Be Thankful for the Cleveland Indians

It’s Thanksgiving – a day to be grateful and overindulge in the mounds of food placed before you. A day of cornucopias and parades and pilgrims and Indians. Cleveland Indians? Yes, Thanksgiving is a day of football, but, if we’re giving thanks, it’s also a time to be thankful for Cleveland’s favorite team: the Cleveland Indians.

It may seem trivial to give thanks to a sports’ team on a day that’s dedicated to family and friends and the amenities granted to you. But, without the Indians, the story of Thanksgiving wouldn’t have much substance now, would it?

Alright, so the Cleveland Indians and the Indians that are part of the story every child hears in elementary school about the first Thanksgiving are not one in the same. But still, the Cleveland Indians have given Cleveland a lot for which to be thankful. While those pilgrims walked away from that first Thanksgiving with the ability to harvest corn and, supposedly, an understanding and appreciation for the people who’s land they now inhabited, Clevelanders walk away from a baseball season with the ability to see the good through the bad, to roll with the punches, and to retain an undying optimism for next season.

Baseball means more to Cleveland than just a team on the field. From what it seems, Cleveland baseball is a family, a unit, a way for people to unite and make friendships they would never come across without the Tribe. It’s about more than games and a record – obviously, Cleveland baseball is about much more than titles and pennants. It’s about a history and a franchise that means a great deal to a city. Isn’t that something to be incredibly thankful for?

Be thankful for the Cleveland Indians because, at the most basic level, Cleveland has a baseball team. Clevelanders have the ability to go downtown and watch a game in person. Cleveland has a team to root for and support; not every major city can do that and, when you stop and think about it, that makes us Clevelanders pretty lucky.

Be thankful for the Cleveland Indians because they make the game exciting. Be it positive or negative, people talk about the Tribe. It gives Clevelanders something to discuss with total strangers. Even during the seasons in which the Indians did not play so well, there was still something to talk about. You could talk about what the team had to do to improve, who they should go after, release, or trade. Everyone has differing opinions and, despite the rifts it can cause or debates that ensue, people care. Be thankful you are part of a fan base that pays attention and has opinions.

Be thankful that the Cleveland Indians inspire a fan base that also cares about each other. Be thankful for the people you have met over Twitter or through Tribe social media who you have happened to meet in person and have become lasting friends. Be thankful for the ability to go to events like social media nights or fan appreciation nights that honor you, the fans, as someone the Indians truly value.

Be thankful that the Indians are an organization that not only cares about the fans, but about the team that they put on the field. Although it may not always seem like the case, the Indians are an organization that truly wants to develop and produce a winning team. While that may not always equate into winning seasons and pennants, it puts big names on the field that fans enjoy watching. This season, you were lucky enough to support a roster with names such as Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, and Jason Giambi. You’ve been able to root for the likes of Kenny Lofton, Jim Thome, Cliff Lee, Omar Vizquel, Manny Ramirez… The list of exciting names of the past could go on and on. The Indians may not always make decisions that fans love, but they make decisions and field players that fans can get excited to watch. Be thankful that you’ve been able to say that these names have been through your organization. Be thankful that, at least for a bit, you got to call these players yours.

Be thankful the young up-and-coming names that will grace Indians’ rosters of the future. Be thankful for new All-Stars like Jason Kipnis and Justin Masterson. Be thankful for guys who are this close to having All-Star seasons of their own – guys like Michael Brantley or Yan Gomes. Be thankful for youngsters like Jose Ramirez, making his Major League debut at age 20, and Danny Salazar striking Miguel Cabrera out three times in one game. Despite the way that game ended, still be thankful for Salazar. Be very thankful for Salazar.

Be thankful for minor leaguers on the cusp of making it big. Be thankful for Francisco Lindor and what he can – and hopefully soon will be able – to do for the team.

Be thankful for Tommy John surgery. It helps pitchers like Josh Tomlin make their way back to the Major League stage after what could be career-ending injuries.

Be thankful for Terry Francona. Do I need to say anything more right here? The man just won American League Manager of the Year. Telling you to be thankful for him is an understatement.

Be thankful for Dollar Dog Nights, Friday night fireworks, hotdog races, give aways, fairly-priced tickets, and something to do on summer nights. Be thankful for a nice stadium and a supportive atmosphere.

Be thankful for your Cleveland Indians. Be thankful for this past season. Be thankful for the chance to see a Wild Card game. Be thankful for a team that went from 94 losses in 2012 to 92 wins in 2013. Be thankful for a team that kept it exciting until the very end.

Be thankful for new additions to the team. Be thankful for off-season moves that will create an even stronger 2014.

Above all, be thankful for a team with a history. The Cleveland Indians are nothing if not a team with a long, rich past. From the team’s inception to the years of greats such as Boudreau and Feller to the exciting 1990s to recent playoff runs in 2007 and this year, the Indians always have a piece of the past that can brought into conversation – both the good and the bad.

Be thankful that you root for a team with a past – it means you support a team with a future.

So, why are you thankful for your Cleveland Indians? Take a minute and think about. Then, dig into that third piece of pumpkin pie without remorse and be thankful that the Browns aren’t playing today.

Photo: David Richard/USA TODAY Sports

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