Monday, December 31, 2018

Goodbye Dr. Smooth

hello all and Happy New Year's Eve. as we're about to close the book on 2018, the time has come for me to finally say my goodbye to Michael Brantley. i don't want to, but i have to. i've written several goodbye blogs to former Cleveland Indians players in the past after they were traded or signed with another team as free agents, yet none were ever as hard for me to compose as this one. i'm still trying to accept the reality of how different everything's going to be next year and i'm simply not okay with it.😭

if you don't already know, Michael officially signed a two-year, $32 million deal with the Houston Astros on December 19. he parted ways with the Indians following a 10-year tenure because they weren't in a position to retain him. that was made clear five days after the World Series ended, on November 2, when they didn't even extend a one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer to Michael, so he entered into free agency for the first time in his career. and it led him to the 'Stros.

photo courtesy of @MLB on twitter

i'm sure Michael would have liked to have spent more time in Cleveland as an Indian. but the opportunity never presented itself because the Indians didn't even bother to make him an offer. that had to be a slap in the face after President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti claimed in the previous offseason that the team always envisioned Michael being in the organization for 2018 and beyond. (that quote haunts me now that i know it was pure bullshit.) not only that, but after not extending the QO to Michael, Antonetti stated they were still interested in bringing him back. on the contrary, evidently, Michael was told during his exit meeting with Antonetti, manager Terry Francona, and GM Mike Chernoff on October 10 that they most likely wouldn't be able to re-sign him due to payroll constrictions and they all had a tearful goodbye. the whole situation angers me because it's a real eye-opener in regard to how this ballclub operates. so this is it, the end of the Michael Brantley Era in Cleveland. and what an era it was.

you know, i tried to be prepared for this and i tried telling others that 2018 was going to be Michael's last as an Indian. i even spent the entire season #CelebratingMichaelBrantley on twitter by highlighting the best moments from his career as a tribute. this is not how i wanted things to culminate, though. i figured the Indians would low-ball him with a small deal, because that's all they could afford, and he'd have no choice but to sign with another team that offered him more money. that i could have lived with and understood. but it was not the case since the Tribe was never in the running for him.

from what was made public, the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and Chicago White Sox initially showed the most interest in Michael and he supposedly received offers from all three early on in the offseason. several baseball media outlets and writers proposed he would be a fit on many other teams as well and made their predictions as to where he'd sign, with most assuming a National League club would land him. Michael didn't want to switch leagues, however, and once it was revealed that the Astros needed a left-handed OF and were looking at Michael, it was pretty much game over for anyone else. i can see why Houston would be his pick from a standpoint of them being the best AL team to pursue him.

but as a Tribe fan, the fact that Cleveland didn't even try to re-sign him, especially considering they desperately need an every day outfielder and currently don't have any OFs in the org who can match Michael's production in any way, shape, or form, is depressing and really pisses me off. after 10 years and everything he went through here, how could they just let him walk? the Indians made a huge mistake and it's something i'll personally be bitter about for a long while. but i digress.

baseball players know this is a business and they know it's highly unlikely that they'll spend their entire careers playing in one city for one team. while fans also know this, it's not always easy to come to terms with. no matter how hard you try, you can never really be ready for when the day finally comes that you lose your "boy."

my whole life is about to change (and i hate change, particularly when it's forced upon me and not of my own doing) and i have a lot to say in this farewell blog. but i can't say goodbye until i explain the why. i'm going to begin by reflecting back on Michael's career and describing how my blogs came to be and developed over the years before i bid Michael adieu. if you just want to read my goodbyes, scroll down to that portion of my blog. otherwise, let's get started.

Why Michael Brantley & Why I Started Blogging

i started writing blogs back when people either A. didn't know who Michael Brantley was, or B. knew who he was, but didn't think he was anything special. i was determined to change both of those things. Michael came to us as the final piece of a trade in late 2008. the Indians got to choose between two players and they sure did pick right.

after being drafted in the 7th round in 2005 by the Milwaukee Brewers, Michael began playing in their Arizona Rookie League and also the Helena Brewers in the Pioneer League. in 2006, Michael played with the Single A West Virginia Power of the South Atlantic League. the following year, he opened with the Power again before being promoted to the Southern League's Double A Huntsville Stars. he played with the Stars for all of 2008 and then his time in the Brewers' system was over.

the Indians made a deal with the Brewers on July 7, 2008, sending starter CC Sabathia to Milwaukee in exchange for Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, and Rob Bryson, as well as a player to be named later--either Michael Brantley or Taylor Green. the terms of the PTBNL were Cleveland could choose between those two if Milwaukee made the playoffs that year. well, the Brewers did secure a playoff spot, the Indians decided on Michael, and he was traded to the Tribe on October 3. (and the rest is history!) Green, meanwhile, turned out to be a major bust. so did LaPorta, who was the key piece of the deal for the Indians, though it was speculated by some that Michael could wind up being the best player to emerge from the group.

Michael went to spring 2009 with the Tribe and then played in Triple A for the first time with the Columbus Clippers in the International League. he got called up as soon as MLB rosters expanded on September 1. the Indians were facing the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park that night and Michael got the start in left field, batting 9th in the order. he went 2-for-4 in his debut, with his first hit--a line drive single to center, coming in his second at bat against right-hander Edwin Jackson.

i remember in early 2009, WTAM 1100 radio announcer Tom Hamilton was talking about Michael being in Columbus and how good he was and that he was supposedly going to be the Tribe's leadoff center fielder of the future. that was enough for me to make the mental note that he's gonna be someone to watch. and boy, did i.

Michael opened the 2010 season with the Tribe, but when he didn't perform very well in his first 12 games, he was optioned to Columbus. he stayed in Triple A until July 4, ended up back in C-bus on July 27 as a result of a roster move, and then came back to the bigs for good on August 6. i didn't write about and keep track of all of Michael's numbers in the early years that he was with Cleveland, unfortunately. i constructed a simple little season summary of his 2011 campaign in the 2012 offseason actually. that's also when i made the executive decision to write monthly blogs during the upcoming season in an effort to better spread the word about the Indians' future star, because i always knew Michael would become just that.

The Evolution of My Blog Content

that first year in 2012, i documented Michael's plate appearances and BOPs only. i wrote everything down on tiny pieces of scrap papers and then copied all of that into monthly posts. the numbers plus a short recap of his performance each month were the only content i provided; the blogs were as simplistic as could be. if you look back through those, you can see the drastic difference between how i write now and all the additional work that's included. the detail upgrade alone is monumental.

before 2013, i resolved to take this more seriously and tried to be more professional. so i bought a notebook and then transferred my notes from the scrap papers neatly into the book. it was still just game lines and BOP breakdowns at that point.

a few pages in my Brantley's 2013 #s notebook

in 2014, i upped both my writing and documentation. i started keeping track of some of Michael's situational statistics in an Excel spreadsheet, which got copied into a specific spot in a three-subject notebook and included in my blogs. i also supplied longer recaps ahead of the number breakdowns, containing things like rankings, quotes from Michael, and highlights from noteworthy games including links to game videos when applicable. this was before i divided my blogs into distinct sections.

because 2014 was an extraordinary career year for Michael, aside from my monthly number posts, i wrote bonus special occasion blogs whenever Michael did something major like set new career highs or franchise records. (and those milestone posts carried on through 2018.) it seemed like i was writing nearly every day in September. i was so proud of him and loved publishing new posts recognizing his achievements. can't forget about Michael getting his first All Star nod that season either. and yes, i did document his numbers from that and blogged about it, duh!

a page from September in my Brantley's 2014 #s notebook

that whole campaign was truly incredible and, because Michael is such a smart hitter with a great eye at the plate, it really felt like he could get a hit every time he stepped into the batter's box. i mean, i almost expected it by the end. i can clearly recall, as it was getting down to the last few weeks of the season, i told myself to be in the moment more, enjoy it, and really take this all in because it would be over before i knew it and there might never be another season like that for Michael. my offseason that year was pretty hectic, too, because Michael was a finalist and nominated for many awards. that was when i personally discovered how there's no "off"season in baseball lol

i also started to incorporate more season numbers in my monthly blogs in 2014, which i soon realized was confusing and not the best way to present all that information. so in 2015, i began writing two separate numbers posts at the end of every month--one with just that month's numbers and stats, and a second with Michael's season numbers and stats to that point in the year. it was double the work, but i didn't mind it.

besides that big improvement, i finally smartened up and featured clear sections of content in all my 2015 posts. that's when readers saw my overview (recap) and monthly areas of concern emerge, along with BOP talk, injury updates (if applicable), batting competition winner, HR:RBI ratio, streaks and situational statistics, numbers against AL Central teams, team leads, career highs, league rankings, spotlight games, Indians history, and fielding sections. if you wanted details, i had 'em! Michael gave me almost no choice because he became one of the best hitters in baseball and i myself wanted to know everything i could, too. all of those blog additions continued in the 2016, 2017, and 2018 blogs as well. furthermore, my twitter followers might have noticed me tweeting some of Michael's averages, stats, and streaks, etc. along with videos to his big hits and defensive plays on a fairly regular basis.

situational stats pages in my Brantley's 2015 #s notebook

after Michael's offseason shoulder surgery in 2015, i did my own research to see exactly what labral tear surgery was and blogged about it. then i kept track of all the health updates i read and posted monthly blogs about his recovery and rehab. Michael still wasn't ready when the Indians' 2016 season began, so he went on the then 15-Day DL and played in a handful of minor league rehab games. i documented his stats from his rehab assignment and compiled everything in two rehab posts. this is also when i began live tweeting all Michael's plate appearances--something that i would do for the rest of his career with the Indians organization.

a page of Michael's rehab info in my Brantley's 2016 #s notebook

his return to MLB game action was short-lived, as Michael was unable to play in more than 11 games in 2016 before he began having shoulder woes again and going back on the 15-Day DL. despite the many months when Michael didn't play due to injury, i stayed on top of all his DL updates and news and continued to provide monthly blogs. Michael attempted another comeback in July, rehabbing with both Single A farm teams and the Double A ballclub. of course, i wrote yet another rehab blog.

when Michael underwent a season-ending biceps tenodesis procedure in August, i read up on what that entailed and wrote a blog with my findings. throughout the rest of the Tribe's year, including their postseason run to Game 7 of the World Series, i supplied post-surgery update blogs every month and then entered another offseason of progress reports on Michael's recovery.

his rehab extended into the spring of 2017, but Michael was able to take part in four simulated games, two minor league games, and eight Cactus League games. i composed two blogs with all that information. he started 2017 on time and healthy and my posts were back to normal as far as subject matter. i made a few additions, however, with a days off/rest days section, reached base vs. left stranded tracker, and Interleague Play numbers. Michael's campaign was not without injury, i'm afraid. he went on the 10-Day DL twice for a right ankle sprain and i put together update blogs when needed, including during the 50 games he missed in August and September combined. and when Michael finally got to play in his first real postseason series, i did all my regular documentation for his ALDS #s.

a page from July in my Brantley's 2017 #s notebook
a page from Postseason October in my Brantley's 2017 #s notebook
BOP breakdowns of Brantley's 2017 ALDS #s

a week after the Tribe's playoff loss, it was announced that Michael had ankle surgery. i again did research and provided details on his condition. then came yet another offseason of update posts. in spring, Michael played in one simulated game, three minor league games, and three Tribe games, but it wasn't enough to prepare him for playing full nine-inning affairs. so he opened 2018 on the 10-Day DL, but it was a short stint. i shared all the information i could find from his extended spring. then it was on to normal blog posts for the rest of the year, as Michael did not suffer any significant injuries!

a page from May (during his 19-G hitting streak) in my Brantley's 2018 #s notebook

the Indians once again lost in the ALDS and Michael's quest to win a ring with the Tribe went unfulfilled. then, following the conclusion of the 2018 World Series, Michael was no longer attached to the only team he'd ever played with in the majors as he officially became a free agent. on a positive note, this is the first time he's gone into an offseason healthy since 2014! he's finally going to have the opportunity to do his normal offseason preparation without restrictions. i only wish i'd have spent these past two months reading about Michael's fun winter break of fishing and golfing before starting to train again and then reporting to Goodyear, Arizona, as opposed to keeping up with free agency rumors, seeing him sign with a new organization, and now having to say goodbye.

at first, all i wanted to accomplish with my blogs was getting Michael's name out there more and showing everyone that he was something special. (i didn't even care about getting the credit, as you'll notice i've never included my real name on any of my writing.) over time, the contents of my posts began to feature a lot more than merely his numbers. they took on a journal-like quality as i wrote about all the substantial moments in his career in as much detail as possible. i made this a one-stop-shop for Brantley news. i always defended him, stood by him, and believed in him, even amidst the injuries. i knew he would come back strong, and through hard work and perseverance, he proved me right. now i hope i've done right by him with this blog.

started from the bottom (Single A West Virginia Power):

photo courtesy of @wv_power on twitter

now we're here:

photo courtesy of David Dermer via Associated Press, 5/25/18

and can i just point out the irony of how Michael used to play with the Huntsville Stars, who had an H with a star and a ring on their hats, and now he's with the Houston Astros, who use an H over a star as their logo? don't tell me it was always meant to be...πŸ˜’

HERE BEFORE THE BANDWAGON & Being Michael's #1 Fan

i may not have tracked Michael while he was still in the Milwaukee Brewers' farm system, but i can honestly say i've been here since beginning of his MLB career. i know it took years for Michael to reach his full potential. i was there for the low points and the high points. i didn't just root for him once he became an All Star and finished 3rd in the 2014 AL MVP voting. i remember when he bat .118 in the majors in 2010 and i still declared him my favorite player. that's why i always let it be known that i was HERE BEFORE THE BANDWAGON.

Michael made a total of 4,483 plate appearances as Indian between September 1, 2009, and September 30, 2018. if you want to add his 28 playoff plate appearances to that from 2013, 2017, and 2018, it boosts the number up to 4,511 PA.

keeping that in mind, one of my most fun facts about being Michael's #1 fan is this:
from August 30, 2010 - October 8, 2018, i did not miss one plate appearance of Michael Brantley's. that's a streak of 4,238 PAs, counting both regular season games and postseason games within that time frame. (spring training and his extended spring 2018 rehab are not factored into that total number; however, i didn't miss any spring games during that span either.)

it even includes the 38 total minor league rehab assignment PAs he had between playing with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, Lake County Captains, Akron RubberDucks, and Columbus Clippers in 2016. i listened to the minor league audio on my computer for each rehab game Michael played with the minor league teams and i live tweeted his rehab appearances for any interested Indians fans. when Michael's games were at the same time as Tribe games, i had Michael's game on my laptop and listened to the Tribe broadcast through the At Bat app via cell phone. talk about an allegiance...

now this doesn't necessarily mean i missed all 311 of Michael's PAs from September 1, 2009, through August 29, 2010. it simply means i wasn't around for every Tribe game during that time. i know back then i didn't pay much attention to afternoon games, especially the Sunday ones. but overall, you can see i really didn't miss out on that much from Michael's Indians career, least of all his biggest milestones. another fun fact: Michael hit 87 home runs and had seven walk-offs with the Indians and i did not miss a single one of either.

as i noted above, i didn't start documenting Michael's numbers until the 2012 season. after doing the math, i personally kept track of Michael's 3,607 plate appearances from April 5, 2012 - October 8, 2018. i figured if i'm going to be a fan of his, i want to be his #1 fan. go big or don't bother.πŸ₯‡

this was very time consuming, as you can imagine, but i loved knowing all of this information myself because i kept track of it and didn't need to look stuff up on different websites. i have a total of six notebooks filled with Michael's statistics from his 2013-2018 years with the Tribe. maybe one day i'll figure out how to send them to him... i think those would be nice for Michael to have and flip back through way far into the future when he's finished playing ball and wants to reminisce about (most of) his career as a Cleveland Indian.

i've never been so invested in a player's career before. i've never been so dedicated and devoted to someone. it was a lot of hard work that required sacrifice and choice scheduling. i gave up things to ensure that i didn't miss ballgames or a Michael at bat. i have no regrets, but i'll never do it again for any other player.

i didn't just spend my time calculating Michael's numbers and keeping track of updates and news. i have an extensive photo collection on my computer as well, from saving numerous pictures of Michael that have appeared online in photo galleries and articles i've read over the years, many of which were used in my blogs. the majority of those pics, aside from the early years, are organized in folders in chronological order. not to mention, thanks to videos provided on's team site, i was able to see pretty much all the big hits and special moments from Michael's tenure with the Tribe. i have a lot of those videos, ranging from RBI hits, home runs, walk-offs, defensive plays, and interviews, bookmarked also. i even went as far as to transcribe Michael's interview videos in the spotlight sections of my blogs over the past couple seasons. that's commitment, y'all.

because i'm unable to watch Indians games on TV regularly like people in Cleveland do (STO is blacked out on the MLB package here), i took my own pictures and videos of Michael when i went to games. and i'm sure he noticed me more than a few times, as i was usually standing/sitting behind the tarp in the front row. i recorded videos of all Michael's plate appearances in every game i went to since 2011. i didn't mean to come off like a crazy stalker, i just wanted my own memories and i am so glad i have all that stuff now. i will cherish them always.

My Brantley Autographs

what else will i cherish? my 13 autographs from Dr. Smooth. i've written about all my experiences getting Michael's auto over the years in detail. (unfortunately for me, many of those moments were ruined by my father who trailed me and embarrassed me practically every time i made an attempt to get Brant's autograph. eye roll.) i got my very first autograph on August 28, 2010, and my 13th and final one on July 25, 2015. that's correct--i did not get any autos from Michael during his last three years in Cleveland.πŸ™

here is the sign i made on Friday, August 27, 2010, that i took to the game on August 28, which helped me obtain Michael's auto for the first time. seems like it was just yesterday...

i think it's safe to assume that this was most likely the very first #1 fan sign Michael ever saw for him in the big leagues, and it might have been one of the first Brantley signs period.

it became harder and harder to get Michael's auto in the last couple years he was with the Tribe. since 2016, you almost never saw him sign after games in the players parking lot, which kinda sucked. that said, he was really good about signing for fans before games. except, from like 2015 on, you typically had to be somewhere in the Section 167-170 range because he rarely went down between 171-174. so 171 regulars like me were SOL. but when he was young and just coming up and not a full blown All Star yet, i got his autograph a ton. guess i was in the right places at the right times. he was one of the good ones, always thankful for the fans' support, and i appreciate that.

thank you so much for all the autographs, Michael!πŸ™

if you would like to read my autograph stories, most of which involve my father ruining my moment lol, you can check out these blogs:
My 10 Michael Brantley Autographs
I Now Have 13 Michael Brantley Autographs (+1 Surprise)

i made one serious effort to try for his auto one last time this past season, which would have been the perfect final memory, but it didn't pan out. you can read about that in the I Couldn't Get Michael Brantley's Autograph To Save My Life section of this post if you'd like.

i was also lucky enough to get one picture taken with Michael during his time with the Tribe. it materialized when i was on the field during the Indians' Batting Practice Experience, though i can't remember anymore if i got to do that for free as a Tribe Fan Club Member perk or for a discounted price. Michael was taking BP and then hanging around behind the batting cage. i'll never forget the moment he walked over to where the fans were standing behind a rope on the track behind home plate. (i think the way it worked was, certain players were pre-assigned which days they were allotted to sign for fans; not everybody did it every day.) i got super nervous and when he came over to me, i managed to say, "what's up, Smooth?" he signed my access pass while the Black Keys' "Gold On The Ceiling" was playing over the PA. to this day, i always think of that moment when i hear that song, though it'll probably make me sad now for a while. after the auto, i got my one and only photograph taken with him, which i'm so grateful for because if not for BPX, i never would have had that opportunity. i'm fortunate that Michael was signing that day. but that was all the way back on July 21, 2012, and i didn't know how to do my makeup as nicely as i do nowadays, so i heavily dislike the picture lol i wish i could have gotten a more current photo with Michael and had just one more interaction with him before his time in Cleveland was up.😞

Brantley Merchandise

after the 2010 season, i decided to put my money where my mouth is--literally. in the offseason, i ordered a custom women's blue Brantley shirsey and made a custom women's white Brantley jersey. this was long before these items were sold in the Indians' Team Shop, let me tell ya, which made sense considering Michael had only played in 100 Major League games to that point. i was definitely among the first to have either of these items, and quite possibly the first female fan. (Michael's own family excluded, of course.)

from there, my collection of Brantley gear grew and grew and grew. i currently own a blue Brantley signature shirsey, two different red Brantley signature shirseys, a gray Brantley shirsey, a women's pink Brantley shirt, a women's blue Brantley shirt with name and number in red foil, a women's maroon Brantley tank top, an Indians emoji shirt with Brantley on it, and a kid's navy blue Brantley jersey.

i also have several shirts designed by business establishments outside MLB, including a blue Dr. Smooth shirt with his signature (from GV Art & Design), a red Dr. Smooth bottle cap shirt with signature (from Fresh Brewed Tees), a gray Boys of Summer shirt with Brantley on it with signature (Fresh Brewed Tees), a blue So Smooth It's Criminal Brantley shirt (Fresh Brewed Tees), a red Brantley For President shirt (Fresh Brewed Tees), and a white Brantley 23 shirt (from 500 Level) as well as a gray Michael Brantley sweatshirt (500 Level).

i have various special occasion Brantley gear, too, namely a women's red 2014 All Star Brantley jersey, a women's light blue 2017 All Star Brantley jersey, a light blue 2017 All Star Brantley shirsey, a kid's navy blue 2018 All Star Brantley jersey, and a navy blue 2018 All Star Brantley shirsey. besides that, i own a navy blue 2017 "Dr. Smooth" Players Weekend Nickname shirsey and a red and blue men's 2018 "Junior " Players Weekend Nickname jersey (the latter of which they didn't make for women until AFTER i bought the men's size for $30 moreπŸ™„). i plan to keep wearing all of the above to future Tribe games as a statement that i feel the team effed up by letting him leave and to show everyone that i still support Michael.

over the course of his career in Cleveland, the Indians created some Brantley-specific promotional items. because of that, i have two white Brantley replica jerseys (giveaway at the game on July 27, 2013), two Brantley catch home cream jersey bobbleheads (giveaway at the game on September 1, 2014), and one Brantley at the plate road gray jersey bobblehead (giveaway at the game on August 8, 2015). additionally, i purchased a better quality Brantley bobblehead at the Team Shop of him in a road gray jersey with a glove (in 2016).

as for other non-clothing items, i have two professional Brantley photographs, a poster with Brantley in it, a Brantley fathead, a Brantley plaque containing his rookie card, a Brantley 23 bracelet, and a Brantley plush doll. moreover, i have two necklaces with baseball charms on them and a #23, one of which has a matching #23 charm bracelet to go with it.

photo i took of my Brantley doll overlooking my notebooks with his stats

it bums me out knowing the next time i hit up the Team Shop, any Brantley items that are left will be marked down on clearance since he's now a former player and they're gonna be trying to "get rid" of all his stuff...😒

Michael's Routines

because Michael has been with the Indians for 10 years, not only do i have many memories of him, but i've learned SO much about him. from watching him for so long, i know Michael and his habits meticulously well. i now know things that maybe not a lot of other people/fans would really even pick up on. let me give a few examples.

i know all his mannerisms. i know his entire warm up routine, from running out to center field, squatting down and saying a little prayer, to all the stretches he does and the order he does them in as he walks back to the 3rd baseline. i've seen him do it dozens of times. i know he liked to have his legs stretched out by the team's strength and conditioning coach Joe Kessler, too. (i wonder if this will continue with the Astros and if his new team's strength and conditioning coach is going to know how to stretch his legs the way Kess did... i actually worry about the Astros' entire medical staff to be honest, because the one in Cleveland knew how to keep Michael's shoulder, biceps, and ankle strong and intact after his surgeries. a different group with a different set of ideas for his daily routine might muck things up...😟 hopefully not though.)

i know Michael signs at least a couple autographs for fans before the National Anthem if there's enough time. i know he always says a pregame prayer at the end of every National Anthem, bowing his head and covering his mouth with his hat. and after he does the sign of the cross, he kisses his thumb, looks up, points to the sky, and bangs his fist on his hat twice. when you watch a player for a decade, you can't help but notice these things.

want me to break down his at bat routine? first you have to get the right music playing. i've heard him walk up to several different songs over the years. the early days are hazy, but i know he used Drake's "Started From the Bottom" for most of 2013. then it changed to Young Jeezy's "Hustlaz Ambition" in late 2013, and he kept that all during his outstanding 2014 season. next, his music became Rich Homie Quan's "Walk Thru" in 2015. he continued to Walk Thru in his short time on the field in 2016 and during 2017 as well. in 2018, he briefly used Drake's "God's Plan" until finishing his Indians career with Jay-Z's "Public Service Announcement." there was some other music blasting over the PA for his PAs too that i didn't know because i've always been more of a rock chick and that's not Michael's thing lol furthermore, the Indians used to play Sade's "Smooth Operator" for Michael when he'd get a hit in games, too. they started doing that in 2013 and did it more frequently in 2014. following that season though, the tradition died off.πŸ€·πŸ’©

after walking up to the batter's box, Michael makes sure the dirt is evenly distributed to his satisfaction before he gets into position. then he steps in the box, gets in his batting stance, taps the bat on home plate, swings the bat forward and around, and taps the bat on his back shoulder two to three times for timing ahead of his swing, which involves moving his hip forward and shoulders back (no toe tap), and then he finishes with his hands in to produce that short, compact swing that everybody loves and constantly praises. so smooth. and once he crosses home plate after hitting a home run, if his wife/family is in the crowd, he always points to them on his way back to the dugout.

talking to the media wasn't always Michael's favorite activity to do, especially in his latter seasons, but he did numerous interviews over the years and he used a lot of the same phrases lol it happens with most athletes, but i'll never forget how Brant constantly referred to players as "phenomenal" or talked about doing something "each and every day" and playing with a "great group of guys" and using "but at the same time" to bring two different thoughts on a situation together. i guarantee you he will keep saying these with Houston now!πŸ˜€

this is only some of what i will miss so much about Michael.

Getting Personal

when you spend a decade with a club, you're bound to go through copious changes in your personal life. Michael went from having a girlfriend, to being engaged, to getting married, to having children all during his time with the Indians.

Michael wed Melissa back in November 2012. and the reason i know this (before anyone makes incorrect assumptions) is because his then-agent Joshua posted about it on his twitter. some of his Indians teammates were there, including his best Tribe friend Josh Tomlin and Lou Marson, both of whom i believe were groomsmen. i've seen his wife after games in the players parking lot enough to where i can easily recognize her without him.

i remember when Michael's kids were born because of when he went on the Paternity List/was away from the team. his little girl Mariah was born in early September 2013. it was the weekend when the Indians played the lowly New York Mets and i went to Cleveland for one game and Michael wasn't there. i distinctly recall being mad that he missed out on getting a lot of hits and increasing that batting average LOL my apologies. his namesake came in February 2015 before spring training, which i was really happy about because he wouldn't have to miss any playing time for the birth. and his final son/supposed last child arrived in June 2017, in the midst of his right ankle woes. Tom Hamilton told everyone on the radio broadcast that the baby weighed in at over 9 pounds! but that's not all. if you've ever noticed an older boy around the fam, you're not wrong. Melissa also had a child from a previous relationship and i think Giovanni is currently around 11 years old.

i've seen the children grow up over the years when i'd catch glimpses of them after games in the players parking lot and from photos from Michael's All Star Game appearances. he's got a perfect little family. maybe the Indians can draft Michael III and/or Maxwell Brantley in the mid-2030s! and Michael can come back as a coach!🀞

you know, it kind of makes me sad thinking about how Michael's kids aren't going to see the other Indians players' kids anymore and will be leaving their close friends behind. i know all the Tribe wives consider everyone like extended family because of all the time they spend together while the guys are on the road and playing ball. in August 2018, i read a blog from Jordan Bastian about Tomlin and in it, Josh mentioned how his daughters will watch Tribe games and say, "there's so-and-so's dad." now a lot of the kids will be splitting up and moving to new cities because of all the free agents signing new deals and other Tribe vets having been traded. it's a big change that not only Michael's family is going through, but everyone else's, too, and most fans don't give that a second thought. poor kiddos.πŸ™

Michael's had an added bonus all his life by being the son of a former ballplayer/hitting coach and getting advice from him his father whenever he wanted it. Mickey's the one who helped develop Michael's smooth, compact swing. Michael said he talks to his dad on the phone just about every day during the season and they go over his at bats. Mickey used to come to Cleveland to be there in person for his son whenever called upon, and i'm going to miss seeing Michael's father around the ballpark occasionally. i met him once in 2015 when my shy self mustered the guts to go up to him and ask for his autograph. he was surprised, so i guess that doesn't happen often, but he was very nice. i also later got my photo taken with him. (i wrote about all this in my above linked autograph blog.) and one time in 2014, i saw Michael and Mickey after a game at the casino, which i believe was still called the Horseshoe at that time, as well. besides that, there were a few games when i would see a large group of people all wearing Brantley shirts and jerseys, who i'm assuming were uncles, aunts, and cousins. but Mickey certainly became the most familiar face from Michael's family around Cleveland over the last decade. now he'll be traveling to Houston and hanging out around that city when he wants to check in on Michael and assist him with his hitting. and we'll likely never see the Brantley crew again. fact: three of Michael's relatives follow me on twitter!😁

i remember stories Michael told in interviews over the years, about being a kid in the clubhouse with his dad and watching the players. he quietly observed and absorbed everything like a sponge. he also talked about his favorite player growing up, Ken Griffey, Jr., who was a frequent guest in the Brantley home. throughout his years with the Indians, i picked up a ton more info as well. i know his offseason routine and his favorite hobbies. i know what Michael said he would be if he wasn't a ballplayer. i know what his first job and car were. i know how he got that tattoo on his arm. i know his biggest pet peeve. i know about the Christmas when he thought he'd been bad because he didn't get that many presents and then was surprised with a batting cage in his backyard. i know things that his new Astros fans aren't going to know unless he retells all those facts about himself while he's there. (and i'm also aware that i'm going to miss out on any new stories he shares. sigh.) it's nice to get to know a player off the field a bit and i enjoyed learning all these tidbits of info about the man Dennis Manoloff dubbed Dr. Smooth.

but as much as i think i know Michael, from everything i have read and what i've seen on the baseball field, i don't know him know him. it's important to understand that we, as fans, can never really know our favorite players because we don't personally know them in their regular life. i'm sure there's a lot of stuff about Michael that i don't have a clue about, but when it comes to the baseball player and his numbers, i'm definitely more knowledgeable than most.

THANK YOU, Michael

in the early years of Michael's career, the Indians were not a very good team. that's no secret. but i looked forward to games anyway because i knew Michael was on a special journey and would soon become the best player on the Tribe, and i didn't want to miss any of that.

for fans, sports should be a fun distraction and escape from every day life. but i kind of took Michael's job and made it into my career and was very serious about it. while i did not receive one dime from the Indians to write about Michael and keep such an intense account of his games and statistics, i loved doing it. i always said, you don't do this unless you love it. it helped me get through a lot of tough times in my life.

i've never given specific details about my health issues, but i have noted in blogs that i get sick quite often. throughout Michael's Indians career, when i would get up and know i had a hard day ahead, maybe an unpleasant test or procedure or a doctor's appointment that could end in bad news, or even if i just woke up and felt like shit, i always had the comforting thought in the back of my mind that there's a baseball game at night. (during the season, at least.) that gave me motivation to stay strong and get through the day so that i would be rewarded with Michael's ABs in the Tribe game. because you never know what's going to happen and the anticipation and possibilities of what Michael might do were so exciting. knowing now that that comfort is gone and i'll no longer have Michael's at bats in an Indians game to look forward to is very depressing. and it leaves a void that i'm not sure will or can ever be filled by anything else.

so thank you, Michael, for helping me conquer my health battles in the last decade. for that, i will be eternally grateful. and thank you also for inspiring me and getting me back into writing, something i had stepped away from and forgot that i loved doing. you had a huge impact on my life, more than you'll probably ever know. unless this website gets removed or the internet disappears, you will now have a detailed account of most of your baseball career with the Indians that perhaps you and your family or whoever else can look back through when you're retired. i meant no harm and hope i didn't come off as stalker-ish. i'm just a shy "super supporter" lol this was all for you. and it was done with good intentions and written with love and admiration.πŸ’—

Now It's Time To Say Goodbye

Brant, Dr. Smooth, Junior, Michael... here is my goodbye to you. oh, this is hard. when the news broke on December 17 that you were close to a deal with the Houston Astros, it was like a punch in the gut. all i could think was oh my god, you joined the team that not only swept the Tribe out of the American League Division Series, but was also suspected of cheating in the playoffs after that guy got caught spying on opponents' dugouts from the camera bay. Houston? [we have a problem.] that was not where i thought you'd end up calling your new home. i felt sick on that heartbreaking day and i cried. a lot. the tiny hope that i had held onto this offseason, that somehow the Indians were cutting payroll so that they could re-sign you, abruptly died. realizing that you really weren't coming back to the Tribe was and still is devastating. i can't believe you're not going to be an Indian next year, but i've had two weeks to digest this and now, even though i'm sad for me, i can actually be happy for you.πŸ™‚

as much as i don't want to admit it, signing with the Astros was a great choice. first off, you definitely deserve that money and lord knows you weren't ever going to get it from the cheap ass Dolans. i'm happy for you in that regard. when you signed that four-year contract extension with the Tribe before 2014 for $24 million with an $11 million option/$1 mill buyout after playing for the league minimum through 2013, i honestly thought you should have gotten more. then you went out and had an outstanding All Star season and probably wished you'd waited a year to sign a long-term deal lol although, the Indians still might not have been able to offer you a much bigger yearly salary. and perhaps you wouldn't have gotten an option on your deal and then you might have ended up leaving us in FA last offseason... no use thinking about that now. at least you ultimately got the money i believe you were owed in the past, so good for you.πŸ’°

secondly, i also hate to acknowledge this, but it was probably better that you couldn't re-sign with Cleveland and instead went to the 'Stros because now there's a more realistic chance of you finally winning a World Series Championship. with the way the Indians let all of their big free agents leave, then traded several key guys and still have some holes to fill, the team is almost unrecognizable from the one you knew and i don't see how they're going to be competitive in the postseason right now. after a decade of dealing with constant disappointments in Cleveland, you deserve this chance with Houston. (i just hope your new team is done with the cheating antics...πŸ™ˆ)

i've been a Tribe fan for a long time, going on 23 years (how appropriate). knowing how they operate and that they can't spend much money on FAs and always watch their best players move on once they hit free agency, the window of opportunity is never open for long and at this point, there isn't much hope that the franchise will ever win another World Series again. so if you want to get a ring before your career ends, you had to make this move. you had go to a contender with a legitimate shot at winning and i don't begrudge you that.πŸ†

and no matter what happens going forward, you made it! you aren't one of those players who was hyped up and then fell off and everyone asks what ever happened to him, you know? you worked hard your whole life and you not only got to The Show, but you became one of the best players in the whole damn league. and i know you're grateful to be where you are. it wasn't easy, you went through your struggles, but you overcame every adversity you were faced with. through more hard work and dedication, you bounced back from all the injuries and surgeries you endured. you proved the doubters, haters, and internet trolls wrong. i'm sorry for any unpleasantness you dealt with as an Indian from any fan. and i hope you knew that you always had at least one person on your side supporting you.πŸ‘Š

i think i've made it abundantly clear in all my blog posts over the years how proud i am of everything you've accomplished in your career as a Tribesman. you're one of the good guys in the game and i'm happy i was smart enough to choose you as my favorite player.😁

photo from the 1st game i saw Michael play in on 9/26/09

i will remember you and reminisce on all your big baseball anniversaries. that includes things like your MLB debut in which you got your first MLB hit. and your first big league home run--don't think i don't know all the details about that. July 8, 2010, was a miserable day for me and your leadoff homer against the Tampa Bay Rays gave me something positive to associate with it. that's a prime example of how baseball can be more than a game to people and how a player can touch a fan's life without even trying or realizing it.πŸ‘

i wrote so many blogs when you achieved franchise records, won awards, and reached milestones in your career. i'm not gonna list out all my favorite game moments and memories because this would turn into a book, but pretty much anything i took the time to write about was something i considered an important event in your history. ugh and it really makes me sad knowing that you're going to have big moments and do more amazing things with the Astros now that i'm not going to see firsthand. (ie. your Major League debut at 1st base, perhaps???)😟

photo i took on 5/31/14 before his 19-G home hitting streak ended

every single time the Indians play a game in 2019, i will miss and think about you. the loss of your presence on the field and in that clubhouse will be felt. i hate how this offseason played out, how your former team let you, their "heart and soul," leave without putting up a fight. i'm sorry you didn't have the Indians as an option to choose from, but again, it may have been a blessing.πŸ˜‡

i know you're excited for this change and new venture with the Astros, but i'm sure it was difficult to say goodbye to the only MLB team you ever played with. although, i am a little upset that you never really said a formal goodbye to Cleveland fans. you don't have social media (and please don't ever sign up for it, don't let your new teammates pressure you into it! lol) so you couldn't post anything on twitter or instagram, which is fine. but you know, you could have taken out a page in The Plain Dealer and written a little message for those of us who need closure...πŸ“ƒ lol

i wish you nothing but the best with your new team, Michael. i hope you have both continued success on the field and good health! may you experience many more milestones in your career everywhere you end up before you decide to call it quits! and feel free to kick the Tribe's ass when you play your former team, they more than deserve it; i hope you go 4-for-4 at the plate every time.πŸ‘

regrettably, i don't think i'll be seeing you in person again. not this year, at least. your Astros don't come to Cleveland until the end of July/beginning of August and that series is in the middle of the week, which isn't the best time for me to get out to Ohio. and i'm certainly not gonna be able to make it down to Texas. i don't know that i can handle seeing you play in your Houston uni yet either anyway so... i will cheer for you from afar!πŸ˜‰

Astros fans have no freakin' idea how lucky they are to get to watch you play for them. they can now claim you as "theirs," but don't forget you were "ours" first and for a long time. as much as someone else out there might try to declare themselves your #1 fan, i think that title will remain mine, hands down, whether i continue my documentation or not.😜

i am so proud of the player, leader, star, role model, and the man that you've become in these last 10 years. i saw you evolve from a quiet, young rookie into a well-known and highly respected veteran. your work ethic and commitment to the game is unmatched by anyone else. it has been an honor and a privilege to watch your talent day in and day out, sir. i'll undoubtedly see you in Cleveland down the road when you're inducted into the Indians Hall Of Fame.⭐

photo i took before his AB in the bottom of the 1st on 9/27/14
photo i took after they replayed Michael's 200th hit on 9/27/14

thanks for the memories, Dr. Smooth. keep dominating not only as an Astro, but with whichever team(s) you go to after 2020. i believe in you and always will. good luck to you and your wife Melissa, and your kids Giovanni, Mariah, Trey, and Maxwell.πŸ‘ͺπŸ‘‹πŸ˜­

Another Goodbye To Brantley & To My Readers

2018 has been a year of endings for me and this is another one. here's the breaking news: i cannot keep documenting Michael's numbers and writing blogs. i can't follow his new team like i follow the Indians, i just can't. so i must say another goodbye now to my blog and my readers. if this comes as a complete surprise to you, i apologize. but there's literally no way i can continue this, physically or emotionally. let me explain.

with or without Michael, i've been constantly educating myself about the Indians on a regular basis for well over a decade. i always read every article that gets posted on and and i watch all the game videos that get uploaded to the team site as well. i used to listen to the podcast with Terry Pluto that came out on Tuesdays and the one with Paul Hoynes that came out on Wednesdays years ago AND i transcribed them. Pluto doesn't do his anymore, but Hoynsie does what's now called the Cleveland Baseball Talk podcast with Joe Noga and i listen to that weekly. it's a very helpful way for a girl who can't watch STO programming due to her location to get all the latest Tribe news.

not only that, i also scroll through a plethora of baseball writers' twitter accounts every day for info. i generally don't go to bed until i'm all caught up on articles and tweets. in doing all this, i obviously learned a lot about Michael, too, thanks to whatever the writers chose to share about him. that included featured stories, quotes, stats, and fun facts. not gonna lie, it's pretty convenient when your favorite player is on your favorite team. that's how most people get a fave player in the first place. although now i know that's a luxury and it's not one that fans always gets to experience...

i wouldn't even know where to begin to acquire all the reliable sources for Astros baseball like i have for the Indians. it took me years and years to find the best of the best for fast, accurate news. and even if i figured it out, even if i wanted to, there's no humanly way possible for me to keep up with all my usual daily Indians reading and then research about Michael with the Astros. i could never do what i do every day times two. there aren't enough hours. again, it's so much easier when your favorite player actually plays on your favorite team. trouble is, what do you do when he leaves? there's a giant hole not only in my heart now, but also in my life.πŸ’”

the bottom line is this: i am saying goodbye to Michael Brantley the Cleveland Indian, but not necessarily Michael Brantley the ballplayer. you better believe i'm still going to check in on Michael's stats and stuff on a regular basis; after doing it for so long it's almost like an addiction and i will want to know how things are going for him with his new ballclub. but i won't be documenting his numbers anymore. i won't be blogging, i won't be transcribing interviews and putting all his quotes together in one place, and i definitely won't be live tweeting his at bats. and maybe i should also apologize to Michael for this but, i have no interest in becoming a fan of the Houston Astros and paying attention to all their games. i'm sorry. even though i'm very angry with the Indians, i can't become that involved with another team. my heart just cannot do it. this was a tough decision, but for me it is the right one. and i am sorry to my loyal readers who've enjoyed all my hard work through the years, i truly am.

this blog was always first and foremost for Michael. i conveniently called it "All Things Brantley, All Things Tribe" so that i could write general Tribe topics as i saw fit whenever i felt the need, but my main objective was to focus on Michael. now that he's with the Astros, it doesn't make sense. however, i have no intention of changing the title and i guess i don't have to since i'm not planning to continue it. i don't want to turn it into an all Indians blog to keep it going because i don't have the desire to write about the team as a whole or any other individual player. should that change and i ever do decide to write about baseball again, i would create a whole new blog. so i'm leaving this as it is because that's what this was for and that's what i want it to be archived as forever.

(btw, if anybody thinks they can carry this on themselves by keeping the Brantley #s documentation and news/updates blogs going, i dare you to try. the exhaustive research it requires to deliver the amount of high quality content i provided with absolute accuracy and the sacrifices it takes to maintain my same level of consistency and timeliness are not something that most people could or would be willing to do. i not only had the time, but i had the desire, the drive, and the passion. no one else can do what i did, which is why i and this blog will always be unique. #truth #facts πŸ˜‰)

Moving On To a Life Without Brantley & Blogging

don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened. maybe somewhere far off in the future...

next year is going to be really difficult for me. just knowing that i'll no longer know what's going on with Michael daily, that i'll be missing out on things like interviews and videos for the first time since 2009, is going to be a big pill to swallow and a really big adjustment.

when games are being played and i literally have nothing to write down because i'm not following the Astros, it's gonna hurt. i'll likely be going through withdrawals, too, without my note papers and pen in hand because i've been devoted to him and documenting his numbers for so long. i honestly can't figure out how i'm just going to quit cold turkey come the new season. i can't imagine not doing my usual Brantley documentation and drafting up my monthly blogs, but at the same time, i can't imagine myself doing it either. i'm in an impossible situation. it's lose-lose for me.

March 28, 2019, will mark the Indians' first Opening Day without Michael on their 40-man roster since 2009. when that day arrives and i'm listening to the Tribe game and Michael's playing his first regular season game with Houston and i'm missing his at bats for the first time since August 29, 2010, i will feel horrible about it. know that. it will be one of the worst days of my life. i can see myself being physically ill, on the verge of a breakdown and shaking like an addict craving a fix.😡

needless to say, i'll be sad when Michael breaks records or sets new career highs and i'm not present for them and don't write about them. i'm already aware of the fact that he ended his Indians career with a couple of active streaks. y'all should know: Michael's got an 8-game hitting streak in spring training, dating back to March 25, 2017; a 9-game hitting streak in the regular season; and a 74-game errorless streak in the outfield. (his franchise record of 247 consecutive errorless games in the outfield might never be matched by another, i'm just saying.) i wonder how long these will continue into the new season and if they'll turn into new records. man, i'm really gonna miss tracking stuff like this on the daily.

what i'm really dreading is the day Michael hits his first home run as an Astro. that's gonna be tough. like i wrote above, i may not have been around for EVERY plate appearance of Michael's Indians career, but one thing i managed to never miss was his homers. he's hit 87 so far in the bigs and i heard either Tom Hamilton and/or Jim Rosenhaus call all of them on the radio. so i'm sure i will cry when i find out that he hit his first one with Houston and i missed it for the first time ever.😒 i don't know who the voice of the 'Stros is, but i guarantee he won't call Michael's plays better than Hammy.

truth be told, despite all the photos of Michael that were posted on the day that he signed with Houston, some of which i retweeted and included in my blog, i still have not allowed myself to fully look at him in his new jersey and hat. i had my eyes half closed and my hand blocking the computer screen. i didn't watch his press conference either, i only listened to it. i've been avoiding seeing him in his new orange, white, and blue at all costs. i guess that's my way of evading this actuality, which isn't good to do, i know. but i'm not ready. this is a change that's still extremely difficult for me to process.πŸ”Έ◇πŸ”Ή

i might not be able to look at pictures and videos of Michael with the Astros for a long while. how can i sit here and watch him play with a different uniform on and another team's name written across the front of his jersey and not get upset? i can't. so if i can't even look at him, then how can i continue to blog? now you understand my dilemma. i feel bad about it already, like i'm abandoning him, which is crazy, but i can't help feeling that way. i don't like that it's come to this, but there's just no other solution.

i still have my Brantley google alerts on, so again, i'll sporadically see how he's doing in H-Town. but that also means i'll see him in his Houston gear at some point. when that first day comes that i'm surprised with pictures of him in an article or on twitter, or he pops up in a baseball video highlight on TV or online after the season gets underway, i'll be a mess all over again. my heart is gonna be heavy the first couple times i see him getting big hits and celebrating with new teammates. and when i eventually see the new Astros-Brantley 23 fan gear...πŸ˜§πŸ˜–πŸ’£ the heartache is just beginning; i don't even want to think about all the tears i have yet to cry.😭

2019 is going to be uncharted territory, but at least we're still a few months away from the start of the season, so maybe i can use that time to adapt to the new reality. right now i have to steer clear of any shots of Michael because all it will do is make me more mad at the Indians, the team i still have to find a way to make peace with and root for even though i am incredibly unhappy with them right now.

Am I Still Ride or Die Tribe?

this is the million dollar question and it's a valid one because i've been an unconditional Indians supporter since 1996. i stuck with them and still went to games in the past when the team was very bad and even after they made trades that i didn't agree with. i always said i was a Ride or Die Tribe fan, but i think they might have just killed me by letting Michael go. the Indians have distressed me and caused me to cry more tears this offseason than ever before. (and not even just over Michael, but over the other moves they decided to make to "cut costs" as well.) in making zero effort or attempt to retain Michael, my ROD belief has been rocked to the core. so how do i go on being a diehard fan when it feels like a part of me has died, hard?πŸ’”

i had two favorite Tribe players in the past, before Michael was around. first, it was Jim Thome. i latched onto him during the 1997 season. and then he left to go to Philadelphia for more money after 2002 and broke my heart. next, it was Cliff Lee and i was unbelievably upset when the Indians traded him in 2009. (BUT, Michael's debut was right around the corner.) both times i cried about it and as time went on, i dealt with it and found a way go on. but losing Michael in free agency after being an Indian for 10 years hurts infinitely more than losing Thome and Lee. maybe that's because i never followed them the way i followed Michael and i didn't know them nearly as well as i have gotten to know Dr. Smooth. this loss is absolutely devastating.

i am so sad and the sadness is only going to get worse once the 2019 season starts up. for the first time i can ever remember, i am not looking forward to baseball season. i don't even want to deal with it and i hate that the Indians have made me feel this way. you can't even begin to imagine how hard 2019 is going to be for me. when spring training rolls around and i'm reading about the Indians and don't see any Michael news or photos from Goodyear, it's gonna hurt. when the Indians announce their 25-man roster at the Home Opener on April 1 and Michael's not part of it, that's probably when it will really hit me that he's gone. and when i go to the players' parking lot for the first time and don't see his Mercedes in his parking spot, that'll be the dagger.

as i said before, i've known this was coming pretty much all year, so i had plenty of time to think about what i was going to do after. and i decided that the best way for me to deal with this change is to take a step back. i'm not going to stop being a fan, i don't think i could ever do that. but between losing Michael, losing several other long-time Indians, veteran players being traded away, and Paul Dolan signing off on the eradication of the Chief Wahoo, i've tolerated about all that i can handle at this time. something's gotta give and i think i need to re-prioritize my life a little bit. i haven't missed an Indians game in eight seasons. i used to schedule my life around Tribe baseball. Michael eventually became my inspiration for it because i never wanted to miss anything that he did. now that he's gone, so is a large portion of my motivation. to be frank, i'm a mess right now and i don't like that. when it gets to a point where being a fan has a negative effect on you, you have to take a step back.

none of this is easy. it genuinely pains me that i'm choosing to keep supporting a team that completely shattered my heart into a million pieces because they couldn't or wouldn't find a way to retain Michael, someone they've called "the heart and soul" of the Indians for years and someone they said they wanted on their team "for 2018 and beyond." the Tribe basically broke up with Michael despite leading him on and making him believe there was nothing wrong with the relationship and that they had a future together. (okay, that might be stretching the truth, but you get the analogy.) all the intelligent fans didn't want this; now there's nothing left to do but deal with the aftermath.

i'm extremely angry with the Indians. this never should have happened. they did Michael dirty and now it's put me in an effed up position because i'm the idiot who's sticking with them and remaining loyal to a team that did something i don't agree with yet again. some #1 fan of Brant's, huh? trust me, i feel like shit about it. and i don't mean to be petty, but i can see myself unfairly taking this out on the players who remain, even though they had nothing to do with the offseason doings of their front office.

my emotions have been running so high over the past two weeks since Michael officially signed with Houston and maybe this will change as time passes, but right now i see myself disliking the person who dares try to take over Michael's place in left field. i see myself disliking whoever claims his double locker at the front of the clubhouse, the one he's had since Nick Swisher was traded in 2015. i see myself disliking the person who parks in his parking spot in the players parking lot. i see myself loathing the next player who so brazenly chooses to wear the #23 on his back. oh, that guy will probably never be accepted or welcomed by me, i'm not even sorry to say that. if there's a 23 on the team next year, you better believe i will be seething... no newbie is worthy of that number; it's way too soon. i just don't want to see that yet. my heart won't be able to handle it and i might have a mental breakdown.

here's a quick history lesson: Michael holds the franchise record for donning the number 23 for the longest amount of time--spanning 10 seasons and 1,051 games in his career with the Indians. (add seven more postseason games to that total if you want, too.) catcher Chris Bando is next behind Michael on the list and he doesn't even come close, wearing the number between 1981-88 and for only 496 total games. before Michael became a member of the Tribe in 2009, the previous player to wear 23 was Michael Aubrey, who played just 15 games as an Indian in 2008. i think it's safe to say Tribe fans will consider #23 to be synonymous with Michael Brantley for a very long time. that number should still be Michael's; there's no good reason that he isn't still here.

final answer: while i am very disappointed in the Tribe, i'll still be a fan. and i'll still go to some games (though i definitely won't go to 10 like i usually do), but i'm not going to be afraid to miss a game here or there if something else comes up that i'd rather be doing. and i'm not going to feel bad about it. my heart is heavy and the thought of baseball makes me miserable. i need a break and after working so hard for all these years and being so devoted not only to Michael, but also the Indians, i think i deserve it. i deserve to have more of a life outside baseball again. it's time.

so this is the end of the line, for both Michael as an Indian and myself as a Brantley statistician. this is my swan song. maybe one day Michael will come back to Cleveland, perhaps in his last years as a ballplayer/final year before retirement, and then i could potentially resurrect this blog. (although i wouldn't blame him if he didn't or wanted nothing to do with this organization again.) but for now and the foreseeable future, i am closing this huge chapter of my life--i am going to retire as Brantley Blogger.

i want to say a very sincere thank you to all my readers over the years. seeing people from so many different countries all over the world come to this site and read my posts was immensely humbling. thank you especially if you shared and retweeted my blogs. your support gave me a reinforcement to push through and get these blogs up on time. knowing that there was an audience out there, whether fans of Michael or not, that was at least somewhat interested in checking out my writing was incredible and i will be forever grateful to every one of you. i can only hope now that you all understand why this is going to be my last post.πŸ˜”

for the last time, leave a comment below with any thoughts you might have on my decision. if you have any words of positive encouragement and reassurance that what i'm doing is okay, that'd be great. otherwise, feel free to post a goodbye message of your own to Dr. Smooth. he just might read it someday.

i haven't been afraid to show my vulnerability in this blog, so i might as well also share that right before i went to publish this, it hit me that aside from not doing Michael's numbers anymore, i'm no longer going to be writing anything at all, and i had a mini meltdown. i'm inconsolable. i didn't want this and i wish it didn't have to be this way.😒

if you want to keep following me on twitter @clevelandgirl23 you can, because i will still be tweeting about Michael from time to time as things come up. (and i have no plans to change my twitter handle. nobody else is getting that and to me, it will always be for Brantley.) maybe i'll praise Michael when i see he's done something good. or if someone says something that irks me, i might have to come to his defense, tell off the trolls, and set the record straight. i'm not going to stop being a Brantley fan. i could never.

i don't know what's next for me, but like i said, i might be back someday. so if you want to be the first to know if my blog ever returns with new posts, you can sign up for or keep yourself on my subscription list. just enter your email address in the box underneath the Blog Archive sidebar over on the upper right side of this page for any potential future notifications.πŸ“§

with that, i'm out! thank you all again for reading and thank you, Michael, for being such an imperative part of my life. i'll keep your good old days with the Tribe alive in my mind when i'm feeling blue and i'll never forget you. you will always have a special place in my [broken] heart. i miss you already.

"weep not for the memories." that damn Sarah McLachlan song is all i can hear in my head right now.πŸ™‰

farewell, Dr. Smooth. love, your #1 fan.πŸ™ŒπŸ€—πŸ‘‹πŸ˜­πŸ’”

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