The Indians wanted to connect with their fans--Twitter made that possible
Chris Antonetti, newly promoted general manager of the Cleveland Indians, got the ball rolling as spring training came to an end. Clearly, the Indians front office/marketing/PR team decided to get the entire organization on the bandwagon.
They were simple words, yet foreshadowing of how powerful social media in the Indians clubhouse became.
Cleveland's 2011 baseball season can be defined by its walk-off wins, hyped call-ups from the farm system and major trade deadline deals, but perhaps the world of Twitter can best describe the season as a whole.
The Twitter revolution hit the franchise about as hard as Jim Thome's 450+ ft. homer on "Jim Thome" night at the ballpark. Rookies were tweeting, All-Stars were tweeting, pseudo-inner consciences were tweeting, the unspoken were considering tweeting, executives and front office staff were tweeting... even voo-doo dolls, drunk announcers and a whole cast of a make-believe Indians' from movies past were ranting and raving about the ups and downs of the season via the social media MVP.
The world of Twitter invited many Indians to join, and ate some apart. Matt LaPorta, formerly @Gator4God would attest to this. Some opted to focus on the season, as we saw Lou Marson and Lonnie Chisenhall take early retirements from Twitter in spring training.
But all in all, Twitter and the Indians were in tact all season long.
Hence, here is the 2011 Cleveland Indians season, as told by Twitter.
April Baseball in Cleveland=#Winning
We'll let Mark Shapiro be the primary narrator for this month. After all, this was basically his team and doing well.
But it was also the first year of Indians baseball without a legend watching on.
Mark Shapiro became a huge part of the Twitter family in this month, always focusing on the positive and sometimes to those who just don't seem to get enough credit.
Fausto Carmona had a brutal stretch against the White Sox. However, he seemed to improve by the end of April and really put together a stretch that was quite good. As time would tell—well—it didn't last very long.
The Cleveland Indians' minor league system also had a guy they figured to depend on all year long... funny how things work out, though.
April would also reintroduce a guy we had not seen since May 10 of 2010.
The best part of the month? We contributed to a sweep that we really could've used about four years earlier ('07 ALCS...) but still felt good.
By the end of April, things may have truly been too good to be true, but Chris Perez had no problem with that.
Choo's May was a tough one for a multitude of reasons
May had some great wins. Even the pessimistic were optimistic.
May can be defined in two words: What if?
Primarily because it seemed crazier wins were piling up by the night. Then, of course, came the commercials on the dubbed marketing slogan.
The analysts were debating... with our very own Voo-Doo inspired mascots as "batmagic" became some sort of mythical Twitter ideology...
Meanwhile, back at the office, the team was contemplating all about the draft coming up in a month... Would they pick another pitcher in the first round?
It was also in this month that a new committee in Cleveland opened for a business, taking care of each and every client with a gangster like approach.
However, it was the beginning of the end for a face of the franchise as we saw more of this.
May also brought the unlikely dominance from one of the unlikeliest rotation anchors who proved to be worthy of a spot with his consistency.
The farm system was also sizzling hot, and one player, in particular, was on a hot streak that would foreshadow a trade in the coming months (Spoiler alert: NOT Pomeranz).
The Indians were really the talk in all of baseball.
Pure Rage via Chris Perez
The Antonetti regime made a huge acquisition in early June, drafting a promising shortstop for the future—a change from prior years after drafting college pitchers in the past two season.
Though, thankfully this guy was a much bigger help in the actual bullpen than he was on the Twitter mafia staff.
The head of the organization was also becoming one of the more dominant closers in the American League.
We also saw the inner-Cleveland in many of our players supporting a very important Cleveland-linked sports team...
Slider best explains the great scenario the Indians put themselves in by June, and one that would prove to change the franchise direction for the next several years... #winning
By June, the "if you build it, they will come" message had finally reached fans. The Indians were in first place and fans started pouring in like Jim Thome and Kenny Lofton were back in Cleveland—like it was the 90s...
The #FreeLonnie campaigns going around Twitter finally were answered once he was officially called up to help the big league club at the expense of Adam Everett.
Speaking of rookies, a highly touted infielder didn't wow in his short stint in the bigs, but did have one massive hit in him to help the Indians with his walk-off effort.
However, a huge blow hit the team after the loss of one of the best outfielders in baseball went down for the count.
Also in June, there was this... #clickwithcaution.
Carlos Carrasco was really evolving from his hyped-prospect status to a Major League power arm
Shelley Duncan shared his thoughts on the trade of Orlando Cabrera and then went on to talk about his newest teammate... Not Jason Kipnis, and not Ubaldo Jimenez... but a guy that absolutely raked since he returned after early season injuries and looks to play an instrumental infield role in the future.
July was a pivotal point in not only this season, but many to come. While the experts wanted to see players like Jason Kipnis promoted to the big leagues, they still had questions about his defense. The greatness of Twitter allowed players like Kipnis express themselves to critics... and they did.
Before the month concluded, you had a new ace arrive, and the second baseman of the future arrive to town with more reinforcements to come by month's end.
It was also in late July that we lost one of our own on Twitter. After crucially grounding into a double play with the bases loaded, the man formerly known as @Gator4God hung up his twit on theTwittersphere after taking a rash of heat from exasperated and angered Tribe fans.
Fortunately for him, he'd have a walk-off hit several days after deleting that account. Perhaps his post-Twitter career will bring new big things from him as he hopes to remain on the '12 team.
Frank Herrmann came up huge in this month, too.
Chris Perez was one of our proud representatives for the All-Star game and deserving of All-Star Twitter status as well, as he was a proud owner of these.
However, July dictated the direction the team was going for 2011 after the Indians were succumbed by a no-hitter courtesy of Ervin Santana and the Angels. A man, once victimized by Twitter (prematurely announcing his call-up a year ago), returned to the Indians rotation for an impressive string of starts.
By the end of July, it was clear that we had an ace going forward.
However, Mark Shapiro promised to do all he could do keep building the team up, and had another ace on his way to Cleveland in the form of Ubaldo Jimenez.
The Thomecoming may have been the highlight of 2011
Ubaldo-mania of early August only last a short time because...
The end of the month was all about Jim Thome in Cleveland.
Everybody had something to say about him.
August 10th was simply awesome for the extra-inning game, Vinnie thought highly of.
From a pitching front, well, this says it all from a collective standpoint.
Twitter also allowed us to bond with our favorite players, often Q&A-ing many of them. Kipnis, especially.
Then, there was Trevor Crowe who asked you all this rhetorical question going into the home stretch of the season...
Shin-Soo Choo scuffling from a whirlwind of a stressful season looked great in August for a short time, especially after this—coming days after the birth of his first child.
Shortly thereafter, our colorful closer reached a plateau in his first season as a full-time closer... one that his predecessor, Kerry Wood, could never do with the team. He always made the fans feel important, too.
Thome circa 1995: Going out to play thirdbase
September was a tough month for the Indians...
The graciousness that many of the Indians players showed/tweeted in the game's final days really made you think this team has a lot of heart and truly love the game.
This piece, was not so much a gem, from Tony Sipp but it capped off a rookie-filled year.
This was also the month where we said goodbye to a legend in the booth.
We did have one winner in the system, proving the organizational depth and hope for the future.
We say goodbye to great characters and players alike, and hope the moves of 2011 bring postseason baseball for 2012.
2011 really did have it all. Pinnacle highs, crushing blows, franchise defining trades, homecomings that were years in the making and though they lacked postseason baseball, they gave us hope and a core to follow for the years to come.
Lastly, thank you to Twitter for making this slideshow possible and this season one with such great communication between our fan base and the Cleveland Indians.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter for random #Indians tidbits, Retweets and such, too.