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What does it mean to be an Indians fan?

Yeah, yeah, experiencing almost 60 years without a championship — that’s the easy answer. No, I’m talking about something deeper.

Being a Tribe fan means treating opening day like the World Series no matter what the weather. (It’d be even better if we could find a way to show up at the next day’s game like it’s the middle of June.)

It means squeezing a little more room in our Yankee-hating hearts to despise the Red Sox. (Check out our poll on page 77.)

It means granting everyone a free pass to call Progressive Field “The Jake” at least until the All-Star break.

It means still rooting for former Tribe shortstop Omar Vizquel no matter where he plays (his San Francisco Giants will be at Progressive Field June 24 through 26), but booing Jim Thome every time he comes to bat (you don’t have long to wait — the White Sox open the season here March 31).

It means fretting over the team’s negotiations to sign 17-year-old Dominican shortstop Edward Salcedo, who is projected as a five-tool player. (It also means you know what those five tools are.)

It means never looking at midges quite the same way again, no matter how annoying they might get this summer.

It means attempting to replicate Victor Martinez’s complex handshakes with one of your buddies after a home run even if it means you risk looking stupid.

It means reliving the bad-old years at the Stadium (still, it was hard to beat sitting just about anywhere you wanted) June 14 during the 1970s-themed game against the San Diego Padres. (You also receive a throwback hat, and the Padres are likely to wear those awesome yellow-and-brown vintage uniforms.)

It means admitting your undying devotion for Grady Sizemore, whether your gender allows you to join the Grady’s Ladies fan club or not.

It means feeling the need to announce that “Major League” was actually shot at Milwaukee’s County Stadium, not in Cleveland, every time you run across it on cable. (It also means watching the movie again every third time you land on it.)

It means secretly blaming Mike Trivisonno for ending the Indians season last year by suggesting we were about to be World Series champs after taking a 3-1 ALCS lead against the Red Sox. (Triv is one of our “Influentials” after all. Check out page 88.)

It means being completely OK with Asdrubal Cabrera not talking about his lucky necklace. (Obviously, we’re a superstitious bunch. See page 77.)

It means getting goose bumps every time you hear Tom Hamilton start into his home run call, “It’s waaaaay back,” even if it’s early March during a meaningless spring training game.

It means inserting a swear word between “Joe” and “Borowski” every time he comes out of the bullpen in the ninth inning, but acknowledging “I knew he had it all the time” after he picks up yet another save.

It means ordering four hot dogs for yourself on Dollar Dog night just to balance out what you’d normally pay for one any other day.

It means continually wondering about that guy in the stands with all the hats who you occassionally glimpse on the edge of your TV screen during home games. (Well, wonder no more. Meet Tom O’Toole on page 77.)

It means having faith you’ll find friends at Panini’s, The Winking Lizard or The Clevelander before the game.

It means knowing that Travis Hafner’s nickname, Pronk, is the combination of two other nicknames, Project and Donkey.

It means using the kids as an excuse to wait around outside the players’ parking lot after a victory in an attempt to snag an autograph from C.C., Jhonny or any of the other guys with Chief Wahoo on his hat. (Ryan Garko offers his autograph-seeking advice on page 76.)

Being an Indians fans means believing that 60 years is long enough — this is our year.
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