Apr 17, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Chris Perez (54) reacts after the Cleveland Indians defeated the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Cleveland defeated Seattle 9-8. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE
The Indians closer might not have been pragmatic in sounding off against Cleveland fans, but his comments give those in Northeast Ohio plenty to think about.
Now that there's been time to think about and read/listen to tens of thousands of words about a select few that Chris Perez made, I feel like it has sunk in a little bit.
The Indians should have better attendance and the negativity echoes into infinity in Cleveland. This is true. But it can't be understated that, to a point, the marketplace of MLB in general and the Indians' attempts to buck that system has brought the team here in the first place.
So who is right, and who is wrong?
Well, maybe it's not that simple.
I've written before about how Cleveland should get behind this team. I didn't say so because I feel any more strongly one way or the other about this year's club. I just think that when a team plays above its talent level -- in a city known for embracing underdogs and loveable losers -- the rallying cry should naturally come about. It isn't often that almost two months into the season home-grown teams with less than half the payroll of a major division rival can scrap to a first-place standing.
Whether beers are $8 or not, more people should be going to the games. Again, the team could move. We aren't guaranteed a Major League Baseball team in Cleveland. We aren't owed one.
Where I do take aim with Perez's comments is that he is coming into a situation as player vs. fan, and that never ends well. He isn't a fan, and he isn't a native son of Northeast Ohio, so there will be a dividing line whether it is fair or not between those who make millions of dollars to play a game -- and those who watch the game that pays individuals millions of dollars.
He can't quite understand where the negativity comes from because he hasn't felt it, he hasn't seen a city buried under economic depression, the butt of endless jokes, while inhabitants cling to any positive energy just to have it ripped out of their grasp.
I wrote previously:
The "woe is me nature" of the city and the self-fulfilling prophecy that Murphy's Law will, in fact, reign over the Cuyahoga throughout eternity may make for a compelling drama to guys like Samuel Beckett or Paul Thomas Anderson, but it doesn't exactly serve a constructive purpose on any platform, save for perhaps talk radio.
It is hard not to focus on this sometimes, but when the team enacts positive steps -- albeit ones that sometimes miss the mark (aka The David Dellucci Symposium) -- it would behoove the city and the fanbase to at least recognize those.
Proactive trades (as was the case with bringing Perez, Justin Masterson, Zach McAllister and Derek Lowe here), low risk/moderate reward signings (Jack Hannahan) and growing from within whether those players came through trade or not (Asdrubal Cabrera, Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley) are moves that don't grab headlines, but they're statements that Clevelanders can and should appreciate.
There is a competitive imbalance, and until baseball sees fit to change this to stop giving power to the major players, small market teams are going to have to be creative and do more. When they choose to do so -- and they succeed -- the fans should at least recognize that.
And here is where I can sympathize with Chris Perez. I realize that the weather plays a factor and we've been fooled plenty of times. It is part of what makes Cleveland, well, Cleveland. But fans are sometimes better off with a goldfish memory if they choose to let each season exist in a vacuum as it is happening.
Right now, currently, as of May 22, the Cleveland Indians are in first place in the Central Division of the American League. That is something to get excited about, whether anyone tells you to or not.