There has been a growing chorus of grumpy criticism of Cleveland and its fans as the Indians winning streak has continued. It began, as far as I can tell, with Darren Rovell attendance-shaming the Indians earlier in the week, wondering why they only drew 24,000 or so fans to Tuesday’s win over the Tigers. Since then I’ve seen a lot of commenters and commentators saying much the same thing.
A couple of points to be made about that:
- A lot of people buy tickets ahead of time and no one schedules a winning streak. That said, there have been thousands and, in some cases, as many as 10,000 walkup ticket sales for Indians games lately;
- Cleveland, as a city, has lost about 20% of its population since 2000. It’s not in anywhere near as healthy an economic situation as basically any other major league city and, as such, fans attending games there are making bigger tradeoffs than fans in most other big league cities. To expect there to be 40,000+ fans able to plunk down serious cash for big league tickets 81 times a year in a city like Cleveland is asking a lot; finally
- When it matters, the Indians do, in fact, draw. And the fans are excited. We saw this with the playoffs last year. We’re seeing it now with the winning streak. Just witness the scene that unfolded in the 10th inning last night when Jay Bruce walked them off for win number 22:
The game was not a sellout, but those left field bleachers looked pretty full to me.
Don’t shame Indians fans for their alleged lack of support. They’re doing just fine, thank you very much.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.