CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – For Cleveland residents and more so for baseball fans, opening day for the Indians at Progressive Field may as well be a local holiday.
It’s not uncommon to see folks walking around the various downtown hot spots by 9-10 in the morning, making the opener vs the Yankees which starts at 4:05pm an all-day event.
The opener this year has been long awaited, as it’s the first time that Tribe fans can see the likes of Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, and Mark Reynolds in an Indians uniform at home.
Not to mention that it will be a homecoming for manager Terry Fracnona, as while he’s donned an Indians managers outfit for six games on the road, putting it on at home will be extra special, a place where his father Tito played and had the best year of his career.
This Indians team also has something behind it that it seems teams the past few years didn’t – money and an infusion of solid Major League talent. This is not to say that there was some talented players in the past few years, but this year this team appears different.
Swisher, a hometown kid who seems is always smiling and embracing the moment 24 hours a day. Bourn, a speedy center fielder that reminds Indians fans of Kenny Lofton, and an All-Star with the Braves a season ago.
Reynolds, a guy who can mash with the likes of anyone, and has shown it already this season with a towering homer in extra innings of game two, and two more Sunday in the 13-0 win over the Rays.
Drew Stubbs, a speedy right fielder who is eager to prove that last season his down year with the Reds was a fluke, and he can put together a solid year with the Indians.
Then there’s the pitching staff, already with a starter (Scott Kazmir) on the DL, but it seems with plenty of potential, as shown in the two starts already for ace Justin Masterson.
Masterson already has done something no Major Leaguer has ever done – beat two CY Young award winners from the year before in a span of six days. He bested last year’s NL CY Young award winner R.A. Dickey opening night in Toronto, and Sunday beat last year’s AL CY Young award winner in David Price.
Behind him is Ubaldo Jimenez, who is in a free agent year, and wants to show the Indians that last season when he led the American League in losses was not really who he is on the mound.
He was very good in a no-decision vs the Jays last Wednesday, and will have a shot with a sold out crowd behind him today to again prove that last season is well in the past.
Embrace this day Indians fans, it’s one that you have been waiting a long time for. The Yankees are in town, the Tribe is coming home after a solid 3-3 trip in which they hit, got shut down twice, and then exploded Sunday.
Things might not go perfect during the afternoon Monday, but have faith that for the first time in a long time, this team is on the right track, and has players and a manager that are not just happy to be competitive – they want to win.
With the talent up and down the roster, if they can manage to get some starting pitching to help – there’s no reason this years Indians team can’t be a special one fans are talking about once the NFL season starts in early September.