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:

Positives:

- 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.

Negatives:

- 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.

The calm before the storm - pregame around 2:30 p.m.

The calm before the storm – pregame around 2:30 p.m.

 

Flag and balloons ready to go during player introductions.

Flag and balloons ready to go during player introductions.

 

Release the balloons!

Release the balloons!

 

One thing I love about opening day is that you even get to see folks like the assistant to the assistant trainer get introduced.

One thing I love about opening day is that you even get to see folks like the assistant to the assistant trainer get introduced.

14 Comments

  • Swift says:

    I went to the first opener in 1994 and haven’t been to one since, for all the reasons you list (plus I have to take a day off from work). And I hate any game with obnoxious Yankees fans (they seem the worst). I love baseball, but I can also wait.

    • Stephanie Liscio says:

      I always try to avoid the Yankees and Red Sox games. Because they’re not only typically more crowded, but you’re right – the fans are just terrible for the most part. It seems like every year there’s some Yankee fan that is so drunk they can hardly stand up, and they always end up starting a fight. Last year was the first time I had a group of really nice Yankees fans sitting around me.

  • DaveR says:

    Still early and I don’t think anyone thought Jimenez would completely escape his past. We just hope he limits those outings.

    • Stephanie Liscio says:

      I agree – if he can limit it to every so often, it would be a big success. You can almost see it coming a mile away…if his control is there, it will probably be half decent. If he’s having trouble finding the plate, it’s going to be a long day.

  • The Doctor says:

    A few thoughts:

    - Hafner ravaging us was inevitable. He’ll slug a few more this week, then get injured right after this series is over, and do nothing for the Yankees the rest of the year. That’s just the way it goes as a Tribe fan.

    - As soon as I saw that Francona story, a feeling of dread washed over me that we’re all going to look back on that at the end of the year and realize it was some sort of deranged portent.

    - Albers has just looked horrible so far this year. Unfortunately, since he’s out of options, we’re likely stuck with him. I imagine Allen’ll be back at AAA soon if he keeps up like this. There’s few things more discouraging that pulling your starter early to stop the bleeding, and then watching the bullpen just keep waving them through like a turnstile.

    - Ubaldo is what he is at this point: 1 out of every 5 starts he’ll be great, 3/5 will be tolerable, and 1 will be just downright hideous. It’s this sort of game that you look back on later in the season when you’re wondering why the bullpen is floundering. Only 1 start of more than 6 innings for the club so far? Eek.

    • The Doctor says:

      re: Allen – I obviously don’t mean this past game, but in general. He’s looked very hittable so far.

    • Stephanie Liscio says:

      I was actually joking that maybe Hafner will get injured during this series for old time’s sake. He usually makes it into May though. Although with all of the injuries on that team, wouldn’t it be ironic if he’s the one person that could stay healthy?!

      You’re right about Francona…it just seemed like a symbol of some sort. I’m hoping it’s a symbol maybe just for the game or the series, rather than the whole year.

      I will say this about Albers and Allen – they’ve looked incrementally better each time I’ve seen them. When I was in Arizona, they looked dreadful. Either had control problems, or weren’t fooling anyone. As the spring progressed, they started to improve. I’m hoping that they’re just a little bit behind and will continue to look better. It’s almost night and day between how they look now, and how they looked 3 weeks ago or so.

      I know…Jimenez and Myers especially need to at least limit the damage and eat innings. I still can’t believe they ran up Kuroda’s pitch count so early yesterday, and then let him settle in and make it late into the game. I thought they’d knock him out of there by the 4th or 5th, leaving their weak middle relief exposed.

      • The Doctor says:

        Agreed – after that first inning I thought we’d certainly knock Kuroda out early. We have really struggled with situational hitting adjustments and hitting with RISP so far. If we don’t improve soon, particularly re: RISP, I’m hoping that Francona will be willing to make some lineup changes.

        Kipnis at 3 has been a fantastic rallykiller so far, and after 2000+ ABs of .240/.310/.383, I’ve basically made up my mind that Stubbs is not a major league hitter. I think they should follow the advice that was suggested in SI’s baseball preview issue: Reynolds at 1st, Swisher back in RF, Stubbs as the 4th OF, and whoever’s the hot hand/best matchup at DH. I really hope we don’t have to suffer through 500 ABs by Stubbs.

        On a quasi-related note, is it just me, or does it seem like Stubbs has already let 5-6 balls drop in for hits that he could/should have caught?

        • Stephanie Liscio says:

          No, now that you mention it I do think there are at least a couple of things that Stubbs could have caught. At first I thought maybe I was just expecting too much from him, but seeing someone else mentions it makes me think that’s not the case!

          I was chatting with Christina Kahrl in Arizona this spring and we both agreed that Stubbs is not likely to be an everyday hitter. I secretly hope we’re all wrong, but deep down I fear that we’re not!

      • Mary Jo says:

        I’d cut Tito some slack. He was playing tourist. When you ride a motorized vehicle you pay attention to traffic (that is, unless you’re a native MA driver, then you just figure you have the right of way ALL the time) but since he was walking I bet he was looking around at all the neat stuff, got off the route he’s used to taking, and just plain ol’ got lost. Even though I lived in greater Cleveland for 50 years and went downtown a lot (including several years for my job) I bet after a dozen years in MA I’d get spun around because of all the gawking I’d be doing.

  • Mary Jo says:

    STAY HOME NEXT YEAR!!!*

    *This message is brought to you by my husband who, if you remember our PMs via facebook last summer, has about as much interest in the sport as someone near and dear to YOU! :-)

    • Stephanie Liscio says:

      HA! It could be worse, my husband is a Yankees “fan.” (And fan is in quotes since he’s a bandwagoner that forgets to follow them for long amounts of time). We did try to go Thursday night, but the rainout foiled our plans. We had Club seats though, so we just stuffed our faces and now we’ll get to go back and stuff our faces again!

  • medfest says:

    Opening day is like New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day….amateur night.
    I haven’t gone to one since 1994 and before that 1980,when a guy puked down the back of my overalls and I…ummm… reacted poorly and spent the rest of the day in jail.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    There is this stretch of bars/restaurants I like in Tempe where I stay in AZ for spring training. I decided to go have dinner there on St. Patty’s Day before I went to catch my red eye. I completely forgot that it’s about 2 blocks from Arizona State. I got close, saw people staggering, and sped away!

    And I know your vomit and jail story is probably not the best of memories, but I laughed a lot when I read it! I’m usually pretty laid-back and mellow but every so often I’ll lose my cool. Last August I went on a tirade at one of those terrible games…yelling and making a general scene. Everyone in my section just laughed a lot though. I’m sure watching someone completely unravel before their eyes was relatively entertaining. At least more entertaining than watching the Indians at that point!

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