The request we're sending to bloggers of all 30 teams this spring is a simple one: What are the 10 best things about being a fan of your favorite team? What features of the franchise have you excited for opening day and what keeps you coming back year after year?
As if Larry Doby, Fritz Peterson as the starting pitcher on Ten Cent Beer Night, Bob Feller and Alex Cole weren't reason enough to love the Tribe, here are 10 more high points to rooting for the Wahoos, listed in no particular order.
1. Your dad's beer: In lieu of a winning baseball team, cheap beer's not a bad alternative. To their credit, the Indians have exhibited a creative streak in ancillary amenities to nurse fans through games. (That tends to become important when you subject said fans to the occasional outfield ballet of Shelley Duncan and Matt LaPorta.)
And nothing is more deliciously nursed than a Blatz, Pabst, Stroh's, Genessee or Schaefer. Especially at only $4.50 a pop. Sure, there's something elementally wrong about plunking down a five spot for one of those old-time brews, but it's a comparative ballpark bargain and the one spot to hit at Jacobs Field if you're having more than one.
2. "Major League": True story: After the Indians flamed out of the 2007 ALCS against the Red Sox after holding a 3-1 series lead, I called off work the very next day and watched "Major League" in my pajamas. It was a comforting and pathetic exercise made slightly more pathetic by watching it a second time later in the day.
Indians fans will always have the timeless Hollywood classic, a world where we revel in a magical winning season without being fed a far-fetched fiction where the Indians win the World Series. Ricky Vaughn and company are the perfect bubble, and for 107 minutes we get to live in it with zero danger of it being popped, even in movieland. Consider it Wahoos' hyperbolic chamber of happiness.
3. Manny Acta's Twitter Account: More generally: Manny Acta himself. I mean, the guy doesn't mind a warm embrace with Slider. What's not to love?
But his Twitter account, if you had to pick one personality trait that has nothing to do with managing a baseball game, is worthy of note. Each morning, you'll get his recommendation for '80s song of the day. After wins, the Tribe skipper will send out a pic of the victory cigar he's smoking. And English-language tweet is followed by one en-español for his Spanish-speaking followers. Full service.
4. The '90s revival: It might not have been the Bash Brothers or Murderer's Row, but hot damn if the end of the 20th century wasn't a fine time to be alive and be a Tribe fan. Even as a Cleveland faithful, sometimes even I shake my head remembering that time when Jacobs Field was in its infancy and the Indians were trotting out Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle, Sandy Alomar Jr., Kenny Lofton and Omar Vizquel. It's also mind boggling they never won a World Series together.
An astounding 454 sellouts in a row. Dennis Eckersley mouthing, "Wow!" after a young Manny took him deep. Albert Belle flexing his biceps in the dugout after sending a bomb to the bleachers in the wake of the corked bat incident. Lofton scoring from second on a passed ball in Seattle. Heady times.
Those guys gave a whole new wave of Tribe fans at least one happy baseball memory to tuck away in the memory bank for the droughts — times when, say, Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia are traded away in back-to-back years.
And the '90s are experiencing a comeback of sorts. Alomar is a bench coach with the Tribe, Thome took a hat-waving goodbye swing through Jacobs Field in a short stint with the Indians last year, and a couple of '90s mainstays — Hargrove, Lofton, Carlos Baerga — got together during spring training this year to reminisce. Some old guy named Albert even showed up to see if they wanted to grab a 4 p.m. dinner at Longhorn and maybe play canasta afterward.
Manny was a favorite of the bunch, naturally. Manny Being Manny stories still float around. There's the apocryphal one about the towel and the toilet, but my personal favorite involves 100 chickens, his first house in Cleveland after being drafted by the Indians, and a phone call to Dick Jacobs.
5. Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo: The golden trio at the heart of the Tribe's lineup is something to behold. Silver Slugger in Cabrera. On-base machine with two steel-plated, XBH-bashing arms in Santana. And Choo — while underwhelming during a 2011 season that saw him collared for a DUI, on the DL with a broken finger, and mentally off at the plate because, geez, the guy had a few things going on and he thought he brought shame to his home country — is still Choo, just hopefully the original version of Choo, not the booze-addled one with deep-seated regret issues.
6. Learning anatomy lessons from Grady Sizemore: No, this is not a joke about that incident. It's the yearly medical intro class Cleveland fans are enrolled in, automatically and free of charge. Who wants to learn about sports hernia? How about surgeries on nerves in the back? Dying to learn what can go wrong with your knees? Perfect. Buy a Sizemore jersey and wait for the injury updates.
The former All-Star center fielder is sidelined until July. The over/under is six games played once he comes back before Travis Hafner accidentally pokes him in the eye while playing Guitar Hero a little too enthusiastically.
7. Tom Hamilton: Opinion among Indians fans is split on Tribe radio man Tom Hamilton. Plenty of folks think he's overly exaggerated, especially on home run calls, and suffers from some saccharine hokeyness. I beg to differ, but I also tend to agree with what Joe Posnanski wrote in his tribute to previous Tribe announcer Herb Score: "With the weather, your mother's spaghetti and meatballs and baseball announcers, quality is beside the point."
But in addition to being my hometown announcer, Hammy is also good. Very good. I get goosebumps listening to his call of Travis Hafner's walk-off grand slam last year every time I hear it. You may disagree; I don't care.
8. The Bullpen Mafia: 162 is a slog. We'll back-burner the dissection of righty/lefty splits, Chris Perez's closer approximation to a guy named Chris Perez or Bob Wickman than "Pure Rage" Chris Perez, the biennial yo-yo-ing of the bullpen's performance, and do two things:
First, hope and pray that the Tribe bullpen is as effective and reliable as it was last year. Second, simply appreciate the levity the core group — Perez, Vinnie Pestano, Rafael Perez, Joe Smith, and Tony Sipp — bring to the season and directly to the fans online.
The nickname, if you didn't know, came from where all good things come these days: Twitter. All relievers were out in the Twitterverse and someone said hey, you guys are like a little mafia. Thus the name.
Incidentally, Twitter users also suggested nicknames for Matt LaPorta, though none of them are printable. Plus none of them topped the suggestion of "MaTola," which came unintentionally via Ozzie Guillen, that fount of profundity.
9. The Heritage: There's every reason... scratch that. There's many reasons... Um. There's occasional reason to be optimistic about the Tribe's future.
Regardless, it's life-affirming to know the Tribe has one of the most storied histories in all of baseball. Larry Doby, Bob Feller, Fritz Peterson on Ten Cent Beer Night, and Alex Cole are just the beginning.
Give me Frank Robinson as the first black manager in baseball and Jason Grimsley crawling through the ceiling of a White Sox umpire's room to steal Albert Belle's corked bat. Give me Ray Chapman (buried in beautiful and historic Lake View Cemetery right here in Cleveland) and give me Chuck Finley stabbed with a high-heel shoe by his wife. Give me the all-red unis and the 1921 "Worlds Champions" jersey.
Give me the most historic comeback in baseball history. (That link lets you relive the game via the radio play-by-play, by the way.)
The list goes on and on and on, so I'll stop myself here.
10. You can go and sit close for like $10: The only real upside to losing is that Cleveland, while a diehard baseball town, is a fickle lover when it comes to actually showing up. Combine that with some good, old-fashioned Rust Belt recession and you have yourself a recipe for tons of deals on tickets (lots and lots of free ones float around courtesy of season-ticket holders who rarely go) and a bunch of open seats.
So show up, grab your Shaeffer, and walk on down through the lower level until you find a suitable resting place.
What are your favorite things about being an Indians fan?
Previous "10 Best Things": Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Francisco Giants,Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, New York Mets, Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays
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