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?
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.
- 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?
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.
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.
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."
- 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? 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.
- 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.
- The Todd? Fans of "Scrubs" are very familiar with the womanizing (sometimes to the point that he's hiding his homosexuality), high-fiving, finger snapping, surgeon, Todd Quinlan. He calls himself "The Todd" and when the Indians traded Mark DeRosa to St. Louis for Chris Perez and a PTBNL, I personally screamed for Jess Todd just so we could call him, "The Todd."
- Clifford the Big Red Razorback? When Cliff Lee was around, he would occasionally, before he was 100% awesome and made of steal, cause you to call out CLIFFORD!!!! Even though his name is Clifton, CLIFFORD is the easiest... Because Clifford was a Big Red Dog, and Cliff Lee is from Arkansas, the college that has a big red razorback as it's mascot, Clifford the Big Red Razorback was born.
- Why should Marty Party? When Andy Marte was a member of the Cleveland Indians, near the end of his tenure, we decided that Marty just really wanted to Party. Okay wait a second, why Marty? Well eventually Marte's career became a bit of a joke and really if you say Mar-te, you are kind of saying Marty. Or if your from Youngstown and have a weird way of pronouncing some words, it just comes out that way when you say it real fast. Somehow Marty ended up Partying every time he would hit a homer (likely because it was a rare occasion). Then Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" came out and that morphed into "Party with Mart-e" and really, one stupid idea led to another.
- This section is always being update, with changes happening occasionally. Last update: February 6th, 2013