There is perhaps no franchise outside of the Chicago Cubs that is more cursed than the Cleveland Indians. Most would agree that Cleveland as a sports city is the most cursed in the entire country. While the city has had small amounts of time in the spotlight, such as when LeBron James came to town for just under a decade. Before LeBron was even born, something much more important to Cleveland sports was brewing.
The Indians haven't won the World Series since 1948, the second longest drought in the sport, and between 1948 and the 1990s, the team was absolutely abysmal. However, through the tireless efforts of new owner Dick Jacobs, the team began to turn it around.
George Christian Pappas' new book "A Tribe Reborn" tells that story through many lenses as he recalls the Indians' unlikely ascension to the top of baseball's food chain. It began with Jacobs' initial purchase of the team and then continued as the team adopted a completely new philosophy in many areas of business both on and off the field.
Pappas goes on to explain how Jacobs, who loved the city and the team before he was even their owner, was the perfect man to turn around baseball in Cleveland. With the way Jacobs completely revolutionized the team's scouting process, front office evaluation and locker room culture, it's hard to disagree.
With worse fortunes than the lovable losers themselves from the 1950s through the 1990s, the upswing the Indians' experienced is really one of baseball's underrated rebuilding efforts. Not a whole lot of people remember those teams, but they were great for the better part of a decade and sparked the imagination of a city.
Interviewing star players like Mike Hargrove, John Hart, Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel, Pappas really gets the whole story like nobody has before. In fact, nobody has bothered to write in depth on the topic when it was one of the more remarkable success stories in baseball history. Really, most of Jacobs' efforts in turning around the team were very Moneyball-like in how unconventional they were for the time period.
Even though the Indians never won a World Series during their run in the 1990s—and still haven't won one since 1948—the team gave the city more than a title ever could. What they gave the city of Cleveland was hope, which is one of many reasons the city hosted a victory parade in a season the team didn't win the World Series.
Through Pappas' smooth reporting and story-telling, those who experienced the turnaround first-hand can relive the magic.