As I walked around Progressive Field Tuesday night, taking in the atmosphere, the sights, the smells, and a generous helping of a Barrio taco, I became upset. I wasn’t just mad online. I was frustrated in real life, too.
When you write about the Cleveland Indians with the frequency with which I do (and if you somehow haven’t noticed, it is a daily multi-post adventure more often than not for this guy), it becomes easily tempting to address attendance. It’s the low-hanging fruit of the Cleveland sports talk topics, akin to the de-Chief debate or discussing the ineptitude associated with the Cleveland Browns front office for the last 18 years or so.
And I steer clear of it as often as possible. I’m not hot take guy, I generally prefer to keep my opinions to myself unless pestered to supply one. That’s what podcasts are for. But Tuesday night’s showing was once again a discouraging and disappointing display by the fans of the first place Cleveland Indians.
For those who were able and willing to show up, they saw one heck of a game. Josh Tomlin restored some confidence in the pitching staff moving forward, Carlos Santana added to his growing career-high in homers, and the team gutted out another exciting walk-off victory with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
As a baseball fan, I got my money’s worth.
I’m certainly not in a position to tell someone how to spend their hard earned cash flow. I know times are tough for many people out there and watching the entertainment budget closely is a key part of being fiscally responsible. School is back in session and extracurricular activities are in full tilt. There are plenty of other things that interfere with getting down to that gem near the lake, I get it. I have a full-time job that I’m on-call for 24/7, not including the time I dedicate to the operation of this site. My attendance is down this season compared to previous years because of those obnoxious and inconvenient work conflicts, but hey, I need to get paid and I have to do what I have to do to get by. The Indians have been unfortunately sacrificed to some degree, at least in regards to my in-person interactions at “the Jake”, as so many of you insist on calling it still.
So with that said, I’m not going to yell and scream and use all capital letters to convey the disappointment I have in the Cleveland fan base. I’m just going to simply say this:
If you’re able, go support the Tribe.
I know many do that daily from afar. From everything I’ve heard and refused to research further, TV ratings are great and radio can say the same. Sports talk shows have begun to acknowledge the longest running sports franchise in the town again (for better and for worse) and while the local newspaper would tell you that October baseball will be short-lived in C-Town, there are meaningful and entertaining baseball games left to be played while the team inches closer and closer to securing their first American League Central Division crown since 2007.
It’s a good time to be a Tribe fan. It’s a good time to be a Clevelander. We have just a little over one month of Major League Baseball left to be played, so try to enjoy it as much as you can while waiting for the NBA season to tip off to take away some of the sting of this most recent edition of the Browns’ rebuild in the no fun league.
The Indians are 87-63, a season-high tying 24 games above the .500 mark. They have won 50 times at home and there are just five more home dates before October hits. Progressive Field has had ten games draw more than 30,000 fans this season, with eight of those dates coming on Fridays and Saturdays (the other two being the home opener and July 4th). Weekday season highs cap off in the mid-20,000 range, courtesy of a handful of decently-attended July contests.
Shortly before 10 AM this morning, Curtis Danburg, Senior Director of Communications with the Indians, shared that just 12,000 seats had been sold for Wednesday’s middle game with the Kansas City Royals, approximately 12 hours after the Indians completed their MLB-leading eleventh walk-off of the year. The team’s magic number is reduced to six, its division lead holds firm at seven, and their ace Corey Kluber is on the mound in pursuit of some serious pitching hardware. The weather looks to be dry with temperatures at game time in the mid 70’s.
The Indians deserves support, the kind that they can see and feel and hear. This club is built for now and built for the future. They’re an exciting and scrappy bunch. When a team has won eleven times in walk-off fashion, you know that on any given day, there is a chance to see something historic and memorable. After everything that they have fought to overcome this year – losing Michael Brantley, losing Danny Salazar twice, losing Carlos Carrasco twice, and in essence losing Yan Gomes twice, they have endured and persevered and managed to run off 110 days of first place baseball, including at least a tie for the top spot every day since June 4.
Kluber will take the mound Wednesday night at 7:10 PM in his final regular season start at Progressive Field this season. The man is 17-9, looking to match a career high in wins (yes, I know, a useless and outdated pitching stat that still maintains some semblance of relevance to this day) while in the pursuit of a second career Cy Young Award, something never done in franchise history.
The Royals’ Ian Kennedy will be Kluber’s victim as the Kansas City righty tries to improve to 6-0 in his last eleven starts.
Get out of the house and enjoy a perfect day for baseball and pack the park for the Tribe on this final day of summer. That season may be ending, but the baseball season isn’t over yet.
Photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer
This Post Has 4 Comments
Anybody familiar with sports attendance anaysis understands attendance is largely a product of STH, and STH is a product of corporate involvement. Since STH sales are almost completely done by mid-April, it is what it is for this season.
It’s easy for writers to think there’s some fan apathy when they largely don’t understand the Tribe’s #’s is not the result of fans not caring. The Tribe will never be able to get weekday tickets sold when there is little initiative, tickets can always be had. There’s no incentive to purchase ahead.
The Tribe is going to at best, average 20,000 tickets per game unless the number of season ticket holders goes up 4-8k more. Presently, the bulk of corporate sports entertaining dollars is going to the Cavs. I can’t see this changing at any point in the future, so to me, it’s meaningless.
Thanks for the comment, Guest.
You are absolutely right in regards to the season ticket numbers. Until those improve beyond the 7-8K STH base that they’re likely sitting at right now, the numbers will remain low. A sustained winning product on the field will do wonders to help with that and a nice run into mid- to late-October will not hurt that cause at all either. It’s unreasonable to expect walk up crowds of 20-25K in any city and especially in this market with all of the school year and financial reasons that seem to come into play, but that doesn’t take any of the sting away from seeing a park at 1/3 capacity. It is discouraging as a fan and undoubtedly disheartening to the players. But that wasn’t to be the focus, because I didn’t want to get into the apathy and CC/Cliff Lee and all of the other pieces that go along with this long lasting weekday attendance problem in Cleveland. I hate talking about it. Others hate hearing about it. My focus was simply to remind fans that there’s a nice pitching matchup tonight (Kluber’s last 2016 regular season start in CLE…) and five home dates left before people complain about how quickly playoff tickets sold out and how expensive the prices are on StubHub and other alternate ticket venues and how they can’t go then because it is financially irresponsible for them to do so. This was a bit of a preemptive strike to say – get your Tribe baseball now while it’s easy, more affordable, and very much attainable.
Guest is right on the money. Further, the Tribe’ s front office knows this. You don’t hear them complaining, it is their efforts selling season tickets that will drive attendance.
When we had yearlong sellouts, they sold >25k season tickets. Us single ticket fans had to fight for the remaining 10-15k tickets, creating a supply shortage that fueled buying early. So we would buy 10-12 games early just in case we might want to go. Now, you can get tickets anytime, so we wait until we’re sure we want to it can go. Sure, there is an incentive to buy tickets earlier because of dynamic pricing, but not enough if you aren’t sure of your schedule.
What’s the answer? A World Series appearance will boost those season ticket numbers the next season it two. At least until the next 100-loss season.
Reading the words “100-loss season” in regards to the Indians got a really negative reaction from my brain. I don’t miss those days, I don’t want to see those days again any time soon! I know I’m not alone there!
I spent one year as a STH. I loved being able to do that, but I know my schedule prohibits that kind of an advanced commitment from me now. Maybe again one day, but until then, I’ll be a game day buyer unfortunately. That said, the Indians definitely know and are up front about the fact that the low STH base numbers directly correlates with the lower-than-desired attendance figures, especially during the first month and a half or so of the season when the club is struggling to even draw 10K a night during the week. They can only hope for so many walk up purchases per game. I do hope though that fans able to make that STH commitment are buying into the team on the field. To me, the Indians look like they have a nice and open window of opportunity to compete and stay competitive for many years to come. Fingers crossed.