There is no question that the Cleveland Indians alienated their fans for the past several seasons.
After the 2007 season in which they missed the World Series by just one game, they acted like someone was going to tell them it was their turn to win someday, so they could be inactive.
They traded two Cy Young Award winners in C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee, and traded a professional hitter who said he wanted to stay here in Victor Martinez. All three were gone by the time the 2009 season ended.
Later, after a 2011 season is which they were surprisingly in contention until Labor Day, when the Detroit Tigers finally got hot and ran away, they were inert in the off-season following, setting up a 2012 campaign where they were depending on players like Shelley Duncan, Casey Kotchman, and Derek Lowe.
To be fair, they did deal two top pitching prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez at the deadline in ’11, but that move hasn’t worked out the way GM Chris Antonetti wanted. The fact it hasn’t worked out for Colorado is of little consolation.
However, last winter, the ownership seemed to get the message that the fan base was unhappy with the way things were being run. After Travis Hafner’s large deal finally ended, the front office went out and signed Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn to multi-year contracts.
Unfortunately, the people who buy tickets seem to be holding a grudge because the Tribe ranks last in the American League in attendance.
While many fans obviously have a wait and see attitude regarding this team, it is a better team and while they struggled mightily at the beginning of June, they have ripped off eight wins in the last 12 games and currently sit just four games behind the mighty Tigers in the AL Central.
And they are very good at home.
Whether or not the Indians can make the playoffs isn’t the issue because the American League is very strong. Heck, all five teams in the AL East are above the .500 mark.
We said at the beginning of the season that 13 of the 15 teams in the AL had legitimate chances to get to the post-season, and yes, the Tribe was one of those teams.
So where are the fans?
This is a city with blind loyalty to the Browns, a team with two winning seasons since 1999. In that same time period, the Indians have had five such seasons, making the playoffs three times.
We checked the prices for the next home series for the Tribe when they come home from this trip to Baltimore, Chicago, and Kansas City. They take on the Tigers on July 5th, 6th, and 7th.
Seats in the upper deck and the bleachers are being sold for $23.60 apiece for the Friday night game. Meaning it costs almost $100.00 for a family of four to attend.
In order to sit behind home plate, it will cost you $80.00 for a single seat.
If the Indians want families to go to the games, they are making it tough, particularly when the fortunes of the team have soured a lot of baseball fans in Cleveland.
The Tribe did the right thing in lowering the cost of concessions in the off-season, but it doesn’t do much good if they don’t get people to make the trip to Progressive Field.
Perhaps it is time to look at the ticket prices as well. Lower them so people will want to see what the new Indians are all about.
The prices might be lower than many franchises, but apparently they are still too high for the fan base.
Whatever the reason, the front office needs to look at why fans aren’t clicking the turnstiles.