An article by Seth Pae, a hopelessly optimistic die hard Cleveland sports fan
In today's article, I recount the amazing adventure that was my second ever away game as a Cleveland Indians fan. Now, to preface this, my first road game was in Pittsburgh. It was 2008, and both teams were pretty bad at the time. But, this time I was witnessing the Indians play a division rival and a team, that is geographically, pretty close to Cleveland.
Weeks ago, I had obtained tickets to the Indians-White Sox game for Friday the 13th. Last week however, I found out that since I was placed in the top orchestra at Depaul University which rehearsed on Fridays at 3:30, that I would be unable to attend the game on Friday. I attempted to sell the four tickets that I had to no avail. However, yesterday I thought I would try my luck at trading them with a vendor for a ticket to yesterday's game. I ended up trading my four upper level seats for one club level seat. The face value of all the tickets actually ended up being even!!! I considered it a win.
Before the game, I decided that I would try to get some autographs from Indians players. I was unsuccessful since none of them seemed interested in signing autographs they understandably were going through their warm-ups. However, I did get a nice close-up picture of Jason Kipnis throwing one of his friends from Chicago and hi-five. When the game started, I decided "well, the stadium is pretty empty... I could probably stay down here and not get thrown out of the section for being in the wrong seat." I was correct. I watched as Nick Swisher powered a homerun over the left field fence. I celebrated like a little kid on Christmas who'd just received his dream gift. I high-fived a few Indians fans behind me, and looked around as a bunch of the Chicago native scowled at me in disgust. A few batters later, Ryan Rayburn slammed a Danks pitch into the left-field bleachers as well. 4-0 Tribe. Not one Chicago player has batted. Message sent: YOU CAN'T BEAT US.
A few innings later, with the Indians ahead something like 7 to 2, I decided to check out the bleacher area and walk around the ballpark. I stumbled upon a sign which indicated a bar in right field. Before I left the main concourse to go to the right-field bar, I asked one of the ushers "will I get beer dumped on me? Are the White Sox fans in this bar going to heckle me?" He assured me that I probably would not get anything thrown at me or dumped on me. I entered the bar, and immediately went to the outdoor portion. I had a great view of the field. Of course, right as I had sat down and started to take in the game, the shortest rain delay that I have ever seen occurs.
Of course, after the rain delay the Indians absolutely pillaged the White Sox. The Indians scored seven runs before the White Sox could mercifully record one out. Touchdown, Cleveland. Another interesting thing about the outfield bar, was it was located right next to the visitors bullpen. I waved at Chris Perez, and Matt Albers and Josh Tomlin, and whoever the bullpen catcher is. In fact, when Tomlin was warming up, I guess the ball that he was throwing was wet. He ATTEMPTED to throw the ball to the catcher. He missed wine right, and high by about 6 feet. The ball slammed into the fence right by my table, and almost drilled this lady in the back. However, the lady was okay, and her husband managed to grab the ball before I could get to it.
The other fans in the bar didn't totally seem to mind that I was away fan. There were of us Cleveland fans at the game as it was. However, the White Sox fans did let Matt Carson have it. They heckled him mercilessly. "Hey, Carson! Your mom called! She says you suck!" "Hey Carson! The only reason you're in this game, is because your team is winning! Stubbs is way better than you!" I guess I have to give them props...they were unrelenting! I'm sure that every opposing right fielder gets this treatment.
I talked with the couple that was sitting with me. I asked them "why are White Sox fans so… Intense? They are kind of mean. When I went to Wrigley Field, the Cubs fans seemed a lot less hostile." They explained to me that most cubs fans are from suburbs, and that most White Sox fans are from the actual city. My dad suspects that it's because of the fact that the White Sox have won the World Series recently. They think that they are hot stuff. I kind of liked the intense atmosphere though. When I walk into an away stadium wearing my teams colors, I expect to get heckled. In my opinion, that's just gamesmanship. Now, nothing too crude or vulgar... there is a line, but a little bit of "hey you suck, I hate your team etc." is fine by me.
Soon, it started pouring again. The ushers made us vacate the outdoor portion of the bar. However the indoor portion of the bar featured a glass window which overlooked the Indians bullpen. I was literally 3 feet away from Perez, Albers, Pestano, guys like that. I decided to take advantage of this opportunity. Of course, I snapped a few pictures of them. However, perhaps the most prolific thing that I did, was show them a picture of the World Series trophy. All I did, was shake my head and point to my heart. I indicated to them that it takes heart to win a championship, and that I believe that this team has the heart to do it. I reminded them what their one goal, their one dream is. Perez, and Albers fist bumped me through the glass.
Toward the end of the game, I moved right by the Indians dugout. This is where the majority of the 100 or so fans that were still at the stadium were standing. I found a dollar on the ground. Awesome! At the end of the game, Matt Albers attempted to throw me a baseball perhaps a sign of appreciation for reminding them that they can still get this done. They can still win a championship this year. Perhaps, I've showed this team that the fans DO care about them. We have NOT given up on or neglected them. I know our attendance numbers don't show it, but we believe in this team. We love this team. About the baseball, some fan with a glove knocked it out of my hand and it rolled into the dugout. The jerk couldn't catch the ball with a glove. Wow. At least the security guard handed the ball to a little kid. I guess that is a moral victory.
Overall, I did enjoy the ballpark. I very much enjoyed the game then I saw, and we all know that the Indians were victorious by final score of 14 to 3. I witnessed more than a game though. I witnessed the rebirth of this bullpen with the return of Josh Tomlin and Vinnie Pestano. I witnessed an offensive explosion in the midst of a stretch where this team has struggled to score runs. I witnessed the players believe. I witnessed the players know that this fanbase believes in them.
I may live in Chicago now, but Chris Perez, Nick Swisher, Jason Kipnis, entire Cleveland Indians roster.....I will see you in Cleveland. I will see you in October.