Here goes my first Bottlegate rant.
The Indians struggle with attendance has been pretty well documented. So far this season they’ve tricked an average of 18,386 fans per game to come to Progressive Field. That puts us 29th in the league, not even a thousand fans above the Tampa Bay Rays.
Let’s put that number into perspective. The Charlotte Knights, AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, led the International League in attendance this past season with an average of 9,686 fans. More than half of what a major league baseball team fighting to make the playoffs is drawing. The Minnesota Lynx traveled to Indiana to square off against the Fever in the WNBA playoffs in 2012. That game was played in front of 18,165 fans. That’s just 221 less fans than you would find on an average night watching a major league baseball team fight for a playoff berth in Cleveland. America hates soccer right? The Vancouver Whitecaps, currently in sixth place out of nine teams in the Western Conference of the MLS with a record of 8 wins, 8 losses and 13 ties, averages 20,413 fans. A .500 soccer team in Canada draws over 2,000 more fans than a MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAM FIGHTING TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS, CLEVELAND. Am I the only one who is utterly fucking embarrassed by that? Our city always talks about how awesome our fans are, how we live and die for our teams and how we’re the best fans in the country. A FUCKING BELOW AVERAGE SOCCER TEAM can get more fans to come to their games than the Cleveland Indians. We had a regime change last year that immediately resulted in a playoff berth. This season has been up and down, but P fucking S we can still make the playoffs if we win out, probably even if we lose one game too.
We made the playoffs last year, could make them again this year and we’re 29th out of 30 teams in attendance. What does the club have to do to get these lauded “Cleveland fans” to the ballpark? We’re never going to be the Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers. We’re not going to be able to buy in to the playoffs. We’ll be lucky to make it three or four times in any given decade. But that time is here. We have the best right handed pitcher in baseball right now. We’ve got a core of young guys locked up for a little while. We have one of the best minds in baseball as our manager. And we’re averaging 18,000 fans a game. I’m sick of hearing about how the front office doesn’t know what they’re doing, how we should have done this or could have done that. Regardless of how you feel about the Dolans or Mark Shapiro or even Chris Antonetti, we’re in the hunt for the second year in a row. Quit making excuses, look yourselves in the mirror and admit that the majority of people here that call themselves Indians fans, well, just aren’t right now. They might have been at one time, and by one time I mean in the late 90’s when we were perennial World Series contenders, but they’re not anymore. They are sitting at home feeling sorry for themselves, sad that they are put through this year in and year out. Wait, what? Put through two September playoff pushes in a row? Those excuses don’t work anymore, guys. The only reason not to be going to games and rooting for this team is that you weren’t a fan in the first place, or you’re just fucking lazy.
Cleveland is a special city. Can you imagine what it’s going to be like when the Browns are staring the playoffs in the face later this year? Or when LeBron brings the Cavs right back to the NBA Finals in his first year back home? It’s going to be absolute pandemonium, and I can’t wait. But for the love of God, until then, pay some attention to the team that is clawing to play October baseball for the second year in a row. If you’re around, get in your car, go to a few games this week, order some beers and scream your fucking head off. They deserve it.
KEEP THE CHIEF