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  • Writer's picture The Vindicator

A Fan Reflects on the 2023 Cleveland Guardians Season

What we loved on the field and in the stadium.

Written by Celeste Zirm

As summer fades to winter and we face the long wait until the next baseball season, the closest thing we have to actual baseball is reflecting on last season. This year brought a host of fun for fans both in the stadium and on the field. Although the season didn’t turn out the way anyone had hoped, we can still admit that there were plenty of memorable moments on and off the field.

"One thing about Guardians fans is that we love our hot dogs."

In the Stadium

Fireworks Nights: This season boasted 16 post-game fireworks shows, each with fun musical themes. By far the highlight of the season was Rock ‘n’ Blast, which sparkled over Progressive Field after the games on both Aug. 4 and Aug. 5. Preceding the show on August 5, the U.K. band The Heavy Heavy performed on the field for fans.

Giveaways: The 2023 promotional schedule was jam-packed with fun this year as giveaways included Josh Naylor and Tristan McKenzie jerseys, José Ramírez reversible bucket hats, Hawaiian shirts, player bobbleheads, a weekender bag, a lightweight hoodie, and much more. These giveaways were presented on a first-come, first-serve basis at each entry gate, and certainly made for a fun atmosphere upon entering the ballpark.

Hot Dog Derby: The fun fifth-inning tradition of cheering on our favorite festive frankfurters continued this year as Onion, Mustard and Ketchup ran the outfield warning track in the hopes of crossing the finish line first. The coveted 2023 Champion Belt went to Ketchup, but the mascots’ antics of interference including pushing each other and an interruption from Andre Knott leave the statistics looking questionable. The Hot Dog Derby is tons of fun for kids and adults alike, and if you're looking for more Guardians Hot Dog content, check out their official verified page on X (formerly known as Twitter).

Hot Dogs: One thing about Guardians fans is that we love our hot dogs. From the racing kind, to the Sugardale dollar dog kind, to the kind with fruit loops, we love them all. This season held nine Sugardale Dollar Dog nights, which are great opportunities to get a classic hotdog wrapped in aluminum foil for a discount. For those looking for a “better dog,” various locations around the park provided them for a higher charge. For the more adventurous hot dog eaters, Happy Dog offers concoctions unique enough to earn them a spot on Good Morning America. The infamous Slider Dog features macaroni and cheese and bacon, topped off with a scoop of fruit loops. Similarly, the Killer Kilbane Dog is topped with pickle relish, peanut butter and sriracha sauce. Although strange, most people say these dogs are definitely worth a try next time you’re at the ballpark.

Other Stadium Food: At Loaded Nacho, the nachos aren’t just your typical chips with plastic cheese. These nachos feature better cheese accompanying buffalo chicken, crab rangoon and barbeque pork. Additionally, the lines at Dante’s Inferno are always long, and for good reason. Their artisanal pizzas include a signature secret sauce that fans crave. The stadium also features stands from local Cleveland restaurants such as The Melt, Barrio, Market Garden Brewery, Ohio City Burrito, Momocho and Sweet Moses ice cream.

On the Field

The Naylor Brothers: While Josh Naylor has been playing for the Guardians since 2020, the insanely talented first baseman also has a younger brother in the MLB. This year, Bo Naylor joined his brother Josh on the Guardians starting lineup as a catcher, after spending some time in the minor leagues to start the season. It was fun to watch the dynamics between the brothers and see them both find success this season. I guess baseball talent runs in the family. And hey, maybe someday their third brother, Miles Naylor, will get traded to the Guardians. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for that one.

Four Gold Glove Winners: The Guardians beat a franchise record in 2022, receiving four Gold Glove awards. The coveted Gold Glove award is presented to Major League Baseball players with excellent fielding performances. Shane Bieber, Andrés Giménez, Steven Kwan and Miles Straw each received one, cementing their place as excellent fielders during a ceremony before the game on May 13, 2023.

The Fight: “Down goes Anderson,” echoed through the streets of Cleveland on Aug. 5, when third baseman José Ramírez got into a fist-fight with Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson. The Saturday evening home game resulted in a bench-clearing brawl during the sixth inning, when Anderson tagged Ramírez out at second base. While the exact cause of the fight is still unknown, it was revealed through several interviews that Anderson tagged Ramírez too hard, and Anderson had been rough on some newer players the night before. While the fight was an intense moment that resulted in several player suspensions and both managers getting ejected, it certainly made for an entertaining game for the fans.

The Never-Ending Game: The June 9 game against the Houston Astros lasted fourteen agonizing innings with ties that just couldn’t be broken. With a tie of 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth, we went into extra innings. Then, in the fourteenth inning Tyler Freeman hit a double, followed by a double from Will Brennan, sending Freeman home to score and win the game.

The Worst Game Ever?: The Sept. 4 game against the Twins was certainly an interesting one. That night, the Guardians debuted pitcher Lucas Giolito, and unfortunately, he gave up nine runs, including three home runs, in just three innings. Then they put in reliever Enyel De Los Santos who gave up another four runs. At this point the score was 13-1 so the Guards brought outfielder/infielder David Fry to finish up the pitching. For reference, Fry has not served in the role of pitcher since high school. He threw the ball like he was playing catch. While the Guardians lost 20-6 that night, Fry did break a record and the commentary on Bally Sports Network was highly entertaining.

Francona’s Final Season: This year brought the farewell season of Guardians Manager Terry Francona, known to many as Tito. After being the Guardians manager for 11 years, Francona determined this was the right time to step away from managing to focus on his health. It should be noted that Francona is reluctant to use the word “retiring,” instead saying “stepping away,” suggesting he may not be done with baseball forever. During his final home game in Cleveland, fans received bright red “Thank You Tito” t-shirts and he came out of the dugout at the end of the game to a standing ovation from the crowd.

This season was certainly not one to take for granted, despite not seeing any playoff action. In true Clevelander form we’ll celebrate the wins we did get (both on the field and in the stadium), remind ourselves there’s always next year, and start our countdown to opening day. After all, pitchers and catchers report to spring training in mid-February, and that’s not too far away.

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