'Tis the season to be an Indians fan
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 five 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.
We have lots of new things in store for the site over the coming months and I am excited for another season of coverage from the minors to the big leagues for the 2013 season. 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 an additional treat and sort of a new 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 Pete: Baseball season has always been a bit like Christmas for me, and yeah, that includes all the heartache that comes with being a Cleveland Indians’ fan. A bad day following the Indians is a better day than most any other day. Sure, baseball in and of itself, has always been my passion, whether I was playing, watching, collecting baseball cards, scoring the Saturday Afternoon game of the week with Vin Scully, or listening to Herb Score, and later, Tom Hamilton on the radio, talking about the Tribe.
Waking up and getting presents was equivalent to waking up and pouring over the box scores. In the early days, it was all about Buddy Bell, Charlie Spikes, Duane Kuiper and Andre “Thunder” Thornton. The team was never any good, but they were the root of this baseball passion . Over the years, I’ve backed Joe Charboneau, screamed JULIO, waited out the Human Rain Delay, went 30-30 with Joe, welcomed Alomar and Baerga, stood in awe watching Joey (and Albert), was electrified by Kenny, scratched my head at Manny, and loved every up and down that came with all of them.
Merry Christmas to all the Indians Prospect Insider family, and may you and yours have a fantastic holiday season.
Steve Orbanek: With the Christmas season upon us, it's a good opportunity to take a moment and reflect on the one thing that links every writer and contributor to this website: baseball. Is there anything better than the game? I maintain that the crack of a wooden bat is on par with Freddie Mercury's vocals as the greatest sounds of all time. Also, while I have never been to heaven, I'd guess that it must feel somewhat like a baseball game. Hot dog in one hand, beer in the other and nine innings of pure bliss -- yep, sounds like heaven to me. There's just something so special about the relaxation that baseball can provide. The crawling pace seems to be the perfect complement to a good day's work.
Obviously, the only thing better than baseball is Cleveland Indians baseball. And Indians baseball is looking especially good now after the team has had one of its most productive off seasons ever. First Mark Reynolds, then Trevor Bauer and now Nick Swisher? Can it get any better? Here's the best part: Indications are that it can. The Tribe is reportedly going to still pursue a starting pitcher, which is more proof of their new approach. So this holiday season, I wish everyone safe travels, an enjoyable holiday, and I hope everyone shares my enthusiasm for baseball and the Indians. Cliched or not, life is good and one of the most enjoyable pastimes remains baseball and the Indians.
Jim Piascik: My wife and I (still a weird phrase to use) were up at a Cavs game a few weeks ago when they were playing the Bulls. Basically every player of note was out, as there was no Kyrie Irving, no Dion Waiters, and no Derrick Rose, but you've still got to love free tickets. We entered on the plaza side of the Q, the one adjacent to Progressive (or Jacobs, as I know many of us still call it) Field.
Despite it being completely empty and not lit up, I just found myself staring at the field. Thinking about how much I love that place, how much I love watching games there, and how much that patch of ground means to me. I didn't get up to see games all that much as a child, because the drive was just long enough and my three siblings and I always had things going on, so even though I've gone to quite a few games recently, it still has an effect on me. Despite the struggles, the failures, the disappointments, I love being a Cleveland fan, I love Jacobs Field, and I love that the magic is still there, as long as you're looking for it.
Jim Berdysz: Merry Swish-mas Tribe fans!! Christmas sure came early this year with the signing of Nick Swisher, bringing the warm feeling of summer to Indians fans everywhere during this holiday season. Like the spirit of Christmas, the signing of Swisher makes fans (including myself) believers that things are certainly headed in the right direction! New Tribe manager Terry Francona has brought with him a new energy to the team, which has brought more optimism around the club now than over the last four years. Will it translate on the field? Nothing is guaranteed, but one thing still remains the same: I'm a believer.
With or without the signing of Swisher, the trade for Trevor Bauer, or the signing of Mark Reynolds, I'm just glad I call myself an Indians fan. No, we haven't won a championship in 64 years or haven't had a winning season in five years, but at the start of every season, no matter what we do in the offseason, I sit at the Jake on Opening Day and say to myself, "Could this be the year?" And that's exactly what I plan on doing once again this 2013 season on Opening Day. Only one thing will be different though, (it will be tough to do) but I will have a smile wider than Swisher's, ready for another exciting 162-game journey of Indians baseball. I will promise you one thing Cleveland sports fans, the Tribe will have more wins than the Browns and Cavaliers combined!
Merry Christmas to all and a safe and hopefully successful New Year for you and the Tribe!
Jeff Ellis: I have to say I wrote this on the heels of the Nick Swisher signing, so it totally colors my views of what I am thankful for. I awoke on Sunday morning to hear about the Swisher signing and it leads to the first thing I am thankful for and it's a team that has become aggressive after waiting and watching the past few offseason.
The Indians got involved early this year. They went out and got a big name manager in Francona, and for many of us we thought this would be the boldest move. Then they made the Esmil Rogers trade, which would have been huge news most years and now it's mostly forgotten. Then we saw a team that was at the center of everything during the winter meetings. Right after the winter meetings they swung a trade for Choo that was universally praised for everything they got in return for an expiring player who was surely going to leave town, while adding a prospect that was higher rated than any player they got for Sabathia or Lee. Then lastly we got the exclamation point, by signing a free agent away from the Yankees. I am very thankful for this new aggressive approach.
I must say, as I watched the Browns-Broncos game, I am also thankful for stability. We have watched the Browns show positive signs this year, but we are braced for another change. Every two years the Browns do a complete rebuild and never amount to anything. The front office of the Cleveland Indians has been stable and there for so long, and while some have wanted them gone, it was thanks to the stable front office the Indians signed Francona who also helped bring in the big free agent in Swisher. It is this stability which is so necessary in baseball where talent can't just be picked up in the draft, it must also be developed. This stability is often over looked, but look no further than Cleveland's favorite sports team the Browns to see what happens when this stability is absent.
Michael Goodman: My love of baseball came from playing it at an early age. I was playing the sport well before I followed it as a fan. It just so happened that when I did become cognizant enough to be a fan, I was living in the Cleveland, Ohio area in the mid-90’s. There was nothing like going to games with my family during those years. The atmosphere was electric and almost every game seemed just a bit magical. I really think the heartbreak that each of those seasons ended with strengthened my resolve as a Cleveland Indians fan.
Times have changed since then, but the game of baseball is still magical and I’m still a Cleveland Indians fan. One day I know that the Cleveland Indians are going to win a World Series and the experiences and trials that we’ve all had leading up to that win will make it all the more sweeter. The team has a lot of work to do for that to happen this year, but if I could get anything for Christmas a CY Young worthy season from Ubaldo Jimenez or Justin Masterson (or both!) would be a good place to start.
Arthur Kinney: Admittedly, the past few years haven't been the greatest for Cleveland Indians fans. However, amidst all of the losing, rebuilding, and frustration, there is one BIG reason why it is still great to be an Indians fan: We still have a Major League team here in Cleveland. Now, before you write this off as an acceptance of mediocrity or an excuse for the Indians' recent lack of success, please read the following paragraph.
Nothing puts the mere fact of just having a Major League team in your city into perspective more than being a fan of a sport where you must travel to see a Major League game. Besides baseball, I am a fan of (among many other sports) hockey and soccer. Both of these sports involve trips to Columbus to attend a Major League game. That's four-plus hours on the interstate, at least a full tank's worth of gas, and a lot of wear and tear on the car (the Lube Stop feels like a second home) just to see a sport at its top level. However, this is not an issue for us Cleveland baseball fans. While it can be easy to take Cleveland's Major League status for granted, we really shouldn't. Just imagine having to drive to Detroit or Pittsburgh to see a big league game, not to mention living somewhere like Billings, Montana, where the nearest MLB team the Colorado Rockies are an eight-hour drive away.
Stephanie Metzger: Like the holidays, baseball has always had a sense of nostalgia for me. I always enjoyed baseball as a kid, but I never truly developed my passion for it until I started playing fast-pitch softball as a 12-year-old. When I realized that I had a future in softball, I watched baseball with my dad in order to learn the game more. Every night, we’d sit down and watch the Indians, and my dad would go over the situations with me.
With educational commentary from my dad, Ronnie Belliard taught me how to turn two. Grady Sizemore taught me to always, always take the first step back when tracking down a deep fly, and Cliff Lee taught me the devastating power of a change-up.
Little did I realize that, while I was learning about ERAs and executing flawless rundowns, I was also spending quality time with my dad. The more I learned about baseball, the more I realized that baseball was unlike any other sport. I learned to appreciate the mental fortitude required to play the game. Hitting your free throws with .37 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter is tough, but stepping to the plate with two on and two out in the ninth with Mariano Rivera toeing the rubber is tougher. If it weren’t for those nights spent learning the technicalities of baseball with my dad, baseball would probably not be so significant to me. More importantly, if it weren’t for baseball, I never would have spent so much imperative time with my dad.
Jason Ruggiero: This has been a good holiday season for the Indians. They made a very smart trade that solidified an organizational weakness for the future. They are active on the free agent market. They have addressed one need through free agency and are pushing hard to address their others.
There will always be those who find the negative in everything the Indians do, but this has been an off-season of progress. Francona, Bauer, Stubbs and Reynolds are all signs of progress. Cabrera, Kipnis, Santana, Pestano and Brantley are all reasons to be thankful. Chisenhall, Masterson, McAllister, Allen, and Lindor are reasons to be optimistic. The Indians cannot buy a team in free agency but with smart decisions they can build one, and I think they are closer to that now than they were last Christmas. Happy Holidays and Go Tribe!
Michael Taylor: Tis the season to be a fan of the Cleveland Indians. A team that never ceases to frustrate us as a fan, yet will at the same time always find a way to amaze us at the same time. For every bad free agent singing or poorly executed hit-and-run play, there are those moments of pure exhilaration; be it an amazing 12-run comeback against the Mariners in 2001, the Lenny Barker perfect game in 1981, or the 1990's championship contending teams, I keep coming back for more.
That is truly what keeps me loving this team, and the game of baseball for that matter. You never know what is about to happen. That unpredictability is what I believe helps to separate baseball as the premier game in my heart. There is a never-ending search to gain an edge on your competition to beat that unpredictability, just as you do in life, but yet the magic remains to surprise you and force you to believe in what could become. Just look at the St. Louis Cardinals or the San Francisco Giants the past three seasons. Neither of those teams on paper were the best, yet they walk away champions with some amazing finishes to their seasons.
In no way do I sit here today writing this and believe that could happen with the Indians in this upcoming season, but you never know. I do guarantee that the Indians will surprise us in some way with a gift during this next season; we just have to wait to see what that may be. Will it be a breakout year by a developing player, a magical winning streak, numerous walk-off victories, staying competitive into September, or maybe just playing spoiler to a division rival in the final weeks of the season? Will it be more? Here's to hoping we as Indians fans get a gift greater than what we could expect in '13 from our beloved team. Happy Holidays to all Indians fans and Go Tribe!
Andrew Zajac: My love for the game of baseball and the Cleveland Indians are tied to when I was just a young boy and learning the game of baseball. I grew up in the 90s, watching the teams that should have won a World Series with Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Omar Vizquel, Jim Thome, and so on. During Little League games, I would walk up to the plate and do Thome's famous bat point prior to the pitch.
With those roots, they've sprouted into a love for the game of baseball and the Cleveland Indians. The Indians have provided me with so many memories over the years, both good and bad. Through the thick and thin, however, I remain loyal to this great franchise which has housed some of the game's greats like Larry Doby and Bob Feller. The Cleveland sports community is incredibly passionate and loyal, and I couldn't be happier to be a part of such a great community.
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 wrote a plan for this off-season that I hoped they would follow, but seriously doubted they would. To my surprise they have been aggressive this off-season by improving in the short-term while also helping long-term future. As horrible as last off-season was this one has been great. I am reinvigorated.
I express my sincere thanks to all of the IPI writers for your excellent articles and wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Hopefully the Indians front office has more presents for us this next mont via trades and free agent signings.
Many thanks for your hard work on this web site; the gift that just keeps giving all year long.