COMMENTARY | There is a new sense of excitement occurring at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario that has not been felt since the playoff run of 2007. The Cleveland Indians, in just a few short months, have endeared themselves to the public after having an embarrassing second half of 2012. By bringing on arguably the best manager in the game and signing a pair of the top free agents available, Clevelanders are donning their Tribe caps long before the conclusion of spring training.
Suddenly there is a buzz about town that these Indians can be a legitimate contender for the playoffs. The mighty New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox do not appear as strong this year as they have in the past leaving the door wide open for teams to battle it out for division championships and one of the two wild card spots.
Perhaps the biggest move the team made this winter was the hiring of Terry Francona to replace Manny Acta as skipper. It is hard to imagine that the Indians would even have a chance of signing Nick Swisher or Michael Bourn had he not been on boarded at the conclusion of last season. Francona is the caliber of manager that players want to play for, even if the great city of Cleveland is not considered a hot spot for young superstar to call home.
Cleveland was a team that ranked 29 out of 30 teams in attendance last season with just 1,603,496 total fans coming down to Progressive Field. That figure averages out to just 19,797 fans per game. This year the home opener against the Yankees sold out in just six minutes. While it is a game that traditionally draws plenty of fans, the excitement about the team on the street and on social media is higher than it has been for years. That excitement should translate into much higher ticket sales.
Cries of "sell the team Dolan" have been replaced by "Let's go Tribe" throughout town. Tickets are getting harder to come by, which should be thought of as a good thing. A trip to the ballpark should be special, not a discount form of summer entertainment. High energy packed stadiums feed the players on the field. It is about time Cleveland shows some pride, support, and love for their home team this season. It looks to be an exciting ride that is just getting started.
Paul Rados is a Cleveland based freelance writer with a passion for baseball and the Cleveland Indians. Follow him on Twitter @PSRados.
- Sports & Recreation
- Cleveland Indians
- Terry Francona