The old saying goes that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Every year I end up going to the home opener, and every year it turns out to be a fiasco due to bad baseball, bad weather, or some combo of both. Plus you can’t forget the fact that opening day is amateur hour – it brings every casual fan that will likely never attend another game all season out of the woodwork. These people typically fall into one of the three categories: completely clueless about the Indians and/or baseball in general, unbelievably drunk to the point where they’re barely able to stand, or they have no interest in actually watching the game. Groups two and three usually aren’t a concern past the fifth inning since they just end up leaving by then anyway.
I also, like some kind of naive fool, continue to think that Ubaldo Jimenez has turned some kind of mythical corner. I think deep down I knew that things hadn’t really changed, but after that great performance in Toronto last week, I thought he may be able to baffle a Yankees lineup down on their luck. I joked leading up to the game that I wished I knew which Jimenez was going to pitch today, so that I could determine how much beer I needed to consume before I arrived at the stadium. The answer: no matter how much beer, it still probably wasn’t enough. The Indians were in a 3-0 hole before they ever came to the plate, thanks in large part to our old friend Travis Hafner. The fans gave him a nice ovation during the introductions, but he apparently took that to mean that we actually wanted him to play well. Which he did, of course – he went 2 for 3 with 4 RBI. It seems like a rite of passage that when a player leaves Cleveland, they always have to come back to haunt us at least once or twice.
Maybe I should have seen the writing on the wall when I heard that Terry Francona got lost walking to the ballpark today. Terry Francona lives in a downtown apartment…I’m still not entirely sure how that happened. I mean, talk about nothing going right today – even the manager couldn’t find his way to the ballpark. Francona probably hopes that he never actually found his way to the ballpark; then he wouldn’t have to watch the Yankees score in six of nine innings today. He could have bypassed watching both Lonnie Chisenhall and Drew Stubbs go 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts a piece. Francona also could have missed Chris Perez nailing Carlos Santana in the thumb in the ninth inning, knocking him out of the game. The same Santana that has been on fire for the past week, that’s hitting .500 with a .567 OBP. Just when you thought the day really couldn’t get any worse at that point, one of your best players gets a fairly serious-looking injury when you’re just trying to get your closer some work. What makes this even worse is that Lou Marson is already day to day from his home plate collision. He came in for Santana at the end of the game, and it almost looked like he was having trouble throwing the ball back to the pitcher. I guess if your neck is still pretty stiff/sore, it could make playing a bit challenging.
There were a few other things I saw as positives and negatives today:
– Michael Bourn and Carlos Santana. Bourn went 2 for 4, including a stand-up triple. Until a strikeout in his final at-bat, Santana had gone 1 for 1 with 2 walks. He was close to being completely perfect at the plate for two straight games.
– The Indians did show a bit of spark late against reliever Shawn Kelley (who?), but it was too little too late – they were already down 11-3 before their 3-run rally made it 11-6.
– I didn’t almost freeze to death, and I didn’t get soaked. After last year’s home opener (16 innings of near freezing to death) and 2009, when I was soaked through to the skin, it was a nice day to sit outside at the ballpark.
– There was a nice bit at the beginning with the first pitch being thrown between fathers and sons – Michael Brantley and his father Mickey, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Sr., Terry Francona and his father, Nick Swisher and his father, as well as Zach McAllister and his dad.
– At around 2 p.m. at a bar near the stadium, I already found a woman vomiting, barely able to stand in the women’s room. I really only see stuff like this on opening day.
– Almost all of the pitching was pretty bad or “ehhhh” at best, except for Cody Allen and Chris Perez. And Chris Perez still smashed up Santana’s hand.
– Quite a few bad at-bats between the second inning and the eighth inning.
– Some drunk guy ran onto the field late in the game and the cops were really slow about cornering him.
– I saw some big fight involving some Yankees fans on that patio with the tables and chairs in right field. Let’s just say that it was to the fighters’ benefit that the chairs and tables are not nailed down, because then they could become projectile weapons.
The home opener is only one game, but I think I figured out why it ends up frustrating me so much when the Indians lose every year (they haven’t won since 2008). You get so excited that baseball is finally back, and that you finally get to head back to the Jake to watch games. Then you have to scramble to find parking, since it’s during the day and parking lots/garages are full of daytime workers as well as game-goers. (You’ll also usually really overpay for parking). Then you have to deal with massive hoards of fans, many of which do not attend games that often. People complain or mock the low attendance, but as someone that regularly attends games, you start to enjoy having the place to yourself. Then everyone is drunk and acting dumb, and you have to wait in line for a year just to go to the bathroom. Then you say to yourself “this will all be worth it, because…baseball.” Then the Indians play bad, and it’s just the last straw when you’re already cranky and annoyed.
And for some reason, I know that I’ll end up going back next year and it will probably be a similar experience. Because despite the annoying people, and despite the (typically) bad weather in Cleveland in April, and despite the fact the Indians usually do poorly, I’m still glad to be at the ballpark. After a long, cold winter, it’s like you finally get to go home again.