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Posts tagged ‘Cleveland Ohio’

July, 1997

What were you doing in 1997?

Let me refresh your memory –
Titanic was the top movie of the year. But, if you were like me, you found Good Will Hunting to be more your speed.
The top song of the year, according to Billboard, was “Candle in the Wind 1997” by Elton John because it was the same year the world said goodbye to Princess Diana.
We also lost Mother Theresa, Notorious B.I.G., Gianni Versace, and Married With Children –
But we welcomed Hanson (Mmmbop), the Harry Potter series, Pokemon, America’s first female secretary of state (Madeline Albright), and Dolly the Sheep’s clone.
Bill Clinton was still president!

Back in 1997, now 20 years ago, (watch out, I’m about to admit my age here) I was a 14-year-old girl living in a small town in northeastern Ohio and had just completed the 6th grade. On July 7, I watched my first baseball game – the 1997 All Star game live from my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio!

When I started watching baseball, Bartolo Colon and I were still in Cleveland – and we both weighed a lot less.

It’s funny to think about how much baseball has changed, how much the world has changed, and how much I’ve changed in those twenty years. When I watched that All Star game, I was sitting in my living room – without air conditioning – looking at a tv that only got a handful of channels and, by today’s standards, was ridiculously small. Sandy Alomar, Jr was the MVP – and a hell of a catcher for the Indians at that time (my favorite). Now, he’s the first base coach for the Indians. The first base coach for the Detroit Tigers is his former teammate Omar Vizquel.

The Indians went to the World Series that year, and lost in game seven the (then) Florida Marlins. The heartbreak I experienced during game seven of the 2016 World Series is the only thing that has softened the blow of that loss. This week, the (now) Miami Marlins drafted Joe Dunand, Jr – the nephew of Alex’s Rodriguez (who first caught my eye about 5 minutes after I started watching baseball in 1997).

This year, on July 8 – twenty years and 1 day since I started watching baseball – I’ll be returning “home” for Andrew Miller night in Cleveland, and taking my 8-year-old nephew to his first baseball game. If I was finishing my first year of middle school in 1997, Andrew Miller was finishing elementary school; he probably wasn’t 5 feet tall yet and no one in the world could have known what kind of bullpen hero he would develop into (of that he would eventually become my Hero).

What does it mean that all of these things are now a distant memory? First, it means I’m getting older… But as I’ve mentioned multiple times before, it also means I’ve seen a lot of history. And, also like I’ve said before, I’m thankful for that history.

I’m thankful to have watched baseball in the height of, and the decline of, steroid use.
I’m thankful to have seen pitchers develop into the magicians they are today.
I’m thankful to see young players like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Manny Machado (my personal favorite) show up and light baseball on fire.
I’m thankful for watching my all-time favorite, Alex Rodriguez, play for 20 years, and even for his retirement, because I can appreciate his talent, his high points – and his low points – and his man he’s become after all the chaos
I’m thankful for the Cleveland Indians because without them, baseball would be just another game to me.
And I’m even thankful for not one, but two blow game sevens – because I’ve always known how emotional baseball could be, and because I needed that “coming home” moment last fall to remind me where my journey began.

July is special to me. Each year during the All Star game, I’m thankful I started watching this game. A few years ago, I joined twitter specifically to talk about this game, and two years ago started my baseball blog. This July, exactly two decades later, I will have the opportunity to share this game with my nephew Hunter.

Will he be as mesmerized by the game as I was? Will he see a player on the field he immediately knows is his favorite? Will he love the game as much as his Aunt Jess does?

Maybe none of those things happen – but you know I’ll certainly try my best to share my love of this wonderful game.

A Cleveland Love Letter

No matter what team we’ll be cheering for tonight, baseball fans everywhere can agree this is going to be a good World Series. Both teams, along with their fans, have been waiting their whole lives (or longer) for this moment.

For just the third time in my lifetime, the Cleveland Indians are going to the World Series, and I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve been told several times, by a variety of people, that you can’t have more than one favorite team. To be honest, I don’t really care what any of those people think. There are four teams in Major League Baseball I would be incredibly happy to see in the World Series because they’re my favorites. And there are a lot of other teams, the Chicago Cubs included, whose bandwagons I would jump on…if only they weren’t playing one of my favorite teams.

It has been 68 years since the Cleveland Indians won the World Series. Yes, it’s been longer for the Cubs – the whole world knows that – but 68 years is still a long time, especially in a city like Cleveland.

For my fellow Yankee fans who miss seeing their team in the playoffs, think of it this way: it’s only been nine years since the Yankees won it all (and it was great!). Imagine living those same nine years another nine (almost ten) times. That’s how long it’s been for Indians fans.

Until the Cavs won their championship earlier this year, Cleveland wasn’t considered a winning city. (Maybe it still isn’t?) The Indians came close a few times since 1948, but they never sealed the deal. The Cavs were pretty good, but then LeBron bailed (but eventually came back). And the Browns may not win a single game this season – there’s very little hope they ever see a Super Bowl in my lifetime.

Cleveland is “The Mistake by the Lake” is the butt of many jokes, sports included. I first realized this when I was a young child watching an episode of Saved by the Bell. When Kelly Kapowski said the Cleveland Indians were one of the biggest jokes in history, I asked my dad why she was being so mean to our team. “Because,” he said “the Indians were really bad for a very long time.”

I’m fortunate enough to have been too young to remember the really bad years. I do, however, remember exactly where I was when the Indians lost the 1995 and 1997 World Series. I could walk into my childhood homes (we moved in early 1997), stand in the exact same spot, and feel like the moment just happened. To be so close to winning it all and it slipping through their fingers…well, Cleveland never wins at anything anyway.

Cleveland is my home, and regardless of what people say, it’s a pretty damn great city! We’ve had our very public struggles (did your river ever catch on fire?), but we’re pulled through. The Cleveland I still visit today is very different from the Cleveland of years and decades past, and it’s getting better every day.

For most of my life, the Indians were the only baseball I had in my life, so I will absolutely be cheering for them tonight and for the rest of this season. I’ll be cheering with my 91-year-old Gramma who will be watching it at home (hopefully with a cold beer). I’ll be cheering with John Adams, the “annoying drum guy” who has sat out in left field for every game since 1972, including the bad ones. And I’ll be cheering for my Grampa, and many others who are no longer here to watch their team play ball.

It’s been a good year for Cleveland, and there will never be more excitement downtown than there is tonight. Let’s use that energy and #RallyTogether for our city.

 

I only wish I had a Great Lakes beer to drink with the game.

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