The Tribe Town Cleveland (Unfortunately) Is Not

Can we all just admit that Cleveland isn’t a Tribe Town?

Regardless of how well the Indians do, they will always be a distant second to the Browns.

This is coming from the same guy who, last season, wrote multiple times incredulous as to why fans weren’t going to the ballpark to watch a competitive team (Those columns were obviously written before August).

On one of those columns, I received a comment from one of my very good friends regarding why we will never see attendance numbers like we saw in the 90s ever again. He said that it was a perfect storm that will never be replicated.

Regrettably, I didn’t put much thought into it then; but the more I think about it, the more I realize that he was right. There were three main elements in that perfect storm: The new ballpark, a very competitive team and most importantly, the absence of the Browns.

Think about it. A bulk of the Indians 455 sellouts came between 1996 and 1999 while the Browns were gone. In fact, the Browns played their first game of the new era on Sep. 12, 1999. By then, the Indians had won two pennants, four division titles and were well on their way to number five.

After the Browns came back, though, the impact was felt before long. The sellout streak survived the 2000 season, but ended right away in 2001 despite the Indians getting 90 wins the year before.

Unfortunately for the Indians, the last few seasons have taken their toll on a fanbase that has been dwindling since the pigskin came back to town. The unpopular trades and poor play have made it hard for people to want to return to the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.

It’s not to blame the Browns, though. Cleveland always was and always will be a Browns town. There’s no denying it and there’s nothing wrong with it. As is the case with any sport, baseball has its bandwagon fans who will flock to Progressive Field if the team continues to play well. It’s just a matter of time.

Anyone who still refuses to believe that Cleveland bleeds brown and orange before it does red and blue just needs to look at last week’s events. On May 16, the Indians had an off day, but they had just finished dismantling Cole Hamels and the Phillies. There was a genuine excitement and optimism beginning to form around the team, and a massive crowd was expected for Friday night’s game against Seattle.

The only thing that could overshadow the first-place Tribe was the Browns signing of likely third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer, a move which wouldn’t register more than a 1.5 on the sports Richter Scale in another city.

I made the mistake of going on Twitter after the signing was announced to see my timeline flooded with shots going from Indians fans to Browns fans and vice versa. This 1.5 had turned into a full-scale, intra-city conflict.

Each side had its arguments. Indians fans clamored on that signing a third-string quarterback isn’t news, while Browns fans said that the season is early and there’s no reason for the Indians to hog the news yet.

Indians fans: The Brian Hoyer signing is news. He’s a local product coming home to play for the team he grew up rooting for. He just happens to play a position that the Browns haven’t had success with since before my time.

Browns fans: It may be early, and recent history gives you every reason to be skeptical about the Tribe’s hot start. Having said that, though, it’s always fun to ride the success for as long as it may last because you never know when it’ll return.

I’m not saying either side is right, but I am saying that both sides are wrong to pick a fight with the other. It’s nonsensical, unnecessary and just plain petty.

So no, Cleveland is not a Tribe Town and it shouldn’t be a surprise nobody treats it as such. That doesn’t justify a civil war between Indians and Browns fans, however, regardless of who starts it.

War’s popular song “Why Can’t We Be Friends” sends a great message at a time like this.

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

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This Post Has 4 Comments

    1. Them moving to Columbus actually really might be the absolute best solution. I can still cheer for them if they are in Ohio; if they leave Ohio my heart will be absolutely broken.

  1. I disagree with the notion that it is just the “bandwagon” fans . In fact I believe it is the true baseball/tribe fans who have abandoned the team even if they dont realize they have. During the sell out streak you had 25000 odd season ticket holders , true fans who where willing to shell out big bucks for a season ticket plan. This also gave you an automatic attandance of at least 25,000 a night (sounds great compared to today). Today you have alittle over 6000, which means walk up/ bandwagon have to make up the rest. A hefty order for any club. I have no doubt the browns have allot to do with this b/c there is just so little expendable income to go around in a town like Cleveland, but even the Browns diehards have been abandoning their season tickets latly ( this is not felt nearly as hard when you only play 8 home games a year ) . Fact is until the tribe can lure the “diehards” back not the bandwagon, I don’t see the attandance improving, and frankly I believe trading away two Cy young winners in a row had allot more to do with the diehards abandoning the team then the Browns have.

  2. It’s tough not to devolve into a “intra-city civil war” when the Browns get all the attention no matter the circumstances. The Browns organization has been a source of nothing but frustration and disappointment. You could make a similar case for the Indians organization, except that you had high quality regular seasons as recent as 2005 and 2007 and a very high quality playoff appearance in 2007. The past two years have been pretty disappointing overall for the Indians, but they at least they went deep into May being in 1st place both years. When have the Browns gone even four weeks into a season still in first place since 2005? I checked, in 2007 (the last time a Browns team finished above .500), they were 2-2 after four weeks, and the Steelers were 3-1. So even THAT year they couldn’t pull that off.

    The Browns get all the attention, and they suck. Badly. Yes, Cleveland is a Browns town. Is that OK? I suppose. But there is a huge problem (in my opinion) when the city keeps being obsessed with a team and paying all of its attention to a team that is nothing but an example of dysfunction. We all loved the analogies of boyfriend/girlfriends when Lebron left, but lets all try this on for size; Cleveland’s obsession with the Browns is like the nerd who covers his locker with photos of the fat chick who is in band with him AND the fat chick doesn’t even give him the time of day.

    You can complain all you want about managment in the Indians franchise. The Indians provide more bang for your buck in terms of entertainment and satisfaction, and despite that all anyone does is talk about a third string quarterback signing. Things like this certainly make me develop angst over the Browns.

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