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Visit Cleveland on the afternoon of April 6 and don't be surprised if a bunch of contagiously optimistic Clevelanders high-five you while jaunting around Downtown. That's because you'll be conveniently inserted into one of the town's biggest parties that has city blocks covered in red-white-and-blue revelry, packed in bars, pouring out onto patios and emitting a unique kind of local pride.
It's the Cleveland Indians Home Opener—an unofficial holiday here in The Land.
For us Cleveland baseball fans, hope springs eternal in 2018. How could it not? After all, our formidable lineup includes steely pitching ace Corey Kluber—who won his second Cy Young Award in 2017—and Silver Slugger-winning superstars José Ramírez and Francisco Lindor.
However, Indians baseball offers a lot more than entertaining gameplay. Here are six more reasons why we're so stoked that baseball is returning to the corner of Ontario and Carnegie.
After starting the season on the road, the Tribe open their home schedule on Friday, April 6, with a 4:10pm game against the Kansas City Royals. No surprise, the game sold out right away. So, even if many Clevelanders didn't get tickets you'll still catch them skipping out of work early anyway and hanging out Downtown. Opening Day excitement reverberates through every single bar—and there's nothing like bonding with fellow baseball fans over a few brews.
Although Opening Day is sold out, single tickets to the other 80 Indians home games are currently on sale via the Indians' website. One of the team's best deals remains the $15 standing-room-only District Ticket. Not only is the first drink on the house, but these ticket-holders are then encouraged to hang out at the two-story, right field Corner Bar, which boasts dozens of delicious local and craft beers, as well as unparalleled camaraderie.
The Indians' 2018 promotional schedule is chock full of beloved standbys, including Dollar Dog night and the entertainment-packed Right Field District Block Parties. However, this year's array of free swag also includes bobbleheads of current players, some sweet jerseys, a plastic pint glass and a snapback hat. Progressive Field's version of happy hour also returns, which is Pregame in the District in which they offer $2(!) 12-ounce domestic cans from 5-7pm before select weekend games.
Although the Indians' 2018 roster looks a little different than 2017's model—reliever Bryan Shaw left via free agency, outfielder Michael Brantley is still recovering from an ankle injury and Danny Salazar's shoulder is keeping him out of the starting rotation—the team's solid core of pitchers and hitters remains intact. In even better news, Jason Kipnis had an injury-plagued 2017 season, but is leading the Cactus League in dingers during spring training. A "Kip Comeback" is good news for us—and bad news for opposing pitchers.
Manager Terry Francona had a tough spring training, as his dad Tito Francona passed away suddenly back in February. However, the beloved Indians skipper still found time to give heavyweight Mike Napoli another shot at strutting his stuff. The "Party at Napoli's" icon signed a minor league contract. "He's earned the right to enjoy when he plays, and I want him to do that," Francona told USA Today.
The Indians had a relatively quiet off-season. They exercised the 2018 contracts on pitcher Josh Tomlin and outfielder Michael Brantley, and signed a slew of players—including former outfielder Rajai Davis—to minor league contracts. Expect the biggest changes in the bullpen, which is still taking shape as of early March.
Progressive Field is an urban ballpark in the truest sense, both architecturally and aesthetically. Built within the physical boundaries of three main...