Chris Perez is once again 100 percent correct. Cleveland fans might not like it, in fact they will likely tear him down again for speaking his mind, but he is correct. After last night’s 7 to 1 loss to the Yankees in New York, the Indian’s closer sounded off on his feelings of the cities support for his team, this time in an interview with a writer from the New York Times. Below are a few of the comments that will likely have Cleveland fan’s calling for the trade of the fiery reliever.
-from the New York Times
“I don’t get the psyche,” said Perez, who grew up in Florida. “Why cheer against a guy that’s not even in your city anymore? Just to see him fail? Does that make you feel good? I could see if the Cavs were in the championship, but that’s their mentality.
“They’ve had a lot of years of misery. They say, ‘You just don’t understand because you don’t live here.’ O.K., maybe I don’t. But that doesn’t mean it has to keep going.”
“That’s what I don’t understand,” Perez said. “Their whole thing is, ‘We want a winner.’ Well, why do you support the Browns? They don’t win. They’ve never won. They left. You guys blindly support them. I don’t understand it. It’s a double standard, and I don’t know why.
“It’s head-scratching. It’s just — they don’t come out. But around the city, there’s great support. They watch it in the bars. They watch it at home. They just don’t come.”
Related: Someone Get Chris Perez A Muzzle
I want to address each of these points individually.
For starters, we shouldn’t care about LeBron anymore. It’s been two years and both the Cavs and LeBron are in better places. We didn’t have the ammo to build a contender around LeBron (remember the Jamison and Shaq low post that never was,) and now the Cavs have salary cap space and a young core with a team mindset. LeBron winning his first championship last week should finally lead to closure for both his Quitness and this city. Will we ever be happy that he dropped us like Kim dropped Kris? No. Will the sting from being so close to our first championship since 1964 ever really go away? The answer here is not likely or until we finally get to hoist the championship trophy in one of the big three sports. With that being said, he is gone and the Cavs are bettering themselves each year.
His second point on the continual misery of this great town is by far his best. There are many variations on the “You’re not from Cleveland,” put down. They include “you haven’t lived here long enough” and the always classic “you’re too young to understand.” What’s missing in this OIC (only in Cleveland) brand of negativity is the fact the guy plays for this town. He has been here since 2009 and he is the most outwardly passionate member of the franchise. He speaks his mind and his frustrations come from the fact that he wants people to support his team. In fact, he cares enough about his team and teammates to openly communicate their aggravations. That takes heart and guts and should be applauded, not scoffed at and criticized.
Ah and of course, the beloved can-do-no-wrong Browns, the franchise that left and was hastily returned to us in expansion. Let’s face it. The Browns are terrible. They have been since they returned in 1999. Yet all year, (except two months after the draft and before camp,) they are the talk of the town. The organization has been turned over time and time again with mismanagement it’s chief output. The Indians meanwhile have rebuilt the team from the ashes of the late 90’s, not once but twice. Five years ago, they were one game away from the World Series. The Indian’s currently hold a .514 winning percentage and have a chance to make the playoffs. Let’s say the Browns were a five hundred team and close to the playoffs, fans would be doing cartwheels through town. Not to mention the fact that you can’t mention this double standard to Cleveland fans. What are the excuses?
Prices? The cheapest tickets at Cleveland Browns Stadium this year are $35.00 per ticket. Those view from those seats is so bad, you might as well stay home. So what are the cheapest tickets at Progressive Field? (Standing room only not included.) That would be $10.00 a seat at the box office. That offers a much better view and you can buy four tickets for just a little bit more than one seat the Browns game. Plus, there is always the home run porch for you to stretch your legs and try to catch a long ball. The next price set is the beer prices that Tribe fans love to complain about. This price is actually a push. Browns beer prices are just as egregious. Parking? Clearly you haven’t been to a Browns game recently, where close parking tends to be more pricey that the downtown.
The next excuse is that there are so many games. The Browns only play 8 home games while the Indians play 81 at Progressive Field. You don’t have to go to 81 games. One game a week or weekend is not that tough. I live an hour away from the stadium and work two jobs and have managed to see more games this season than most. While the night games add to less sleep, it’s not an obstacle that should stop you.
The best excuse is “this is a football town.” Really? Why? The Indians have seven playoff appearances including two World Series trips and a .523 winning percentage since moving to the Prog in 1994. In that same span, the Browns have two playoff trips (including one under Bill Belichick) and a .350 winning percentage. Even if you just reduce those numbers to 1999, the Indians have greatly out delivered the Browns. So why are so many of you clinging to Bernie Kosar or the Cardiac Kids. The correct idea should be “this was a football town.” That was before Art Modell and the NFL ripped out our hearts. We are clinging to something that will not come back. The prestige and respect of our old team has moved with them to Baltimore. That’s not to say we shouldn’t support our team but let’s remember the Tribe has over a hundred years of history and are our best current shot a title.
The last part of this is the message gets lost because people feel Perez is directly attacking them. Is he referring to the people with children or money problems who can’t afford to get down to the park? No. He is referring to the bandwagoner’s who come out to the park when it’s a nice or when the team is on a hot streak. That is not fandom. That is shades of Philadelphia and New York stooge-fan-mindset that is absolutely not what this blue collar town should be about. Chris Perez isn’t attacking you, he’s pleading with you. Come support us. Come support us and ownership will support us and then we will get where you want us to be. That’s the subtext of his passionate diatribes whether it’s in the New York papers or here. So many people get caught up in the fact that Sabathia and Lee were traded or even farther back, Albert Belle and Manny left us. So what, like LeBron, it’s over. The Cleveland Indians are you’re best chance to bring home a title and if you balk at this opportunity, we could miss out on a special team. Kipnis, Cabrera, Santana and Choo are very good players and Masterson and Ubaldo are coming around. Throw in the bullpen mafia and you have the makings of a special team. Do they need a right handed bat? Yes, but this team is closer to being a contender than being a bad ball team.
So what now? It’s time for Cleveland fan’s to read between the lines with Perez and see that he is not attacking you, he is asking for support and that support is exactly what this teams needs and deserves. So buck up, go to the ballpark and revel in the good times before it’s too late, and if it’s too damn much, thank Chris Perez for being committed enough to his club to say the right thing. Will they all be here in five years? Who cares? They are here now and the best chance for a title. Get off the sidelines (and the bandwagon) and this team just might surprise you.