Unless you were alive in 1948, the last time the Cleveland Indians won the World Series, you’ve been saying “there’s always next year” for a lot of years. For the Indians, winning it all would be pretty special to break that streak. For the whole city of Cleveland, a city largely the butt of every single sports joke, it would mean so much more.
Over the offseason, Cleveland virtually overhauled the entire system. In early October they signed former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona to be the skipper, and he immediately began to put together a team worthy of a playoff berth. In December, the team signed first baseman Nick Swisher to a multi-year contract. In February, they signed utility man Mike Aviles and power hitter, now hero, Jason Giambi. In the outfield, they scooped up Michael Bourn thanks to a four-year, $48 million contract, and on the mound they had their ace in Ubaldo Jimenez.
On Tuesday, April 2, against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Indians set to go from fourth to first in the division and do a complete 180-degree turn from their 68-94 record in 2012. Cleveland had a proven manager in Francona and had plenty of talent scattered around the diamond. Cleveland got off to a bit of a slow start going 11-13 in April but recovered to go 18-12 in May. Thus far in the month of September, the Indians are 17-6 with an overall record of 88-70, quite a turnaround from a year ago.
As a sports town, or city, Cleveland has had quite a long stretch of heart break. In football, you’ve got “The Drive.” In basketball, just say “LeBron James” and you’ll see people melt with anger on the streets. When it comes to baseball, it’s been one underwhelming season after another except for 2007, the last time they won the AL Central.
If the Indians end up the team hoisting the trophy when all is said and done, you can bet there will be a big party in the clubhouse and an even bigger bash in the streets of Cleveland.