Tribe Fans Feeling Like It’s 1995
- Updated: June 4, 2011
No one, including the most optimistic fans in Cleveland, thought with the season headed into June, the Indians would be in the discussion of the best teams in baseball. In fact, even employees of the team were saying before the season that they were realistically two years out of contending. To fans, this felt like the same old, tired message coming from a team whose owner didn’t want to pay everyone and whose general manager wanted to trade anyone who wanted to get paid. This has all changed, however, with one simple thing: winning.
With former favorite son LeBron James leading the Miami Heat in the finals and the NFL season looking more and more like it may at the very least be shortened, the Indians are back on the forefront of sports’ fans minds in Cleveland.
One of the secrets for their success this season is manager Manny Acta. Acta was hired before the 2010 season because the front office said he could teach kids how to play the game the right way. Fans in Northeast Ohio rolled their eyes at this concept since most wanted Bobby Valentine and thought he didn’t get the job because he wanted too much money.
Acta has thus far proved to do just what management stated he would. While former manager Eric Wedge had problems bringing up young players, Acta has succeeded where Wedge failed. Wedge seemed to give the players who wouldn’t develop too much time on the field, while sacrificing time for those who still hadn’t been able to show what they could do.
Armed with a load of young talent, and a few veterans signed to small, short-term, contracts, Acta has shown his strengths at managing a line-up and it has led to success in 2011.
A plus for the Indians is that most of their division is not playing very well, so even if they do something like lose five out of six games, they still maintain a decent lead on the field. Many believe the Chicago White Sox to be their biggest threat, but in reality the biggest threat to the Indians is, well, the Indians.
With the team founded in youth, many have wondered how long the Tribe can last with players who have barely played one full season in the Majors. Thus far, the team has been getting contributions from players who they weren’t expecting, but has also seen slumps from some players who they thought would have breakout seasons.
While Asdrubal Cabrera has swung the bat like Roberto Clemente this summer, leading the team in almost all offensive categories, Shin Soo Choo hasn’t picked up where he left off in the 2010 season. Many believed Choo would have a breakout year as he is due to cash in after many years of waiting to get out of his military service requirement in South Korea. Another player who hasn’t started as strong as the Tribe had hoped is catcher Carlos Santana. Santana wowed fans in 2010 with his bat speed and composure behind the plate, but this year he has toiled with an average in the mid-.200 range and has spent much of his time in the field at first base.
While fans are starting to get optimistic, they do not want to get too carried away, as their hearts have been broken so many times in the past. While Josh Tomlin has looked good so far, there is legitimate concern about whether the Indians have a true number one starter as both Fausto Carmona and Justin Masterson seem to struggle more with every outing.
All that being said, there is still a lot of season left to be played, and at least fans are starting to show up to the ballpark to see if the Tribe can hold on to their lead.