During a commercial for a ticket broker that runs frequently on ESPN Cleveland (850-AM), seat-seekers are told to identify themselves as station listeners with the password Swisher. It was a clever choice, since Nick Swisher will be the key for the 2013 Indians. I’m not talking about home runs or RBI or slugging percentage or walks, all categories in which Swisher, the free-agent first baseman/outfielder, has ranked among the top 25 during his eight seasons in the major leagues. Michael Bourn or Carlos Santana or Chris Perez could end up being the Indians’ Most Valuable Player. I’m talking about what the seemingly always-beaming Swisher will do for team chemistry and for the atmosphere in the clubhouse. Swisher, 32, who oozes personality even when he’s sitting in a sterile interview room in Progressive Field, might even be able to keep outspoken closer Perez happy. That’s not to say that a “Woe is me” or “Here we go again” feeling hung like a black cloud over the Tribe clubhouse all of last season. Former Indians manager Manny Acta was a prince of positivity, at least until the waning days. By Aug. 26, when former astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn threw out the first pitch, Acta seemed to have lost every ounce of enthusiasm, at least if an exchange in the runway to the dugout was any indication. But the Indians need levity. They need fun. They need goofballs. And no one seems more willing to wear the bunny ears than Swisher. Or the Martian antenna or the Mickey Mouse hat. Last season, the young Indians acted like baseball’s version of golfers in khakis. They went about their business methodically, as if they had to get in 100 pre-round putts. They were professional, but never preposterous. Except for Perez, no one seemed willing to rock the boat and create a ripple, much less a wave. They had character, but they needed characters. Consider what Swisher has already done for the Indians, even before he plays his first game in a Tribe uniform Tuesday night in Toronto. He convinced manager Terry Francona to dress up in a baby outfit. Swisher’s teammates donned similarly silly costumes for the spring-training filming of a Harlem Shake dance video. Posted on March 13, it had more than 394,000 hits on YouTube as of Friday evening (gaining 7,000 in the past 48 hours). “You have to have some fun,” Swisher told the Beacon Journal on the day of the filming. “We’re going through the grind of spring. We have a lot of new guys here, and we’re trying to get to know each other, establish a team identity.” That’s not all Swisher has already given the Indians.
Nick Swisher is character that camaraderie-starved Indians need
Akron Beacon Journal | Mar 31