My dad and I went to the last game in our six-pack of Cleveland Indians tickets last night, which is what I had bought him for Christmas last year. It was pretty pathetic. Pathetic is not even a good enough word. How about: deplorable, miserable, paltry, heartrending, wretched. I know I shouldn’t let a “little thing” like baseball get me so depressed. But I can’t help it. I think of 2007 when I attended the ALDS against NY (in which the Indians won) and the ALCS against Boston and I just want to erupt into tears. I remember standing by my seats, the crowd roaring with each play–screaming, shouting, stomping their feet–and all the hope we had in those moments. We almost made it to the World Series. We surely could have beat the Rockies.
And then the next year, when our hopes were high for another good season–an even better season where we didn’t make it to the ALDS through a wild card–they changed the name of our stadium from Jacobs to Progressive, following in the new age tradition of naming every public arena after some business, and all the energy of the team coincidentally seemed to deflate. This year was even worse. You didn’t think it could get any worse, unless you were around to remember the 1980s at Municipal Stadium, but it did.
Last night’s attendance was maybe 2,500 people. The True Fans, I told my dad. We’re it. Even John Adams, our loyal fan and drummer, was in the bleachers, pounding out encouragement in a last pitch attempt to bring the team’s spirits up. But even his drum beats sounded dull and without enthusiasm.
I knew we’d hit a real low when my dad and I were told as they scanned our tickets at the gates that they’d closed the upper deck (where our seats were), we would be reseated in the lower deck, and that our upper deck tickets entitled us to $5 off the concession stands. Which, of course, my dad and I used to buy beer. For the first time ever, I paid $5.50 for both our beers! It was as good as free!
Anyway, we did get some GREAT seats along the third base line–section 164, AA, seats 6 and 7. Not that it really mattered. We probably could have sit in any unoccupied seat closer. My dad said they probably closed the upper deck to make the stadium look full on TV. Of course, we both knew it probably had more to do with not needing to open the upstairs concession stands.
Before we even got to our seats, Chicago had already scored a run. That’s when you know your team is really doing bad–you haven’t even reached your seat in the top of the first inning and your team is already losing. There’s still hope at this point. But I wasn’t feeling it, looking at the scant gathering of fans and the line up of names I mostly didn’t recognize.
During the fourth or fifth inning, I went to use the restroom and acquire the beers my dad sent me to get. I ended up missing I think two innings because I was trying to find a beer stand that wasn’t serving light beer. On the way, I encountered a free give away and managed to get my dad the Grady Sizemore sliding bobblehead thingy he’d seen someone else with and mentioned he wanted. I then also stopped at a souvenir stand where they were selling hats for 15% off. I bought an old school 1980s cap with the “C” on it that I remember as a kid. I joked with the old flirtatious men running the stand. It was an adventure all its own. I think it’s sign of my disinterest when I am in no hurry to return to my seat. I usually never want to miss a moment of the game.
Fortunately, I got to see Shin-Soo Choo hit a home run–our only run for the night. My dad pointed out how Choo has really come a long way since the beginning of the season. But then he said, depressingly, “So he’ll probably leave now that he’s good.”
I watched a bunch of players bat who I didn’t recognize. Grady Sizemore, our only other good player, is out having had surgery my dad informed me. I guess it looks less bad to not be shut out. Of course, Chicago came back with three more runs, making the game 6-1. No hope of redemption by the 8th inning. Not these Indians. Not tonight.
And so my six pack season ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. (Again, unlike 2007 when they took us by surprise and made it into the postseason.) I don’t know what I’m going to get my dad for Christmas this year… I’m not sure I have the heart to sit through another season like this. I don’t think they won a single game we went to this season.
What else can you do when your team is pathetically losing at the end of a season that no longer matters? You take pictures of yourself with your camera phone, smiling as though you’re having a great time. After three beers, it doesn’t hurt so much.