Thursday, April 27, 2006

Make some noise

Wednesday, I attended my first Indians game of the year. Flanked by black-belt bodyguards Justin and Joel, I watched the Indians snap a three-game losing streak and top the Red Sox 7-1.
It was particularly satisfying to beat the Red Sox, baseball's "it" team ever since winning the World Series two years ago.
When the Red Sox come to town, they don't bring fans. They bring an entourage. Thousands of people decked out in Red Sox gear. Some actually traveled here from New England, some are just local yokels looking to stir the pot. All are loud, and many are obnoxious.
The Cleveland players did the job Wednesday. Cliff Lee ended a string of shaky outings by Cleveland pitchers by allowing one run in six innings. Jason Davis and Bob Wickman locked down Boston in the final three innings for the win.
Jhonny Peralta provided the only runs necessary with a three-run home run in the first inning. Aaron Boone rebounded from a shaky start to hit an RBI double and conduct a defensive clinic. He had assists on all three putouts in the eighth inning.
But then there's the fans. We (myself included) have been on the Tribe for not getting the job done the past couple of weeks. Wednesday, the fans didn't keep pace with the team.
Maybe it was the chilly April weather. Maybe there were too many people exhausted from a day of watching "Spider-Man 3" shoots on Euclid Ave. But when the Red Sox fans began serenading the road team with chants of "Let's go Red Sox," the response was lukewarm at best.
Several fans tried to incite the crowd to drown out the Boston fans with pro-Cleveland chants, but most fans appeared to be content to let the Boston bandwagoners turn Jacobs Field into Fenway Park West.
Cleveland fans appeared more interested in trying to start "the wave."
When an uninvited guest comes into your house, props his feet up and pretends to own the place, wouldn't it be nice to fight back? I'm not talking about going Yankee Stadium on the Boston fans. We don't need gouged eyeballs in the trash. But swiftly and severely rebuking loud Boston fans with louder noise of your own should be a requirement.
When Wily Mo Pena took Lee deep for the only Boston run of the game, the cheers were startlingly loud.
I could understand such an uncontested response in a place like Kansas City, where the team is terrible, or in Tampa Bay, where the fan base just doesn't care all that much. But in Cleveland, one of the little guys' best hopes to fight the big market spoils system that allows teams like Boston to garner most of the talent, ergo most of the glory, we should be one of the peskiest and most stubborn fan bases around.
Dang it, when Manny Ramirez comes up, don't offer a lukewarm chorus of boos offset by cheers. Make a ruckus. Boo him from the start of the at-bat to the finish. Stomp your feet. Bang your chairs. You shouldn't need prompting from the scoreboard.
Ramirez is turncoat. His accomplishments in Cleveland will be swept under the rug. You saw him raised from a pup to one of the most feared hitters in baseball. You stood by him through all the defensive foibles. And the only thing he's ever going to be remembered for is being a member of the Red Sox.
And it's only because the voices of the Boston fans and media are louder. I don't know about you, but that ticks me off.
You can't change the fact that the Red Sox have the backing of the East Coast media machine. You can't change the fact that they are a higher-profile team. But you can change the reception the Red Sox get when they come to your town.
The Red Sox get enough love from a huge fan base, a bright media spotlight and hordes of frontrunners. They shouldn't be getting any love (at least audible love) at Jacobs Field.

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