat if the rest of the team is terrible. And let's face it, the Indians have been terrible.

Hopefully for Blake, the Dodgers can get into the postseason so he has a shot at the World Series ring he should have got last season before the Tribe blew it against Boston.

I had the chance to talk with Blake on two occasions last season. He's easily one of the most accommodating interviews in professional sports.

He even was acknowledged for it in 2004 as a recipient of the Gibbons/Olin "Good Guy Award" for his courteous manner with the media.

In the Indians clubhouse after the team lost a close contest to the White Sox, Blake answered every question I had for him, even when halfway through the interview a clubhouse attendant told me there would be no more questions.

"It's fine," Blake said, and the interview continued.

It's rare to see that sort of quality in a professional athlete.

Blake's demeanor was always that of a hard worker in Cleveland. He's always been a guy that you could look at and see that he did everything the right way. No steroids, no growth hormones, no short cuts - he worked hard at his game, and it paid off. He signed a $6.1 million deal before the '08 season started and deservedly so.

He was willing to play anywhere to help out his team, and many times was the guy getting the big hit to propel the Tribe to victory.

He was an important piece of a Tribe squad that should have been remembered as bringing a World Series back to Cleveland. Unfortunately it didn't happen.

Blake is a class act, and even though many baseball critics wouldn't put him in any kind of upper echelon, the Dodgers just got themselves a steal of a deal.

Thanks, Casey.

E-mail B.J. Lisko at bjlisko@salemnews.net

 
 
 

 

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