Merry Christmas from the Indians Baseball Insider!
As we all get set to enjoy the company of family and friends on this Christmas holiday, I wanted to take a little time to give thanks and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Some of you have been with this site since its inception over seven years ago and some have followed me long before that, while others recently stumbled onto the site, but new or old I want to thank all of the readers for their continued support of the site.
As many now know, we have a big change coming in a few days as we will migrate over to Scout.com on January 2nd. It will begin a new journey for us and open the doors to many new possibilities for both the writers and the readers of this site. I am excited for another year of coverage from the minors to the big leagues in 2015!
At times you may disagree with some things we write or dislike some things about the Indians organization, but the bottom line is you read this site and follow the Indians because they are YOUR team and you are fans. This site would not be possible without the dedication and support of any of you as well as the assistance and help the Cleveland Indians provide all year long.
With that said, on behalf of the entire IBI staff, I want to wish all the fans, players, families of the players, and Indians coaches and executives a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
Also, as a continuing tradition here at the IBI, the staff have put together a quick bit on why they love baseball, the Indians, or are excited for the upcoming season:
Tony Lastoria: Baseball has been my favorite past time for as long as I can remember, and being that I grew up in the Cleveland area I quickly learned to adore the Indians. Yes, they were losers, but they were lovable. I grew up watching them from the late 70s into the 80s during one of their worst times as a franchise, but I never really cared about winning, I just loved to follow Thunder Thornton, Toby Harrah, Rick Manning, Cory Snyder, Pat Tabler, Joe Carter, Mike Hargrove, Julio Franco, and countless others.
As another Christmas comes and goes along with lots of new memories that I will think back on in the coming years, I can’t help but think of all the past baseball seasons that have come and gone the past 30-some years that I have been a fan. As far as a winning baseball team goes, the Indians have failed to deliver on that more often than not over the years. But as far as the experience of the game and the family bond between my father and I when I was a kid, and with my son and I now that I am older, I have to say I have enjoyed a winning season every year. As the late great John McGraw once said, “There is but one game and that game is baseball.”
Over the years I have learned that being an Indians fan is sort of like sled riding on a giant snow hill. It can be quite frustrating as it really tests your patience and most of your time is spent fighting an uphill climb, but when you finally get to the top, the thrill and excitement you get from those few seconds spent flying down the hill on your sled makes it all worth it. Merry Christmas!
Jim Piascik: I've always been pretty obsessed with sports -- my mom tells me I was reading the Akron Beacon Journal sports section by the age of four -- and baseball has always been #1. I was blessed enough to be young and falling in love with baseball while the mid-90s teams were in full swing, watching my favorites in Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Kenny Lofton, and the rest win and make the World Series. They haven't been back since I was six years old, but most of the time, it has still been an exciting team to follow.
Sure, I could do with fewer seasons that end without a World Series title. Actually, I could do with zero seasons that end without a World Series title. But every season cannot end perfectly. We're all still waiting here in Cleveland, but the future is bright. Back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2000-01, exciting minor league talent on the way, and a deep major league team that has only gotten better this offseason; it's a good time to love Cleveland baseball.
Jake Dungan: I clearly love baseball and the Indians, but I love them both even more after 2014 when the axis of power on the Tribe shifted to the starting rotation after the All-Star Break. While I love the game as a whole, the most awe-inspiring facet of baseball for me comes from the guy on the mound where each matchup begins. Pitching to me should be the cornerstone of any team hoping to compete and contend for a championship. Even in an era where offense was supreme and the Indians had one of the most powerful lineups in the history of the game, they met their match in 1995 against one of the top pitching staffs in history.
With reigning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber at the helm of a staff that set a new MLB record in strikeouts in 2014, I believe the Indians are on the right path to World Series contention not only next season, but potentially the next few seasons to follow. The youth and multiyear team control of these hurlers along with the rest of the squad will allow for a possible sustained run of competitive baseball in Cleveland. So Merry Christmas, Tribe fans and get ready because spring training is right around the corner! As fun and magical as these last two years under the Francona regime have been, I think the best may be yet to come!
Hayden Grove: For a while, baseball and I weren't on speaking terms. Having just quit the high school baseball team thanks to an unfavorable coaching situation, I was bitter toward the game that I loved so wholeheartedly growing up. Now removed from the grass and the clay for the first time in my life, I spent my high school career exploring other passions, desires and avenues that were now open as a result of my decision, but somewhere— way, way back in the depths of my heart— I missed it.
That baseball-less lull weighed on me as the years went on and as I entered my collegiate career, I knew— somehow, some way— that I needed to get back on the diamond. Enter Indians Baseball Insider. Tony and the IBI community gave me an opportunity to re-ignite my passion for America's pastime that now burns as bright as ever and for that I'll be forever grateful. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Charlie Adams: Baseball, like Christmas, is steeped in tradition and rituals that make it especially enjoyable to me and those close to me. It evokes vivid childhood memories; flashes of the unrestrained happiness and 'simpler times' that we look back on so fondly. It has allowed me to evolve and continue to enjoy no matter the age: no longer a childhood participant, watching from the sidelines and just being 'close to the game' is more than enough. Baseball, like Christmas, is a part of the tradition that I will pass along to my family and will continue to bring me and many others joy for years to come.
DJ Sebastian: My dad introduced me to the great game of baseball when I was six years old. Later, my two younger brothers joined in, and as we grew up, we shared a love for the game of baseball, and our favorite team, the Cleveland Indians. Baseball was the common thread as our demeanor would rise and fall with the fortunes of the Tribe. We can recall specific games, dramatic comebacks, and disappointing losses. We regularly debate our favorite players and most exciting seasons. We enjoy the drumbeat of the baseball season, where each day brings a new game, a new challenge, and a new experience.
This simple, ageless game, played with a white stitched ball, a wooden bat, a leather glove, on a diamond-shaped field has provided a lifetime of family memories.
Arthur Kinney: I think Indians fans don't focus enough on what we have. A clean ballpark (not a multi-purpose stadium) with good sightlines (no poles). A team for whom contention isn't sufficiently laughable that they make a comedy movie out of the idea (that said, both Major League 1 and 2 are great movies.). The greatest logo in baseball, Chief Wahoo (who knows for how much longer, though.). Tom Freakin' Hamilton calling games on the radio (I listen to enough of other teams' crews on Gameday Audio to know we have it good in this regard.). Most of the affiliates within a day's (roundtrip) drive of Cleveland. We aren't giving away all-stars for borderline major leaguers.
Yes, I realize this could be interpreted by many as "at least we're not Oakland Athletics fans," but I prefer to think of it as the perspective of someone (just) old enough to remember the old Stadium and the nearest affiliate being in Canton (if that close). So, my message to Tribe fans is: while you may not realize it, we have it good. Merry Christmas! (Oh, and pitchers and catchers report in 55 days).
Graydon Fox: I’ve loved baseball ever since the first time I heard Tom Hamilton’s golden pipes over the radio. My parents actually have footage of me reciting the entire 1995 Indians lineup (numbers and all) when I was just three years old. My father had taped several of the most famous games of that special 1995 season and I used to watch them over and over again. I can still see Dennis Eckersley mouthing the word “wow” over and over again after Cleveland slugger Manny Ramirez took him deep into the left field bleachers to set off yet another raucous home plate celebration. I was hooked on the game and I spent the majority of my childhood trying to become the next Omar Vizquel. I would drag my parents into the backyard in the dead winter just to take one more round of batting practice. Though I’m too young to have experienced the long suffering of Indians fans prior to the 1990’s those magical teams are forever what drew me to the game and why I still love it to this day.
I enjoy sitting down every night to watch a baseball game because you never know what may happen on any given night. I hope that maybe on this night I might get to see something special like a no-hitter for example. What I love most about the game is the journey of one major league season. I love riding the proverbial roller coaster every year with the ups and downs. Every single season is different. Whether it’s a young player having a breakout season, a devastating injury, or a blockbuster trade, there is always intrigue. I love baseball because of the opportunity it provides for us as fans to follow our favorite team for 162 games. The length of the season is unique because so much can happen from one month to another. No matter how strong particular teams look on paper, the season still has to play itself out between the lines. With the holiday season rapidly coming to a close I can’t wait to see what excitement the 2015 season will provide!
John Vourlis: I'm excited about the upcoming season because I get to do something that has always been near the top of my bucket list: be a sportswriter who writes about the Indians. And I have IBI and Tony Lastoria to thank for it. I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity. I was a huge sports fan growing up, and I read the sports page every day in both the Plain Dealer and the old Cleveland Press. Every day. Both papers. My favorite writers were Bob August, Russ Schneider, Hal Lebovitz, Chuck Heaton, and later on Doug Clarke. I was a sports page junkie, and I read these gentlemens' columns religiously.
It wasn't until years later when I left Cleveland for LA that I came to realize how good these Cleveland sportswriters actually were. I missed them so much that I'd have my mom mail me the Sunday sports sections from the PD and the News-Herald just so I could get my sports page fix. All of these fine men are gone now, I believe, except for Doug Clarke, but as a fan of Cleveland Sports teams, and especially the Cleveland Indians, and now as a writer myself, their influence on me is unquestionably great. And I am feeling pretty grateful for that this holiday season. Can't wait to get started writing! Go Tribe!
Kevin Sledz: My love for baseball started at age nine when I attended my first Indians game at Municipal Stadium. I attended with my father and uncle. We went early so we could take in batting practice. I was able to get a foul ball from batting practice that came into the stands where we were seated in the lower level. My uncle surprised me when he got Toby Harrah to come over and talk with us for a few minutes. I found out my uncle had known Harrah through the Make A Wish Foundation when my cousin was losing his battle with leukemia a few years prior. He signed my batting practice ball and talked baseball for a few minutes.
My interest in baseball really peaked after this and I began to play pickup games with the neighborhood kids and went on to play many years of summer league ball in my youth. I began coaching after my playing days and went on to coach for eight years. I’ve been an avid Indians and baseball fan since age nine and will always be loyal to my hometown team. My love for the game and the Indians continues now with my position at IBI.
Len Kehoe: My love of the Indians stems from my early childhood. I first began reading the sports page when I was four and, while I'm a huge Cleveland sports fan in general, the Indians were my first love. I spent years dreaming of playing for my Indians one day. Obviously, I found out rather quickly that wasn't going to happen, but that didn't hinder my love for the game. In fact, my love for it grew more with each passing year and eventually I dreamed of ending up in the Indians front office. I'm a huge stat/numbers guy and baseball plays a huge role in me being so into that stuff.
This upcoming season is bound to be special. The Indians are in the midst of a stretch they haven't had in years and Tito has them on the upswing. I haven't had this much faith in the team since the Mike Hargrove days.
Corey Crisan: Cleveland sports have been an integral part in my life from the very minute I was born. The Indians hold a very special place in my heart emotionally. One of my favorite things to do in my spare time is watch old highlights and listen to some of Tom Hamilton’s greatest calls. I still get chills when I hear Game 162 of the 2013 season and Hamilton yells “You WILL have another October to remember!”
I hope to see the Tribe make it back to October this season. Nothing gets me more excited than to see the Tribe victorious, and this season is looking very promising for that. Really, how can you not be excited!? In general, this MLB season is looking very promising, given the plethora of offseason moves that have already taken place. Baseball is the greatest game in the world, and every Opening Day for the Tribe feels like Christmas morning.
Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.
I fell in love of baseball as a kid at 8 yrs in the late 60's into early 70's going Indians games when the held special kid events such as bat day, helmet day, ball day or autograph day. I remember being on the field for autograph day in which I was able to get autographs of Gaylord Perry and George Hendrick.
I was proud when the Indians finally made it to the World Series in 1995, but also learned an important principle in baseball that good pitching, defense, and timely hitting beats an offensive powerhouse that the tribe had in 1995. I still blame Jose Mesa for blowing game 7 of the 1997 World Series. However analyzing that team more closely, they were a smoke and mirrors team that were only 3 outs away from winning the whole thing. That in itself is amazing.
For me baseball is like life. You have your successes, your failures, your joy and sorrow and the time to learn and grow from your mistakes.
In closing I would also want to wish everyone else who uses this site a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!