Please Explain

Baseball is a crazy sport. It has traditions and codes and superstitions that downright makes some people's heads explode if they don't understand it.

The Cleveland Indians have some strange traditions that have grown over the years. I decided that there isn't one place on the web that doesn't fully explain some things that every Tribe fan should know if they are going to watch the game.

That is why I created this page. This has all the unanswered questions you might have typed into Google before as well as things that are related to this blog that you should know if you read regularly.

If you have something you want explained or think needs to be up here, I'm open for discussion. Drop me a line.

Who is the drummer?
Photo - Marvin Fong via Plain Dealer

Let's get the basics out of the way. If you don't know the drummer's name by now, you must not have the internet or even watch television. John Adams is the name of the guy banging on the drum at every home game. He sits at the top of the bleachers under the scoreboard. Know his name like he's your uncle and when someone asks you who is the guy banging the drum, simply say: "Oh, you mean John?" Some facts about him and his drum.

- He bangs the drum only when the Indians get a runner in scoring position or late in games. He does not hit the drum when the team is pitching. John understands the point of a rally and I bet if he were to start the wave, he wouldn't do so when the team is pitching.

- Adams used to pay for not only his own ticket, but one for his drum. He's been a season ticket holder, but it is widely believed he at least doesn't have to pay for the drum anymore. There is no official verification if the Indians continue to let him buy season tickets or if they just let him up there every game. He's been doing it for 35+ years. Since Adams did not want it to be an obligation, he declined an official invitation to do it for every game when he first started. Adams does it just for fun. He's a normal guy living a semi-normal life with a real job. The semi-normal part comes in with the whole local celebrity that bangs a drum at every home game.

- He did have a bobblehead during the 2008 season. Technically a bobblearm I guess.

- Yes his attire is mostly blue jeans and a white buttoned up shirt and yes he's used the same drum for all these years. Obviously he has to replace the heads on it and does so a few times each season.

- When the Indians played a home series in Milwaukee against the Angels in 2007 due to the snow, the club flew Adams and his drum out to Miller Park.

What's with the guy wearing bright colored hats on the first base side?
Photo - Chuck Crow via Plain Dealer

Ever since the opening of Jacob's Field, now Progressive Field, Tom O'Toole has had season tickets in a spot that is on camera when television gets a close-up on left handed batters. He and his wife don't attend every game anymore, visible mostly on weekend series (and pretty much every Friday game). Some facts about the man with the colored hats.

- He does change the hat every inning and every inning has the same hat every game. He only has 11 hats, so if the game ever goes into extra innings, he starts over. For the nine inning run down, visit this link from Uni Watch.

- When he leaves his seat to use the restroom, his wife will don the hat he's wearing. People actually have gotten upset with him when they didn't see the bright colors represented.

- Update (05/2014): I have been asked what happened to our good friend Tom O'Toole as he hasn't been visible in quite some time. As recently as 2012, it was reported from the Plain Dealer that O'Toole wasn't going to many games due to a back injury.

- Sad Update (07/2016): Tom O'Toole passed away in January. The awesome thing is that his obit brings us to know that he lived an amazing life and fittingly was a journalist, love it. A fantastic 80 years Tom, with many bright and colorful hats. Rest in peace.

That Sign... You know, the one with the ripped Chief Wahoo. Who updates that?

This one, ya?

Photo - Reuters via
That man holding the sign is Jim Stamper. He was a frequenter in the 90's with his awesome phrases and has been seen there during memorable runs in these past few decades as well.

He isn't there much often due to time commitments with his own business. But he still remains a fixture, especially during playoff runs.

Just one of the many superfans the Indians have had over the years and another unique quark to Progressive Field's atmosphere when it is at its best.

What the hell is Slider supposed to be anyways?

Slider is the official mascot of the Cleveland Indians. He is bright pink-ish, has a yellow beak-looking type of a nose, and always shakes his pelvis in a hula-hoop motion that makes child laugh and perverse individuals cackle. But what is he? A bird? A monster? Something spawned when Big Bird and Barney had a wild night in Vegas? Slider does have a tendency to put people's entire heads into his mouth.

- No one really knows what the, thing, is. The Indians don't really provide much information and you'd be hard-pressed to find information on the Internet somewhere. I think the intrigue to Slider is the mystery surrounding what he actually is. I also think the Indians have absolutely no clue what he is and since 1990 (when he was "born," how he was born is another question) they've been trying to figure this question out. Maybe that draws to his appeal and the original idea was to not know what he was.

- Slider fell off the outfield wall during the 1995 ALCS against Seattle. He fell onto the warning track and the man inside tore his ACL. Usually a mascot never reveals his identity and in this case, I don't think he would want to. If you read anything, read this print article from the Toledo Blade.

- Slider was inducted into the 2008 Mascot Hall of Fame. I'm not sure what that means, but I'm sure in some universe, it's a special honor.

Speaking of, what the hell is that...Mall guy at the Indians games? Have you seen him?

Yeah, I've seen him, and up until 2013, I've wondered what his deal was. I never knew he was "Creepy Mall Guy" to be honest. I always thought he was "Weird, Light Up LED Belt Guy". Then, as they always do, Cleveland Scene got to the bottom of him. Err.. That sounds weird. You know what I mean.

He has a Facebook page dedicated to him, as any weird obscure figure that attracts attention does. But his name is Joe. He walks the mall. He's not creepy... Only if you think he's creepy based off some of his shirts and automatically think he's creepy.

If you want to find out his deal, read the Cleveland Scene article. The bottom line, why does he go to Indians games? He likes the Tribe damnit. He's a fan. He goes to 25 or so games a year, buys a cheap ticket and enjoys the entertainment. He also wears some entertaining shirts, so there's that.

Rally Time!

The Angels have the Rally Monkey, which is all well and good. But at several points over the past, we've adopted a few "rally items" of our own. They were generally not long-standing gimmicks and usually were contained within one season.

- Rally Pie: It all started when Trot Nixon brought the "Idiot" way of living to Cleveland and started nailing everyone with pies. Now a days, it happens all around the major leagues with regularity when someone has a big game or a rookie makes his a huge impact for the first time or there's a walk off sort of victory. In Cleveland during the 2007, it happened with regularity, especially down the stretch. After every game it became a tradition as to not if someone would get hit, but when and if they would finish the interview after. The Rally Pie gimmick was carried into the playoffs, going as far as Slider being lifted on a robotic platform in the outfield with a "Rally Pie" sign attached to the edge. Classic case of a gimmick gone ridiculously too far.

- Rally Squirrel: One night in 2004, Coco Crisp laid down a bunt and beat out a throw at first with a head-first slide to help knock in a run and help knock off the immortal Mariano Rivera. The catalyst wasn't Crisp, yet a squirrel that got loose around Progressive Field and made the entire game an experience of not just baseball, but a game of "Where will the Squirrel end up next?" Of course, at the time the park wasn't Progressive Field, rather Jacob's Field and I remember actually being there. The squirrel interrupted Derek Jeter's at bat and a big reason for the publicity the squirrel gained was that the Indians were riding a nine-game losing streak before the win. Additionally, since it was the Yankees, there was plenty of New York fans and the brilliant workers of the scoreboard went around putting Indians jerseys over the Yankee fans. Then they switched to the Squirrel and put one on him. For one night, that Rally Squirrel was the Indians 10th man on the field.

- Rally Buck: It didn't have the weight of the Rally Pie and I don't think it ever won a game, but in 2010 Mike Redmond brought not only his naked batting practice habits to Cleveland, but his shot up plastic deer. For the home opener it was in the locker room and he had dubbed it "Rally Buck."
Photo - AP via NewsNet5

- Rally Chicken: Yes, a chicken has even been credited with rally-starting powers. There was some deal about Cody Allen being called "Chicken Al" by Frank Herrmann. So one day, Justin Masterson (and lord only knows where he got it) brought in a chicken.

It spurred a win, and a 2013 AL Playoff run. So can you really debate about where it ranks in terms of Rally "Insert Object/Animal here"-spurring effectiveness? It later got a bib with the Block C on it, and eventually social media hit a firestorm with its own Twitter Account.

Rally Chicken didn't end in 2013 though. Word on the street is that Corey Kluber and Cody Allen dressed up as chickens to shag fly balls. Okay, word on the street is true. They did.

Real Nicknames

- Chicken Al? Yeah, see above story about the Rally Chicken. Cody now routinely goes by Chicken Al.

- Cookie? Carlos Carrasco's much noted nickname was coined after he, was eating a cookie. He just loves cookies. This is sad that there isn't anything more deeper, but it is what it is man.

- Dr. Smooth? Michael Brantley received this nickname after Plain Dealer reporter Dennis Manoloff bestowed it upon him for his smooth swing.

- Klubot? Corey Kluber's cyborg like performance in his 2014 Cy Young Award winning year produced this gem.

- El Oso? I'm not sure where this originated for Carlos Santana, but apparently he's a bear.

- Pronk? Yep, Travis Hafner is called Pronk because he used to be called Project and Donkey until one day Bill Selby called him Project Donkey. Hafner refused both of the names being used at once and soon Pronk took form after a few variations. Ryan Ludwick was involved in the process as well, coining either Project or Donkey. Project was because he was raw and, a project.. Donkey was because he can't run around the bases. The nickname also bred this video, a 'pronking' masterpiece.

- Pure Rage? Yeah, it all started for Chris Perez when former catcher Chris Gimenez said Perez displayed "pure rage" in a game situation. From there, a Twitter account was born and Pure Rage has stuck.

- Rango? Former minor league shortstop Nick Bartolone goes by "Rango" thanks to his teammates. Kyle Blair explained on Twitter that Bartolone is "as wiley as a lizard" and "cunning like a lizard." And he looks like Rango. They also call him Italian Stallion's Little Prodigy, which has no real explanation.

-*1A: You may have noticed that the term "Bullpen Mafia" has taken on a life of its own. I am the originator of the nickname. Justin Germano even acknowledged this. It started as a simple nod to the Italian heritage of both Germano and Vinnie Pestano both having badass names. And all it took was a tip of the hat to them when they both joined twitter. Germano deserves much of the credit though for he embraced the whole thing and started referring to the entire bullpen as the Bullpen Mafia. From there, it has taken on a life of its own. This is probably the most notable thing this blog has ever done, yet not many will ever know.

Not-Real, But Real Nicknames
Because I enjoy the flair and challenge of coming up with nicknames, there are plenty of unofficial nicknames that I have come up with. None have really stuck, unless you count a small use of "Baby Louie" in reference to Luis Valbuena.

- 'Los? Best used when screaming 'LOS VAMONOS!!! for CARLOS! LET'S GO!

- Helmetless Horseman? Coined by Jeff Nomina, it's the clearly better nickname for Jose Ramirez. Don't ever call him Boom Boom.

- Baby Louie? Yeah not sure where it came from, other than Luis looked very young and was very much a little baby out there. One day "Baby Louie" started trending on Twitter and I got very excited, only to have my dreams dashed by the fact it was Sandra Bullock adopting a baby named Louie. Damn you adopted Baby Louie.

- Louie V? Paul Cousineau gets most of the credit as I believe he was the originator of this gem. It isn't Louie V, but rather said like Louie the Fifth, which has transcended into King Louie, like King Louie the Fifth.... Etc.

- The Kearnal? A play off "Colonel" only spelled as "Kearnal" originated when Austin Kearns hit a home run and I shouted "SALUTE THE KEARNAL!" I'm proud of this one, even if it makes me lame.

- The Mastard? In a desperate search to give Justin Masterson some sort of nickname, I considered Masterson's strikeout to be "Mastard Sauce" a play off Mustard... He then became The Mastard.

- CFNP? Before Pure Rage, there was CHRIS FN PEREZ, which got shortened to CFNP and sometimes CFP, due to Perez's similarity to fictional Kenny Powers, who exclaims that he is not just Kenny Powers... But KENNY F***ING POWERS!

- Why is Shelley Duncan Hawkman? Because he has a badass Hawk tattoo and one day when Charlie Sheen went crazy about Tiger Blood, I made the executive decision to counter with Hawk Blood. And Duncan became Hawkman.

- Vinnie The Gangster? I'm Italian and I have perfectly reasonable justification to call someone a gangster. The name Vinnie Pestano just screams stereotype. I'm ashamed, but proud too. When paired with Justin Germano, they become *"The Bullpen Mafia" and no one is safe.

*See 1A

This section is always being update, with changes happening occasionally. Last update: July 3rd, 2016