Baseball: Authentic or Phony?

Game one of the World Series last night was a blowout, as the Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago Cubs, 6-0. So that was not fun if you’re a Cubs fan, as I am through the World Series.

I also texted Theo Epstein Saturday night in the 7th inning, while the Cubs were beating the LA Dodgers 5-0 at Wrigley, and I wrote that his team would win four straight. So, while that’s still possible, it’s not probable.

Thus, the savant I became in ’13, predicting to the exact number of games everything that would happen in the playoffs and World Series, seems to be slip sliding away.

That said, If you want a breakdown of last night’s game, go to MLB.com or ESPN, because I want to make a different point about baseball fans, authentic and phony:

Chicago Cub fans are Authentic.

Many Cleveland Indian fans are Phony.

I came to this conclusion watching last night’s game when, in close up shot after close up shots of the sellout crowd at Progressive Field, I kept thinking, where were these people during the season?

Where were these fans the 28 times this season when fewer than 15,000 fans showed up to watch the Indians play (On May 8, only 8,766 tickets were sold); or the three games in September when Minnesota came to Progressive FIeld and their team was fighting to win the AL Central, and yet attendance averaged only 11,662 per game. That’s in tickets sold, and does not mean that many, or few, attended.

Where, I ask?

I know Cleveland has had a tough economic go for too long, as jobs and people have disappeared (more than 500,000 in population lost since the Indians’ last World Series win in ’48). You see it and feel it and hate it and it hurts that this has happened to a great American city, a city blessed with one of the world’s greatest symphonies and medical centers; a city marked by culture and centers of learning; a city that’s deserved better on the timeline of history – but too often fate is unkind and maybe unkindest of all to Cleveland.

For many the price of going to games at Progressive has kept them away, still loving the Tribe but who are stretched to buy regular season tickets – and forget about playoff tickets when prices soar into the stratosphere.

But those are the real fans, not the phony ones who have thronged the ballpark each playoff game leading to the World Series, and were there in SRO numbers last night.

As the Fox cameras panned the crowd, I saw the toney crowd, the upscale crowd, the Wall Street crowd, the Huntington Valley and Chagrin Falls crowd, and the Bentleyville and Gates Mills crowd. Those were not the people that were seen during the regular season when Cleveland began its 162-game run to destiny.

This is the In The Moment Crowd, the The Happening Now Crowd — the social set that says, “I Must Be There” Crowd.

In short, the crowd that probably doesn’t know ERA from EPA.

So explain why “that crowd” in Cleveland differs from the crowds in Chicago?

There’s a ton of reasons — socially, economically, historically — but you can delve into those differences on your own time. Suffice it here to say the difference between “authentic” and “phony” can be told in statistics:

  • Chicago Cubs 2016 total regular season attendance: 3,232,420.
  • Chicago Cubs 2016 average attendance: 39,906.
  • Cleveland Indians 2016 regular season attendance: 1,591,667.
  • Cleveland Indians 2016 regular season attendance: 19,650.

That’s a difference of 20,256 per game.

If I write I love that the Cavs won the NBA title, that would be a lie, because I’m a Stephen Curry, Golden State guy. But they lost and if they had to lose, I’m good the Cavs won. I know it was — is — good for the collective psyche of Cleveland. And if the Indians win, I won’t be happy, because this Red Sox/Padres fan is rooting for Theo and the Cubs and the ghost of Ernie Banks. However, if winning uplifts the spirits of Clevelanders, as it totally will and helps them forget that donald trump was nominated for president in their town, I’m good with that, too.

Finally, if you wonder why this San Diego guy should care about Cleveland, a place I’ve been to once in my life (but took time to tour Municipal Stadium), the answer is because I care about America, and the big hurt Cleveland has gone through is bad for America, and what is bad for America is bad for all of us.

May the Lord bless and keep Cleveland; may the Lord make His face to shine upon Cleveland, and may the Lord be gracious unto Cleveland, both now and forever more.

Amen.

And, Lord, it’s time!

Photo Credit: Keeton Gale / Shutterstock.com