From “Drew”: “6-1 this week. I’m sure you’ll be pleased.”

Why, yes, Drew. On two fronts. One: That the Tribe have a pretty good time, as well as a shot to win, against anybody not named “Jose Fernandez.” Two: I’m pleased that someone pays attention! Here’s a cookie!

It comes with one frustrating caveat, though. The Tigers, mostly without Miguel Cabrera, still refused to roll over and play with their kitty yarn. While the Tribe is in their best stretch of the season, so are they. Tribe wins ten of eleven, so, of course, Tigers sweep their homestand. But we should know by this point of the season that you can’t pin our hopes on the Phillies, Nationals, or White Sox to do the work for us; they’ve checked out mentally weeks ago.

So, naturally, the swing series of the season starts Monday. Yeah, they’ve won nine of twelve against the Tribe, but there’s nothing that can be done there. Split or win the series and the Indians are still right in the thick of things for a divisional championship. Lose three of four or worse? Then it’s time to start thinking Wild Card. And the Seattle Wedgies helped us in that pursuit by knocking off Baltimore out of the final spot.

While I’m at it, here’s hoping that Eric makes a full recovery.

I’ve got to say, though, I think we are all pretty pleased with the pitching that the Indians have assembled. I wanted new Ranger Matt Garza a few weeks ago (I’m recanting completely), simply because I wasn’t sure there was enough here. Lately, the pitching staff has answered the bell. We knew that Justin Masterson would be steady as our horse and that guys like Zach McAllister and Corey Kluber had the potential to be solid, and they have been just that. The under-the-radar addition of Marc Rzepczynski can only help a guy like Rich Hill, who probably benefits from not being the only guy opposing teams can count on facing in late spots. It keeps Nick Hagadone out of my sights, as well. That’s always a plus.

But what can you say about Scott Kazmir lately? He was pure excellence yesterday and even got a hit to boot. I’d venture to say that he’s been the second biggest reason for why the pitching staff is clicking. He’s in a real groove right now. It’s exciting to see him down the line if he can sustain it.

No complaints here about Ubaldo Jimenez is being pushed back on Wednesday, he’s okay. Really, being “just okay” is pretty much all that is required of him at this point. He was snakebitten on Friday. If that double-play gets turned by Asdrubal Cabrera, you have to wonder how differently that game turns out. Though, the way that the new Nolan Ryan was making our guys look completely foolish for most of the evening, even a 2-0 deficit would’ve been insurmountable. He is what he is at this point, so I’m not concerned about him. So, wunderkind Danny Salazar takes the Wednesday spot-start against Doug Fister. No pressure, kid.

Now the real push for the second season begins in earnest. Should be fun. Read Adam’s breakdown. Because he actually cares about numbers and stuff. I’ll be happy if the Indians just get more runs than the other guys. Bring it on.

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And now a word about the elephant in the room. Because everybody has something to say about it.

I live in Toronto now, so it’s not my place to complain about the attendance woes. I can’t be there, so it would be hypocritical of me to spend other people’s money.

Having said all of that, I also know that Cleveland is “A Browns Town.” It just is and it always will be. Seeing 455 again is not going to happen, and it took the Browns being non-existent in the city for it to happen in the first place.

The Cavs were a similar case: Having the greatest player on the planet for seven years who was from our own back yard really excited the region and fanbase. And nothing came of that, either. And then…yeah…

The Indians have been teases. I firmly believe that there are many families who are still in wait-and-see mode who are still voting against coming with their wallets. The harsh reality is this: NOBODY outside of the hardcore fanbase believes the Indians are going to make the playoffs. Heck, even ESPN has a front-page feature right now on the Royals, sitting in third place right now, which champions their hot streak with barely an acknowledgement of the Indians, and much less a word bout the Indians’ current run and potential.

The simple fact is this: The Mothership drives a lot of the hype in what is going on in our sporting universe. And if they don’t buy into the hype, then it’s pretty hard to convince the casual fan to come in and see what the fuss is about.

I truly believe that it will take a decent showing in the playoffs before we see consistent sellouts. It takes a lot to change the culture of the town, but for a city totally starved for a consistent contender, somebody has to prove it is real first. That could very well be this Indians team. But it’s up to them to prove it isn’t a façade yet again.

Otherwise, it will always be a Browns town, leaving the Indians (and Cavs) to fight for the scraps. It’s up to them to capture the imagination and hopes. Whether they can, or if they will, unfortunately, remains to be seen.

 

18 Comments

  • Andy says:

    It’s time to change ticket pricing. 10 days out from games all tickets should start to decrease in price until they are say 50% of original face on gameday. You would start to see a heck of a lot more fans, money is still made on concessions, and let’s be honest a 50% off ticket is still > $0. I really don’t know why teams don’t do this.

    • Luke says:

      As nice as that idea sounds, people respond to incentives. This essentially incentives having fans wait until 10 days before the game to buy tickets since they know they will get a discount. Thus, no one would buy tickets at full value and overall profits would be much lower than the current situation.

    • Cale says:

      I like the idea in theory, but don’t you think you’d lose money from the season ticket holders, though? If you knew you could get 1/2 price tickets the day of the game and let’s face it, even this deal wouldn’t sell out Progressive field, there’s little incentive to buy tickets early. Of the 20,000 that are going to the game now, 1/2 of them would wait and buy 1/2 price tickets, so you’d have to get 30,000 in the stands just to break even. In this case 50% off a ticket is not really > $0.

  • nikki says:

    My girlfriend and I drove up from Cincinnati to see Rayburn’s walk-off homer against the Rangers a couple weeks ago, and I’ll tell you — if we lived closer, we’d be there at least once a week. The Tribe puts on a heck of a show at home, especially with the dollar-dog and fireworks promotions they’ve been having lately. I’m sure everyone who reads this blog is already well-aware of all that, but what I’m saying is… it’ll come. Like you said, if they continue to play well, the attendance will improve. It might be a slow process, but all the pieces are in place. It’ll come.

  • Gvl Steve says:

    The question is whether it is a money/economy issue or a credibility/fan interest issue. The fact is that Cleveland has been bleeding population for years, particularly among demographics that favor baseball over other sports. Another fact is that the ten-year disconnect between ownership and the fan base will not be healed overnight. Whether you believe it is true or not, the perception is that the Dolans bought the remains of a championship team full of recognizable star players and stripped it down. Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome and Roberto Alomar all shipped out within 2 years of the ownership change, and the season ticket base began a steady decline soon after that has continued through this year. Star players are consistently traded away, either in salary dumps (Lee) or in the name of rebuilding (CC, Vic). Throw in some epically bad drafting and high-profile trade acquisitions, a lack of free agent spending until this year, and 2nd-half collapses by teams touted as contenders, and you have a recipe for fan skepticism. But this is not Tampa Bay. If this team wins a division or even makes it interesting for more than one year in a row, and shows an effort to keep some star players around, attendance will improve. There are still a lot of people who want to care about this team and are starving for a winner.

  • Tribe Fan in San Diego says:

    I would be there this week, but unfortunately I’m stationed in San Diego. I actually was looking at taking leave and going home to watch all the games this week, but work is to busy.

  • Nick says:

    Chris, if you think that article about the Royals was bad check out the new one ESPN has up today titled “Why the Indians success won’t last”. You have to have ESPN insider to read the article so just in case you don’t i will sum it up for you. Basically it says that most of our team is playing well above their potential at the moment, and therefore should not expect to compete for a playoff spot through the end of the season. I don’t know about everyone else but I am sick of ESPN having nothing but negative articles written about the Indians. Sure we get a highlight on sportscenter every blue moon, but what team doesn’t? Oh well, chalk it up as another person(s) the Indians need to prove wrong.

    • Chris Burnham says:

      I will check that out! Sounds like it’ll be par for the course, since the talking heads have been trying to bury the guys all season. Thanks for the heads-up. :-D

      • medfest says:

        Dave Cameron’s middle name must be clueless,giving Rayburn credit as the engine behind the Tribe’s offense is the his first paragraph!

    • Kevin Price says:

      Start using SI.com and Foxsports.com

  • Sean Porter says:

    According to Terry Pluto, here is the advanced ticket sales for this series, as of this morning…

    Monday: 19,000
    Tuesday: 16,000
    Wednesday: 14,000
    Thursday: 18,000

    I thought the over/under on the attendance for this series would be 100,000. According to Pluto, we’ve only sold 67,000 tickets so far.

    Browns-Town, indeed.

  • Seattle Stu says:

    to the remaining chris perez supporters out there (yes, that means you mama perez), please remove this man from our roster…that wortheless piece of…..could not even get 1 out before giving up 4 runs…meanwhile the second coming of cy young, kluber, manages to shut them out over 7+…did i mention the guy that hit the dinger is batting .199….absolutely unforgiveable.

    • Leo O'Neill says:

      Agreed, Captain Asshat strikes again. Don’t care even if they get nothing for him in a trade but we cannot afford to pay him 9-10m dollars next year. It’s nearly 3 in the morning hear, I’ve watched the entire game but as usual had to switch games when he comes on for fear of lashing my phone scrips the room. Sigh.

  • Leo O'Neill says:

    Here’s a sobering thought, only 2 closers(Papelbon and Soriano) will earn more than Perez next year.

    • Sean Porter says:

      That fact alone makes me think he will be traded this offseason – if anyone out there wants to take on the salary of a good, not great closer.

      Then again, I have no idea who would take over the closer role from Perez now. Pestano WAS the obvious choice, not so much at this moment. Cody Allen to me isn’t ready for the job.

      • Leo O'Neill says:

        Think they could probably pick somebody up over the offseason. Only 7 of the top 20 pitchers in saves this year were that teams closer opening day 2012. Experienced 7th and 8th innings guys like Uehara and Benoit continually step up to close games successfully. Anyway it’s off to bed here it’s 4am and I’m up in 3 hours.

  • Peter bullock says:

    The masterson/Verlander match up should have been a huge attendance draw and the way game one was shaping up, I thought we would be looking at a sellout. But then perez did his thing and you could hear the air being let out of the city. It certainly kept me from driving 2.5 hours and spending a couple hundred to see the game. Come on tribe, let’s win the big games!