The Real Fans of Cleveland Sports Fandom

Photo - Chuck Crow via
You are not a real fan. You are doing things the wrong way. You are a problem. Stop reading right now, non-real fans need not go further*¹.

I've tried starting this several times, several different ways, all with the same result: Holding down the backspace and closing out the tab. I haven't been able to figure out how to convey what exactly I'm trying to say in a correct way and without any sort of hypocrisy or avoiding something I too may have said at one point.

Then it hit me. Who gives a shit?

Yep, there it is. Great start. Now that we have that out of the way, the chain cut away from the ball that was preventing me from unleashing all that is going up in this brain of mine in the past week, let's get right to it. I shoot you pretty straight and this may seem like a chain of organized manic thoughts, likely because it is. It eschews from any sort of format and is completely devoid of actual baseball discussion, but you've come to not expect that from me 50% of the time. So, coin flipped, here we go.

I'm going to explain again, because even if you know, context is needed. And without a 500 word introduction, it isn't me writing. Towards the end of the year and into this brand new calendar set of 2016, I started conducting some research into being a Cleveland Indians fan. I wrote a bunch of stuff that included some rhetorical questions, a fake scenario in which the Indians were GQ Magazine, and a, perhaps, way-too-long preface as to why you should take a questionnaire that was definitely way-too-long for anyone that I actually wanted to take the questionnaire to take. It was as long as that sentence and just as confusing. It did make sense though*². Read it again, I'll wait.

Anyway, that was some months ago. You're probably wondering what I did with all the results. No you're not. You're wondering if there were actually any results. There were, and I didn't read any of them because while I like to write long paragraphs about things, I don't like to read them. Not really. To answer the second question first, yes there were; more than I could have expected given the amount of detail I was looking for. The pleasant surprise of the results were that people were honest and open and gave me more than I could have ever asked for. Perhaps that shouldn't be a surprise in hindsight though because everyone has a story that relates to their love for the Cleveland Indians and people loved to share that story. And I loved reading them. All of them. I've read them all, at least twice, in fact. Perhaps a few I read more than that. The amount of care some people took in answering the questions and taking the survey was truly awesome and I'm figuring out a way to thank everyone properly by using their results. It shouldn't have been a shock to me that those people came out and represented in a big way. It also makes me want to do more. It makes me want to have these big ideas that probably can never come to fruition about Indians fandom that celebrates the good, spotlights the important, laments the bad, and calls out the absurd in an effort to debunk and figure it all out*³.

My need to process it and over-analyze it* seemingly over-extends anything else. That might be a passion project that is unrealistic, as much as I want it to happen. For now at least, live in the present, like I'm told to do often, but never want to.

So about those results. What am I doing with them other than thinking? Well, right now, I'm trying to put them into their own document, which is a little time consuming. Perhaps next time I'll invest or explore the utilization of something other than a Google form, because that has become a process that I really don't want to do more than once, and I have to go through that process 40 times. So, for now, the results are being prepped for something. What that something is, I'll get to at some other point, but there's something a little more pressing that I need to spin-off, which is why I provided context.

The context of having done that survey and admiring so many of the results is important because there's a little more. It has changed my opinion, again, as to the state of Cleveland Indians fandom. I think I'm growing more and more understanding of the landscape and if you are wondering why I care so much, I think it boils down to wanting to be an expert on this particular aspect. I love baseball, don't get me wrong, but it almost feels as if my place among this sea of Indians coverage is to be a little bit more than baseball within the diamond. If that sounds a little stuck-up, I'm okay with that. Without exploring that passion project that I have on the grand scale, I'm going to explore that passion project in smaller chunks as perhaps a means to an end, or I guess, a beginning. Or both. The beginning of the end. Yup, that's it. This is the beginning of the end of Indians fandom. Welcome, and uh, goodbye?

Why all this context about stories and great Indians fans? Well, it comes down to something pretty simple and now in hindsight, blindingly obvious about how wrong and misguided that survey I put out there was. My ultimate problem, as soon as I put it out, and I knew this going in subconsciously, but hoped for the best, was that the audience was too Indians-centric. Given who follows me on Twitter, that's a generally knowledgeable Indians fan group who give a hoot. Most like the Browns and the Cavs, but baseball is primarily their favorite sport.

Given who reads the stuff posted here on Everybody Hates Cleveland, again, generally knowledgeable fans, probably less primarily Indians or baseball fans, and more all-Cleveland sports lovers, but still people who give a shit and know how to reason. I spammed Facebook, and the wonderful Mike Hattery*⁵ ventured into the treacherous territory of comments section to drop the link, but generally I think those people scoffed at filling out the survey portion.

What I was hoping for? I was hoping for the smuggest Cleveland sports fans. The absolutely insufferable assholes on Twitter who complain about everything. The people who get hammered on Opening Day, the only baseball game they go to all year, and then bitch until October is over. The annoying DAWG POUND member who unloads his wallet to blindly support a football team that is perennially shitty, but also blindly criticizes an organization who tries to do things and gets good results, but not the results everyone wants. The online complainers who make up 99% of's readership, and the people who live on the Indians Facebook page waiting for them to mention Carlos Santana* so they can show their intelligence level in their arguments.

I was targeting real fans.

The problem with that. Real fans don't give a shit about reason. Real fans don't take the time to read anything longer than 140 characters and can't give an eloquent answer beyond the 50 words they can think of. Real fans that bitch and complain or harass people about their way of thinking, but then step back and run when you challenge them with capable reasoning. Real fans that turn their nose at any notion that seems like it is supporting what they oppose or what they feel is an incorrect line of thinking. I was looking for real fans to take my survey, to be honest and open and answer questions and to think about the stuff I was bringing up. I was asking real fans to do something they probably have never done before, something I do every day. Just once I wanted to them to think beyond a snap judgment about the things I was bringing up and obsess over. I was asking real fans to be real. Real fans. I was going for the improbable.

I made a passing footnote joke in the explanation of my survey about my next study would be conducted to find out what a real fan is. Funny thing happened on the way to the forum. It was true. No, I'm not going to do a survey or figure out what a real fan is. Truth is, I figured it out. I know what a real fan is, because I've seen them a lot. I can point out to you who is a real fan and who isn't. Hopefully by now, you know that I'm being 100% facetious in how I'm using the term real fan, if not, awkward. Bawk bawk, go the other way.

We've all encountered real fans. Whether it is at the game, or at another game, or online, or at work, or just in general bar conversation or wherever it is you encounter them, you know what makes them up. They come in all shapes, sizes, moods, Twitter handles, shades of orange, Chief Wahoo outrage and types of irrationality.

Real fans couldn't care less about my survey because they read the introduction and tapped out, if they even clicked the link. They go about following famous people with tens of thousands of followers and the athletes of their favorite sports team on Twitter and are trapped in an endless conversation with themselves and their friends or other real fans. They yell at those athletes, but those athletes never respond because, why would they? So real fans just end up talking to themselves. They are Facebook status updaters on Twitter, only more enabled to status update us more because of the Twitter format. They don't follow me or you and if you say something to them, they tell you to GTFO their mentions, like you've just trespassed onto their property*.

They sit by someone new at the game every time and have loud conversations with their not-so-casual sports fan friends that don't know any better. Their conversations make you sit back and snicker at their absurdity. Or they yell about how much Carlos Santana sucks, loudly to the point of larynx damage, and then cry in their beer the minute after he hits a home run*. Whoops.

Real fans only read and submit questions to Hey Hoynsie because he's the only one that will entertain their asinine notions about signing Yoenis Cespedes. Or they accidentally click on the something Zack Meisel posted and bitch to him in the comments section* about how he is wrong or Johnny Manziel or whatever whatever, wait how did I end up in a baseball column?

Real fans shove you and get "SUPER SERIOUS" about their sports teams because you wear the colors of a different team. If you aren't all CLEVELAND, you aren't a real fan. Real fans love all Ohio. All of Cleveland.

Real fans listen to whatever sports talk radio station is on Cleveland that sucks. I don't know, I don't listen to it or know who the guy is right now that is screaming over a microphone about who the Browns are drafting in three months. Whatever. I'm not even going to try here on this one. It's insufferable. Pass.

Last one...

Real fans complain on Facebook.

I should probably just drop the mic on that one, but I'm not really done. But that's one way to end this. One way I could end this. But it doesn't stop.

Of course, this all stems from last week's little debacle with Jason Kipnis saying something about the Golden State Warriors. And when I say something, I mean something. It was insignificant, it was meaningless, it was Kipnis just tweeting about something he was doing. It was Kipnis being a fan! Not a real fan though, because a real fan supports the sports teams in their city, no matter what. Kipnis, like all of us, is a fan of sports. The problem is he just happens to play them Cleveland...for the Indians.

Poor guy.

Real fans are the dudes that replied to Kipnis and tried to trash him for even MENTIONING another basketball team other than the Cavaliers. Kipnis, who plays the sport of not-basketball, talking about a not-Cleveland team. People care about this? No, people get UPSET about this. Those are your real fans. They take it serious.

And that is why they didn't respond to the survey and while I'll never get a true response to what it was that I was looking for. It will always elude me because while I'm reading awesome stories from baseball fans about how, no matter the difficult nature of being an Indians fan, and how they've waited 50 years for a World Series, they won't stop hoping because they love the sport so damn much, real fans are too busy bitching to an athlete for something he said about a different city's sports team and then tweeting about what they are eating for dinner 30 minutes later.

Am I wrong to be mocking these people? Is it completely hypocritical to be judging how someone consumes their sports or goes about being a fan? Even though they are doing the same thing when you reason with them, me right now, doing this is slightly hypocritical, is it not?

Yup, it 100% is and I don't care. Maybe there is some justification to it, and there probably is. But I'm not interested in justifying myself. Happily, I'll serve in the role of hypocrite in this context because someone needs to say it. Someone needs to wonder aloud about these real fans and why it is okay for people to act this way. Why Cleveland fans get to act this way. Look, I'm sure other fan bases have them, but largely in Cleveland, we've got a lot of these real fan types. It has sadly kind of become what this town is known for. There seems to be more real fans than anything else.

So if this makes me the guy who is doing the same thing that he is calling people out for. Then so be it. I'm fine with it because I don't care if I am that guy. I want to explore this more because it fascinates me. And honestly? My dirty little secret about being an Indians fan? I love my baseball team and the sport they play. I appreciate the players who are out there on that team doing what they are paid to do and I could care less if they want to outwardly root for the Golden State Warriors, let alone if they mention them in a tweet. What I don't love or appreciate is the people who take their fandom for granted. They may not think they are, but they are, and at the end of the day, no one will care.

No one will care that they called Jason Kipnis out for doing something totally insignificant in the most sophomoric of ways (online through Twitter with no logical reasoning, yup), and then turn around and cheer him the minute he makes the All-Star team. No one will ultimately care that these people will complain about the ownership, but happily take part in the future Cleveland Indians World Series parade through downtown Cleveland.

My dirty little secret? I don't want any of these people to share in that moment whenever it happens. Call me evil, that's okay. But why do they deserve it? If you can't justify to me why you are a Cleveland Indians fan when all you do is complain and tear them down, then why should you deserve to root for that team or call yourself a fan.

Oh right, you're a real fan because you slapped Cleveland on your chest. Got it.

These real fans? I'm going to continue to call them out and make them own up to their realness, because I know they'll never respond to my survey. I at least want to bang my head against the wall trying to figure it all out. It sounds a bit like torture, but for me it is fun to come to this understanding, even if I really won't. Let me have my fun. They're having their miserable fun in rooting for teams they hate, so let me have mine. We can live in a miserably fun sports life together.


*1: No, go back up and keep reading, I'm just saying things.

*2: Basically, the people who I wanted to take the survey, were exactly the people who didn't want to take the survey, or read it and were like, nope, I'm good. I even saw a few comments that said "hey, that was pretty funny, but I'm not taking that, too many words." Too many words? What else are you doing? Browsing cat meh-mehs? Just answer the damn questions. What else do you have to do right now? I know you have free time at work, just do it. I'd estimate the time at my desk is broken down to 40% work, 50% reading Twitter, and 10% refreshing UPROXX hoping something new pops up to read. That's just my desk time, when I'm not at my desk, I'm working. That's actually pretty good, don't you think? I feel like more people have more desk time and less work than I do, so they definitely have time to read all those questions and put some thoughts down.

*3: A book. I really want to write a book.

*4: My call-back to last piece, over-analyzing is likely the number one reason why I am single.

*5: Seriously, who does that? Hatty is a good friend. My running tab for him is two beers right now because of that. Read this thing he wrote.

*6: If you want daily amusement, but also likely hair loss from pulling it out, the comments on the thing the wonderful media department for the Indians post on their Facebook page has you set.

*7: Hello, it's me. I was wondering if all these years you'd like to meet.

*8: If you want to see the video of me yelling at that guy, just ask. I only had one drink, but I was feeling pretty bold.

*9: Someone give Meisel a raise.
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