Oh, Cleveland… Where do I begin? As a collective whole, we are constantly complaining about our tragic history with sports teams. Why us? What did we do to deserve this? I, for one, am completely disappointed in us. Yes, I will include myself in that group. I was at the Tribe game on Tuesday night (with free tickets someone in a disheartened state gave away to a friend outside a Nordstrom Rack). What I witnessed made me embarrassed to call myself a dedicated Cleveland sports fan, for I certainly haven’t earned that title as of late. The entire upper deck was completely empty. There was one random dude in charge of the Circle K strike count up there by himself. The merchandise stands on the main concourse were completely empty, and there wasn’t even a wait for a beer going into the 7th inning. Since there wasn’t a wait, I had the opportunity to have a enlightening conversation with a beer vendor named Deborah who has been with the team since 1994. Deborah has been through some ups and downs in this relationship with her Cleveland Indians, but one thing sets her apart from the rest of us. She still has the same level of dedication. She understands, that this is her team… regardless. Through good times and bad, she has been a Cleveland Indians fan, through and through. You see, I worked for this team from 1997-2000 as well. I know what it feels like to have that electric energy surrounding a team. Deborah wants to know why we aren’t rallying around these guys, when all we do is bitch and whine that we don’t have any championship contending teams to root for. Amen, Deborah! You are 100% correct. So, what do we do at this point to show the Tribe that they are OUR TEAM?
If you’ve watched these guys play, you can see what an incredibly cohesive unit they are. Everyone has their function, and any one of them would be happy to let someone else be the hero on any given night at the ballpark. We need to learn from them. This is our team, which means that we accept ALL of them. You absolutely can NOT boo one of your own players when they’re not performing up to your expectations. How does that psychology even make sense? You’re not happy… we get it. However, all this does is aggravate the situation and make it worse. Is Chris Perez going to all of a sudden start throwing strikes when his own ‘fans’ are hurling insults at him while he’s trying to do his job? Some of you have a problem with him due to his legal troubles, and I’m certain that your morally superior lifestyle allows you to judge. Is it smart to have drugs delivered to your dog through the mail? Probably not. Why do you care? Not one of you bothered to recommend a local drug dealer, now did you? All joking aside, when these guys get back to town (because they WILL have more home games) show this guy some love. In the past, he’s called out the fan base for their lack of support. Was he wrong? Everyone has that one relative… the crazy uncle who does things you don’t necessarily agree with. Do you kick him out of the family? My guess is that he still shows up for Thanksgiving, and you treat him like he’s own of your own. Let’s show these guys that we support each and every one of them, especially Crazy Uncle Chris.
We continue to get punched in the face by the Browns organization, and yet the seats are still full and thousands of the faithful show up each home game to tailgate. Why is this? I understand that there are only eight home games per year, which makes it easier to commit. Don’t tell me that this is a ‘football town’. I would argue that it’s a sports town. Period. The energy and adoration surrounding the Indians of the late 90s was something pretty special. That organization is a class act and I consider myself fortunate to have been a part of it. It’s almost as if we’re in an abusive relationship with the Browns. We accept this treatment and have become complacent to the fact that we have zero chance of winning. If we were to support a team with a legitimate chance of winning, aren’t we setting ourselves up for a more significant level of heartbreak? Absolutely. Is our self esteem that battered, Cleveland? We’re comparable to a teenaged girl who sticks by her douchebag boyfriend because she doesn’t feel that she deserves any better. I’m not asking you to abandon the Browns. They’re our team, as well. What I’m asking is that you shift your focus. Give these guys the attention they deserve. Let’s help propel them into October by showing them that this city supports them. Go out and buy some new Tribe gear. Stop by your nearest Cleveland Indians Team Shop or my new favorite local retailer, GV Artwork in Lakewood and get yourself a ‘Goon Squad’ tee. Wear your pride on your sleeve, Cleveland. Represent at work. Send the kiddos to school proudly sporting their favorite Indians sweatshirt. Hell, put ‘It’s Tribe Time Now’ signs in your windows. I don’t care how you show your support… Just do it! The bandwagon is parked out front, and everyone needs to get on board.
P.S. They don’t make you carry Ziploc bags for purses at Progressive Field and where else can you witness a foot race between the condiments ketchup, mustard, and onion? I’ll see you at the Ballpark. GO TRIBE!