An Adventure 25 Years in the Making!
By: Matthew Preslar
July 11-12, 2022
Cleveland Guardians vs. Chicago White Sox
A few days in July and an adventure aligned. Pricing and logistics told us where to go… the popular destination of CLEVELAND? “Who the hell goes to Cleveland? Do you have family there?”, we were asked. Uh, no. The easy answer was our White Sox were playing there, a four game series over three days. No, we didn’t go to all four. Rebecca likes seeing more a city than just a ball field. I happily (and smartly) oblige.
The real answer to “Why CLEVELAND?” is so much more. Actually my fondness isn’t from the “Major League” movie franchise. Wesley Snipes was good, but just an actor. As a 12 year old in 1995 I played on a team named the Indians. Just before, in 1993 and 1994, The Indians were the parent club for our local AAA Charlotte Knights. Before I had any idea, I saw Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez before they were All Star big leaguers.
The attention really started in the fall of 1995 and lasted through 1997. Those two years saw some really special Indian teams led by Thome, Ramirez, Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, Eddie Murray, amongst others. In those post seasons, The Tribe outlasted Ripken’s Orioles, Griffey’s Mariners, and Jeter’s Yankees to win the American League in those respective years. I watched a lot of special players, playing special playoff baseball, mostly with my Grandmother, a special person. I spent a lot of nights with her and when the game went too late Grandma hit record on the VCR and we finished it the next morning before school. In my mind, these Indian teams were Rocky Balboa going against more mighty opponents. They had the heart and talent to prevail… until the World Series.
The ‘95 team lost to the Braves and the ‘97 team lost to the Marlins. Both were epic World Series. Aside from the Braves Hall of Fame pitching staff, I know the better team DID NOT win the Fall Classic in those years. In fact, I rank that era of Cleveland baseball teams as the best to not win a World Series, at least in my lifetime.
A lot of people must have shared my fondness. Jacob’s Field (now Progressive Field) boasted an incredible 455 straight sell outs from 1995-2001. The city of Cleveland took so much pride in their new ballpark that opened in 1994 and the product that was on the field.
The Indians have remained relevant in recent years. They lost the 2016 World Series to the Cubs while giving up a 3-1 series lead and losing the last three. Cleveland won an insane record 22 straight games in 2017. 2018 marked three consecutive AL Central Division championships.
Fast forward to 2022. As time goes, plenty in the world has changed as well. A few years in the making has been THE NAME CHANGE. No longer is Cleveland known as the Indians. The affectionate nickname of “The Tribe” is no more. Perhaps so is a sense of belonging of the fan base. After all, if the team isn’t “The Tribe,” the fans can’t be part of that tribe. Our Monday night game had a meager attendance of 13,000. Of those in attendance, many were wearing the colors of the White Sox. It’s hard to imagine a visitor invading “THE JAKE” in the mid to late 90’s. Different times!!! Different world!!!
***However, as of this writing on August 15, 2022, The Guardians have a three game lead in the American League Central Division. There will be no better way to help the city embrace the Guardian era than by winning a division in year 1.***