Awards & Events

Indians VP Expects Tribe To Play in Postseason

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Once the Cleveland Indians are playing a more consistent schedule, the team will again be a contender for the postseason, a team vice president told members of three service clubs.

Bob DiBiasio, Indians’ senior vice president of public affairs, was Thursday’s featured speaker at a joint meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Youngstown, Youngstown Lions Club and Rotary Club of Youngstown.

“We are good enough, we are talented enough to win the World Series,” he declared.

At 9-7 following Wednesday night’s loss to the Minnesota Twins in a 16-inning game in Puerto Rico, the team is expected to win the American League Central Division, and DiBiasio expects the team to advance to postseason play.

“Who stayed up and watched all of the game last night?” he asked the assembled service club members. “That was a tough one. Once we get to playing some baseball with regularity, you’ll see this team take off. Our guys just haven’t had a chance to get a rhythm going.”

DiBiasio attributed the team’s uneven start partially to being unable to build a rhythm by playing regularly. Two games against the Toronto Blue Jays were postponed due to weather, leaving the Indians with a four-day gap between last Friday’s game against Toronto and Tuesday’s matchup with Minnesota.

After a four-game stint on the road against the Baltimore Orioles, the Indians return home Tuesday for 11 games in 10 days, including a May 3 doubleheader against Toronto.

“I don’t know if we’ll win 102 games like we did a year ago, but we’re easily a 90-plus win team,” he continued. “Once we get to playing on a regular basis, this team will find its rhythm and we’ll have some fun this summer.”

Over the past five seasons, the Indians have been one of the elite teams of the American League with the best win-loss record over that period at more than 100 games over .500, he reported.

The Boston Red Sox are next on that list, he continued. For that record, the Red Sox spent $420 million more on players than the Indians during that same period “to get 20 wins less,” he pointed out.

“What does that mean? To us, it means we don’t spend foolishly,” he remarked. “It’s not about how much money you spend. It’s who you spend your money on. … If your business model was to just throw money at the problem, how successful are you?”

The Indians’ pitching staff is as good as any team’s in baseball, and he said the offense should produce at least a 90-win season. He praised several players individually.

“I never thought that I would see another Omar Vizquel in a Cleveland Indians uniform,” he said. “Francisco Lindor is another Omar Vizquel. He’s better offensively than Omar was. … We should just cherish very time he takes the field.”

On the pitching front, two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber is one of the elite pitchers in the game, he remarked. “It’s unbelievable what he does each time out,” he said.

Over the past three years, the team’s owners have spent in excess of $35 million on changes to Cleveland’s Progressive Field, formerly Jacobs Field, where the team has played for 25 seasons. Those modifications aim to take into account what the next 25 years will look like and how to address the wants and needs of fans, he said.

“What are they looking for when they come to the ballpark to really enjoy themselves, to get that total fan experience?” he said. They investigated around the world to find out what was being put in venues that wasn’t at the Cleveland stadium in 1994.

Among the changes in recent years was installation of The Corner, a bar section in the right field district where fans can purchase a standing-room-only district ticket to watch games. Purchase of the $15 ticket includes a $4 credit toward concessions.

DiBiasio said he never thought he would see the day when the Indians would sell a ticket without a section number, row number or seat number. The younger demographic that purchases those tickets prefer to be part of a social gathering rather than “just sit in a seat and deal with the people on each side of them,” he said. The section sells out almost every game, he reported.

Indians fans among the service clubs were glad to hear from the team executive and were encouraged by what they heard regarding the team’s prospects this season.

“It’s exciting to hear that the Indians are going to be great this season,” Kiwanis member Gary Winslow said.

Winslow has been a fan since he moved to the area in 1987, a year the team finished with a 61-101 record. “You had to be a baseball fan to be an Indians fan,” he remarked.

John Fahnert, a Youngstown Rotary member, said he goes to several different sports-related events and DiBlasio is among his favorite speakers. “He’s very candid and entertaining,” he said.

Pictured: Bob DiBiasio, Cleveland Indians senior vice president of public affairs, addresses a joint meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Youngstown, Youngstown Lions Club and Rotary Club of Youngstown.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.