Indians’ fans alone make team great

Tylerb and Tylerb

In the harsh winters of northeast Ohio, there are two certainties of life. First, the weather will simply never improve. The other, though not quite as tangible, feels perhaps even colder. The Cleveland Indians disappointed us for yet another season; but maybe this season, they won’t come up short.

I have come to view partisanship with the Indians as being reminiscent of the American Dream — you have to be asleep to believe in it.

To be a fan of the Cleveland Indians requires a deep love for baseball and rooting for the home team, or extreme patience which verges on self-denial and ignorance. As ignorant as fans could be, it is undeniable they have love for their team.

A season of baseball closely parallels the progression of a full year of life. The game begins in the spring as the players unite from a long, separated winter, just as the grass resurfaces and the flowers grow again. More importantly, regardless of the preceding season’s results, the new one produces a refreshed sense of optimism.

As the season moves forward into June and July, the climax unfolds and the boys of summer march onward. And when the season progresses toward its latter stages into August, fans still cling to their optimism and their joy of summer while the weather gets slowly colder, the days shorter and the nights longer.

Finally, with playoffs approaching, the cycle of baseball begins its decline as many fans are left with the bitterness of the September and October air. Even with the celebration of the postseason and World Series, the season ends and the parabola of baseball once again reaches the bottom level. We are left with the darkness of the winter night, dreaming of the following spring when the grass will grow once again, counting down to opening day.

The relationship between the Indians and their fans is complex, comprised of disagreement, appreciation, mutual disappointment and acceptance. Even in August, as their beloved team falls further behind their division’s luckier counterparts, fans believe that, with improved play and an “easy schedule ahead,” they still have a chance. They cling themselves, not unlike the outfield ivy wall of Wrigley Field, to the unequivocal belief that the summer is not yet over, the season not quite ready for its descent.

It was therefore natural to believe that when the Indians took a three-to-one game lead in the American League Championship Series against the dreaded Boston Red Sox, 2007 was finally “the year.” It was the best Indians club in more than a decade. One victory would have put them in the Series, with a chance to put their past behind them (the Indians haven’t won a championship in more than a half-century).

Coming off a three-game winning streak, the Indians had three chances to win one game. Just one game. After the first loss, fans became hopeful. After the next, anxious. When the Red Sox won game seven, and subsequently the World Series, Indians fans watched, stunned and heartbroken.

John Updike once wrote, “Every true story has an anticlimax.” If baseball is a tragedy, the Indians are Hamlet.

The Indians represent the very core of the human spirit — to dream, to succeed, to fail and then to continue dreaming. However, fundamentally, they have very little to show for it. Year after year the Indians are always coming back, from a missed opportunity, from a losing season, from disappointment. There remains a plethora of fans still cherishing the Indians, regardless of their record.

If an everlasting bond between the team and their fans can be taken as criterion, then the Indians, wonder of wonders, may just be successful in their own right.

Tyler Buchanan is a freshman majoring in journalism. Respond to Tyler at [email protected]