CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Francisco Lindor didn’t just run around the bases. He bounced. He hopped. He skipped. He saluted his teammates in the dugout. He threw his hands in the air in jubilation.
He showed off the youthful enthusiasm that has made him one of baseball’s brightest young and exciting stars. And he did it all while representing the city of Cleveland in the most delightful way possible.
What can’t this kid do?
Lindor came up big for the Indians on Friday night, providing the difference on offense by clubbing a two-run homer off Toronto starter Marco Estrada in the bottom of the sixth to give his club a 2-0 lead in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
Cleveland would never surrender that edge, emerging victorious and taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, using the clutch long ball and tremendous pitching to bring home the win.
The big moment contributed by Lindor surprised no one in the Indians dugout.
“Shoot, if I had his ability, I’d feel confident, too,” manager Terry Francona said. “On the baseball field, that’s where he’s most comfortable. And you can tell he’s enjoying himself. And what’s probably even better is as good a player he is, he’s probably a better kid.
“That’s saying something.”
Will this year’s playoffs serve as Lindor’s coming out party? Not if you ask his teammates, who have been watching the 22-year-old shortstop make big plays and get massive hits all season long.
“He should already be broken out,” reliever Andrew Miller said. “I’ve played in Boston and New York where it doesn’t take much for guys to turn into stars just because of the media presence. Here in Cleveland, maybe he doesn’t get quite the attention, but he deserves more than he’s getting.”
Maybe that will soon change.
If he wasn’t a household name entering the 2016 postseason, he is quickly becoming one. And it is his excitement and energy, in addition to his tremendous talent offensively and defensively, which has helped lift his teammates throughout the campaign.
“You can see, he’s always smiling,” catcher Roberto Perez said. “That’s a good thing.”
But being the entire package goes beyond Lindor’s immense talent. Take his shoes in Game 1 of the ALCS, for instance.
How can footwear show how much he embraces his team and his city?
Written in gold across his red and blue Under Armour cleats was “BelieveLand,” a combination of the word believe and the name of the city in which he plays, Cleveland.
What made the growing star choose to wear shoes with the phrase recently made popular by Cleveland sports fans?
“I believe in my team,” Lindor said. “I believe in my city. And it’s cool. It’s cool shoes, and I believe. I believe in my team. I believe in what we have, the glory is God’s. We’re just trying to do our thing.”
That sound you currently hear is the entire city of Cleveland swooning over their talented shortstop. And now, thanks to big postseason moments like Friday’s, the entire nation is getting a chance to learn what Cleveland already does and the dynamic shortstop.
The stage isn’t too big. The lights certainly aren’t too bright.
Francisco Lindor is the real deal.
“He’s a star,” Miller said. “He deserves all the credit he gets. He deserves more, honestly.”
That’s really only a matter of time.