GOODYEAR, Ariz. - Like Captain America packed away on ice, Tribe fans wake up in early February.
In the clubhouse, new Indian Nick Swisher is ready to embrace his new weapon in the Tribe's $100 million-plus upgrade. His name Michael Bourn.
Swisher tells ESPN, "I just want to hug him."
When we last left the Cleveland Indians, it was July 31, 2009.
A tearful Victor Martinez packed his bags he was off to Boston. Cliff Lee was gone two days earlier, and you had a year to sulk about C.C. Sabathia on July 7, 2008.
For most Indians fans enough was enough. Two Cy Young-award winners and a fan favorite gone. Why? Because the Indians knew they couldn't afford to keep them around.
The Indians welcomed home Swisher to Ohio, where they used OSU football coach Urban Meyer to close the deal on the scoreboard, gently reminding him he is a Buckeye. The only thing not used in the recruiting pitch was Drew Carey holding the $56 million check, surrounded by beautiful women.
Bourn is the guy that gets Indians fans back to the ballpark. The Indians beat out the Mets to bring in a free agent for $46 million. It's really the most significant free agent signing the Indians have made since Robby Alomar in 1999.
Yes, the Indians inked a Gold Glove, All-Star. Most Indians fans are still in shock.
Why? It's a drastic change in team philosophy. Perhaps if the team can start winning, you can bring a shovel to the perception the Dolans won't spend money. It's a long road to haul, but, it has to start somewhere. Most fans aren't ready to believe this will be a new trend, until they see it.
What might be missed in the free-agent hype is that the Indians made a good trade that put more flex on the hill and in the outfield. Drew Stubbs from the Reds and three pitchers from Arizona: right-hander Trevor Bauer , the third pick in the 2011 amateur draft, and relievers Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw .
It's all behind a manager that loves his players and has two rings to show them that only respect can be tolerated. Terry Francona is a reminder that we are no longer going to see the Columbus Clippers in a big league ballpark.
Chris Perez was right last year when he said to Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com when comparing the Tigers to the Tribe.
"It comes down to that. They (the Tigers) are spending money. He (Mike Ilitch) wants to win. Even when the economy was down, he spent money. He's got a team to show for it. You get what you pay for in baseball. Sometimes you don't. But most of the time you do," Prerez said.
But it was also the same Perez that just said to Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer, "It feels like we're a big-market club."
"We identified some problems and went out and spent on guys. It all started with Tito (Francona). He set the tone. I don't think a lot of these moves would have happened without him being here. He attracts players. His reputation is pretty impeccable among the baseball players and that goes a long way."
So now you have reason to be excited about the Indians. I'm not going to ruin a good moment by reminding how much of a turnaround the starting rotation is going to have to have to make this team a winner. Thursday is the first day that the entire team needs to be in camp. I'm just going to keep my fingers crossed in early February.
It's just nice to care about the tribe again, even C.C. Sabathia said to CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler "I never got a free agent like that when I was there. Good for them."
It's a long-time coming, but it feels good to have this franchise out of the deep freeze. If Captain America can come back to Cleveland to shoot another movie this spring, then maybe the Indians thawed out checkbook can take out the opposition in the same way.