I hear drums, boffins. John Adams' drums, the drums that precede the Indians game broadcasts on WTAM, or possibly just the beating of my heart as it pumps faster and faster in anticipation of The Big Event which will happen less than 24 hours from now.
I bet you hear it now too!
Short recap of the last 6 months: Choo left, and everyone said "Yeah ok." Hafner didn't get picked up and went to New York. Not too sad to see him go (I got to see his last game!) but it does sting a little that he'll be with the bad guys instead of just hanging up his cleats. Of course, I'm sure any baseball player is pretty pumped to put on the pinstripes so we'll give him that.
Terry Francona became our new manager and I was excited from the beginning about that one. Sandy Alomar Jr. was what everyone wanted with their hearts but you all KNOW that Tito is the choice from the brain. And we totally TOTALLY won by keeping Sandy on the team. How awesome is that?!
We kept Chris Perez and Asdrubal Cabrera, which to ME is the most exciting part of the off-season. I accidentally made my way to the MLB Trade Rumors site one day before everything settled and I swear I gave myself nightmares. Crisis averted and I read in an article that Asdrubal hopes to stay in Cleveland indefinitely. Perhaps he is just full of puffery but my dreams have been all cotton candy and fresh-cut grass since then.
Signings from the fall and early winter were pretty "meh." Mike Aviles seemed like the best we could do. Trevor Bauer was kind of exciting but also sort of scary. Drew Stubbs filled the Choo hole but only really garnered "good enough?" excitement. But then out of nowhere - Nick Swisher! Michael Bourn! If anyone had any sort of feelings left for Choo, those feelings flew out the window when we realized our outfield was just one runner shy of an Olympic-speed relay team - Brantley, Bourn, Stubbs.
The infield this year isn't just the El Hoover at short and the Dirt Devil at second, but now we've got a legit firstie in Nick Swisher (O-H-I-O!) and according to Spring Training, Lonnie Chisenhall is going to be the guy to watch this year (other than Michael Brantley, but you knew that). He's looking tight at third and he's crazy at the plate. CRAZY. AT. THE. PLATE.
A word on Mike Aviles - I didn't really think about him much as an acquisition, but then I saw him speak at the Fan Fest and I'm sold. I'm now sold on the idea of a utility infielder to add a layer of protection to our awesome infield. Plus, Aviles seems to fit in seamlessly with Vinnie and Kipnis, personality-wise and any team can use more Vinnie-Kipnises. Plus, Aviles really shone during that World Baseball Classic thing.
Speaking of the WBC, Carlos Santana also had a good spring with his team, the Dominican Republic. He swatted 2 homers and walked NINE times to help lead his team to world domination. Aviles, by the way, batted .323 during the tournament. Carlos can always use improvement behind the plate (and a little more concentration AT the plate) but I'll guarantee you Sandy will not let this boy give up.
Dice-K and Jason Giambi also vied for a spot on our team this spring. Weird, right? Giambi made the 40-man roster but, well, is it bad that I laugh that he's on the DL with back pain?
I'm not going to talk about pitching because it's nowhere near as exciting as our hitting and defense. I'm hoping we'll be giving everyone tons and tons of run support as they work their way to greatness. Amen.
Real quick about Fan Fest: After me finally making it out to the mall last winter and coming up with a solid plan on how to beat the crowd and get some autographs, they totally switched it up on me and decided to throw the bash down in the basement of The Prog.
What I liked about this year's Fan Fest: Touring the facilities, most of all the locker room. After going through Wrigley Field it was super interesting to see the 90-year difference in facilities. It was neat just being in a different part of the ballpark than usual. I also liked that there was more stuff to do than at the mall. At the mall, you had to just stand in line while not being able to hear the guys on stage, and then eventually you got an autograph. At this one they had guys on stage the whole time, plus photos with players and autographs and all sorts of other junk to do.
There was a lot of stuff I didn't like about it. A lot. I didn't even come close to getting an autograph or a photo. I guess the first day they had so many people waiting in line that a ton of folks stood in line only to be turned away after an hour. The second day (when I was there) you had to sign up for a spot in line, which kept people from standing in line and THEN being disappointed. My disappointment was swift.
It also sucked that you had to pay for the event (kids are free tho) then had to pay to park. They did have discount ballpark food, but also by the second day the radio stations closed up their booths and stopped giving out free swag.
I did get a swell block-C magnet and some sort of t-shirt, so that was cool.
All in all I can't complain. The problem was there were too many people there and I can't complain that too many people PAID to come out and see some Tribe stuff in the middle of winter. That was awesome, I love that sort of fan support. LOVE IT! And I loved that I got to ask Vinnie some questions - Jim Rosenhaus let me ask two questions, one provided by him (he sort of set me up, as it was a stupid question about Kipnis living with Vinnie in Goodyear).
I also got to see Rosie's son, who was there as a fan. And he's a dorky, gawky pre-teen who is probably going to grow up to be some sort of baseball player-slash-model or something. But for now he is what you imagine Jim Rosenhaus's son to be, thick glasses and braces. AWESOME.
A few other random notes:
- A girl from Cleveland, Alex Justice, made it to the Fan Cave. I voted for her, she seems like a pretty awesome fan! Positive Tribe Approved! Here's her Twitter feed, you'll have to keep an eye on her this summer.
- I was Tweeting a bit with Rosie during the night games this spring. I kept making him laugh and he read my tweets on air. Gotta remember that for next spring! Fun times!
- Did you sign up for the Tribe Fan Club? I sign up every year to get my MLB Radio subscription paid for. There's more to it than that, and some day I'll delve into it. But - sign up!
- I mentioned on Twitter, to the Indians, that it was kind of skeevy weird to have the Indians.com site background feature (and ONLY show) Terry Francona and Nick Swisher. See below:
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the new guys and we should all be excited that they're here - but I'm not too hip to hero worship (shut up Asdrubal is not my hero, he is just dang good). I don't like the idea of one guy saving us all. Tito will lead a whole team of talented players to a winning season, no doubt, and Nick Swisher will be their cheerleader and first baseman. But to leave everyone out like that is just...I dunno, it makes me quite upset.
You should mention it to the @Indians (or Indians) if you think it's weird too, and want to see some of your favorites up there. They do change that background a few times during the season.
Ok, now that we've had this chat, I am all ready to go! I've literally been "training" these last few weeks to make sure I can get out of work, get to the gym and get to my seat by 7 every night. It will be dicey but really what the heck else do I have to do with my life? The key to my success lies in getting a shower radio, I think. I'll let you know.
Tomorrow night, 7:05 in Toronto. See you there!