It wasn't that long ago the Cleveland Indians, borne from Willie Mays Hayes jokes and red pajamas, broke an MLB record for the most consecutive sellouts by one team. Years later, the even-more-resurgent Boston Red Sox broke the "IronFan" streak of 455 games, relegating the once-prominent Indians fanbase to Roger Maris status.
Almost a quarter through the 2010 season, the Indians suddenly have the worst attendance in baseball — 14,660 fans per game through 14 home games. Worse than the A's. Worse than the Blue Jays. Even worse than the Marlins. After an over-capacity crowd on Opening Day (45,010), they haven't had a single crowd break the 20,000 barrier.
And listen to this crowd! CA-CAW! CA-CAW!
The summer months may thicken the crowd a little. But if these numbers continue, it's going to be downright sad considering their previous popularity.
For a city whose fans have grown to become a deadly mixture of cynical and self-loathing, trading away the best players and fan favorites has to be devastating for ticket sales. I'm sure in the realm of stone-cold reason, the trades were wise in the sense that they're getting back some great talent for future years. But when a team sees Cliff Lee, Rafael Betancourt, Ryan Garko, and Mark DeRosa get traded away in about a one-month span last year, it's hard to stomach. Top all that off with an 11th hour trade shipping away Victor Martinez (days before his own bobblehead night, which they didn't cancel), and suddenly the fans are laughing through their tears.
Throughout all the self-immolation the Indians have undergone after winning five division titles in six seasons, they've since enjoyed two winning seasons, one playoff appearance, and a revolving door of talent blossoming into All-Stars that other teams promptly harvest from their fertile fields. Clearly Eric Wedge was terrible at managing players he no longer had.
No wonder they're having trouble getting 15,000 people to the games. Blame the losing record. Blame the weather. Blame the Cavaliers. But when the team's zealous fans embody Hawkeye from The Last of the Mohicans, pretty soon 455 will become the announced attendance.
Cruel, cruel photo courtesy Associated Press