I’m an Indians fan through and through and I will be until the day I die. That being said, I was not upset when Chris Perez called out Cleveland fans for their poor attendance and negative. Maybe it was harsh and maybe he shouldn’t have said it publicly, but to some degree I think he was right.
I would love to go to sold-out games, even if it meant paying a little more and sitting further from the field. I would love to feel the energy of a packed ballpark even when it wasn’t Dollar Dog Night. I would love to actually hear cheering and applause before the game when each player’s name is announced. As a fan, I would love to know that I am part of a group of people devoted to the team they love.
It’s no fun to go to a game when the first ten rows behind home plate are barely filled. It’s no fun when there’s hardly anyone cheering in the bottom of the ninth. I hate seeing people jump ship and flood toward the exits around the seventh or eighth inning when the team is losing. I can only imagine what it’s like from the players’ perspectives.
It’s no secret that Cleveland is a football town. It’s no coincidence that the Indians sold out 455 consecutive games back in the 1990’s when there wasn’t a Browns team to root for. The stars aligned just right for the Tribe to have so many sellouts and a memorable team. Unfortunately, the 90’s ended with heartbreak for Indians fans when the team fell apart.
I know the 2012 Indians aren’t the 90’s Indians. I know that it’s unrealistic to expect results similar to the ones produced during the golden era for the Tribe. However, it doesn’t take an expert to see that something’s brewing in Cleveland. No, we don’t have Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols. Cliff Lee or CC Sabathia no longer wear Indians jerseys on their backs. But look at what we do have in Cleveland right now.
Last Tuesday, the Indians went deep three times in one inning. Who led the power surge? Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana. Those are three guys to be excited about, especially since Cabrera and Santana were both recently signed to long-term deals. We will see great things from them in the future. And then there’s Vinnie Pestano and Jason Kipnis, two young players who have already proven that they’re dominant. It’ll only get better for them from here on out.
When you think of our starting rotation, you probably don’t think of a World Series-caliber pitching staff. That doesn’t matter, though. All that matters is results. Can Derek Lowe and Jeanmar Gomez maintain their current paces? Who knows? For now, though, they’re giving the Tribe every chance to win. This team recently took two of three from the reigning AL Champion Texas Rangers. They staged two comebacks in one game on Thursday. They never say die. They’re underrated not only by the national media, but also by their own fans.
Chris Perez expressed his frustration. Was he out of line for what he said? I don’t think so. The Indians are first in the AL Central, yet dead last in MLB attendance. There’s something wrong with that picture. He wasn’t personally calling anyone out. If anything, I think it was a call to action for Tribe fans as a whole. It was a call for us to fill the seats at Progressive Field. It’s a call for us to stand by the team, even when things are going wrong.
The words may have been harsh. No one wants to be called a bad fan. No one wants to hear that their players consider them a bad fan base. But the attendance numbers don’t lie. When you go to games and see that so few fans are in the seats, it doesn’t do much to argue what Perez said though.
Perez admitted that he believed Cleveland could be a baseball town. He said that the atmosphere at home could help the team win more games. As fans, we don’t have to take offense to what Perez said. He wants to win. He wants to win for his teammates. He would want to win for the fans too, but he has to know that the fans care as much as him and his teammates do. He knows they have the ability to do win, and he wants the fans to see the same thing. As fans, we can do our part and stand behind the team. That’s all Perez is asking.
We can use this as our opportunity to show him just how great of a baseball town Cleveland is. We can show him that we do care, because I know we do. From his perspective though, it must seem like we don’t. He sees empty seats, not that this city can bleed blue and red for the Tribe. Obviously, to have a negative reaction to what he said, fans must care. Now we just need to show it.