Last year at this time the Tribe’s record was better and we all knew our team was poor. That lasted for a long time as the Indians hung on to a lead in the division while our team never was improved by management. This prompted players like Chris Perez to lash out at the fans for not “supporting” the team. What he didn’t realize at the time, but the fans already knew, was that the team was destined to fall. You can’t blame Pure Rage. On the surface, he was 100% correct. The fans were nowhere to be found and the team was in first place. By the end of the season, Perez was as critical of management as he was earlier of the fans. What changed his tune? The simple realization that the Indians front office was hiding in the sand hoping their band aids would work AND the ownership was hiding behind the false assumption that their “pay behind” rather than “pay ahead” strategy would work. Well, we all know the result. The worst August in Cleveland Indians history!
Everyone ripped the ownership and management of the Indians (except those hiding in their warm Tribe blankets hoping the team would magically appear). Scott Boras, one of the most outspoken critics among those willing to speak, made it very clear that the Indians were showing no signs that they wanted to compete. Even after the Terry Francona hire, Bobby D (who I personally think VERY highly of) was still hiding behind the company line that the fans were unfair by criticizing the team so harshly for “one bad month”.
Luckily, Paul and Larry Dolan did not exactly see it that way. Neither did Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti after they really thought about it. They decided that “business as usual” would get them exactly what they got last season, a disaster!! So they set out to change all that. Now we know that they did not plan out each move in advance. Some things just fell to them (Michael Bourn). But, to their credit, they pounced on each opportunity and really helped the team for 2013 and beyond. Every move was intended to plug holes and provide a path forward for the team.
Their first trade was brilliant and I noted so on Twitter at the time. To get Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes for a journeyman reliever that had a good couple of months for us was nothing short of spectacular. Both players will help now and in the future. They got the best manager available. And they addressed EACH weakness of the 2012 team as they went. They also addressed the farm system by strengthening our outfield for many years to come without depending on a farm system void of outfield talent. They added right handed hitters, right handed power, one previously proven starter, a couple of very good relievers, and an aging veteran with power remaining and a coaching future. They strengthened the bench and our depth at AAA. This effort needs to be rewarded!!!! Yes, the Indians are not a perfect team. They have a terrible problem with starting pitching made worse by a brain dead Carlos Carrasco and an arm dead Brett Myers and an emotionally dead Ubaldo Jimenez. But they couldn’t address ALL the holes in one off season. It is very very clear to all and to Antonetti that starting pitching is priority one and signing Brantley and Kipnis is priority two.
So now, it comes back to us!!! The fans MUST step up and support this team which is vastly improved over 2012. Just like we knew the team was milk toast last year and didn’t show up no matter what the record, we need to show up this year despite the early struggles. I asked Indians management and ownership to “pay it forward” for years and the cries fell on deaf ears. We all have. Now they paid forward and we need to pay forward as well. This team has obvious holes, but it should be exciting and will win it’s share of games. With luck, we will challenge for the division title or a wild card playoff birth. If we don’t, at least THIS time we can say we had unfortunate injuries (and we actually have) or that we had bad luck and say it with a straight face.
So, even though I have seen some shoddy baseball for the past couple of weeks, I will support this team. I will believe that “paying forward” by the ownership will pay off in the end. I could be wrong but what the heck. I am a fan after all. And that is not about to change. What do you think?