Cleveland Indians' 5 Best of the Best 2011 Moments

Sean ManContributor IISeptember 18, 2011

Cleveland Indians' 5 Best of the Best 2011 Moments

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    Sometimes going to games at Progressive Field in 2011 made you feel more like you were at Cedar Point than at a big league ball game.

    From such baby-faced rookies, to up and down swings in games, to celebration for unorthodox milestones (Congrats, John), to the sometimes child-like behavior you saw (Carlos...), it was certainly a fresh whirlwind of events in 2011.

    Early game blowouts would be followed by a triumphant ties in the ninth, off the bat of Jack Hannahan, or off the bat of Matt LaPorta, or other Tribe secondary stars, only to be jabbed in the chest with an extra inning loss or tough call from the umps.

    Then there were those nights that saw games go well past midnight, where a man with a Harvard economics degree would will his way for the win (Thanks, Frank). Well, it's the end of the year and good memories are the highlights.

    Here is a video documentary on the last 6 months of your life, with the top five moments of the '11 Indians season and a few other noteworthy video gems for your Wahoo pleasure.




    Disclaimer: There were A LOT of majestic fan moments this season, hence please feel free to do us a good service in noting what I've missed, games that made the '11 season what it was, and your favorite memories as well!

Travis Hafner Goes the Distance

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    The Indians looked dead in the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays. After all, they were down 4-1.

    But Luis Perez had a little '11 Chris Perez in him and decided to make it interesting. However, this Perez proved to have far too much Joe Borowski in him and subsequently pulled a Jose Mesa.

    Shortly thereafter, he probably called Bob Wickman for advice, upon concluding his night simultaneously texting Tom Mastny and Danys Baez. Simply put, his fastball was too Doug Jones-esque and he wasn't able to shut it down.

    Pronk smacked the first pitch he saw which sparked Twitter to work overtime that night with an absolute buzz from not only fans, but the players and front office alike. It was certainly one of those nights that made Tribe fans ponder... playoffs?

    By the way, no need to buy a "Who's Who" Guide to Indians closers of the past two decades anymore.

Jason Kipnis Walk-off Single

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    The walkoffs just kept coming. 

    The symbolism of Kipnis' walkoff was extra special because it best represents the role the rookies had on the Indians roster and the way they handled it: they came through in the clutch, more times than not.

    Remember Ezequiel Carrera's first big league at-bat in mid-May? He was nearly an over-night callup, came in to pinch-hit and had a suicide squeeze bunt... and executed it successfully for the win.

    Don't forget about Carlos Santana's walk-off grand slam against the Tigers to close out the month of April, he, too, of course only in his first full big league season.

    Jason Kipnis' first hit was this smack to right field. So many rookies played dramatic roles for Cleveland from Lonnie Chisenhall, Vinnie Pestano, Carrera, Kipnis, Jeanmar Gomez, Cord Phelps (you forgot all about this one), just to name a few...

    Be sure to turn up the audio volume for this one, this guy says it all!

Asdrubal Vizquel

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    Another somewhat symbolic video of the season; it illustrates everything Asdrubal Cabrera was in '11.

    And by everything, I basically mean the Indians' MVP.

    The theatrics in the field were worthy of an Academy Award. He practically wrote the ESPN Baseball Tonight script because he was putting on a nightly clinic.

    By the end of the season, he had his own how-to-play-Shortstop tutorial video available to order on Amazon. He is, the most interesting Shortstop in baseball...

    Perhaps not the most interesting as Derek Jeter's love life seems to make the tabloids more often, but certainly the best American League Shortstop in 2011. 

    For as amazing as his "web gems" were, he was that and then some with the bat. No one could have projected the absolute power tear he went on in April and continued with extra base hit power, and no one foresaw 20+ homers from a guy that had a grand total of 18 in the four seasons prior.

    He became a blend of what the Indians envisioned Jhonny Peralta to be offensively with a taste of Omar Vizquel on the defensive side.

    Not to mention, you did notice who he made this Baron Davis-esque (or... Kyrie Irving-esque, anyone?) flip against, right? 

"We're Contenders Now."

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    Manager of the 1989 Cleveland Indians, Lou Brown, was quoted in an American Express commercial stating: "We're contenders now..."

    However, that was in the movies.

    The season undeniably felt linked to the films two decades prior and this trade felt like the moment that said: "we're going for it...we're contenders."

    Who's happy to see this as a highlight for the '11 season? Well, only time will tell if it really is a highlight or not. But for now, let's stay optimistic in moving forward.

    If Ubaldo is the pitcher he was in 2010, then it's happy times in Cleveland. He's affordable for at least two more years and represents a frontline starter the Indians need to pair with Justin Masterson.

    Many fans were displeased the Tribe had traded for Jimenez namely because they had lost 174 games to get high first round draft picks in Alex White and Drew Pomeranz. Not to mention, they had put a lot of stock and labeled them with high expectations (Joe Gardner, too).

    However, the trade did mean that the rebuild was over. The Indians were/are ready to contend with the big boys/spenders now. They have their projected lineup out in Cleveland for the foreseeable future and the Jimenez trade hence marked the end of a rebuild.

    No more trading of franchise catchers, never again trading back-to-back Cy Young award winners, and no more "Clearance" tag on nearly every jersey in the team store.

    That, my friends, has got to be a highlight of the season, right? 

Jim Thome and the Thomecoming 9 Years in the Making

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    The baseball gods demanded Jim Thome be back in Cleveland. The 1 in a 1000 odds of No. 25 coming back were defied as Thome arrived mid-August back to home sweet Thome... for his Thomecoming... because there's no place like Thome. Am I missing anything else there? 

    High schools around the area took note on how to put a homecoming on the right way as they witnessed the Thomecoming at his former stomping grounds of *Jacobs Field. It truly was Jacobs Field that night because the biggest piece of the 90's returned home and he brought back a sellout crowd as he and the 90's were accustomed to. 

    While his first at-bat... first pitch, nonetheless, may be less than memorable (a little billiards cue shot back to the pitcher), Thome's return to Cleveland may be the highlight of the '11 season... His career came full circle and the fans embraced the hero of the 90's and franchise Home Run leader one last time, before he enters the Cooperstown wearing the Wahoo emblem... and thankfully not the new red hat C emblem