It’s become a March ritual for me: Indians tickets go on sale, and I usually snap up five or six pairs to games I really want to go to, usually against teams like the Yankees or Red Sox, and also for good promotions, like bobblehead nights.
This year, unlike most, I got access to a pre-sale (it’s not really that exclusive, follow tribetalk on Twitter and you can get in) meaning I’d almost assuredly get tickets to the games I really wanted to go to.
But this year, unlike most, I decided against buying any (I already have tickets to Opening Day, by the way).
Now, this is a pretty drastic departure for me. I go to a lot of Indians games. I don’t buy all my tickets as some are given to me, but I do end up buying tickets to at least 15 games over the course of a season (and that number is probably low). If I’m bored and have a night or day free and there’s a Tribe game, I’ll go. I try not to, but I have gone to games by myself. Of course, many factors go into this decision, such as (in no order) money, an uncertain work schedule, and the fact that the game I really wanted to be at when Kenny Lofton is inducted into the Tribe Hall of Fame ( August 7th vs. the Twins, also Lofton bobblehead night), just so happens to be my brother’s wedding night. Seeing as I am the best man, I doubt I’m gonna be able to make it to that one.
But there was another factor that loomed over all others. I realized it didn’t matter when I bought the tickets, because I’d be able to get tickets to any game, because there’s no way in hell this team is going to be selling out games. Look, I’m excited about the upcoming season, but it’s more because I love baseball. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some exciting young talent on this team. But whether or not that talent produces is another question.
In a funny way, the Indians’ desperate (half-assed) attempt to show fans they are trying to “contend,” the signing of Russell Branyan, is what convinced me I could wait to buy Tribe tickets.
I swear I’m not going to turn this into another anti-Russell Branyan rant. I’ve had enough of them. But the signing of Branyan almost assuredly blocks some of this young talent, and could do irreparable damage to a player. See, I don’t give a shit if the Indians get 70 wins instead of 69 (which is probably about how many wins Branyan would give them, at best), because they’re still not going to the playoffs this year. Not with this pitching staff. The team is rebuilding, and for almost the entire offseason, stood pat (other than the curious signing of Mike Redmond) and stuck with the theory that the kids should take their lumps and then the Indians could see who’s legit and who isn’t. That’s why I was going to go to games this year, to see the kids scratching and surviving in the big leagues. No, it wasn’t going to be pretty, but it would almost assuredly be a refreshing change from the disappointing underachieving that we’ve been subjected to the past two years. The Branyan signing flies in the face of everything the Indians should be doing.
Therefore, I’ve decided to name a theme for the year. I haven’t thought up a snappy nickname or tagline for it yet, but I have a theme song: “Kids” by MGMT. The gist is “Let the Kids Learn.” The Indians shouldn’t shy away from the team’s inexperience. Instead, they should embrace it. It could be this team’s one saving grace. If the Indians have done their homework and acquired the right prospects, then it will start to show this year with a few of the kids (hopefully guys like Matt LaPorta, Carlos “Smooth” Santana, and Michael Brantley) proving themselves (no team is going to be right 100% of the time on their prospects). Since these guys are so young, they may not realize how bad they’re supposed to be and <gulp> overacheive.
Now don’t get too excited, the playoffs are not happening. But a team of young kids is a lot more exciting than a team of old guys, never-weres and also-rans, like last year’s team was by the end of the year. Growing pains are going to happen. Embrace them, and realize that now is the time to see what the younger players can do. Youth will be served, and its time is now.
I can only hope the Indians realize this before it’s too late, and I don’t even want to go to games any more.
(Yeah, I know. Who am I kidding?)