Making It Right With Fans

This weekend I was in a wedding for a dear friend of the last 15 years and thus a little, “off the grid,” Friday and Saturday night as it pertains to the Tribe.

After completing all my groomsman duties Friday night and catching up with some friends who now live across the country and I haven’t seen in years, I wondered to my room around 12:15 a.m. and saw the Indians on the television. Immediately, I thought it was a highlight of Friday night’s game, with final score to come at the end of the clip.

Instead, I quickly realized it was the top of the third inning and this was live action.

I was stunned and quickly blown away that the Indians and Major League Baseball would agree to restart a game after midnight with so much action remaining. At restart time, the game was in the middle of the second inning. Eventually, the game was completed around 3 a.m., just eight hours before the beginning of Saturday’s regularly scheduled game.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only person surprised at the decisions made pertaining to Friday’s game. Prior to Saturday’s game, Indians Senior Director of Communications, Curtis Danburg released a statement on behalf of the organization:

 

Tribe fans:

Thank you to all those who endured the rain delays from Friday night’s (May 31st) series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays at Progressive Field.

For those who were unable to remain at the ballpark, we apologize for the inconvenience of the delays and subsequent re-start of the game after midnight. 

There was a multitude of extenuating circumstances that led to what we recognize was a challenging experience for our fans: 

¨       At the time of last night’s game, there was considerable uncertainty within the remainder of this weekend’s weather forecast

¨       Last night’s weather forecast continually changed throughout the evening leading to the unfortunate after midnight re-start

¨       Our ability to play at a future date was limited by two factors of significance: Tampa Bay does not return to Progressive Field in 2013 and as outlined within the terms of the basic agreement there are no viable mutual off days in the future to reschedule

We value each and every one of our fans. We want to thank the fans that did stay for some or all of the game for their loyalty, patience and perseverance.  Our fans were incredible last night.

While we did our best to ensure that those who stayed had a great experience, we realize that the weather related circumstances from Friday’s game presented difficulties for many fans to have a memorable ballpark experience.

We are always looking to provide our fans the best experience possible at Progressive Field and in the near future reach out to last night’s fans to make it right.

Thank you and Go Tribe!

 

After reading the Indians’ statement I understood a little where they were coming from. With thunderstorms in the forecast for most of the weekend, it was probably tough to decide to wash the game away and try to play a doubleheader on Saturday. What if the storms continued and Saturday’s game(s) were lost to Mother Nature? Since Tampa Bay is not returning to Cleveland—and have no common off days with the Indians—they needed to get these three games in over these three days, or stand having a possible nightmare later in the season if one or both teams are in playoff contention.

Wait a minute? Tampa Bay doesn’t come back to Cleveland the rest of the season? The two teams don’t have a single common off day the rest of the season?

The schedule isn’t the fault of the Indians’ organization, it’s the fault Major League Baseball. The decision makers at MLB are dedicated to each team playing 19 games against each of their divisional foes. That’s 76 of the 162 games against the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox, meaning almost every other American League team only makes one trip to Cleveland.

To make matters worse, every day interleague play this season has created more two game series during the week and more sporadic off days for teams to schedule around. If teams are obligated to start games after midnight, or finish a game at 3:30 a.m. like the Royals and St. Louis Cardinals did last week, the schedule or the system to make the schedule is flawed.

But Major League Baseball won’t have to answer the fan’s questions or frustrations from Friday night. Instead, the Indians front office will have to, “make it right,” to their fans. Before four-hour rain delays and ninth innings that are after bar’s closing times, the Tribe has battled to appease and entertain fans. Friday night was fireworks and Dollar Dog Night, a definite plea to appeal to an affordable game experience for families.

Could you imagine the frustration of a family of four to take two children to Friday night’s game, spending around $100 for seats, then battling Captain America traffic and dropping a cheap $20 on hot dogs and sodas for your family, only to leave after a three hours of rain?

That frustration and disappointment for a family—especially children—would be enough, but imagine waking Saturday morning to find out they played the game you paid for in the middle of the night and the rain check you assumed you’d get is now gone? Not the experience a family is likely to want to attempt again after paying $125 for an inning and a half of action.

Frustrating for fans, tough to explain to children.

The Indians said they would make it right and hopefully they do soon. Team President Mark Shapiro encouraged fans to hang on to their ticket stubs. Hopefully, the organization does the right thing and provides all ticket holders with seats to any game remaining this season. It seems the only way to guarantee fans the experience they already paid for.

The unfortunate part of Friday night is that it could have been likely avoided if Major League Baseball could make adjustments to their schedule.

The real unfortunate part is that it will cost the Indians to make it right to their fans and more money from their customers to see the game they already paid for.

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

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