Mar 16, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians first baseman Nick Swisher (33) runs the bases after hitting a home run in the third inning against the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Step Off, Bro; Lofton and Swisher Exchange Words

Former Indians Legend Offends Nick Swisher and Current Roster

For those of you who may not have heard, Kenny Lofton crossed a line that never should have been crossed. In the process, he managed to offend Nick Swisher and several members of the Indians current roster. Just what did he do that was so egregious that it caught the ire of the Indians de facto captain?

Well, as it turns out, Kenny Lofton does not agree with the new Major League Baseball playoff system or the notion that the newly created one game wild card playoff constitutes a playoff berth. In Lofton’s eyes, a true playoff appearance consists of an actual series, either best of five or best of seven. Bottom line, Kenny Lofton doesn’t believe that the Indians made the playoffs in 2013, regardless of what either MLB or the team might say.

Nick Swisher took offense to Lofton’s statements and according to Anthony Castrovince of, the two got into a “heated discussion.” Castrovince described the incident as follows:

[Swisher] sought Lofton out at the event, got in the grill of the member of the team Hall of Fame, and told him, in so many words, that the Indians are trying to build something special, and that if Lofton didn’t want to be a part of it, he ought to board the first flight back to Los Angeles.

Tellingly, when Lofton arrived to the Tribe’s Spring Training camp in Goodyear, Ariz., last month, he was given the cold shoulder by multiple members of the current club. His stay was a particularly short one.

swisher lofton

Jun 21, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Former player Kenny Lofton throws out the ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Asked about Lofton’s comments now, Swisher was pretty straightforward.

“That was handled,” he said. “We handled that.”

When asked, via text message, for a response on how his comments were received, Lofton replied that he had said enough on the topic and that “maybe someone else can back me up on how it’s not a real playoff series.”

“U guys need to put in there on what’s the definition of playoffs,” Lofton wrote, “and that should answer Swisher’s comments.”

Anytime the leader of your current team can get into a verbal altercation that almost comes to blows with one of the greatest players in franchise history, well how can you not help but be excited by that?

In reality, this is not that big of a deal, but it is a bit of a public relations nightmare for the Indians. It’s not the worst thing to ever happen between current and former players, far from it, actually. But, that still doesn’t change the fact that the rift caused by Lofton’s words will make things incredibly awkward moving forward. Knowing that Lofton will continue to receive the cold shoulder from the current team makes it nearly impossible to incorporate him moving forward.

On the flip side, there is the slight chance that this helps motivate the Indians to get back to the playoffs and play in a playoff series. In Lofton’s defense, the idea that the one game wild card playoff constitutes a playoff appearance is hard to accept. When we think of the playoffs in Major League Baseball, the first thing that comes to mind are the all-time classic playoff series. But, under the new rules established by Major League Baseball state that the one game wild card game is, in fact, a playoff game. Therefore, the Cleveland Indians made the playoffs in 2013.

Also, Kenny Lofton had a history of being surly with the media during his career. While he wasn’t Albert Belle, he wasn’t exactly the easiest interview for local media members at the time. His recent comments directed at the current Indians falls in line with that reputation.

If the current roster of Indians really wants to shut up Kenny Lofton, or anyone that might feel the same way for that matter, they know what they have to do. They have no choice other than to take that next step in 2014. That means making the playoffs, playing in a real playoff series, and possibly even winning the whole damn thing.

Tags: Cleveland Indians Kenny Lofton Nick Swisher Spring Training

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