2. Outfielder Michael Brantley is locked in on a contract and is looking better than ever. He'll bat .300 this year. He's got a penchant for getting hits when there's runners on base and also getting hits when there's two outs. This spring he struck out twice in 50 at-bats and his batting average was .500. They call him Dr. Smooth.Yep.
3. Yan Gomes, the league's first Brazilian player and surprise break-out in 2013, is our everyday catcher now. They just signed him to a 6-year contract, too. In 2013 he was amongst the top in the league for catchers in a lot of stats even though he only made 85 appearances.
4. Jason Kipnis is our man. He's out there on Twitter, he has his own little meme shirt, and in 2013 he was an All-Star second baseman in his sophomore season. The team does well when Kipnis does well and the kid is out there grinding every day so he's just a joy to watch and a joy to claim as our own. Also, I recently realized that he looks like a young Yogi Berra, so now we can imagine what he might look like as an old man - a cuddly raisin.
5. Asdrubal Cabrera has been my favorite Indian since the moment I first saw him in 2007. He's just a dang miracle worker out there at short, one of the Tribe's most exciting players since Omar Vizquel. In 2011 he started taking a bit of a dip down in effectiveness at the plate - but he also played 151 games that year and he was plain burnt out. He has never really stopped being fun to watch in the field. This year he's back once again slimmer and stronger than years previous. He's also playing for his future. He either needs to play hard and get himself kept on the team with Francisco Lindor nipping at his heels, or play hard to make himself some big bucks once the Tribe lets him go. Either way it ends up for him, you're going to see a treat when you keep your eyes on Asdrubal.
5. Jason Giambi is back again. Normally I am not a fan of dragging in old guys for a little rah-rah before they are sent out to pasture...especially not ex-Yankees. Blah. But Jason Giambi was actually useful in both the locker room and on the field. It's possible that his walkoff home run against the White Sox at the end of the season (his second one) was the thing that got us in to the playoffs. Can he do more of the same this year? He'll be starting on a sour note - on the disabled list with a broken rib - but he's definitely one to watch out of the corner of your eye.
6. Speaking of old guys - Charlie Nagy is back on staff in Cleveland. He was one of our stand-out players in the 90s and is amongst the Tribe's best pitchers. It always drove me crazy that he went off with the Diamondbacks but they got rid of him and now he's all ours. Turns out that his stint with Arizona gave him a leg up on spending time with young "phenom" pitcher Trevor Bauer, who the Tribe picked up last year from the Diamondbacks, so losing him for a bit wasn't all that bad.
7. Then there's the Goon Squad. The Goon Squad was the name for the guys who weren't our every-day players but who kept coming in off the bench and making big differences. It takes a special kind of skill and mindset to either come in for the first time in 6 days and play a full game, or to come in for the 7th inning and keep the team's momentum going. They lost one of the "original" Goon Squad members to a starting position (Yan Gomes) and Giambi will start the season from his armchair, but there's no doubt that the whole Goon Squad vibe runs rampant through that locker room. Goonies never say die.
8. Chief Wahoo is being swept under the rug, and I like the way they're doing it. Even though his smile is this blog's logo, I don't mind losing the Chief. I've been mindful to avoid his likeness on Tribe gear I've bought over the past few years and the Indians have been making it increasingly easy to find sharp stuff without the cartoon racism. I know Chief Wahoo is our heritage but you know, so is Larry Doby and we don't have a weird caricature of him on our jerseys. The Block C is the way of the future, so if you're embarrassed by Chief Wahoo now it's easier than ever to avoid him. If you still can't let go, don't worry - GV Art & Design feels the same way and is providing plenty of gear for hangers-on.
9. You probably got rid of cable by now, or subscribe to a service that isn't carrying STO (Dish!), so you can't watch the games on TV. But, good news! The radio broadcast is far superior to the television broadcast because of veteran broadcaster Tom Hamilton and his foil Jim Rosenhaus. You're lucky to be stuck with them! Listening to the games on the radio is easy for baseball, given the leisurely pace. And not having to be glued to the TV gives you a lot of flexibility to get stuff done, like weeding the garden, paying your bills or re-arranging your sock drawer. Oh, and don't be too turned off by the commercials. I've been assured by my friend who works at Progressive in marketing that there will be new radio ads any day now. Check out Hamilton's amazingness in the Jason Giambi video above, and check out his soft side in this video of him watching his son (Kent State's Nick Hamilton) take his first major-league at-bat earlier this spring.
10. The Indians marketing team have acknowledged with this year's marketing campaign that being a Tribe fan is hard, but it's our birthright. You're from Cleveland, your team is the Indians, this is as good as it gets. So, love the one you're with.
So, that's really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what's going to go on for the Indians in 2014 and why it's time for you to get over the 90s and get in the game. Aside from all of the above we've got some pitching both in the starters and the bullpen. We've got some weirdos like outfielder Nyier Morgan who has an actual alter-ego, and Nick Swisher is back with his Bro-hio sillyness being legitimized by the team. Not to mention all of the new ways the front office is begging people to come to Progressive Field and bring the whole family by offering tons of discounts everywhere on everything. It's still not cheap but it's fun, I guarantee.
Anyway, the season opener is now in full swing on the radio so it's time for me to go re-arrange my sock drawer. It's gonna be a great season - see you there!