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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | August 20, 2014

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Harlem Shake Newest Element in New Tribe Chemistry

By Christian Petrila

Anyone who is willing to compare and contrast the 2012 and 2013 Indians will notice one glaring difference – the 2013 squad already has more chemistry than the previous team and the season hasn’t even started yet.

On Monday morning, Twitter was flooded with tweets from everyone – players, media, etc. – about the Indians taking part in the internet sensation known as the Harlem Shake.

If nothing else, the recent team activity just goes to show how different Manny Acta and Terry Francona are. Acta was long considered to be a hands-off manager. After the firing, Chris Perez confirmed those thoughts by saying that there would be long spans where he and Acta wouldn’t talk.

From day one, Francona was more hands-on than a child with a brand new tub of Play-Doh. He was calling players right off the bat (no pun intended) to learn about his new cast. It helped Francona automatically earn the respect of the players already on the Indians. Combine that with the respect he already had entering Cleveland and suddenly, the Indians were a lucrative team to play for.

Francona pretty much took a team that had hardly any managerial contact to one that would make other teams envious. On top of that, it’s pretty obvious that the team is enjoying their new head-honcho.

One example of how Francona’s impact has been a positive one on the clubhouse is the example of (unfortunate) trainer Michael Salazar. Salazar made a bet with strength and conditioning coach Joe Kessler during the offseason as to who would win the BCS National Championship Game. Having lost the bet, Salazar had to wear a crimson Speedo to camp one day. It’s not that such an occasion wouldn’t have happened under Acta, it’s just that it would’ve been extremely unlikely.

Right as February was ending, fans became aware of a sign in the Indians clubhouse which had a picture of Francona with an oversized hat and a big smile with a caption that read, “I demand respect.”

It seems like such a simple thing, but to have a manager who is willing to laugh at himself is a huge boost to the comfort of the team. It reminds the players that while he is their manager, he is also their friend. It’s a cliché idea, but one that could prove to be huge once the season starts.

Finally, there’s the example of the aforementioned Harlem Shake. Sure, plenty of pro teams have had their own rendition of the internet fad lately, but to think the Indians got in on the act seemed almost unthinkable just a few months ago.

What does it tell you if a manager is willing to dress up like a giant baby for a 30-second video? What does it tell you if that manager’s “manager in waiting” (Jason Giambi) was willing to dress up in a green morph suit? Basically, look at the picture above and try convincing anyone that this isn’t a looser, more comfortable Indians team.

The positive effects have even been felt on Twitter. As with many internet fads, the Harlem Shake has run its course with many individuals to the point where they’re predisposed to hate any variation that gets uploaded. However, the Tribe’s rendition got many haters of the shake to embrace it, even if only for a moment.

It’s not a farfetched idea for this team to rival the chemistry of the 1995 or 2007 squads. Those were two of the most charismatic and cohesive teams in recent memory and fans have been clamoring for a return of the Alvaro Espinoza bubble on the hat or the Trot Nixon postgame pie. This team is capable.

The moral of the story is that a team needs chemistry just as much as it needs talent. The 2013 Indians have made all the necessary additions to address the chemistry aspect. It’s just a matter of time until it all gets put in action.

Photo: Frank Herrmann/Twitter @FrankHerrmann56