After an Opening Day sellout, the Tribe played to the two smallest crowds in Jacobs Field history over the weekend. 9,853 showed up Saturday, which was a new low since The Jake opened in 1994. And then only 8,726 came through the turnstiles Sunday (well, not exactly, that's just paid attendance), setting a new, lower low.
The Tribe finished the 2010 season ranked last in attendance, netting just for 1,394,812 the year (17,435 per game). Could they go lower in 2011? Crain's seems to think so.
In term's of the Why — both in where the Indians fit into the hierarchy of Cleveland sports and how fans view the team — the easy, rote answers of cheap owner, trading away name players, etc., are all tired at this point, and as Let's Go Tribe points out, missing the real reason.
I think it has something to do with anger — and not anger at the cartoon villain made out of a club owner, but rather anger at being deliberately, systematically screwed. You see, it's one thing to have terrible owners — those old Indians, Cubs and Red Sox all had that — and it's one thing to endure a bizarre sequence of events suggesting nothing less than a curse handed down by the baseball gods — ditto, and doubly so. It's quite another thing, however, to face the realization that maybe we really are screwed in a more fundamental way. That it has something to do with the economics of baseball, the economics of Cleveland, and the economics of the world.
For all the vitriol directed specifically at the Dolan family, and for all the fog of confusion perpetrated on fans by talk radio and writers like Hoynes, at bottom, I think fans have that sinking and quite correct feeling that no change of ownership is going to improve the situation. That no new stadium is going to fill the coffers and fund an All-Star at every position. That no Curt Schilling mantra or timely Dave Roberts steal is going to come along and make this particular problem all go away. That a mere "curse" would be better than what we've actually got.
It's easier to say that the owners are cheap and the management is stupid. That's a far more comforting thought than the truth — that the humiliation of trading Sabathia and Lee in consecutive seasons was the only sane, intelligent choice for ownership or management — which is far more angering than the fiction. Blaming Dolan is easier than abandoning all hope.