I don’t live in Cuyahoga County anymore.
Now, when it comes to the issue of the renewal of the sin tax that has been in place to build Quicken Loans Arena, Progessive Field and FirstEnergy Stadium, I kind of don’t have a horse in this race. After all, I don’t smoke and if I wanted to buy alcohol, I wouldn’t have to travel to Cuyahoga County to get it.
At the same time, how many people in Cuyahoga County regularly visit any of those three venues? Judging by attendance at Cavs and Indians games, not many. And in all three cases, most of those visitors are people like me who live outside the county.
It’s always nice to see when the Cleveland Indians have a packed house. Many of us can still remember the 455 straight times in happened during their hey-day in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
And for the Home Opener this season, there will be a full ballpark again, as seats for the Tribe’s first game at Progressive Field sold out in 15 minutes. Even though the Indians sell out every home opener (This will be the 22nd straight year), people are pointing to the speed that these tickets were snapped up this time around.
Now that fans have taken care for the first home game, as they have reliably done every year, what’s the story on the rest of the season’s home stands?
Every player and fan knows that there are certain rituals, some of which seem so outright crazy, that if a normal human being did this in their normal lives, the rest of the world would think there’s something completely wrong with them.
But in sports, it’s a whole different deal. Superstition has always driven some of the strangest of rites, from beards to unwashed laundry. Game rituals are so accepted by players and fans alike, even Bud Light has an entire set of commercials, the tagline of which states very clearly, “It’s not weird if it works.”
Which brings us to the Rally Bear that showed during the bottom of the eighth inning of Monday’s NLCS match-up between the Cardinals and Dodgers. In the end, it was the home team Dodgers that came out with the win, 3-0.
Well, that post-season didn’t last very long.
In what turned out to be a Wild Card game in which the entire top of the batting order forgot what got them to this point (i.e. hitting!), the Cleveland Indians bowed out of the playoffs, dropping a 4-0 decision to the Tampa Bay Rays. Sadly, this continues a disturbing trend in which Ohio teams can’t get over the hump against Florida teams.
The saying goes it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Sure, the offensive performance put on by the Tribe was putrid, to put it mildly. But realistically, there are many of us who underestimated how this team was going to perform to even get to this point.
It bears repeating that the Indians are in the playoffs. Yes, it’s the newly-minted Wild Card slot in which they play one game for the chance to play in the American League Divisional Series. And it’s a possibility that this may very well be the last game of the season for the Tribe.
But, of course, the fans, diehard and casual, want to see this team in it for the long haul, through the ALDS, AL Championship Series and maybe even the World Series. One series at a time, though. The focus should rightfully be on their opponent, the Tampa Bay Rays.
I won’t lie. I, along with countless others across Northeast Ohio, have harbored a long-standing grudge with Larry and Paul Dolan, the owner and CEO of the Cleveland Indians, respectively. There were numerous time where we all chimed in on the “Little Fan Larry” quip and how we thought he was cheap.
And let’s not forget how many of us nearly blew our stacks when Paul said on dreary day in Cleveland that the Tribe wasn’t going to be a perennial contender. We’re sure that he gave reasons, but I don’t doubt we tuned it out and went about our ranting.
That statement, if memory serves correct, came after two years in which the Indians traded Cy Young Award winners. Back-to-back. It was the first time in the modern baseball era that this ever happened. Our rage clouded the fact that CC Sabathia was in the final year of his contract and there was no chance he’d resign or that Cliff Lee would also be equally unlikely to sign when his contract up up the subsequent year.
Michael Hill was named run baseball operations for the Miami Marlins, replacing Larry Beinfest, whose claim to fame was to build the World Champion 2003 squad, as well as numerous fire sales since that time.
But let’s be realistic, no matter who’s running the front office, one thing is obvious. Jeffrey Loria is the owner, and Jeffrey Loria will do whatever he wants with this team, and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop him.