When I arrived at the ballpark yesterday, I was happy to be one of almost 30,000. I was glad to be a part of the second-largest crowd of the season, a season marked by solid performance and less-than-stellar crowds. I had a great time with great friends, my girlfriend, and met up with my brother and my cousin after the game. All things considered, a normal day in Cleveland.
And I was one of those 30,000 on their feet as Final Countdown (it’s now stuck in your head) played over the speakers as Chris Perez approached the mound with 2 outs. I was one of the 30,000 cheering in elation as he struck out the side. And I was one of the countless Tribe fans that were taken back by his post-game comments.
“I’m tired of getting booed at home, so I figured I’d throw some strikes today.”
Later on in Perez’s presser, he also said “Why doesn’t Carlos Beltran want to come over here? [...] You had a choice of playing in St. Louis where you get 40,000 like Beltran chose to do, or you can come to Cleveland. It’s going to take more money to get him to come to Cleveland. That’s just how it is. That’s another thing that you have to go against. It’s not only the payrolls of the East teams, but that kind of stuff.”
I’m not going to get into the history of Cleveland sports, we all know how that works. Keeping that in mind, it seems like Perez – and other athletes that play in the city – tend to get greeted with some less than kind words for bad performances.
Honestly, the fans have every right to be upset at Perez’s comments yesterday. Perez broke perhaps the most important unwritten rule in sports: don’t insult the fans, especially your own.
Although the truth of Perez’s comments is evident, the timing of these comments is terrible.
It’s not like he was booed after allowing 2 runners to reach base in front of a 4 digit crowd like he was on Thursday, he was lights out and was cheered by the 30,000 in attendance. The attendance early on this season has been less-than-stellar – worst in the league actually – so he has a point. Simply put, there is absolutely no excuse for a division leading team to be last in attendance. There is no excuse to boo a player who leads the league in saves.
But do Tribe fans have the right to act in such a manner? Are Tribe fans being too harsh on the team and the players?
At this point in the season, the Indians are atop the division. On this date last season, the Indians were atop the division. To put that in perspective, that’s the first time the Indians have been in first place at this point in the season two years in a row since the 1998 and 1999 seasons. Ok, so we fizzled out last season. I attest that to peaking too soon. At this time last year the tribe were 12 games above 500. This year, it’s 6 above 500. In 2007, we were tied for first. In the almost-playoff season of 2005, we were 12 games behind division leading Chicago. In 2001, we were .5 games behind Minnesota at this time.
Going back to last season, one can make the argument that we peaked in May. Up until this date in the season, this year’s and last year’s teams are similar: decent anticipation, opening day debacle, leading the division by mid-may. There’s one key difference: the Indians have NOT played their best baseball yet. All the nay-sayers and cynics that say “oh, the Tigers are gonna catch fire and the Indians will fall off, like every year.” That bothers me.
Those that know me best know that I’m an optimist, I see the glass half full. Is it possible to not be excited about what the Indians are bringing to the table this year? Next year? Five years from now? It finally seems like the Indians have their young pieces in place, and now seems like a good time to be excited for Indians baseball.
For the Indians fans in attendance for today’s game, beware. With the first two games of the Miami series decided by a combined three runs, I anticipate Chris Perez to appear in today’s game. I hope, and I know that I might be optimistic, that the near sellout crowd cheers for Perez as he comes out of the bullpen.
Perez, and the rest of the Tribe, should get a standing ovation. We need to be behind this team. They deserve our positive support.
Filed under: Cleveland Indians