June 26, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Commentary: Time for fans to give Tribe some support

When you Cleveland sports fans wake up Monday morning, you will have a Major League Baseball team headed to the postseason for the first time since 2007.

It will be the first time one of your city’s professional franchises has participated in a playoff game since LeBron James skipped town three years ago and won two NBA titles elsewhere.

Yet, judging from the attendance figures all season long, where, unlike the Indians, you rank close to last, there might not be a whole lot of you who care.

Up until the past two games, when the Indians drew more than 26,000 fans each day, you have treated your baseball team as though it was in last place. You have acted as though your Tribe is not playing meaningful games during the final month of the regular season.

When the month began, the Indians couldn’t get 10,000 of you to come to the park.

I don’t get it.

Jason Donald and Brent Lillibridge no longer play for your team, and Manny Acta isn’t the manager, people. You actually showed up to watch them play and manage more than you have for a club that is actually competitive past the first half of the season.

Seriously, I don’t get it.

You asked ownership to finally spend some money in the offseason — a worthy and justifiable request, for sure. It did, and then Dolan Inc., took it a step further and added a marquee manager in Terry Francona.

You’ve displayed your gratitude by showing up to the park at an alarmingly low rate. I understand that hard-working Clevelanders owe nothing to a rich owner, especially one who has failed to produce a competitive payroll for the majority of his 12 years in charge.

But what do you want?

I understand you were waiting for the other shoe to drop. You saw it before, actually, the past two seasons; the Indians were in the hunt until the All-Star break, only to quickly fall out of contention in the second half.

That didn’t happen this season, so what’s your excuse?

I know times are tough, but aren’t they always?

How many times do you hear, “In this economy, are you kidding me? I can’t afford to take my family to a game?”

That’s a tired phrase that I bet has been used since the modern era began. When have you have ever heard, “Well, the economy is booming. I’ve got plenty of money to spend at the ballpark or stadium.”

Baseball fans have returned in droves for other cities. What’s your problem, Cleveland? Is there not enough room for another team in your hearts, other than your beloved — and embarrassingly bad — Browns?

I know it’s never a good idea to tell people how to spend their money, especially sports fans from Cleveland, who have agonized for decades while waiting for that elusive world championship in any sport.

Well, here’s another chance to chase that dream. Your baseball team has an opportunity to qualify for the postseason, leading the race for the second wild-card spot by 1½ games through Sunday.

I know you don’t think the Indians can win the World Series. I don’t, either. But my money would certainly be on this resilient bunch joining the October crowd. From there, as they say, anything can happen.

So if Cleveland truly is the great, loyal sports town you hear it is, act like it.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at (440) 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @CAwesomeheimer.