On September 14th, 2007, the Cleveland Indians beat the Kansas City Royals to move to 86 wins on the season. As this is being written on September 10th, 2013, the Indians have just moved to 77 wins on the season, just six less than they had on this day six years ago. In fact, on this day six years ago, the tables were turned. The Detroit Tigers sat at 77 wins, six back of the Tribe for the lead in the Central Division.
When the Tigers lost to the Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park by seven runs on what would have been last night six years ago, they did so in front of nearly 40,000 fans. A second place team, fighting for a wild card spot, with more than 39,000 fans in the seats. Back to that September 14th game at Jacobs Field in 2007, there were 35,230 fans in attendance to see the first place Indians.
35,230 Indians fans.
The Indians aren’t in first place this year, and they probably won’t finish that way either (even though Detroit has dropped two in a row). But last night at Progressive Field, the attendance was 9,794.
9,794 Indians fans. Keep in mind that that’s the announced attendance. For those that are picky about it being a little too brisk, it was still 77 degrees last night.
Yes, the 35,000+ figure was for a team that was up six games in mid-September and was cruising to a division title. This team is 1.5 games back of a Wild Card spot that was just recently created and only guarantees one game. Fair point, but the team with the second-worst record in Major League Baseball this season just announced more than 18,000 fans last night.
But this is a football town. True, and that football team didn’t do anything on Sunday to make anyone so preoccupied with them that suddenly a team who is in a playoff chase at the end of the season becomes irrelevant.
Tribe fans have complained, justifiably, about the direction of the team and the effort of management to put a winning team on the field since 2008 when the team went .500 and began a tailspin back to the bottom. Now, five years later, the ownership and management of this team has put their money where their mouth is. They’ve received pathetic fan support that certainly hasn’t helped their bottom line, but they’ve put up the cash all the same.
Today, the Indians are contending for the playoffs. It doesn’t matter that it’s only one game. It doesn’t matter that the team hasn’t blown the league away with a season headed for 100 wins. This is Cleveland, and a winning team contending for a playoff spot in any sport deserves more than 9,794.
The fans have sent their stubborn message all season that they won’t come until this team contends, posting an attendance average that ranks an embarrassing 27th out of 30 teams. They’ve sent that strong message that they’ll only fill up the stadium to a league-worst 45 percent on average. Quite frankly, this fan base has turned into the joke that the team itself once was.
Unlike past seasons, the Indians have continued to win for tens of thousands of green plastic chairs. They’ll play a team with a losing record for 14 of their final 19 games. The teams that they’re battling for that final spot (Baltimore and Tampa Bay) will play a combined 12 teams with a losing record over that same period.
Those five games against a winning team for the Tribe are all against the Royals, who have been just as streaky in a bad way as they have been good. Last night’s victory was a nice start to making sure Kansas City stays on the bad side of that streakiness.
There’s no way to argue around this stuff anymore, and why would anyone want to? With the way the Indians have played this season, they deserve to not have to tweet the top ten reasons to come to the ballpark. The possibility of the postseason is the only reason necessary, and nobody needs 140 characters to understand that.
This is supposed to be the fun part. It’s time to show up and enjoy it.
See you on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. 7:05 sharp.