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At Progressive Field
September 22, 2013 - Al Stephenson
Chris Perez did it last year. Michael Born did it last week. What the two Tribe players did was to call out Indian fans for not showing up to watch them ply their trade at Progressive Field. Perez was a little premature, suggesting the Indians were playing great baseball and people should fork over their hard earned money to support their team. Shortly after his rant the Tribe went in the tank as if we had never seen that before.
Bourn seems to be right on though as this year's version of the Tribe seems intent on trying to secure a playoff spot right up to the bitter end. Bitter endings (many of which have come much earlier than mid September) we are used to. The playoffs we are not. With the exception of the mid 90's, I have soldiered on as a loyal fan despite the lack of winning in the 50 plus years that I have been following the Indians.
I ventured to Progressive Field last night and was part of a 26,000 plus crowd that was treated to a very nice evening. The lure of an important game that had playoff implications along with fireworks - sponsored by Nick Swisher no less - made me load up the car and head to Cleveland. Why I had not done so earlier is clear to me if not to Bourn and Perez. Perhaps I could inform them as to why Indian fans have not come out in droves this season.
There are two reasons. First is the fact that we have been disappointed so many times. It is tough to put your heart and soul into rooting for a team that frequently fails to deliver a winner. It could be worse I suppose. There are the Cubs after all. We hope, but we've been so used to witnessing failure that it is almost expected. It could still happen this season, though this pennant race is still something we should savor - whether we make the playoffs or not.
The second reason is probably more significant than the first. The cost of attending a game has become prohibitive to many fans. Last night I took my wife, daughter and her friend to the game. I did a little calculating on the cost of taking a family of four to Progressive Field. With tickets, parking, concessions and gas to drive the nearly two hours each way, I spent over $200. One used to do the same for a lot less money. It was easier to accept the heartbreak of losing when it didn't hit the wallet so hard. Let's face it, most families cannot afford to shell out that much money each and every time they want to attend a game. Perez and Bourn should be aware of that. We don't make millions of dollars a year like they do.
Despite the cost, it was a very enjoyable evening. The Tribe played well and won the game. The fireworks were outstanding. Kudos to Swisher for paying for the display. It was a great gesture on his part and very much appreciated by my family.
One thing that I noticed at the game. Baseball is very much a family affair. There were families scattered all over Progressive Field. From infants to great grandparents, baseball is family. In fact my highlight of the night took place after the game as we were leaving the ballpark. We were following a woman who had her small son (I'm guessing he was under two years of age) on her shoulders. The youngster was carrying a yellow blanket which he dropped as they rounded a corner on a ramp. Another family member picked it up and handed it back to the little tyke.
We continued on and outside the stadium the little fellow dropped it again. No family member noticed this time though the little guy was pointing at his loss. I moved forward and picked up the blanket with the intention of gaining mom's attention. The kid followed my every move. As I approached him he held out his hand and I gave back his prized possession. Mom didn't notice the exchange, but the boy gave me what seemed like a grateful look. I had made his night and he, in turn, had made mine.
The view from my seats suggests that if baseball salaries were brought a little under control so ticket prices could be lowered a little, attendance would no longer be an issue. Cleveland sports fans are great sports fans. They will support a winning team - as long as they can afford to do so!
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