@ClevelandChick is back in Cleveland with everything you need to know about Goodyear
The chilly wind, rain and snow of Cleveland has broken me out of my sun-drenched Spring Training haze, and in my final post as fan correspondent, I would like to leave you with my top five observations from Indians Spring Training. In no particular order …
This is not last year’s Tribe. In fact, this is a team the likes of which I have to struggle to remember. This year’s team is different. I picked up on it, Mike Hargrove picked up on it, heck, my pop picked up on it. I don’t think it is one particular thing; instead I think it is everything. There is more laughing and joking. Don’t mistake me, these guys are all business, but the difference is everyone really seems to want to be there. The best way to describe it is that the Tribe is a team of players rather than players on a team. I like the attitude.
Speaking of attitude, Nick Swisher is a hot dog. I truly mean that as a compliment. This man does not have an off switch. Clevelanders have not seen a guy with a personality this large since maybe Shaq was in town. Swisher has an infectious swagger that is backed up by his skill. His positive attitude has caused even serious, stern-faced Michael Brantley to smile. This guy is smooth. Swisher is on the job at the plate, but outside of the batter’s box, he is team cheerleader, whether being the orchestrator of the Tribe version of the Harlem Shake or strolling in the locker room with a Ryan Raburn jersey on, hoping to get a little of his luck.
The Indians joining the Cactus League in Arizona was a genius move. Admittedly, I never made it to Winter Haven, Fla. However, I can’t think of anything to change about Goodyear Ballpark or the Cactus League. All of the parks are within 45 minutes of one another, making it a fan’s dream to see back-to-back games of their team. The sunshine and warm weather doesn’t hurt either. I think Crystal Workman, the Marketing and Digital Media Coordinator at Goodyear Ballpark, said it best: “The people are so nice because of all the natural vitamin D”. She said it jokingly, but everyone I met, from the parking attendants to the ushers to other fans, everyone was nice.
Not only was it a smart move to take Spring Training to Goodyear, but the Indians have an amazing setup. Goodyear Ballpark and the training facility was made with fans in mind. There isn’t another park in the Cactus League that fans can get so close to players during batting practice. I had to smile with pride, and gloat a little, when fans of other teams lamented about how they couldn’t get close to any of their favorite players because of the physical set up. The Indians also have a treasure in a man named Rik Danburg. If you went to batting practice, you met Rik. During the regular season, he is the guy that goes into the stands to make a deal with fans for the home run ball. That in itself is an awesome job. But during Spring Training, he greets each fan with a smile, followed by a story and sincere conversation. In fact, I left trying to figure out how he and my dad could become best friends. I’ll get back to you all when I figure that part out. Rik is an example of how the Indians have tried to make Spring Training a memorable experience. I say they succeeded.
The Tribe offseason has been an exciting one, causing “Indians Fever” to loop through my head at the start of each game. When was the last time the Cleveland Indians had a guy like Jason Giambi fighting for a spot? Giambi brings an air of seasoned veteran to the club house that can do nothing but help.
As a final comment, Terry Francona is the real deal. I’m not trying to compare him to anyone else, but I watched this guy command an audience. He has a relationship with each of the players. The man has rings, he grew up around the Indians, for the love of hot dogs, he played for the Indians. I will proudly declare him a hometown guy. During my week in Goodyear, I watched him talk to the players. Depending on the at-bat, he might run out and talk to the guy. Maybe he would not say anything, but offer a pat on the back as the guy walked back into the dugout. Francona is connected and invested in the Indians and I like it.
I hope you all enjoyed reading about my adventures in Goodyear as much as I enjoyed writing about them. I am incredibly grateful to the Indians organization for allowing me this opportunity while spending time with my dad. I look forward to seeing you all this season and toasting the Tribe’s success with dollar dogs!
–TribeVibe Fan Correspondent Traci (@ClevelandChick)
This is the final installment of Traci’s series from Goodyear, and we’d like to thank her for providing an outstanding fan perspective during Spring Training! In case you missed it, here are her other posts from Arizona:
- Welcome to Goodyear: @ClevelandChick arrives at Spring Training
- Day 2 in Goodyear another great one for Fan Correspondent @ClevelandChick
- Fan Correspondent @ClevelandChick hits the Arizona roads
- Fan Correspondent @ClevelandChick chats with Mike Hargrove about managing, “Human Rain Delay” and more
- Tribe GM to Fan Correspondent @ClevelandChick: “I’m comfortable with high expectations”
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti talks with Fan Correspondent @Cleveland Chick: Part II
Cleveland native Traci Christler, who blogs independently at http://www.HappinessIsaHotPierogi.com, was in Goodyear this spring and writing about the Indians for TribeVibe. The Indians did not compensate her for her coverage, nor did they fund her travel.