CLEVELAND–Put another check mark next to a ball park on my life list. Hit the Cleveland Indians-Toronto Blue Jays game Tuesday night at Progressive Field. It was a pretty good night to be at the game, though it’s too bad that most Indians fans skipped it.
Cleveland won, 3-0, despite not getting a hit until the fourth inning. And for the first time in my life, with my wife as a witness, I actually watched a game from a luxury suite. I have been in luxury suites at parks before, but never as a plain old guest for an entire game. The funny thing about was that I didn’t know I was about to watch it from a luxury suite until I was on the elevator on the way up.
Some local friends mentioned that they had local friends and that they would take care of obtaining the tickets, and that’s all I knew. Surprise. Since I it is doubtful that I ever will be wealthy enough to invest in such a season ticket suite of my own, it is quite possible this is the only time I will ever view a game from one.
Let me tell you, us lower class bums could get used to such treatment. No food was ordered because we thought we might go out to dinner beforehand, so the suite was only stocked with cold drinks of a wide variety, and a door-to-door delivery service that offered fancy desserts, most of which were so rich in sugar that one bite might have killed me. But they also had strawberries, the health-food option.
The suite was furnished with cushy chairs and couches, on nastily steamy night was air-conditioned, and featured a large screen TV to follow action you wanted to see if you were too lazy to move outside and sit in the sauna in chairs that are much more comfortable than the average bleacher seat. It would be easy to get caught up in the scene and forget about the action, pretending you were in a nice living room, not at a stadium.
I am proud to say that I did not. I sat outside most of the night and watched the Indians bounce back from losing three out of four to their American League Central Division rival Detroit Tigers. It was a good, solid win. Good pitching job by Ubaldo Jimenez for six innings and then having it wrapped by the bullpen, which has not always been super reliable.
But there were only 13,640 fans in the house and there were only 23,640 fans in the house for the final game against the Tigers. The Indians have had only two sellouts all season. Heck, a visit to Progressive Field for hot dogs should bring out more than that. Fans have been acting like it’s a school night so they don’t come to weekday night games. What it is, so far, is a holding back of emotional involvement even though the team’s record is 47-43. The Indians are not a juggernaut. But they are a very respectable team capable of doing great things on a given day. New manager Terry Francona did not move to Cleveland to be a loser. He is making the most of his weapons.
The team is definitely a work in progress, but progress has been made. The Indians are not going to beat out the Tigers for the division title this summer, but should keep things interesting. And if management keeps working the free agent market the way it did last off-season, it will keep providing Francona with more pieces of value and keep upgrading the overall talent.
Cleveland has not won a World Series title since 1948, so the word patience is not uttered without ducking. It’s long past the patience point. But the team and organization do exude vibes that suggest things are moving in the right direction. That’s what the fans need to see. By their failure to fill Progressive Field with any kind of regularity, the fans are telling the Indians it’s their turn to demonstrate patience.