Happy Tuesday, WFNY!
And happy election day! Another year, another Tuesday, another election While We’re Waiting from yours truly. Man, it’s crazy how many times elections seem to fall on Tuesdays, isn’t it?1
Apologies in advance to anyone who actually likes one of these candidates and thinks that these truly are the most qualified and best candidates for President of the United States that this country has to offer, but I find this to generally be the most underwhelming and least inspiring election of my lifetime. But no matter how pathetic I find both of these candidates2, as I stood in line to vote this morning, I found myself looking around the room in awe. So many diverse people with different ages, different races, different socioeconomic standing, different religious beliefs, all standing in the same room to freely choose the next leaders of our country, our state, and our local government. There was no military presence, no violent outbursts, no shouting, no yelling, no threats. Just a bunch of people smiling, making small talk, and waiting to perform our civic duty. It’s easy to become cynical with democracy when our options don’t exactly inspire us, but the process itself is still as inspiring as ever.
But, I know, talking politics is not exactly everyone’s favorite thing around here, so I’ll move on. Let’s talk about something less polarizing and discuss attendance, shall we?
I’m kind of kidding. Sort of? I think? Maybe? I don’t want to have another discussion about attendance at Indians games. Or, at least, not in the regular season, anyway. But I do want to very loosely talk about how many road games Cleveland teams have hosted in Cleveland over the last couple of weeks.
It started, of course, with the World Series and the invasion of Cubs fans into Cleveland. I’ve talked to numerous people who went to either Game 6 or Game 7 and they all said the same thing, that their section was overrun with Cubs fans and they felt like road fans inside their own team’s ballpark.
Then last Sunday, I made the trek to Cleveland for the Browns vs. Cowboys game. We stopped at Winking Lizard before the game, and I looked around the room as we were seated. Romo, Elliott, Carter (props to whoever still wears a Quincy Carter jersey), Smith, Romo, Elliott, Elliott, Elliott, Elliott, Elliott, Elliott, Romo, Witten, Elliott. I wondered to myself if it was like this outside the stadium, what was it going to be like inside it?
The answer, it turns out, was that it was going to be much, much worse. I don’t know what it was like in every section, of course, but as we found our seats, I was disheartened to see that we were outnumbered 2 to 1 (although some biased reports say it was 40 to 1, and at times it felt like it really was). And while thankfully the Cowboys fans sitting immediately around us were all perfectly respectful and nice, we, of course, had the typical obnoxious road fans several rows in front of us. You know the type. The kind who, despite being a grown adult, feels the need to turn around and look up at all the fans behind and try to find the few pockets of Browns fans there and loudly antagonize them. It was miserable. And what can we say as Browns fans? “Oh, no way, man, YOU guys suck!” Sick burn. Unfortunately, this franchise has hit a point where they are completely and wholly indefensible.
So what is going on, Cleveland? Why are we constantly being outnumbered by opposing fans at our own home games? The reasons are almost certainly quite different with the Indians compared to the Browns.
I’ve heard reports that some Indians fans were able to buy additional seats for the playoffs when they purchased season tickets for the 2017 season. From the Indians’ perspective, this makes sense. A team that has struggled with attendance issues for years, it made sense to try to strike while momentum and enthusiasm were at an all-time high. But the problem? Fans bought those extra seats for the playoffs, and then they turned around and sold them to either pay for their own playoff tickets or to pay off a portion of those season tickets. And once those tickets were sold to the aftermarket sites, they were then priced in a way that was easier for Chicago fans to afford than Cleveland fans. And seeing as how the Cubs had 5 million freaking people at their championship parade, you can see the appetite for tickets to watch their team end a 108 year World Series drought might be pretty insane.
As for the Browns, well, the story is a little different. Years upon years of ineptitude and embarrassment have brought us to this point where excitement for the Browns is at an all-time low. Coming off a Cavaliers championship and an Indians Game 7 extra innings showing in the World Series, well, going to watch an 0-8 Browns team line up offsides three times in the span of like five plays isn’t exactly a fun way to spend a Sunday. On top of that, it was the Cowboys, one of the most popular teams in America, and it was former Buckeye hero Ezekiel Elliott playing back in Ohio again. Put all of those factors together and you have a stadium packed with Cowboys fans and Browns fans being forced to sit in their seats feeling miserable and being berated by asshole Cowboys fans with no ammunition to fire back with.
I don’t think there’s some big picture “problem” with Cleveland sports fans that we need to be worried about going forward. I don’t think there’s something larger happening within society or anything like that. I think Cleveland just ran into a couple of perfect storms that aligned just right. The timing sucks, and let me tell you, it’s been demoralizing as a Cleveland fan to watch it happen and feel helpless to do anything about, but it’s just one of those things.
This has definitely been a rough week for many of us as Cleveland fans. While the Indians truly have nothing to be ashamed of3, it’s still been a bit of a gut punch to watch the Cubs celebrate their Championship in Cleveland in front of a home crowd, and to watch the Browns play a game in Cleveland in front of a home Dallas crowd. Hey, it’s frustrating, sure, but at least we have the Cavaliers, and there’s not going to be any invasion of opposing fans into The Q anytime soon.