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Indians news and notes: Michael Brantley's arm, the best pitcher of this era, and more

Brantley, Chicenhall, a trade that won't happen, baseball's best pitcher, an ode to the hot dog, and more...

Jeff Zelevansky

Tribe items

Brantley's rocket arm part of overall development - Jordan Bastian runs through each of Dr. Smooth's league-leading (tied with Yoenis Cespedes) ten outfield assists. Say Brantley: "I'm always up for the challenge."

Hey Hoynsie! Will the Indians trade for Cliff Lee? - I wish I got questions like this from readers. Sadly, you guys seem to know better. To his credit, Hoynes opens his response with "I can guarantee you that will not happen." For some reason though, he lists the Tribe's return when they traded Lee to the Phillies as a major reason he won't be coming back now. I don't think that's a factor at all.

He's using the whole field more than ever - Grantland's Jonah Keri ranks all 30 MLB teams each week, usually picking four of them to go into more detail about. This week the Indians (who come in at #17) are one of those four team, and Jonah spend most of his time discussing how awesome Lonnie Chisenhall has been.

Around MLB

The greatest pitcher of this era - Tony Blengino at FanGraphs declares Clayton Kershaw to be the best, saying Walter Johnson and Roger Clemens might be the best comparison points, and he then breaks down how Kershaw does it. As a kid I loved hitters, but as an adult the great pitchers have become my favorite, and I agree that Kershaw is the best there is right now. Anyone care to make the case that Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee, or Justin Verlander has been better over the last 5 or 6 years?

In defense of the hot dog - In a world where fancier foods have taken over not only the dinner table, but the ballpark concession stand, Howard Megdal at Sports on Earth makes the case for the hot dog. Hear hear!

Raul - The Royals recently reacquired Raul Ibanez, now 42 years old. It was in KC that Ibanez first became a good player, when he was already 29. Joe Posnanski (who then covered the Royals for the Kansas City Star) looks back at 2001, when Ibanez, who'd been brought in on a desperate hunch by then GM Allard Baird, put things together and jumpstarted a career that has now included more than 300 home runs.

Happy Independence Day!

I'm sure most of you have plans that involve hot food, cold drinks, and fireworks today, which is as it should be.

A short story from my childhood, involving fireworks that were purchased for the 4th of July, but which I was too impatient to wait that long to use:

In the town where I grew up, each block held a block party once a year, on the date of their choosing. Ours was always a Saturday in mid June, after school had let out for the summer. Much of the day's action was centered around kids, who were for some reason excited by the thought of playing on the hard pavement of the street for once, instead of the soft grass right next to it. On our block, the adults sort of took things over in the evening, when soda pop gave way to harder drinks.

Part of the evening was always a square dance, and it was during that event that my close friend Justin Olson (who was later teammates with Joe Mauer and Francisco Liriano) dared me to light one of the fireworks we had and throw it onto the dance floor.

So I did.

It wasn't just a Black Cat, the sort that explodes with a loud bang, this one hovered just off the ground for a few seconds while shooting out sparks, then shot up into the sky with a loud noise. My aim was impeccable, and so when the firecracker finally did fly into the air, it was directly up the dress of a neighbor.

My dad knew immediately that I must have been involved, and while I could run, and I could hide, I couldn't avoid going home forever. I got into trouble, but not as much as I would have if it had gone up the dress of anyone else. It turns out that particular neighbor was not one my dad was fond of.

Anyway, a happy 4th of July to you all. If you're not American, then allow me to instead wish you a happy Friday. If you're not American for the specific reason that you're British, then allow me to wish you a happy "at least we still have the Cayman Islands" day!