Last week, I was one of the contributors to ESPN’s Triple Play feature. One of the questions was: “Derek Lowe threw a shutout for the first-place Indians on Tuesday. Are you drinking the Tribe Kool-Aid yet?” My response was: “As an Indians fan, I’ve been mainlining the Tribe Kool-Aid since birth; it’s tasty but not always satisfying. This is the year the Indians were supposed to contend, and they are. They don’t have a lot of star power, but they have some stars in the making in Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis. They’re a slightly above-average team that can take two of three from a team like the Rangers by playing smart small ball.”
This weekend, Cleveland closer Chris Perez ripped on Cleveland fans for booing when he had two men on base and for not showing up at the ballpark. He seemed to be asking why the team’s own fans aren’t quenching their thirst with a little Tribe Kool-Aid.
I like Chris Perez. I like his pitching. I like his hair. I appreciate his bluntness. I can’t blame him for being a little ticked off that people didn’t start showing up at the ballpark in large numbers until this past (warm and sunny) weekend. But he’s only been here a few years, and there are some aspects of Indians fandom that he may not know.
Here’s a story: We used to have this great dog named Poochini. I got him from the APL. He was eight months old and, we were told had been an outside dog. My guess is somebody wanted a tough watch dog and instead they got Poochie. Sweet as pie and gentle as a sleepy kitten. When we first got him, he would shy away every time I picked up a newspaper or a magazine or even a cello bow. It was clear that he had been abused. Indians fans are a lot like Poochie, except he eventually learned to trust people and realized that he wouldn’t be hurt just because somebody picked up a newspaper. Indians fans have continually had their emotions toyed with on a regular basis. Whenever we start to trust, something happens to rip out our hearts.
This makes Tribe fans hesitant. We’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid for years. The difference between the Kool-Aid at Jonestown and Tribe Kool-Aid is that the Jonestown Kool-Aid killed you, while the Tribe Kool-Aid always seems to end up making you wish you were dead.
At least until next season.
Fear not, Chris Perez. The fans will start showing up, but remember that they may cringe if they think they might be hurt. This fear response typically manifests itself in the form of boo’s and occasionally avoidance. (There might be something in the DSM-R IV about this response.) But we’ll keep drinking the Tribe Kool-Aid. We can’t help it–the stuff is addictive.