Cleveland, for instance, went from 105 losses in 1991 to 100 wins four years later and now serves as the prototype for optimistic Detroit fans. Indians manager Mike Hargrove replaced John McNamara halfway through the '91 season, and the team suffered through two more dismal years before opening the doors to a new ballpark and a new era. Now when the Indians go on the road, they bring more than just busloads of fans—they bring an attitude. When the game is close, they know they are going to win. When they're playing the Tigers, both teams know Cleveland is going to win.
"Believe me, I understand what the Tigers are going through." says Hargrove. "But you have to stick with your plan and not let the grumbling of the fans and media get to you."
As Hargrove spoke, Cleveland designated hitter Eddie Murray stepped into the cage for batting practice, and the crowd chanted, "Ed-die! Ed-die!" With each line drive the fans screeched like schoolgirls at a Coolio concert. Chief Wahoo was everywhere. The baseball world had come full circle. The Tigers had become the Indians, and Cleveland was right there at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.
"I look over at those guys," says Fielder, standing on the dugout steps and nodding at the Cleveland players, "and I just envy the whole thing. I envy the way they take the field. I envy the atmosphere around them. What can you say? They're having a lot more fun than we are."