Results tagged ‘ Mark Shapiro ’

The why, when and how of the Indians new Wi-Fi/4G LTE project at Progressive Field

 

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In case you missed it, the Indians announced on Monday morning that, thanks to a partnership with Verizon, fans now can access Wi-Fi and super-fast 4G LTE at Progressive Field, in an effort to enhance fans’ experience. (Check out tips on how best to take advantaged of the new network at the ballpark.)

Mark Shapiro and Neil Weiss, the club’s Senior VP of technology and Chief Information Officer, chatted Monday afternoon about the project:

Indians President Mark Shapiro

What it means for fans: Fans who came in past years and took out their phones to text, call or download video or watch instant replay, that capability hasn’t been there. Now they’ll be able to do that.

Anything we want to do technologically is dependent on us giving fans a technological infrastructure. Without them having any broadband capability, we couldn’t do much from a fan experience perspective. The reality is anything we wanted to do to enhance fan experience technologically, we needed this.

This was in place for Opening Day but we wanted to learn from what we’ve observed elsewhere and make sure when we announced it that we were confident it could work, so as not to disappoint. What better way than Opening Day to test it? We tested it at maximum capacity and we’ll continue to test it going forward.

We have to increase and enhance fan experience, and the entertainment landscape is fragmented. It includes the home experience, which is compelling. We have to provide our fans the ability to experience the game any way they want, and one way they want it is to have technology be a part of it. While we want to preserve everything special about the building, we also need to modernize it.

Neil Weiss, Senior Vice President of Technology/Chief Information Officer

It was a significant need. Once we got past 10,000 or 12,000 people, you couldn’t send an email or a phone call. We needed this for our fans.

We had some opportunities to make improvements and get up to speed at the ballpark. Weather was an obvious challenge this winter to get this installed from in sub-zero temperatures from November through March.

On Opening Day, we had a full ballpark, and after a soft launch, we had nearly universally positive feedback.

There were some pockets we knew we still needed to improve. This is a season-long project to fine tune. We measure every night and then we make adjustments after every homestand, and rinse and repeat.

The DiaTribe: Q&A with Mark Shapiro from Goodyear

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Editor’s note: This Q&A with Indians President Mark Shapiro, conducted in Spring Training, has been republished here with the permission of Al Ciammaichella and The DiaTribe.

For the second year in a row, Indians team president Mark Shapiro was kind enough to take an hour out of his very busy spring training schedule and sit down for an interview with me in beautiful Goodyear, Arizona. Here’s a link to last year’s interview in case you missed it. We covered a wide variety of topics, including the difference in the 2013 and 2014 free agent market, Yan Gomes, ticket pricing, promotions, Francisco Lindor and of course, Justin Masterson and the breakdown in his long-term contract negotiations. The following is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation this past Friday.

Al Ciammaichella: This offseason was much quieter/different than last offseason. Were the moves you made last year looking forward to this year’s free agent class where you signed guys like Swisher and Bourn knowing this offseason would be quieter?

Mark Shapiro: We always have to take an opportunistic lens when it comes to free agency. When we look at free agency, if we’re dependent upon it to build our team, then we’re in a very difficult, if not impossible, spot. The reality is that we’re either looking for where the value is in the market or looking to be opportunistic. Last offseason there happened to be two guys that fit multiple year, positional needs for us at values we thought we could afford and who have some other special attributes, especially in the case of Swish, but really Bourn too, as a leader as well. They filled gaps we had in our system, where we felt like we didn’t have anyone coming up at all. And we also knew that this offseason there was a lot national TV money coming into the system and a lot less guys, so there were going to be more resources available, greater demand and less supply. So while it’s already a tough market, that was going to make it nearly an impossible market. So I look at last year as our chance to make a bigger splash in free agency, and this year was going to be “are there little things we can do?” I think we studied David Murphy, who I think is a good pick up for us. He’s going to improve both the defense, and give us a really good platoon and depth in the outfield.

AC: We talked a lot about levers last year, which became one of my new favorite buzzwords. How did you decide what levers to pull this year, with Murphy, and how did you decide which not to pull, with not bringing back guys like Ubaldo and Kazmir?

MS: Those decisions are never as simple as “do you want the player or not?” I think that the fan tends to look at it as “you didn’t want the guy.” We loved what Kaz did for us, we wanted him, but the level of risk involved with multiple years and the level of risk involved with those dollars just didn’t fit our payroll parameters this year with the natural, built in escalation of contracts. I think with Ubaldo, same thing. It ended up being a good deal for us, particularly in light of what we gave up, but it wasn’t the right fit for us this year. When you talk about levers, I think the neat things to think about from last spring to this spring are the evolution of a guy like Yan Gomes. Where all of a sudden, you look at Gomes and there’s a guy who leverages his ability to impact a game at more than just his position because of what he means defensively, what he means for his passion for making pitchers better, for helping to call a game. So I always like to think about, “where are the guys that can impact a game beyond objective statistics? Beyond just their own performance?” And Gomes is a guy who when he started to catch last year, I think that was one of the keys to our team really taking off.

AC: So when you traded for Gomes, and I could sit here all day and talk to you about Gomes, but when you traded for him, did you have any idea he’d be that much of an impact defensively? I’ve talked to some Blue Jays guys, and they were of the opinion that he was maybe a 3rd catcher while he was with the Jays.

MS: Any GM or front office guy who tells you he knows exactly what he was getting when he traded for a guy is just pounding his own chest. What you do is you try and find something you like, a defined attribute that you like about a guy. Even when we traded for Asdrubal or Shin-Soo Choo, there were always questions. We never thought they’d both be as good as they were, never. So when we traded for Yan Gomes, we thought that maybe he could catch, but really what he was, was right handed power, and a guy who could play multiple positions. That’s what we thought. When we got him, I think we did a smart thing, similar to when we traded for Justin Masterson. We didn’t know Masterson could start, but we knew he could be a dominant bullpen guy. But in our situation it’s important to maximize the value because we can’t go out and buy those things. So we put Yan back there, and right away Tito and the staff said “this guy’s got pretty special hands, he’s got some strength behind the plate.” When you go back and look at his career, whether it’s in Tennessee (in college) or in the Toronto system, he played behind Arencibia both places, and they had D’Arnaud there as well. So he was behind two of the best young catchers in the game and he never got to catch much. He just took right to it. He got better and better. He’s a worker, he’s smart, he’s tough, he has a lot of the attributes you look for in a catcher.

(more…)

In 19th year, Tribe Winter Development Program preps players for big leagues

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Danny Salazar is a veteran of the Indians Winter Development Program.

Yan Gomes had already appeared in the Majors with Toronto by the time he came to Cleveland for the Indians week-long Winter Player Development program last January.

He’s now the team’s starting catcher and had a major impact on the team’s Postseason run last season. Danny Salazar, who made his own contributions down the stretch in 2013, is also a product of Cleveland’s unique offseason training initiative – now in its 19th year of existence (1996).

While Gomes and Salazar may be extreme cases of rapid rises through the team’s system, both serve as prime examples of how the program can benefit the team’s young talent.

In fact, that reality plays a significant role in how this group of participants is assembled by the Indians front office. “We try to identify players who could impact our major league in the very short-term future,” said Ross Atkins, the Tribe’s VP of Player Personnel. “Realistically, three to seven players in this room could see time with the Indians in 2014 — now, some of them might get sent right back down, but those role players are important throughout the course of a season.”

“It’s really about familiarity, with the clubhouse, with the staff, with the front office. It’s experience they don’t get in the minors,” added Carter Hawkins, the Indians Assistant Director of Player Development. “The speakers are people who have reached the major leagues in sports or business, and they’re able to share things they wish they knew when they were in these players’ positions.”

Fourteen Tribe prospects are in town for the program, in which they’ll hear from Tribe President Mark Shapiro, manager Terry Francona, ESPN journalist Buster Olney, Cavs General Manager Chris Grant, Sean Casey, Jason Giambi, St. Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle and a host of others on issues ranging from developing effective routines, being a good teammate, learning to win and handling media obligations.

Joey Wendle, the team’s 2013 Lou Boudreau Award winner for being named the top position player in the Indians Player Development system, is on hand, along with Jose Ramirez – who also impacted the big-league club in September — Jesus Aguilar and Tyler Naquin, other top position player prospects. Big-armed Cody Anderson is among the pitching prospects on hand.

For Wendle, who hit .295 with the Carolina  Mudcats last season, along with 32 doubles, 5 triples and 64 RBI, said the hope is to avoid a shellshock if and when the players are called up to the big leagues.

“You can tell how serious the Indians take this program by the resources they put into it, the people they have come in to talk to us,” said Wendle, who also was a Carolina League Postseason All-Star selection. “It helps us in that, in the future if we get called up, it’s not such a shellshock. We’re used to the facilities, the people who are here, the people who are of high stature. We’re not intimidated to speak with them, interact with them. We’ll see benefits from it in the future.”

Tyler Cloyd, who was signed to a minor-league deal with a big-league Spring Training invitation in December, also was in the majors last year, making 11 starts with the Phillies. Yet he’s here to get to know some guys he’ll spend time with in Spring Training in Goodyear; he said he, his wife and his 4-month-old daughter will drive from their Nebraska home to Goodyear next week.

“It’s a good way to get faces with names,” Cloyd said. “The only expectation I had for myself when I came up here was to learn as much as I can and they’re helping me do that. In this game, you never can stop learning. If this can help me in my future, that’s why I’m here.”

Atkins said that not only do the players get good experience from the week, but the speakers are also very complimentary of the program.

“The coolest thing is that the speakers say, ‘this is a really cool thing,’” said Atkins, who noted that the players chosen are players the Indians think can make an impact in the big leagues in 2014 – and who haven’t attended the program in prior years. “They say it over and over again to the players. It’s a big commitment by the Dolans, by the players, by the speakers. They all are motivated and inspired by where these individuals are in their careers and would like to impart their wisdom. We’re trying to ease their transition to the big leagues.”

More updates from Vice President of Player Development Ross Atkins on some other attendees

On 2012 No. 1 pick Tyler Naquin, who made a change to his setup in the batter’s box last season:

“He’s not that different than what we drafted. We’re more encouraged based on his open-mindedness. He came to us wanting to put himself in a more powerful position, then did it in-season. This is a guy who had success, and we didn’t ask him to do it. He can be more consistent in that position.

It’s less about the adjustment but more about his mindset and his perseverance that’s most encouraging. He was open, willing and did it in season is the skill we’re more encouraged by.”

(Naquin, by the way, told some darn funny stories from Tribe Fest this past weekend at the ballpark and how he was a little star struck at hanging with some current Indians players and team legends.

He said he went to dinner with Kenny Lofton and Michael Bourn on Saturday night, and had to tell his dad he’d have to call him back because he was at Ken Stewart’s with two pretty good center fielders. Lofton even introduced him to a fan that approached the table to talk to Lofton.

Later, he said he was talking with Jim Thome at the Cavs game on Friday night and pretty soon, “I was sharing a sweet potato with him.”

Naquin, as you might expect, is going to be a favorite of reporters for many years with those stories.)

On reliever-turned-starter Cody Anderson:

“There aren’t a lot a lot of stories of guys converting from relief to being a starter. There are different reasons: It’s hard to be a starter. You have to be effective, durable and throw multiple pitches to throw for strikes. Scouts identified potential in him as a bullpen pitcher in college, then identified the person that would have the mental components to make the change. He’s arguably our best pitching prospect, with (Trevor) Bauer. He’s made himself into certainly someone who has all the attributes to make himself into a MLB starter.”

On 2013 No. 1 pick Clint Frazier:

“He’s in a good position. He will and we will evolve together with what ideal body weight will be and ideal profile will be as he matures. We’re mutually developing a vision for him. The work ethic that he has, we can adjust if need be. We’re not overly concerned with him being too big. We would never ask someone to work less. He’s extremely driven, hard working.”

On Jesus Aguilar, who had success in Winter ball:

“Jesus has raw power, and the thing that stands out is the professionalism of his at-bats. A year and a half ago, you saw power potential, a good swing, a lot of effort. Now, you see a very professional at-bat. The way he sees pitches, takes pitches, thinks situationally. It really stands out.”

–TribeVibe contributor Joel Hammond

Transcript of Terry Francona interview with Cleveland media

Terry Francona chatted via conference call with Cleveland-area reporters on Tuesday night, shortly after he received the 2013 BBWAA American League Manager of the Year Award in a presentation broadcast on MLB Network.

Here are portions of that conference call, in some cases edited for brevity:

Question: What does it mean for you to be up against (Red Sox manager) John Farrell?

Terry Francona: I don’t think I was up against anybody. I got nominated for this because this is an organizational award. That’s what makes me so happy. I share it with coaches, players, clubhouse guys, (General Manager) Chris (Antonetti), (President) Mark Shapiro and (owner) Paul (Dolan). It’s because we did it together all year. So when things like this happen it’s an organizational award.

Question: What were you proud of in managing this year?

TF: I was proud of our effort. I thought we were resilient. I thought our guys enjoyed trying to play it the right way. We had a coaching staff that was fun to be around. I’m most proud of, from the moment I was hired, it’s always been a we mentality. From the front office, to the ownership (on down). That’s only growing. I’m proud of that. It’s not always easy to attain that. Chris and his guys have made me feel so at home. It makes my job easier and a lot more fun.

Question: What do you think was the difference this year?

TF: Winning is the ultimate award. You do the best you can every day, and when teams and organizations perform, things like this happen.

Question: Was this satisfying that you guys were able to have success while you overcame so many things?

TF: The biggest thing was how we did it. We did it the right way. When we clinched in Minnesota, those hugs were real. I couldn’t want to get to Chris, (traveling secretary) Mike Seghi, the clubhouse guys. Those were real. The next day, I didn’t feel any different when we prepared for Tampa. When you like the guys you work with, you want to do well.

Question: Did this year, reuniting with Chris and Mark, did this heal the hard feelings from your departure from Boston (after the 2011 season)?

TF: Yeah. It was easier to talk about it because of my comfort level in Cleveland.

Q: What made the team so resilient?

TF: It was a combination. We had great veteran leadership, with Giambi, Swisher’s enthusiasm, Bourn and Yan Gomes’ emergence. I could go on and on. That’s what made it so fun, had so many contributions from all over the map. That’s what made it good. When we played the baseball we were supposed to, we generally gave ourselves a chance to win.

Q: When did they tell you this?

TF: I felt like I was on a dating game. I was listening in my earpiece, and heard it when they announced it. They did a great job (keeping it secret).

Q: Will you do anything to celebrate?

TF: I have a load of laundry in. I’m going to go golfing tomorrow, like I always do. The way I celebrated it was the whole year. I got to live it.

Q: Who has called you?

TF: I got about 50 text messages and a bunch of voice mails. My dad, Chris, Joe Smith all sent some really nice messages. A lot of the players have texted, which made me feel good.

–TribeVibe contributor Joel Hammond

Cleveland Indians encourage fans to ‘Rock Your Red’ for Wild Card game, plan festivities for Wednesday at Progressive Field

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Indians play host to Tampa Bay or Texas in American League Wild Card game

The Cleveland Indians are encouraging fans to “Rock Your Red” on Wednesday at Progressive Field as the team makes its first Postseason appearance since 2007.

The Indians play host to the Tampa Bay Rays or Texas Rangers on Wednesday in the American League Wild Card game, with first pitch scheduled for 8:07PM ET. The game will be broadcast nationally on TBS.

The game is sold out, and Tribe fans are encouraged to wear red clothing to support the club as it pushes for a spot in the American League Division Series. In addition, each fan will receive a white rally towel, courtesy of Progressive Insurance.

“Our players have said repeatedly that our fans’ passion drives them on the field,” said Indians President Mark Shapiro. “Let’s ‘Rock our Red’ on Wednesday to push them to a Wild Card victory and show the nation that this is a Tribe Town!”

Pregame festivities include band, radio remotes outside Progressive Field

The Indians will have a number of festivities for fans prior to Wednesday’s game.

Former Tribe slugger Andre Thornton, a four-time All-Star and Indians Hall of Famer, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.

Other festivities include:

  • Veteran local singer Dan Polk will sing the National Anthem
  • One, a U2 Tribute band, will play on Gateway Plaza beginning at 5:30PM
  • Budweiser will bring its Build-A-Bar to Gateway Plaza, where fans over the age of 21 can enjoy Budweiser products up until game time. The bar opens at 4:30PM.
  • SportsTime Ohio’s “All Bets Are Off,” hosted by Bruce Drennan, will broadcast live from Gate C plaza (near the Bob Feller statue) from 5PM-8PM
  • The “Mike Trivisonno Show” will broadcast live from the Champion Windows Studio inside Progressive Field from 3PM-6PM on Wednesday.
  • WMMS’ “The Alan Cox Show” will broadcast live from the corner of Rally Alley and Gateway Plaza from 3-7:30PM

All Gates for the Wild Card Game, which is a sellout, will open at 6PM. The Indians encourage fans to be in their seats early to see all the pre-game festivities.

One other note: The Kids Clubhouse will not be available to fans tonight, as it’s been turned into an auxiliary pressbox for media.

Mark Shapiro, Terry Francona, and Nick Swisher talk about bringing the Postseason to Cleveland

Cleveland Indians v Minnesota Twins

Wondering what some of the Tribe’s leaders think about the Indians’ Postseason berth? Straight from the clubhouse, here’s their reactions.

Indians President Mark Shapiro discusses the club’s resilience this season and what the postseason means to the city of Cleveland:

Terry Francona discusses the Tribe’s tenacity in locking up an AL Wild Card spot as they embrace an opportunity at the postseason:

Nick Swisher discusses the Tribe’s confidence riding a ten-game winning streak, and the importance of taking it one game at a time:

People of the 216, let’s get that ballpark rockin’ and rollin’ on Wednesday!

- TribeVibe contributor Courtney Shilling

Photo gallery: Tribe clinches Wild Card spot, celebrates in Minnesota

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You may have heard that the Indians clinched a Postseason berth on Sunday with their 10th consecutive victory and seventh four-game sweep of the season — the first time the latter has been done since 1943.

Here’s photographic evidence of the feat. Enjoy. Go Tribe!

Mark Shapiro talks Tribe with Social Media fans at Indians Town Hall

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Last Friday, a group of Cleveland Indians fans were invited to talk Tribe with Indians President Mark Shapiro (@MarkShapiro) at a Town Hall luncheon in the Terrace Club at Progressive Field.

Shapiro addressed a wide variety of questions at the #TribeTownHall, from the mental side of the game, ballpark attendance, his use of social media, what has surprised him most this season, to yes — even a Moneyball question.

Re: Moneyball, in case you’re wondering: “The book was good, but the movie was fiction. I had my kids watch it and my son said it was boring,” Shapiro said.

Some Tribe fans even won autographed swag:

Shapiro then met with fans individually and took photos:

There were so many tweets, both #TribeTownHall and Mark Shapiro were both trending in Cleveland!

The #TribeTownHall luncheon also treated fans to a spread of a few Cleveland favorites: pierogies, meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, soup, salad…and nachos!

For more information on the Indians social media initiatives, follow along with @Indians and @MarkShapiro on Twitter. If the food looks enticing, check out Fridays at the Field!

- TribeVibe contributor Courtney Shilling

Indians host area children who raised over $20,000 for charity

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A group of 200 Cleveland-area children that participated in the inaugural year of Our Children Making Change’s Cleveland chapter were honored Sunday at the Terrace Club at Progressive Field.

Over the last six weeks, the youths broke into teams and conducted fundraisers such as lemonade stands, swim-a-thons and talent shows with the aim of raising money for several local charities.

Through their efforts, the group raised $20,403 for this year’s four designated charities: Autism Speaks, Juvenile Diabetes, Fiona’s Friends (to assist a young girl going through a liver transplant), and West Side Catholic Charities.

On Sunday, the children joined their parents and program founder Laura Dulac in the Terrace Club, as they presented a check to the charities. They were all treated to lunch courtesy of Delaware North Companies, and the kids and their families were able to stick around for the Indians game against the Angels.

Indians President Mark Shapiro was on hand at the beginning of the event to show support for the program.

“It’s a familial attachment since my sister (Dulac) is the founder of ‘Our Children Making Change,’” Shapiro said. “It really stems from the values she espouses, and this is an opportunity to introduce kids to giving back to the community, and what service means, and making them feel good about their contributions to a broader community.”

The organization, which was founded by Dulac in 2009 in New Jersey, hopes to continue to expand in the future, and build on this year’s successful opening of the Cleveland chapter.

Dulac concluded: “I just want to thank the kids, who worked so hard and took time out of their summers, by doing chores, and selling craft, and lemonade stands, and bake sales, and sports camps, and babysitting, and everything else they did [to raise the donation money].”

–TribeVibe contributor Max Lom

First Fan Ticket Exchange opportunity works out well for those affected by May 31 rain

... and knew it was out of here.

So May 31 was a pretty rough night.

Rain delayed the start of that evening’s game at Progressive Field between the Indians and Tampa Bay Rays by two hours, then delayed it again after 1 2/3 innings were played.

The game restarted after midnight and ended shortly before 3AM Saturday morning — or 10 hours before Game 2 of the series was scheduled.

You let us know your displeasure quickly and loudly. And since we strive to provide every fan that comes to Progressive Field the best experience possible, we quickly made an offer to fans to attend another game this season – either July 31 or September 6.

“We … wanted to make it right for the fans who endured the lengthy weather delays and ultimate after midnight re-start,” Cleveland Indians President Mark Shapiro said then. “By providing make-up opportunities on either July 31st or September 6th … fans will have the opportunity to have a positive and memorable ballpark experience.

“We value each and every one of our fans and want to thank them for staying at some or all of the May 31st game. We appreciate their loyalty, patience and perseverance.”

Here’s betting those who chose July 31 came away satisfied. To Wednesday’s game, which already featured a Mesh Trucker Cap giveaway courtesy of Shearer’s, we added Sugardale Dollar Dogs and Fireworks, also presented by Shearer’s.

And, of course, there was a red-hot baseball team – winners of six straight, already with two walk-off wins in this homestand.

As you probably already know, they added another, courtesy of Carlos Santana.

We wanted to take this opportunity to once again thank fans for hanging with us through that May 31 situation and thank them for their support on Wednesday night at the ballpark. Sure sounded like a Tribe Town!

–TribeVibe contributor Joel Hammond

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