August 29, 2011
Indians 2, Athletics 1. W: David Huff. L: Brandon McCarthy. S: Chris Perez
This is more like it. Progressive Field is right in downtown Cleveland, across the street from the Q (where the Cavs play) and you can see the Q over the left field fence. Apparently Cleveland is (rightfully) still bitter over the LeBron thing; the t-shirt vendors surrounding the stadium were selling as many boo-LeBron shirts as go-Indians shirts. The stadium is modern-looking from the outside with steel trusses that seem to be in all the stadiums these days.
When you walk in the gate, the concourses are wide open and airy. You can see the field from the concessions, which is always a plus, especially when you’re keeping score like I do. The stadium has a welcoming feel–walking in the door, there was excitement in the air like the fans were happy to be there. The jumbotron is wide and bright and has a lot of detail. I especially liked that it gave the official scoring after each play and listed each batter’s prior at bats in scoresheet format.
Walking around the stadium, there is a fancy bar in right field there are lots of interesting things to look at and an Indians Ring of Honor with plaques commemorating each of the past greats:
Nearby, you can look into the bullpens at the pitchers warming up:
The stadium has speed guns where you can see how fast your fastball is and a large area for the kiddies.
I think a large part of the reason we enjoyed Progressive Field so much was that it wasn’t the Rogers Centre. Even though the stadium was only slightly less empty, it felt like the people there actually wanted to be at the game. The weather was beautiful for a baseball game and the game was compelling despite being low scoring.
The Indians also have what might be the weirdest mascots in baseball. For obvious reasons, the Indians were forced to give up their old mascot, Chief Wahoo, a few years back. Apparently the team couldn’t come up with anything non-offensive that was related to Indians because now they have what appear to be purplish pinkish puffin-like creatures. They appear to be the purple-headed step-children of the Philly Phanatic:
The Indians also might have the least motivational slogan in the Major Leagues this year. It’s simply: “What If?”
I guess the marketing team had no idea what to expect out of the Indians this year so this was the best they could do. To be fair, the first two months of the Indians’ season pretty much epitomized What If so I suppose it wasn’t such a bad choice after all.
Quirky things about games at Progressive Field:
- Fifth inning: HOT DOG RACE! Ketchup, Mustard, and Onion Hot Dog mascots race out of the left field fence and finish in front of the first base dugout. Ketchup won but it totally cheated. On the turn around home plate, ketchup left the dirt track near the backstop and cut across the grass for the win. Mustard and Onion didn’t seem to care.
- Seventh inning stretch: Standard TMOTTB followed up by Hip Hop Hooray, I believe. It really could have been any song … nobody sang along.
- Eighth inning: At the middle of the inning, the entire stadium stood up and sung along with a song called “Hang On Sloopy.” Apparently it was released in the 60s by The McCoys, who appear to be a low-rent version of the Monkees. Here they are on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gi1WXYHHc2s. Your guess is as good as mine as to what Sloopy refers to. The song was customized for the Indians fans: during the chorus, after “Haaaaang on Sloopy / Sloopy hang on!” the fans added in an O-H-I-O for good measure. I hate Ohio.
Big difference from the first game; this one was a pitcher’s battle. Brandon McCarthy was the tough luck loser for the A’s. He pitched an 8-inning complete game and struck out 10 Indians. But the A’s only managed 1 run off of David Huff and four relievers and McCarthy took the loss. Carlos Santana hit the game-winning solo homer off of McCarthy with one out in the seventh inning. Chris Perez came in for the save for the Tribe, which meant we got to see our first closer video of the trip. I think it’s funny that closers are quasi-rock stars. When Perez came out of the bullpen, the jumbotron played a video with his highlights and his face and crazy fireballs all over the place while a song I didn’t recognize played. In any event, he struck two guys out and got a pop up to earn the save.
This place is a smorgasbord of food that is horrible for you. The Indians don”t just sell a burger, they sell a burger with 14 toppings. They don’t just sell fried desserts individually, they sell a fried dessert trio (fried oreos, fried cookie dough, and fried twinkies) that you can purchase together at a discount. They don’t just sell a hot dog, they sell a 1/2 pound hot dog with peppers and onions. Wesley beast moded the hot dog.
Apparently the big thing to get here is a mixture of various flavored popcorn. Didn’t try that. I had a “Signature Steak sandwich” of some kind. This was pretty disappointing. The Food Network set up a stand on the third base line selling “Signature” and “Cleveland” steak sandwiches. They claimed to have blue cheese or onions and peppers on them but the one I had was basically no more than dried-out steak on bread with some unknown sauce, served with potato stix. Do better, Food Network.
Overall, the game at Progressive Field was a lot of fun. The stadium was only half-full, at best, but the fans were engaged and the atmosphere felt friendly and exciting. I was surprised that there weren’t more people at the game, though. The Indians are a couple games over .500 and only 6 or so games behind the Tigers for first place. You’d think they’d be able to draw a bigger crowd for a night game at the end of August. Nonetheless, Indians fans should be proud. Too bad it’s not the Jake anymore.