Long before the Cavaliers and the Browns, there was the Indians entrenched into the folk lore of the city we know today as Cleveland and this week the Tribe will have an opportunity to remind Northeast Ohio of exactly that.
From its humble beginnings in From its 1901, Cleveland is as rich and traditional Major League Baseball as they come and when the Indians begin the American League Divisional Series against the Boston Red Sox it will a reunion for their manager and a chance for the Tribe to reclaim the town.
Manager Terry Francona will not be offering any excuses when he faces his former team. He guided the Red Sox to a pair of World Series championships. Cleveland hasn’t won one since 1948.
That’s when Larry Doby and teammate Satchel Paige were the first African-American players to win a World Series championship when the Indians won in 1948. He helped the Indians win a franchise-record 111 games and the AL pennant in 1954, finished second in the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) award voting and was the AL's RBI leader and home run champion.
Now managing the Cleveland Indians, Francona will face his former team in the best-of-five AL Division Series.
This is Francona’s fourth season with the AL Central champion Indians, and he said he doesn’t want this to be about him versus the AL East champ Red Sox.
“Well, the one thing I think I need to be cognizant of is the players have worked so hard, both sides, to get to this,” Francona said. “I can’t let my personal feelings ever get in the way of or take away from what they’ve done. So, whatever my feelings are need to remain my feelings.”
Cleveland baseball has been distinguished by great ballplayers and great moments. It is through the fortunes of the men that have played for the Indians, and the memories they have created, that the history of the Cleveland Indians is learned and appreciated.
Doby became the second African American player to break baseball's color barrier on July 1947, joining Jackie Robinson in breaking the MLB color barrier. He became the first black player in the American League when he signed a contract to play with Bill Veeck's Cleveland Indians.
His statue sits outside Progressive Field adjacent to Quakens Loans Arena.
Hall of Fame Cy Young played for the then Cleveland Spiders.
The Indians are one of just four Charter A.L. clubs (along with Chicago, Boston, and Detroit) to play continuously in one city. Professional baseball in Cleveland is one of the city's oldest traditions, dating well back into the 19th century.
Professional baseball in Cleveland began June 2, 1869 when the Cleveland Forest Citys met the Cincinnati Red Stockings. Cleveland was represented in baseball's first professional, the National Association of 1871. That club disbanded in 1872. Cleveland's return to pro baseball came in 1879 in the National League (established in 1876).
After six seasons, Cleveland dropped from the N.L. before the 1885 campaign. In November of 1886, a Cleveland team was admitted to the major league American Association, replacing Pittsburgh's team that moved to the N.L. Following two seasons in the A.A., Cleveland returned to the N.L. in 1889.
However, history will not be able to help the Tribe when they meet a Red Sox team that won four out of six games against them this season.
The Red Sox outscored the Tribe 31-18. That said, these two clubs played one game against each other after May, so it's been a while since they've faced each other.
It’s a good thing the Tribe will have home field advantage in the ALDS because because they had the better overall regular season record in 2016.
Indians at home: 52-28 (.654), +105 run differential
Indians on the road: 41-39 (.513), -4 run differential
Red Sox at home: 47-34 (.580), +97 run differential
Red Sox on the road: 46-35 (.568), +87 run differential
The offenses for these two teams are electric, capable of manufacturing runs equally with both speed and power.
Pitching was the big reason why the Tribe was the sexy pick to meet the Cubs in the World Series, but Carlos Carrasco is out for the postseason after a comebacker broke a bone in his hand in mid September.
Danny Salazar is currently working his way back from a flexor muscle problem and could be on the ALDS roster as a reliever.
So the Indians are without their best hitter and their Nos. 2 and 3 starters this series. Also, Kluber is coming off a quad injury suffered last week, and catcher Yan Gomes only recently returned from hand and shoulder problems.
A new set of Tribe carrying the weight of 1948 on their shoulders.