Wedge a perfect fit for surging Tribe
Skipper has club one win away from capturing AL pennant
CLEVELAND -- The walls in Eric Wedge's office are littered with the type of token motivational posters you'd find for sale in a SkyMall catalogue. They attempt to inspire the reader with nature shots and definitions of words like teamwork, focus, perseverance and conviction.But providing a welcome respite from the corny mental catalysts are the items pinned to a bulletin board in the corner near Wedge's desk. If you're looking for rugged, kick-in-the-gut inspiration, you could do a lot worse than to check out the John Wayne calendar that hangs from that board. And if you're looking for some insight into the 39-year-old Wedge's coaching influences from his Indiana roots, check out the newspaper article he's cut out and hung up about Bobby Knight. Knight's name was brought up the other day, because "The General" had telegrammed Wedge to congratulate the Indians' skipper on his winning The Sporting News AL Manager of the Year Award. And one could hear echoes of Knight's edgy tone when Wedge outlined his beliefs in what a manager should bring to the table. "It's about being consistent with who you are and being strong and understanding what comes with the territory," Wedge said. "Nothing upsets me more than people having a job and complaining about what comes with it. I don't understand that. If you don't like it, do something else. Otherwise, shut up." When Wedge took over the Tribe's managerial reins in 2003, he knew what came with the territory -- losses. And lots of 'em. The Indians were a team in strict rebuilding mode, and the focus in that first year was on player development, not division dominance. General manager Mark Shapiro hired Wedge, who had been in charge of the Tribe's Triple-A Buffalo squad, because he knew he was putting his faith in a manager who shared his organizational beliefs. "He knew our standards, our expectations and what we wanted a Cleveland Indian player to be," Shapiro said. "He was an outstanding teacher. I knew when I hired Eric, nobody would care more than Eric, nobody would work harder than him, nobody would be more vested than him, and, because of all that, nobody would be a better partner for me." This was all well and good in 2003, of course. But what about when the grand plans of returning to postseason prominence panned out? Would Wedge still be the right fit? That question seems to have been answered this fall. Wedge's Indians, in an American League Championship Series battle with the Red Sox, are a lone win away from the organization's first World Series appearance in a decade. And Wedge's managerial moves have played no small part in their getting to this lofty state. Just as many of his players are getting their first taste of the steaming glare of October, Wedge found himself to be the subject of national scrutiny in the American League Division Series, when, with his club holding a 2-1 advantage in the series, he put his faith in Paul Byrd for Game 4, rather than starting ace C.C. Sabathia on short rest.
The Indians under Wedge
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.