Does it make a sound? Does it even happen at all?
Apparently the answer is yes.
The Indians wrapped up their opening series of the season on Sunday against the White Sox. Thankfully, it ended a lot better than it started. After losing 15-10 on opening day and then following it up with an 8-3 loss on Saturday, the Tribe finally got on the winning path Sunday. They beat the White Sox 7-1 thanks to an outstanding pitching performance from Justin Masterson, timely hitting, and one hell of a triple play. Yes, a triple play. It was the 31st in the history of the franchise and the third ever by the Indians at Jacobs Field… errr… Progressive Field (In an odd twist, Asdrubal Cabrera has been involved in all three).
The Tribe was down 1-0 when a failed bunt attempt would become the catalyst for change. Alexi Ramirez popped the bunt up down the first base line. Carlos Santana made a diving catch, flipped to Orlando Cabrera at second who then threw to Asdrubal Cabrera at second. It was an instant shot of adrenaline that had been missing since the first pitch of the season. The following half inning with one on and two out, Orlando Cabrera sent a ball flying out to the Home Run Porch in left field. 2-1 Indians… they would never look back.
Lou Marson would add on to the lead with an RBI double the following inning, yes Lou Marson… I’m shocked too. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a sac fly two batter latter to make it 4-1. In the 8th inning Shelley Duncan and Michael Brantley iced the victory adding on a 2 run single and sac fly, respectively. At that point it was 7-1 and Chicago was finished for the afternoon. Chris Perez came in the 9th inning to get some work in despite the lack of a save opportunity. The White Sox went 1, 2, 3. To quote Tom Hamilton… “Ball game!”
The Indians officially got off the schnide with the victory and are 1-2 coming out of the weekend. Sure, it’s not great, but it’s better than Boston or Tampa (0-3).
Justin Masterson was flat-out dominant during his 7 innings allowing 1 run on 7 hits. Most of the afternoon the White Sox couldn’t do much except beat Masterson’s heavy sinker into the ground. He also got some help from Tony Sipp who pitched the 8th to get the hold, and then the aforementioned Chris Perez. This is the type of repeat pitching performances the Indians will need this year if they have any hope of remaining in contention.
But that brings me to the much larger issue at hand… the attendance.
For the opener on Friday, the Indians were a sell out and drew an attendance of 41,721. That’s to be expected though. It was opening day and opening day is an event and spectacle like none other. However, Saturday and Sunday… wow… embarrassing. Embarrassing for the fans and for the Indians. Saturday saw the Indians draw a record low attendance of 9,853. That was the lowest attendance ever recorded in the history of Jacobs Field/Progressive Field. The record lasted 24 hours. Sunday was even worse. One day after setting a record for lowest attendance ever, the new record became 8,726. I’m speechless.
Maybe the weather had something to do with things. After all, it’s early April in Cleveland, Ohio and the forecast was not looking friendly. Temperatures in the 40’s with a chance of snow. Not to mention the wind whipping around the stadium coming off the lake is never any fun this time of year. So really, I can’t blame people for not wanting to show up, but those number… inexcusable. This is a stadium and a fan base that sold out 455 consecutive games. Last I checked games were being played in early April back then as well and the people still showed up. So what’s the deal?
This all comes down to on field performance and the product being presented. The die-hard fans like myself who can see this team for what it is and understand the process can buy in and go to the games. Hell, I live in New Orleans… I’d kill to be at those games and it pisses me off that I can’t. The down downtrodden and disenchanted members of the fan base who have been beaten down by bad trades and rebuilding have had enough. They don’t want to sit in the stands and freeze their asses off just to watch minor leaguers get their brains beat in by the White Sox.
Unfortunately, it’s cyclical. It’s cutting off your nose to spite your face. Fans complain about the product on the field. The Dolans bitch about the economics of baseball and the lack of funds and budget and yadda, yadda, yadda. But the team can’t improve if fans don’t show up and spend the money and if the team doesn’t improve the fans won’t come. That’s a tough spot to be in. Then again maybe if the Indians had gone all in after ’07 rather than piecing together an AL contender with Jason Michaels, David Dellucci, Ryan Garko, and Ben Francisco they wouldn’t find themselves in this situation. Fans were still coming and people were high on the team. Instead the front office blew everything up.
Would it really have made a difference? I don’t know. Who’s to say? There is no guarantee that the Indians would be any better off than they are now. You can make the argument that they would be worse off. They wouldn’t have Santana, or Brantley, or LaPorta (jokes aside), or even Masterson or Carlos Carrasco. The greater majority of this current team is a direct result of those trades.
So Indians fans… either buy in or don’t. Just don’t think you have the right to bitch and moan when this team is dismantled in two years, or when Choo or Sizemore get traded. Remember, you did this. You made it possible for Dolan to justify these trades with dollar signs and balance sheets. You all want to complain about how they don’t want to spend money on talent. Well what money would you like them to spend if none of you are going through the turn styles? I realize money is tight for everyone and going to games is expensive. It is everywhere. Yet other teams manage to fill up 1/2 to 3/4 of the stadium. Hopefully with the change in weather will come a change in attitude. The Indians need it.
START GOING TO THE GAMES!!!! GAH!!!
Now I’m done…