Open Letter to the City of Cleveland: Put Some Tribe Time in Your Schedule.
I hope I don't jinx anything, but the Indians are playing some good ball right now. They have won five games in a row, and have done it in different fashions, showing their versatility. I don't harbor any World Series illusions, but a little support for these guys couldn't hurt. Hear me out before saying you hate Dolan and Shapiro and write off the idea of attending a game.
The Tribe are sitting at 5-2 right now, when many expected them to have three wins at the most through their first seven games. The starting pitching has had five straight quality starts. The hitters are showing versatility to not only score in bunches, but also to get the clutch hits (or squeeze bunts) when needed. The bullpen, led by the Perez boys, has been in lockdown mode. The question is: Is anybody watching?
The poor attendance at Progressive Field has gotten national attention. Many analysts are wondering if the Indians are turning into the new Pirates, unable to escape the cellar because of poor attendance and inability to make any money. This should not be happening. I don't really blame you, Tribe fans in Cleveland, but I think we as fans, can help.
I understand times are tough in Cleveland. I can sympathize with the unemployment problems and the issues with the price of taking a family to a baseball game. I just graduated college and work a dead-end job that I am incredibly overqualified for. Believe me, I get it. I can barely make my student loan payments. But yet, by eating PB&J's for the whole Iowa winter, I scraped up the money to renew my MLB Extra Innings package on DirecTV so I could watch all the Indians games my little heart desires. I am not telling you to go out and buy a full season ticket package. Just attend a game here and there. Show some support to the team. Still not convinced? Here is a few reasons to answer my call to arms.
As I said, the Tribe are playing good. They are a scrappy bunch. There really isn't a star player on this team. Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner could be considered stars by some, but we all know they haven't been themselves for a few years. Hafner has been pounding the ball this year, and Grady is still recovering from knee surgery. Hafner may be overpaid, but at least he didn't flee for greener pastures when he was one of the best hitters in baseball. As for Sizemore, I would bet he hates not producing like he used to more than any of us hate seeing him not produce.
The "kids" on the team have been outstanding so far. Carlos Santana looks like every bit the catcher he was last year before his gruesome knee injury. Asdrubal Cabrera looks like a legitimate shortstop. Michael Brantley has strung together his best week as a major leaguer. Orlando Cabrera, who was signed in the offseason amid calls from fans saying it was ridiculous to sign a veteran like O-Cab, has been a steadying influence on the bottom half of the order. Fausto Carmona rebounded from the worst start an "ace" pitcher can have to pitch seven shutout innings against one of the best lineups in baseball. The list goes on and on.
I think one guy who deserves a lot of credit for this is Manny Acta. His positive attitude and his Coach Eric Taylor-like tough love is just what the Indians needed to rebound from their 0-2 start.
The most common argument against supporting the Tribe during the last few years is that people don't like the ownership and don't trust them and their unwillingness to spend money. Again, believe me, I can relate to your frustration. I loved watching C.C. and Cliff Lee pitch in an Indians uniform. I thought Victor was the heart and soul of the Tribe. Heck, I was even disappointed when they traded away Jake Westbrook, who had worked so hard to come back from Tommy John. The ownership hasn't done us any favors over the last few years.
But, think about this: Remember 2007 when we were one measly game away from playing the Rockies in the World Series, and how the next year many people picked us to win the whole thing? Do you remember what the front office did following the 2007 ALCS collapse? They went and got two major free agents. They gave Kerry Wood $20 million over two years to solve the closer problem, and then, to the delight of many Indians fans, including myself, signed Mark DeRosa, who was supposed to be the premier utility man in the MLB. It isn't really Shapiro or Dolan's fault those guys didn't pan out. They tried in those cases. They were able to spend money because the Indians fans showed a willingness to come out and watch that 2007 team play, and often win.
Things went terribly wrong in 2008. Many stars from the previous year had major issues in 2008. Since then, things have been all downhill. Maybe 2011 is the start of the uphill climb again. I don't see the Tribe winning 90 games. I don't even know if they can realistically win 81 games and finish .500. I do know that they have some players who seem happy to be wearing a Cleveland uniform and a manager who seems to legitimately care about the franchise. LeBron bailed (the dirty trader), and everybody rallied around the remaining Cavaliers. Can't we do the same with the Indians who are going out there for three hours every single day?
I know things are working against the Indians and the city of Cleveland. Money is hard to come by for the average person in Cleveland and the Indians franchise. It is difficult to find the time, in this day and age, to get away for four or five hours to attend a Major League Baseball game. The ownership has been a mess since 2008. The Indians haven't had a winning season since 2007. I KNOW how good of fans the Indians have, even if they are not in the seats at Progressive Field. I know all of this.
How many Indians games will you attend in 2011
But, let me ask you this: Did the city of Cleveland and the Tribe fans quit on Lou Brown and Jake Taylor when Rachel Phelps was a terrible owner and wanted to move the team to Miami? No, they did not. They went out and bought "Wild Thing, I think I love you" shirts, started appreciating the power of Joe Boo, went out in April for "Roger Dorn" night. So I ask you, give the kids a chance. Give this 2011 version of the Indians a chance. I know the front office should do more, but we can't help that. We can show the Indians who are there now that the city is behind them. You can show the national media that Cleveland is STILL a great baseball town. Jump back on the wagon now, because when the Indians get good again, it will be just that much sweeter.
Tribe fan since 1990.
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