Home opener special for players, coaches

Cleveland's unofficial holiday comes around but once a year, when the Cleveland Indians have their home opener, and come this afternoon at 3:05, those proudly wearing the uniform expect a raucous crowd of more than 42,000 fans at Progressive Field cheering them on as they battle the Minnesota Twins.

"The home openers are always more special because it's your home crowd," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It's a clean slate, and our last memory of Cleveland was the playoff game. We didn't do what we wanted to do on the field. The fans overwhelmed everybody, and it was so touching that we want to recreate that, and the home opener is the best time to do that.

"Those people, I felt all along, they were dying to like their team, and I felt proud. We may not have set attendance records, but the people that came were enthusiastic, and they cared. They're good fans, and when everybody showed up, it was awesome."

All-star second baseman Jason Kipnis said opening day in Cleveland is "one of the best" that he has been a part of in his career.

"It's usually one of the biggest crowds, one of the most into-it crowds," Kipnis said. "People haven't had baseball in a long time, and it's their first chance to get back into the stadium. Numbers count. Everyone's back at zero. It's a fresh start, and it's go time from there.

"Having just a sea of red come out, just seeing nothing but Tribe colors and having all the fans show up to the ballpark, the excitement, the balloons, the fireworks, the music going on, things going on in the streets around the stadium, there's just a buzz around the ballpark the whole day. It's probably the most fun day of the season."

And Kipnis should know about exciting atmospheres. He is a native of Northbrook, Illinois, and twice went to opening day for Chicago's baseball teams.

"The electricity around a ballpark, the vibe that's given out, everyone's in a good mood," Kipnis said. "It might be a little chilly at the time, but everyone's excited about the season, excited about the game, about being there and watching the game of baseball. The environment is just a lot of fun, and it's a lot of things happening at once."

The home opener will be especially meaningful for Indians first baseman Nick Swisher.

Swisher quickly became a fan favorite because he is a native of Columbus and product of The Ohio State University, as well as for the enthusiasm he had for joining the Indians as a free agent in January of 2013.

He will be cheered loudly, especially by Section 117, which has officially been dubbed the "BrOhio" section.

"Opening day in Cleveland is going to be insane," Swisher said. "Friday night, BrOhio section going off, it's going to be absolutely insane. I can't wait for that day. People are going to try and say, 'You've got to keep your emotions in check for that game,' but man, I'm going to be fired up, dude.

"That place is going to be rocking and rolling, playoff style, and man, I just can't wait. Especially with what happened for us at Tribe Fest, the way the weather was and how the fans still came out, that just makes you feel amazing. Regardless of what the weather's going to be, we're going to be full force. Tribe nation, Roll Tribe. With BrOhio doing its thing in section 117, man, I'm stoked. I think it's going to be great."


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