Edited by Tommy Parrill (@DearTommy)
If you are a consistent reader of this blog, you have probably figured out that baseball season is my favorite time of the year. The only problem with that, is that I am a Cleveland Indians fan. Ever since I went to my first game when I was five years old, I was hooked. Growing up, I wanted to be Jim Thome and I would even wear my Tribe hat a little crooked to the left just like C.C. Sabathia does. Win or lose, I was proud to cheer for my Indians. For the last few years, it is safe to say that the Indians have struggled a bit…ok, they sucked. Ever since Cleveland was one game away from the World Series in 2007, it has been one disappointment after another, except for the first half of 2010 and I am pretty sure that was a mirage. I started to get a little hope after Cleveland went out and hired Terry Francona as their manager and signed Mark Reynolds, Nick Swisher, Brett Myers & Michael Bourn. I couldn’t wait for baseball season to start, but from past experiences with this team, I have learned not to get my hopes up, and I had been able to hold off on my excitement. That is, until yesterday happened.
The Tribe was down 7 to 6 in the bottom of the 9th with two outs to the Seattle Mariners. Their dominant closer, Tom Wilhelmsen, missed a simple toss from first baseman, Justin Smoak, to step on the first base bag and record the final out. Because of the miss, Jason Kipnis scored the tying run from third and sent the game into extra innings. Even with the Indians down 8-7 in the bottom of the 10th, the Tribe still found a way to win the game as Yan Gomes hit a 3-run game winning home run to left. It took a 19-4 record over the last 23 games and leading the league in homeruns and slugging percentage to finally give me the feeling that something special might be happening at the corner of Carnegie & Ontario. Trust me, I still have my doubts and we haven’t reached the All-Star break yet, but after the actions that occurred yesterday, it is like the baseball gods may have made their way back to Cleveland.
Chances are that Wilhelmsen will not make an error like that again this season, but it is more than a little error that has given Tribe fans something to cheer for. Mark Reynolds is one of the league leaders in homeruns and RBI’s, Justin Masterson is pitching like Justin Verlander (who the Indians already beat this season), Nick Swisher is adding a spark plug to the team on and off the field, and Terry Francona is managing this group like a master of minds would. If you are a true Indians fan, you should be in such shock of what this team has done so far that you probably find yourself pinching your arm just to make sure this is real. We have been tricked before, but there is something different about this team. A group of ball players that love to play the game are buying into the system from a guy in Francona that is a proven winner in the big leagues. The combo of Francona, the powerful Tribe offense and FINALLY some consistent pitching from Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez, has been the recipe for something special to come back to the Jake.
I understand that all of this could come crashing down at any given moment, but as an Indian’s fan, let me have this one! Whether you want to buy into this ride or not, you’ve got to admit that it has been fun to watch and if the Tribe can keep this up after the All-Star break, then the mirage from 2010 may become a reality in 2013. Last but not least, ROLL TRIBE!