At the conclusion of each season, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance allows Did The Tribe Win Last Night? to cast a series of votes for their American League award winners. The DTTWLN committee of one chose me to determine our votes in …
After a surprising 2013 Cleveland Indians season the organization has higher expectations for 2014 than any season dating back to 2008. The Indians and their fans will expect a playoff team and World Series contender. For the month of October, we’ll look at the how the Indians became a contender, but most importantly, How Do the Indians Reach the Next Level?
One of the Cleveland Indians’ best acquisitions for 2013 never once threw a ball, swung a bat, or wore a glove during a single at bat or out of a Major League Baseball game this season.
Rarely, when looking back at all of the offseason moves made by a ball club, is one transaction as significant and as influential as Terry Francona was on the 2013 Indians season.
When the Indians host the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Wild Card Game tonight in the Tribe’s first playoff appearance since 2007, Cleveland manager Terry Francona will have come full circle. As the nemesis when his Boston Red Sox overcame a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Tribe for the AL pennant, Francona has seen what Progressive Field is like in October.
While it is safe to expect a huge and boisterous crowd at Progressive Field on Wednesday, the days of sellouts for all 81 home games are long gone. The Tribe’s manager, however, is pragmatic about the numbers. While Cleveland did not have the best attendance during the regular season, Francona—who finished with an above .500 record for the ninth straight season—understands the fragility of the economic times in Ohio and the recent performance of the Indians since the near-pennant campaign six years ago.
I write this article not only to inform those fans who have not been paying attention (judging by the attendance at Progressive Field, that may be a lot of people), but to apologize, as well.
I’m sorry, Ubaldo Jimenez.
I apologize to Jimenez because earlier this season I wrote him off like most of Cleveland and the baseball world did as well. I don’t really feel bad about it, however, as Jimenez deserved my criticism. He deserved the negative press. He deserved the boos that were raining down on him every five days. He deserved—at the time—to be taken out of the rotation.
Thank God that Terry Francona saw things differently.
“What can I say? I tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy.”
–Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez (September 2004)
When the Red Sox visited Yankee Stadium in the 2004 playoffs and Pedro Martinez took the mound for the BoSox, the PR staff in the Bronx played the Toby Keith hit Who’s Your Daddy over the loudspeaker. The Detroit Tigers should just probably just play that every time an Indians player comes to bat this weekend.
Face it Cleveland…tip your hat and call the Tigers your daddy.
The slogan for the Cleveland Indians throughout this season has been, “This is a Tribe town.” Commercials have been advertising the slogan to get fans fired up about the Tribe again. The club’s marketing department, however, may have gotten it wrong. Perhaps the slogan should have been, “We refuse to die.”
Several times this year, it appeared a promising season was on the verge of being buried six feet under only for the Tribe to bounce back and get back in the race. It is a testament to new manager Terry Francona and host of scrappy players that the Indians are very much alive in the AL Wild Card race and still within arm’s length of the Tigers in the Central Division standings.
The gradual decline of baseball as America’s Pastime has been a reoccurring topic of discussion amongst those who follow the sport for many years.
Baseball has not been marketed as effectively as the National Football League, which has capitalized on prime time games, a short 16-game schedule, and a bit of parity from the implementation of a salary cap. Baseball is not dominated by highly publicized and paid star athletes and commercial stars, as with the National Basketball Association. Both sports are easier to play and easier to play in small groups. Throw the ball, catch the ball. Pass the ball, shoot the ball. Throw in some defense for good measure.
Baseball, despite inflating contracts and a shadow of the steroid saga still chasing its formerly good name, is more reminiscent of an older day, when things moved more slowly. The decline of baseball has been occasionally linked to the absence of the fathers from the homes of the present, whether it is because of the ever increasing needs of parents to be active members of the work force to generate income for the home, or because of the overall increase in single parent homes throughout the nation.
Although this is Terry Francona’s first year as the Cleveland Indians’ manager, he is far from a stranger to the city or the Tribe.
Mounted on a tricycle outside of the old Commodore Hotel on Euclid Ave., Terry rode back and forth with his mom while his dad, Tito Francona, suited up in Cleveland Stadium.
“I remember I learned to ride a tricycle in Cleveland,” Terry said in an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “We lived in the Commodore Hotel. I had a big red tricycle. I’d get in the elevator with my mom, she’d take me down and I’d ride my trike around Case Western. That’s my first memory of Cleveland,”
By Craig Gifford
If the Indians finish April hovering at the .500 mark or even a little below, many Cleveland fans will likely start getting nervous and wonder if all the offseason acquisitions were worth it. The reality is, there is no need for alarm if a team struggles out of the gate. By the same token, a fast start needs to be met with tempered expectations.
Some fans put a lot of unwarranted meaning toward early season success or failure. The only time that should happen is if a team is really doing poorly.
Take a look at recent years when teams got off to good starts and did not keep it up. The Indians of the past two seasons are a prefect example. They seemed poised to compete for, or win, the American League Central Division title midway through 2011 and 2012. Those campaigns ended with disappointing marks of 80-82 and 68-94, respectively. Needless to say, no playoffs for the Tribe either season and manager Manny Acta was fired for consecutive poor ends to the season. In came Terry Francona, with his two managerial World Series rings, and an upgraded roster for 2013.
By Bob Toth
The Cleveland Indians head north of the border for a three-game set to start the 2013 season against the new look Toronto Blue Jays.
Arguably the two most active and aggressive teams in the offseason in the American League, both organizations surprisingly spent freely throughout the winter months and are looking to impress the league with their new lineups and new (but familiar) leadership within the dugout.
After their similar offseasons, it seems only fitting that the two would face off against one another to open a second straight year.
By Steve Eby
Did you know that the Major League record for inside the park homeruns was held by a former Cleveland Hall of Famer?
The former Cleveland Spider was named Jesse Burkett and was nicknamed “The Crab”, and he hit 55 inside-the-parkers during his Hall of Fame career from 1890-1905. That ridiculous total has to make you wonder if baseball was played back in the 1800’s without fences, outfielders or maybe even 90-foot bases.
Nowadays, records like the one held by The Crab are probably safe forever, but that doesn’t stop baseball people from keeping track of every little detail and statistic from each and every game. Milestones occur so often that we really only take notice when the accomplishment breaks a record or ends in at least two zeroes.
Several Indians on the 2013 team are poised to set their own personal milestones and/or have a chance to pass some names on either baseball’s or the franchise’s all-time list. Some are obviously more impressive than others, but milestones are milestones nevertheless.
It has been too long since there was a buzz around the Cleveland Indians. It has been a refreshing change of pace this offseason and certainly helped to provide some distraction during the winter. Over the course of the last decade and more, the Indians have sat back and watched other teams race to outspend one another to upgrade their clubs while being handcuffed by Cleveland’s small market label and the burdensome contracts of underperforming stars. This season, they did not sit idly by.
Maybe Tribe closer Chris Perez stirred up the pot enough during last season to open up the eyes of the front office brass. The team was just not going to contend amongst the best of the best in the American League without opening up the checkbook a little. Maybe the poor turn out through the turnstiles sent a compelling message. Maybe losing what remaining airtime they had on Cleveland-based sports talk radio shows to the lackluster Cleveland Browns showed them the general disinterest in the once national pastime.
Whatever the reason was, the team spent and spent a lot and appears to be all the better (and more competitive) for it. Maybe the Cleveland Indians are back again.