Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez made waves last weekend when he expressed his frustration with he sees as a lack of support from Tribe fans. Specifically, he called out fans for the fact that the Indians are dead last in attendance and that those who do make it down to Progressive Field have been booing him when he takes the mound.
In this edition of the Wahoo’s on First Weekly Wroundtable, we asked our panel: Were Chris Perez’ comments appropriate? Joining us this week are Did The Tribe Win Last Night?‘s Mike Brandyberry and The Tribe Daily‘s Nino Colla. Here’s what we all had to say:
Mike Brandyberry: I’m not sure if they were appropriate, but I think they were truthful. It is embarrassing that the Indians have built themselves a solid team that has competed in the Central Division for the last two seasons, yet fans do not seem to buy in. Perez is right, it is embarrassing that the Tribe is a first place team, but last in all of MLB in attendance. Pittsburgh had barely been competitive in 20 years and a winning streak last summer had them selling out the park.
I know all the excuses in regards to the economy and the lack of faith in ownership, but why not just enjoy the product on the field and the first place team? The Indians have tickets at every price range. They have deals and giveaways nightly. I’ve written a couple columns on this over the last couple days, Perez is proud of himself and his team. He’s offended that no one seems to care. Most of us giving a first place effort at our jobs would be offended if no one noticed. (read more here and here)
Nino Colla: Were they appropriate? Probably not, but they were damn true. I think a lot of people misunderstood him and thought he was completely bashing the fans for not showing up, but I believe that was only part of it for him. It was more about the negativity towards the team, which is downright insane if you ask me.
This town of Cleveland supports their football team despite lackluster results year after year. They’ll flock in droves to see them losing games, yet the Indians are barely getting by. They drown out the baseball talk about a team doing well with draft talk for weeks and when someone says something good about the team, the response from your typical Cleveland fan is always “it won’t last.” Yet the Browns? Their success is non-existent. It’s sickening and I’m glad Chris Perez spoke up about it because someone had to. May have not been right for him, but that is just the way he is and I like it.
Lewie Pollis: I don’t know if “appropriate” is the right word—a player complaining about the fans is never an uplifting story, and the team clearly wasn’t happy about it—but they were undoubtedly justified. Frankly it’s embarrassing to see so few fans coming to the best stadium in baseball (yes, I said it) to watch a young and exciting first-place team. And I can’t even imagine what goes through people’s minds when they decide to boo their own player just because he’s off to a rough start (which he really hasn’t been since Opening Day).
I actually think a reaction like Perez’ was necessary to get through to fans. It’s no secret that attendance has been awful this year, it’s just that no one made it sound like a big enough deal. And it worked. We’re already seeing more people start to make it down to The Prog, and Perez has come in to a standing ovation every game since his quotes were published. Yes, attendance would increase anyway as the weather warms up, school gets out, and the Indians keep winning, but it’s clear that Perez got through to the fans in a way that “What If?” commercials can’t.
Katie Hendershot: I think Chris Perez was right with the comments he made. At first, I’ll admit, it stung a little. I want to believe that Cleveland is a great city for baseball. I want to believe that everyone passionately cares about the team. When I turn on the TV or go to a game and see so few people attending games, I have to wonder if that’s really the case though.
This team is doing good things and deserves our support. I don’t want to hear Chris Perez saying those things, but he’s the type of player that’s going to speak his mind. He’s not going to sugarcoat anything. If he has a problem with something, he’s going to talk about it. He has a problem with the attendance and the support the team is receiving. I can’t blame him at him for voicing the way he feels about those problems, even if it is at the expense of the fans. He didn’t say anything that wasn’t true.
Like I said, I don’t want to hear negative things from the players, but I can’t expect them to be happy with what’s going on right now. They shouldn’t be in the position to feel that way in the first place.
Geordy Boveroux: Chris Perez said exactly what I have been saying, except on a much larger stage. I’m stuck in either Rhode Island for school or New Jersey for breaks, so I’m not able to get to Progressive Field, but I support the Indians any way possible—by watching the games on MLB.tv and I’ll be seeing them when try visit New York in late June.
If fans aren’t going to watch a first place club, they don’t have the right to hate them for little mistakes. Chris Perez better have ignited something in the fans, because showing some support will help this team stay in first.
Steve Kinsella: I have no opinion positive or negative on statements made by Chris Perez. I do have a problem with the way the team is marketed and have long felt that there is a disconnect between ownership, front office, and the casual fan.
I am a huge fan of Bill Veeck and although some may suggest that his way is too outdated and wouldn’t work in today’s game I am not in that camp. What does this have to do with Perez? Well, in a city with a better marketed team Perez may have been taken to the woodshed for his comments but he spoke the language that was truthful, in plain everyday guy words, and the fans gave him a standing ovation as soon as he stepped on the field Tuesday night. Next time someone from the Indians ownership on down speaks about the club remember to speak truthfully in plain language and maybe the fans will respond more favorably to the message.
Brian Heise: Honestly, I completely agree with him. I think the negativity from the fans would be easier to deal with both the stadium were sold out each and every game like in Boston or a New York. Yes, people would micro-analyze everything and fly off the handle, but at least they’d be behind you. In this current environment, that’s not the case.
So yes, while the things Chris Perez said were a bit harsh and probably a little out of line, they needed to be said. Someone within the organization needed to call out the fan base and let them know they aren’t living up to their end of the bargain. That being show up, cheer for the team, and help motivate them. After all, the Indians have done their part, aka field a first place team.
The ball’s in your court Cleveland. If you disagree with what Chris Perez had to say over the weekend, then show him you’re not at all what he says you are. It’s time to stand up and get behind this team already. This could be the team we’ve waited decades for. Why waste it?