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Why I Don't Like the Indians Home Opener


Photo - Cleveland Indians
The sun is shining (hopefully), the grass is green, there's freshly painted logos on the field, and everything that was old is new again, along with everything that is new.

In the case of Progressive Field, there will certainly be some new, especially with a second phase of renovations bringing more changes to the ballpark. In the case of the Indians team, there will be a few new faces on the field. But there will also be some old, in both cases. Lots of familiar names, lots of familiarity in the surroundings.

All a lot of familiarity in the atmosphere, at least on April 4th. The parking decks will be packed, the streets will be filled with people, the local bars and establishments will see numbers spike, and when you try and find your way to your seat, you'll evidently be fighting for elbow room.

Yeah, this isn't familiar. I mean, it is, kind of, once a year at least. There's so much familiarity in the scene, but yet, it always seems like fond familiarity for most. Everything that is old, is new though. While it is old, and while it is a fond familiarity, it is new, and it is fresh. It's new and fresh because it is once a year and it is the beginning of a new year. So of course, while old, it feels new.

It feels pretty new, at least pretty new to most people. Except for me.

For me, it feels old and tired. I've been here before and I don't like it. That doesn't mean it is a bad thing, it just isn't for me. And I haven't always felt this way, but do you always feel a certain way in life? Opinions change, feelings grow, preferences are re-arranged. I used to consume nothing but sports, now it is a fourth, maybe fifth level interest for me as a whole. Baseball is the only sport I care to keep up with any sort of regularity, mostly because it is my favorite and that's all I have time for.

Priorities shift of course, and with that, so do our opinions on things. So, don't take this as me bashing you if you enjoy the Home Opener. I wouldn't blame you if you do, it's fun, and great, and for many, is a sense of tradition. That fond familiarity for most that I mentioned, is such a real thing and at the core, gets to the beauty of why we love this sport, if you fit into the we in this sentence.

Maybe you have been going to the Home Opener since you were a kid with your dad and haven't missed one. Maybe it's a new tradition between you and a spouse or significant other. Maybe you remember the days you went with a grandparent here and there and any time you go to experience it, you are reminded of them. All of this is great and if that is your reason for enjoying it, I applaud you. Heck, even if you use it to celebrate and have a few drinks, more power to you.

Whatever your reason is, it is great you have a reason.

But my reason for not going, not wanting to go, or not liking it?

It boils down to why some people like going, or why some people go. I know I just applauded many for having their reasons, but my reason can be because of someone else. I'm not infringing on their ability to go, or trying to convince them not to. I've resigned myself to the fact that I won't go to Opening Day in Cleveland and I'm happy about that decision because it is the one I identify with. Maybe my opinion will change one day, as I said, opinions change, people grow, preferences switch. Maybe when I have a kid, they'll grow up loving baseball and want to go. I wouldn't deprive them of that opportunity, or even myself, to take my son or daughter to their first Home Opener and see them experience that atmosphere.

Even if the atmosphere is one that makes me angry.

A reason for a lot of people to go to the Home Opener is simply that, it's the Home Opener. Whatever that stands for is up for debate, but it doesn't get to the reasoning of why I enjoy baseball and why I'm in love with this baseball organization. It has nothing to do with being a fan or adhere to reasoning of being "in the Tribe" or any of that business.

The Home Opener for many is the only baseball game that they go to. The Home Opener isn't the return of baseball like it is for some, it is the annual coming that they partake in once a year. It may as well be St. Patrick's Day. I have made this analogy once before, but it's like Valentine's Day. The Home Opener counts just as much as any other baseball game, it's just the first one. That .006 percent of the season hasn't changed since last year, it's still how much of the season is played in that one game, yet treated as if it's 60 percent of the season.

The Home Opener is why people go to a baseball game, not because it's a baseball game. I go to a baseball game because it's a baseball game. It's why I'm content on going Wednesday night. Yeah, I'm the Wednesday night crowd. That's me. That fits me perfectly actually. I'm a Wednesday night guy, not an Opening Night guy. I'll see someone the second time around when all the pomp and circumstance has dissipated and the charm has worn off.

You'll probably call me a hipster for having this point of view and categorize me as someone who just simply thinks he's taking this alternative view to be different, to pump out his chest and say "Yeah, I'm not conforming to society's norms, maaaan." Down with the establishment, let's cheer and believe in the thing the minority does, because that's different, and it makes me cool.

Nope. For one, if you really know me, like actually know me, you'd already know that's just me. I listen to strange folk music and go on long bike rides and hikes to enjoy solitude. I don't do it do be different, I do it because that's me. So, go ahead and call me a hipster or think I take this stance to be different. I am different and that's just the fact of the matter.

My idea of going to a baseball game is to go there and watch the game. My idea of a baseball game is being into it and feeling the game feed into the atmosphere. You could have a packed house, like it will be at the Home Opener, but have no atmosphere or energy dictated by the game because 75 percent of the attendees are inebriated or waiting for something orange to run across the field. I say this, because I'm not anti-large crowd. I'm very much pro-large crowd. I want Progressive Field to be filled to the brim and packed with energy that the team can feed off of. But, I want that to be a genuine energy, a genuine backing of the squad on the diamond and full support.

The entire crowd being into it, watching every pitch, standing at every opportunity, cheering each player, holding their breath with every pitch, that's all real. That's all stuff I've experienced at Progressive Field and have felt. To get goosebumps trail up your arms, and to feel the unspoken bond between you and the person you don't know sitting next to you. Anything else is fake. I'm pro-large crowd, as long as it comes with merit. What happens at the Home Opener? That's all fake. It's false bravado disguised as a sell-out because a majority of the people there are false in their intentions. It isn't a reason to support the Indians, it's a reason to drink or have a party.

Again, if that's your reason. Great, awesome, I'm glad you've at least given your money to the team in some way in a show of "support" or whatever. But that's not me and that's not what I believe in, and that's why I don't like it and choose not to participate. Again, I'm not preventing or trying to persuade you to not go, but if that's your reason, just own up to it and be fine with it so the rest of us can be.

If you read on in that piece about comparing the Home Opener to Valentine's Day, you'll notice I had a far different message. I was almost asking for a call to action, to sell out the entire weekend. With so many people upset they were "shut out" of tickets for the first home game, I pleaded for people to try going to the other games, even if it wasn't that weekend or month. But really, if there were so many people who "missed out" on going to the first game, why not just go to the second and third? Why can't we just sell them all out as a way to show support? Right? Logical sense, if you miss the first show, go to the second, just don't say "well, I couldn't see that movie first, so I'm just not going to watch it."

This year, as you can see, my opinion is much different, because again, opinions change. Yes, this is a different circumstance, it isn't a weekend series, but that isn't the reason. It's because I realize what the Home Opener is for some and that isn't going to change. The overall support isn't going to change either, at least not right now and even then, not overnight. So, what's my message here?

It really isn't a message. It's just my stance. You probably have a different one, and that's okay.

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