Most people probably have a hard time wrapping their heads around a team called the Indians mentioned in the same breath as “progressive”, the Cleveland Spiders1 are truly blazing a trail when it comes to social media and Major League Baseball in the 21st century.

The Tribe first introduced the Social Media deck last season; a “by invitation only” modified press box for bloggers and general nogoodniks. The team provided access to both wifi and beer, making it nearly the ideal fan blogger setup. Plus it was exposed to the sun in the outfield bleachers, ensuring no lily-white sportswriter dare stick his translucent nose where it doesn’t belong.

The Cleveland Franchise stepped up their game ahead of the 2011 season, laying out an entire social media strategy for embracing new fans – detailed in this snappy PR video that I, quite ironically, cannot embed here.

It is refreshing to see the team embrace both bloggers and social media as whole in a real, non-pandering way. Teams like the Clevelands need to attract as much positive attention as possible (mostly to distract from their horrible and racist nickname) to draw fans from an area with declining population numbers and high unemployment.

The team aggressively puts not only their players out there in the social media realm but the club’s manager, general manager, and team president too!

Watch the video linked above, it really lays out the entire strategy for 2011. Changes for this season include moving the social deck to a luxury suite and opening the entire enterprise up to more casual twitter and facebook fans. Excellent stuff from a team that needs all the help it can get. Now about that logo…

1 – They really, really must consider changing their name to the Spiders. History, the non-racist kind! What a concept.

Hat tip to HBT’s Craig Calcaterra