“The Rise of Frankie Lindor”

“I think Frankie’s a really intelligent young man and he loves playing baseball. I think he has enjoyed what has come with it – which he should. As long as he handles what he has to handle at the ballpark – which he does amazingly well for a young kid – it works.” – Terry Francona (Indians Manager)

Francisco Lindor plays the game the way you want your own kids to play: with love. His smile lights up the room and his play lights up Progressive Field. Let’s wind the clock back to October of 2015. Francisco was in attendance watching a Mets /Dodgers playoff game. Within the time frame of the game Lindor began to envision his quest and ultimately his goal: to win a championship.

Lindor burst on to the scene in June of 2015. He finished the 2015 season with a .313 batting average, 12 home runs, 51 RBI, 12 stolen bases and 22 doubles in 99 games for the Indians. He would also finish 2nd in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting. Fans began to take notice to the amount of energy and enjoyment he brought to the clubhouse and the field. The Indians have had a winning record since Lindor was brought up. His glove work is drawing some comparisons to the great Omar Vizquel.

In 2016, Lindor would continue to elevate his game to new heights. Lindor would make his first all-star appearance, finish in the top 10 in just about every single defensive category, hit .301 with 15 home runs, 78 RBI, and 99 runs in 158 games. As much as Lindor was filling the stat sheet, himself, along with his teammates had their eyes set on the bigger prize.

The Indians would capture their first division crown since 2007. In the first round of the playoffs Lindor and the tribe would sweep the heavily favored Red Sox. In game one of that series Lindor would cap off the signature moment of the series when he along with Roberto Perez and Jason Kipnis all homered simultaneously off the eventual Cy Young winner Rick Porcello. Lindor did not have a great series having only 3 hits in 12 AB.

Then came the ALCS and the Toronto Blue Jays. Lindor again would come through with his bat. Game One, bottom of the 6th Lindor would launch a two run homer giving the tribe the lead and eventually the win. Lindor would go on to have a solid series hitting .368 with 7 hits including that huge game one homer. The Indians would go on to defeat the Blue Jays in 5 games to capture their first AL pennant since 97′.

Now that Lindor was closer to seeing his goal coming true, standing in his way was his close friend and fellow Puerto Rican native Javier Baez and the Chicago Cubs. Lindor would again come up big in game one as he totaled 3 hits and the Indians would blank the Cubs 6-0. We all know what followed, the Indians would build a 3-1 lead only to see the Cubs comeback and win a thrilling game 7 for the ages. Though Lindor and the tribe would fall short, they’re now understanding what it will take to win it all.

Lindor will continue to be a major centerpiece for the Indians franchise. For years it seemed like the Indians had been missing something. Yes, one of those was a right handed power hitter. Enter Edwin Encarnacion. But really, the Indians had been missing that one player that could help inject life to not only the team but to a fan base. Ladies and gentlemen I submit to you that one man: Francisco Lindor.

 

Will the Attendance Spike in 2017?

A few years back Indians owner Larry Dolan made statements about the attendance. Maybe Dolan was failing to realize the fact that Indians have been mostly terrible under his ownership. The number 455 that was retired was because the fans flocked to the ballpark to a see a winner. Larry Dolan wants those same results. The keyword in all of this is: winning. Yes, the Indians did come off an incredible postseason run that fell short of the ultimate goal. Not to be a debbie-downer but that’s just one year.

Consistency is the key to having great attendance. If your team is playing like crap you will get crappy attendance results. For instance, take the Chicago Blackhawks, who were once labeled as one of the worst franchises in all of sports. Over-time the Hawks put a great front office together, hired a top-level head coach, and drafted franchise players. All of that culminated with 3 Stanley Cups since 2010 and multiple years of home sell-outs. What was the key part of all of the above? Winning.

What I’ve seen recently from the Indians much like other teams, instead of just trying to sell season tickets, but creating other unique package plans that are more affordable for the fans. Weekend home games I do not sense will be a problem. It’s really the weekday games where a lot of teams struggle in-terms of attendance. Due to the fact a lot of people work and prefer to watch it at home on television for free or just the fact that a lot fans work at night. So your really can’t blame the weekday crowds.

Judging by what I have seen from social media sites is that there is a lot of buzz surrounding the Indians that has not been seen in years. The team is being picked by many to not only return to the playoffs but to the World Series as well. My prediction is that I believe the Indians will exceed over 2 million fans this year.

By the Numbers:

In 2016 the Tribe averaged 19,650 fans per game. Which was 13th out 15th in the AL.

The Tribe has not broke over 2 million fans since 2008.

The Tribe has not broke over 3 million fans since 2001.

From 1996 to 2001 The Tribe had over 3 millions fans on average.

These stats were from: http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/CLE/attend.shtml

My Top 5 Indians Moments in the Jacobs/Progressive Field Era

I could help but finding myself reading this article where two writers gave their own top 10 moments in the era of Jacobs/Progressive field. I could not understand for the life of me when one of them had Tony Pena’s ALDS walk-off homer in 1995 as his number 1 moment. So I went back to the vault to try to remember my favorite moments. I would’ve really needed a top 10 list, but I decided to go with a top 5 to keep short and sweet. As Indians fans we’ve been treated to such indelible moments even without that elusive World Series victory. Maybe 2017 we will be talking differently. Anyways here is my top 5 Indians moments in Jacobs/Progressive Field era starting with number 5….. 

 

  1. The Indians 3-homer barrage: Against the Red Sox 2016 ALDS Game 1. 

It was my first ever Tribe playoff game. I was there in attendance with my girlfriend. It was almost like the scene in Rudy, where Rudy’s father walks into Notre Dame Stadium saying “This is the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen.” That’s kind of how I felt. Anyways to the moment. It was the third-inning the Tribe needed to get something. Roberto Perez started off the inning hitting a rocket to right field to get the tribe on the board, two batters later Jason Kipnis hit-a-know-doubt-about-it shot to right center, and happy boy Francisco Lindor capped off the wild inning with a homer to right to send the crowd into hysteria. I will never forget it. And to see it live is something I will remember for the rest of my life.  

  1. The Comeback: Indians beat Mariners 15-14. 

I remember this like it was yesterday. Living in Illinois I often did not get a chance to watch the Indians play that much. There was no such thing as MLB.TV back then. So anytime the Indians played on ESPN it was like Christmas. So as many of you know how this unfolded, the Mariners would build up an insane double digit lead, only for them to see it evaporate. Where this story get’s interesting is the fact I missed the entire comeback. During the 3rd inning I had shut the game off and went to bed. My dad woke me up at damn near midnight saying “Blake you have to come see this,” I replied with “what?” He said “you really need to see this.” So I hurled myself into the living room in-time to see Kenny Lofton sliding home for the game winning run. I was shaking my head. I deserved to have my Indians fan card pulled that night.  

  1. The Clinch: Indians Clinch the AL Central Division Title in 1995. 

I don’t remember this game that much. I was only in elementary school when it had happened. But I know how much this moment was felt by the entire fan base. My Uncle Dave told me that he cried the night the Indians clinched the division against the Baltimore Orioles. It was the Tribes first division crown in 41 years. 1995 was a year that nobody will never forget.  

  1. Raji miracle two run blast: Davis’ two-run blast in Game 7 of World Series. 

I don’t think we will ever see a game 7 of a World Series that produced as much drama as the one that unfolded last year between our beloved Tribe and the boys from Northside of Chicago. Trailing 6 to 4 the Tribe had Brandon Guyer on second following his RBI double to cut the deficit to 2. Coming to the plate was Raji Davis. On the mound was that flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman. Davis would channel his inner-Pedro Cerrano and saying “F*** You Jobu, I do it myself.” Davis would hit a missile just clearing the left field wall, striking the camera in the process, sending Progressive Field into a madhouse, and giving every Cubs fan a heart attack. The Erie warriors would fall short as the Cubs went on to win in extra-innings. Game 7 of the 2016 World Series would go down as one of the greatest games ever played.  

  1. Sandy Alomar to the Rescue: Sandy Alomar’s homer off Rivera in 1997.  

To me a lot of fans will say how can Sandy Alomar’s homer off “The Sandman” Mariano Rivera in game 4 of the 1997 ALDS topple Raji’s homer. Well for one, the Indians would go on to win the game and the series. The situation was kind of similar to the Raji Davis homer. It was bottom of the 8th. Tribe was trailing 2 to 1 to the defending World Series champs. The Yankees opted to bring Rivera early, just like the Cubs did with Chapman. Sandy Alomar was clutch all throughout 1997. Sandy Alomar’s homer sent the crowd into so much of a frenzy that even Kyle Schwarber lover Joe Buck even stated ” That was as loud as I have ever heard a ballpark.” That team was special and just as much as the 2016 was amazing the 1997 Indians were a mere two outs away from winning the title before a certain individual failed to do his job.   

2017 Indians vs. 90’s Indians; 2017 Is Better

Ok along with myself and many Tribe fans out there I still have a bitter taste in my mouth from last November. Seeing the Cubs celebrate on Progressive Field in a stadium that looked like a neutral site college football game is still haunting to me. What is different now from in years’ past is the anticipation that is surrounding this team. Many Tribe fans believe that this really could be the year the Indians can break through and with good reason.

Let’s remember a few things: 1. The tribe made it all the way to the World Series without Carrasco, Salazar, and Brantley. 2. The Indians did have a 3-1 lead, which tells us that they were good enough to nearly get the job the done. 3. This team is getting better and that is the reason for the optimism. So I know the title of this article reads ” The 2017 Indians better than the 90’s ?” I know a lot of Tribe fans will tell me to pump the brakes but hear me out, this team from top to bottom can be, if not better than those fantastic 90’s teams that fell short of that ultimate prize. Here is why…………………….

Pitching

Yes, names like Dennis Martinez, Charles Nagy, Chad Ogea, and who can forget “The Bulldog” Orel Hershsier will bring back some great memories of Tribes past. Let’s be real honest here for a second,  those guys were outstanding but this pitching staff that the Tribe bolsters now is better. Dennis Martinez and Hershsier were at the tale end of their careers when they got to Cleveland. Chad Ogea and Charles Nagy would be the 4th and 5th starters on this current team. Kluber is in his prime right now and Carrasco and Salazar are not too far behind. Bauer can be reliable when he has all of his fingers, and Tomlin pitched well in postseason until that rough outing in game 6 of the World Series. Also, let’s not forget the former number 1 overall pick Brady Aiken is lurking in the farm system along with ALCS  game 5 hero Ryan Merritt.

The bullpen from the 90s versus 2017 is a no contest. This 2017 bullpen may very well be the best bullpen in Indians history. My god and heavens the performance this pen put together last year in the postseason was nothing short of spectacular. With names like Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Dan Otero, and how in the world can we forget “Bullpen Jesus”, “Miller Time” Andrew Miller. The bullpen looked virtually un-hittable at times. 90’s bullpen and some guys that were decent but if your going to ask myself or any other Indians fan if you had to choose between Jose Mesa or Andrew Miller closing the door, they will laugh and walk away from you.

Defense

Yes it’s really hard to compete against Omar, Kenny, and Sandy for how great they were. But this unit now as a whole is in-fact better. Thome, Belle and Ramirez where not great defenders, though they could hit the ball a mile. The defense now boasts one of if not the best 2B/SS combinations in all of baseball in Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis. Now, Lindor may not have the flash that Omar had but he is getting there and Lindor is a much better hitter than Omar. Though the Indians did have Roberto Alomar and Carlos Baerga for short stint I believe Kipnis is the better team player.  Michael Brantley is a quality outfielder along with Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naqiun. Many Tribe fans still have their heart set with Sandy, but you can’t go wrong with the defensive play of Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez.

Unity

Yes a weird way to compare these two different generations of teams. Unity is huge when it comes to not just baseball but in all of sports. Those 90’s teams had a lot of individual stars who eventually bolted for more money instead of sticking together and fighting through the adversity. That’s where this Indians team is different. You see how much these guys love and enjoy one another. Not saying that those 90’s teams didn’t. You just see it more with this team. You feel as if this team now handles adversity well. And I firmly believe that this team may have “IT” and whatever “IT” is will take this team to where those great 90’s team couldn’t. That is to a championship.