Why I Keep Cheering On the Indians

Not many people have given the Cleveland Indians a chance this season and while the team has won a couple a in a row, the team has had its ugly moments early on in the season. With a roster full of young players just breaking into the Major Leagues, the Indians may not be a contender but still have a following with die-hard fans. Times might not be the greatest for Indians fans but I can’t help but be apart of the die-hard fans who will follow and cheer the team on no matter what.

The Indians have been picked to finish last by many sports writers and analysts throughout the nation. Not many have given the Indians a chance to win and probably would wonder why anyone would cheer this team on. These people have picked the Indians to finish last and have written negative articles about the team but the reason I keep watching is because of the love and memories I developed around the team growing up.

Growing up with some of the great Indians teams of the mid-90s, it was impossible for a young and aspiring fan like me to not like the team. The Indians were loaded with great personalities like Omar Vizquel, Dennis Martinez, Carlos Baerga, Jim Thome and Sandy Alomar to name a few and best of all, the team was winning. It had been a long time since the city of Cleveland had a winning baseball team and there was no better time to become an Indians fan as the team made its way to several Central Division Championships and two trips to the World Series. Rooting for these teams was exciting and I will never forget the joy I had of watching each and every game during that time.

In addition to having a steady line of great Indians teams to root for growing up, some of my favorite memories have involved Indians players. In 1996, my father took me to a father-son Indians day camp in which I got to meet Indians coaches Toby Harrah, Dave Nelson, Mark Wiley, and Charlie Manuel (yes, that Charlie Manuel who has taken the Philadelphia Phillies to two World Series). To top off the day, Sandy Alomar and Omar Vizquel, considered to be two of the most popular players on the Indians at that time, came out at the end of the day and signed autographs for everyone. The kindness these two players who showed towards the fans is something I will never forget and further solidified my love for the team. This and getting various autographs at games from Kenny Lofton and Ellis Burks has helped made me a die-hard fan for the team.

Over the past several summers, I’ve had the opportunity to see several Indians games in Progressive Field and some of my favorite memories have occurred in that stadium. I was there the night that Billy Traber, a young prospect for the Indians at the time, one-hit the New York Yankees and will never forget how much fun my friend Greg and I had cheering him on as he shut down one of the best teams in baseball at the time. Several of the games I witnessed in the mid-90s involved incredible comebacks and Interleague Series. I’ve gotten to see several great players come to Cleveland to play against the Indians for Interleague play such as Sammy Sosa when he was with the Cubs, Curt Schilling when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks (my sister and I saw him destroy the Indians with seats behind home plate. It was hard watching the Indians get pounded that day but Michelle and I still are amazed at how talented Schilling was at the time), and Albert Pujols from the St. Louis Cardinals. The great moments I have witnessed inside Progressive Field along with the great players who have come to play against the Indians has provided incredible memories for me and makes it hard for me to let go of my love for the team.

As I walked into Progressive Field on Wednesday night, the crowd was sparse and the Indians struggled but I couldn’t help but want them to win. Similar to Tom Hank’s line in A League of Their Own (no, not the “advice” he wrote on the baseball for the kid towards the end of the movie) in which his character Jimmy Dugan said, “baseball is what gets inside of you”, the love I developed through watching the Indians as a kid and going to Progressive Field  is what pushes inside me to keep cheering the team on.


~ by jeffrsabo on April 17, 2010.

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