1.31.2018

A Baseball Team


This started as a piece of writing about Chief Wahoo and the situation unfolding right now with the Cleveland Indians removing it as one of their on-field logos. 

I could sit here and talk about it ad-nauseam like anyone else has, defending my stance, arguing with the wind. On the surface, yeah, it bothers me that people have a problem with this. Bluntly, I think if it is preventing you from being a fan of this baseball team, you should just not be a fan of this baseball team. Of course, it's not as cut and dry as that though. It can never be with this team or this city. It's one of the things I've learned in 10 years.

I tried to keep light and make some tasteful jokes Monday on Twitter as a way of easing my angst towards people who feel like this is the end of the world for their baseball team. To deter me from making a snarky comment towards those who feel like celebrating or even taking this weird indifferent approach along the lines of "Whatever, just don't give us Block C".

I don't think that's what any of this is about. I don't think any of this logo business is about any of us. I think we need to stop making it about us. Because if you are arguing for the logo, you are making it about what you want. If you are arguing about something else other than the Block C, it is again what you want. This isn't what you want. You support the team, just like me, but this isn't about any of us. Remember that.

Another version of what I was writing went into this depressing, totally non-baseball related thought stream on how the world we live in today is a really depressing and sometimes scary one because of the things that seem to be happening on an almost daily basis. I won't go down that road. That's not what this needs to be about, as much as I want to try and make it be. As much as it does relate.

A reminder about the logo, and where I'll end it. It isn't about us. You or me, or your fandom or how or why you should be rooting for the Cleveland Indians. So stop thinking that it is. I'm not going to lecture. You either have the sense to see the humanity in the decision and are grown-up enough to understand why the franchise is doing this. Or you aren't. End of that story.

So, with that out of the way, why am I still writing?

Probably because I haven't for awhile and it's with good reason.

I don't have anything that I feel like writing about in regards to the Cleveland Indians. And it relates to this logo situation in a way. Let me explain.

I really started becoming a fan in the early 2000's. I probably have told this story at one point or another, but for me, my true attachment to this team started when my dad and I would spend countless losing efforts in our right field seats. He was a partial season ticket holder and we did this for years, until we didn't. I went to college, he moved to Pittsburgh, we couldn't do that anymore, but I was still a fan, if not even more so. 

I started this blog in 2008. The first official public post was on March 19, 2008. Almost 10 years ago. It was terrible. I was a freshman in college. As a senior in high school I maintained writing about the Indians on Sporting News in their fan blog section. Then I decided I wanted to try and do this myself. 

I've moved several times, had life-changing events, graduated college, graduated again with my master's, changed my dream job, got a full-time job, had other numerous life events. One thing that I seemingly always had though was this space. I've written for other websites, even got paid to do it for awhile. It helped support me through grad school even.

I've always written here for free and it's always been about the Indians. There were times I became burnt out. There were times where I thought I could make a living off this. There were times where I thought I would be able to do it at the level I was doing it while also going through school/work/whatnot. There was a time where I thought this was my stepping-stone to covering the team in some capacity as a career. There was a time I decided that I wanted this to be fun and enjoy it so I would continue to do it the way I wanted to do it. There were numerous times I changed what I did because I felt like it. 2015 and 2016 probably was some of the most fun years I had writing about the Indians because it was different and I didn't have any strings attached to anything or no self-put pressure about posting something. And I made jokes, which I like to do on occasion.

And then I got burnt out again. Maybe it was the World Series burnout. I don't know.

Last year wasn't a fun year for me, fan-wise, personally, and really just in general. Of course this is about the Indians, so I don't need to detail the personal stuff, but shoot, everything revolving or relating to the Indians just fit into everything else in my life, rather perfectly. But I'd write another novel in addition to this, so we'll stick to the Tribe. What you are about to read is 100% candid honesty and touches a wide range of things, but try and stick with me.

I thought 2016 and the World Series was going to bring things full-circle as I had decided to become a season ticket holder. Because I'm not one for a TL/DR, I decided that I wanted to show my support for the team by being a committed season ticket holder. I had the finances, I also wanted to lock my games in and hopefully get the best price possible for them. Buy early, save money, right? That's what I've been told.

So I put my deposit down in the run-up to the playoffs. Nothing was better calling my dad the minute after the Indians clinched against Toronto to ask him if he wanted to go to Game One of the World Series. And I was able to do that because I became a season ticket holder. It was great. Regardless of the outcome at the end of the World Series, that's a memory we'll always have and it was a great one.

What followed was eternally frustrating. No, not the World Series, I think we're all still salty about that, but my 2017 was the least enjoyable year of being a Cleveland Indians fan, and that includes all those terrible years of rebuilding. I didn't enjoy going to games. The outcomes to them were rather meaningless. It was a few things. Because of the boom in season tickets and demand for the Indians, the Indians changed some things. Or at least, were taken aback and had to adjust. Flex plans in the way that I was told would be offered by my ticket rep were changing. You could only get two different tickets, priced well above what I was expecting when I put my deposit down. The deposit I put down was supposed to cover most of what I would end up paying, if not all. I'm one person, buying one ticket for about 20 games.

I'm a single guy and if I do go to a game with people, I'm buying my own ticket. Maybe I'd buy two for a few games, which I could do with single game pre-sale access, but largely, my plan was revolving around one ticket and it was going to be the cheapest ticket possible because I'm not sitting in a seat.

Whoops, nope. The average per ticket went up because of the section I was confined to. I'm not poor, so I can afford it, but I'm also not rich, and I also felt a little screwed over. I couldn't do a Friday/Sunday or another pre-determined day of the week plan because I needed the flexibility of picking my games and I'd mostly do Friday/Saturday's anyway. 

What that lead to was me paying more than double what I was expecting to for season tickets and then having the constant struggle of hoping the games that I did have to sell would at least net me the price that I paid for a particular ticket. The constant aggravation of having to check Stub Hub to see if prices were dropping and if I'd have to lower my ticket so that I could at least salvage some of my money back was, just that, an aggravation.

Want to add to it? I've always championed for this organization. I've defending the front office and the Dolan's for a long time. I think they're great. I think they truly do care about trying to win but are also trying to be smart about it. And at the end of the day, they are also running a business, so it makes more sense for them to also try and be profitable, duh. So I'm the last one to take a bite out of them in that regard.

But in terms of a customer service experience and just an overall treatment of Season Ticket Holders? I was unsatisfied and disappointed. Events like the Season Ticket Holder meet and greet were poorly organized. I organize and coordinate events for a living, but even someone who doesn't have an eye for that stuff could tell however they were doing things could be done better.

Quote-unquote perks as they advertised them were lackluster and pretty insignificant. I just truly didn't feel valued for showing my season-long commitment to this team. And when I took the time to fill out the survey asking me about all of this, I doubt it was read and I doubt anyone took the time to care about what I actually had to say. Not that I need to be heard, but at least acknowledge that things aren't right and make an attempt to fix them.

And then at the games? Oh lord, at the games. I'm glad the Indians brought more fan support in by being successful, but at what cost? The amount of people in the concourse for a Dollar Dog Night was suffocating. I can't walk through it without someone plodding along in front of me. Is this completely insane? Of course it is, but I'm used to scooting through that stadium at my own pace. The influx has brought in a massive amount of people who can't navigate around the ballpark.

Don't even get me started about some of the people I had to watch the game by. People shouting in your ear towards the opposing team with nonsensical things that are irrelevant or even just not true about the player. Like, there's tasteful and clever heckling and then there's being an annoying jerk and 90% of the interactions I witnessed were people being annoying jerks. 

I've also become rather consumed with what other people are saying online. Trust me, I unfollow if I'm done with what you are saying, but it almost becomes a cool thing to complain about the people complaining. Why can't I have a negative opinion about how Tito fills out his lineup card? It's my opinion. So what if I don't agree with a decision or like a particular player? Why am I not allowed to complain about it? Sure, it's kind of hypocritical that I'm complaining about the people that are complaining about me complaining, but at some point, am I not right?

Guess what, I think Bryan Shaw sucks, so leave it alone, let me talk about how much I think he sucks. 

So that's where I am. A lot of it is brought on by myself and only myself, and I can own that. Some of it isn't and for that I need to find a strategy to deal with it. Complaining just falls in line with the crowd of Wahoo-enthusiasts. 

And it brings me to that point. Why am I even a fan of this team if there's just been so much displeasure involved in it lately. From all that to now the toxic nature of fans hating on other fans because of a decision on the logo.

Why are we all here? What's the point? So yeah, this started out as something about the logo but then it goes down the root of it all. This, and all my other current displeasure are not significant. None of these things are reasons that we have for being fans, right? We like this team for the product on the field, do we not? A logo, colors, the ballpark, the way some fans act, customer service, even team name or who actually is on the team really aren't the reasons that we are all here, are they? I'm just as guilty complaining about customer service as someone complaining about removing a logo. The thing is though, I'm not going to cry and take my ball home because I'm an irrational human being.

And it's occurring to me, I just need to go back to being a fan the way I know how. I need to go back to enjoying the team for what I enjoy them for and put all that noise aside. I can try, maybe it won't work. Maybe it won't. Who knows.

I think back to the reason that I fell in love with this team and coupled with my love for baseball, that is why I am here and why I've continued to root and support the Cleveland Indians baseball franchise. Going to games with my dad, watching a team grow on the field. I was attracted to the on the field product and seeing something start from the dumpster fire that was a franchise fielding teams made up of Ricky Gutierrez, Josh Bard, and Chad Durbin (woof woof woof), to being a contender. A true built from the bottom up effort. Sure it took a while, but I was there from the start and I'll be damned if I'm not going to continue to enjoy the ride.

I'm going to shift my attitude. That whole change your attitude, change your outlook thing, right? I'm not going to be a season ticket holder next year. I'm going to go back to just going to the games when I please and feel like it. I'm going to try and get back to just putting pen to paper (finger to key, shut up, whatever) when the mood strikes. I'm going to just do my best to tune out people at games that bother me. Or throw them over the railing. Kidding, I'm not going to throw anyone over a railing.

Unless they say something about Michael Martinez, then all bets are off.

I'm going to unfollow the crap on Twitter that ticks me off. I'm still going to see it of course, but I'll do my best to avoid it. I stopped reading Facebook comments years ago when I stopped using Facebook. Hey, don't read the comments.

Will I still be a snarky son of a bitch to people who have it coming? Don't worry, Jensen Lewis isn't getting unfollowed, that's not a habit I can break anytime soon. I know my problems and can live with them properly.

But I'm done losing my way. This is largely a post about me, so it's my way of realizing that this team isn't about me. This team isn't about you. This baseball franchise isn't about a logo changing and your problem with it. This team is about itself, trying to win the flippin' World Series, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let that ultimate end-game enjoyment be spoiled by a drawing or Bryan Shaw mood swings. It's time to enjoy baseball again.

A logo identifies a team. It doesn't define it. This team is defined by other things. You can change your identity, but it's damn hard to change how you are defined, so best get over it and enjoy the ride with me, or just, jump off. The train is moving slow enough right now where you may be able to catch yourself running, or at least tumble around at a speed that won't break your neck.

And for the love of all that is blessed, can we please see them sign another relief pitcher before March?!

(P.S. I'm sorry Carlos is in that picture)