This week the DTTWLN staff is doing an in-depth look at the Cleveland Indians attendance. While everyone knows the Indians have an attendance problem, how they necessarily got to this point appears to be an explanation with many answers including play on the field, population and economic changes and improvements in technology. Regardless of the reasons, one thing is certain, the Indians have an attendance problem. This afternoon, we examine the tipping point in the current attendance decline.
Previous Stories This Week:
From the Perfect Storm to the Indians Attendance Disaster by Bob Toth
Times Have Changed While Indians Attendance Issues Have Worsened by Mike Brandyberry
Indians Attendance Issues Have Spanned Over 65 Years by Vince Guerrieri
In 1986, the Jacobs brothers were heralded as the latest people to save baseball in Cleveland.
The Indians’ grip on the town had been tenuous for the past 30 years, and seriously discussed leaving the city on several occasions. But in each instance, a change in ownership led to some stability in the team – but usually its own upheaval in the front office, leading to decades of mediocre baseball.
A recent development in Major League Baseball has seen former players take the reigns as a manager or coach with their former team.
The White Sox once employed their former shortstop, Ozzie Guillen, in the managing capacity. Now the team has its one-time third baseman in Robin Ventura in that seat. Joe Girardi, a former Yankees backstop, currently manages the Bronx Bombers. More recently, the Tigers hired Brad Ausmus, who used to be a catcher in Detroit, to replace the retired Jim Leyland as their bench boss.
In Cleveland, the Indians have a pair of their ex-players calling the shots. Terry Francona, who spent a season a Tribe player, is of course the manager of the team. The Indians also have Sandy Alomar, Jr., a key component of those successful 1990s squads, as its first base coach.
Over 1,700 baseball players have worn the word “CLEVELAND” across their chest and on Saturday evening, Carlos Baerga will become only the 40th one to be inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame.
“It’s very special,” Baerga said. “To be selected to be put in there is an honor that I’m never going to forget.”
Baerga was an infielder for the Indians from 1990-96 and briefly again in 1999. Primarily a second baseman, he earned three trips to the All-Star Game (’92, ’93 & ’95) two Silver Slugger Awards (’94 & ’95) and led the Indians in hits four times. In 1992 and 1993, Baerga became the first second baseman since Rogers Hornsby in 1922 to hit 20 homeruns with 100 RBI and 200 hits in consecutive seasons. In 1995, Baerga hit third in arguably the Indians best lineup of all-time and he helped lead the Tribe to its first pennant in 41 seasons.
During Spring Training the DTTWLN staff will profile and examine the coaches and players that make up and are vying to be part of the 2013 Cleveland Indians—A Team With A New Direction. Today, we examine one of the Spring Invitees with a chance to make the Tribe’s Opening Day roster.
By Steve Eby
Think back to Carlos Baerga, circa 1996.
The Tribe second baseman was only a year removed from an All-Star campaign that helped lead his team to a World Series appearance. He was a cog in the mighty Indians batting order—hitting third in arguably the most feared lineups of the steroid-infested 1990’s. He was the toast of the town, a true budding superstar who had seen more success by his mid-20’s than most baseball players see in their entire lifetime.
Then it stopped.
Baerga stopped hitting and stopped driving in runs. He stopped being a consistent contributor and was immediately traded away to the New York Mets. He never regained his star status with the Mets and was out of Major League baseball four years later. He played for a Korean team in 2001 before catching back on with the Boston Red Sox in 2002.
Now think back to Scott Kazmir, circa 2009.
Just like Baerga, the Rays ace was only one year removed from an All-Star campaign that helped his team to a World Series appearance. He was a cog in the mighty Rays pitching staff—sitting as the number two pitcher in a deep rotation that included James Shields, Matt Garza and David Price. He was one of the most popular players in St. Petersburg and was already one of the best young pitchers in baseball.
Then…just like Baerga…it stopped too.