Air Traffic Controllers will be making a not-so-rare appearance at Beerland this Thursday, and with the exception of the performance itself, what could be more distasteful than my complaining afterwards that no more than two dozen people (some of them disguised as members of the other bands and/or club staff) witnessed this incredible cultural event? On most days, the correct answer would be “absolutely nothing”, however leave it to Indians closer Chris Perez to get me off the hook IN ADVANCE. Perez, who is already on record bitching about Cleveland fans’ failure to embrace his overachieving ballclub, gave the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner an earful on the same subject in today’s paper.
Cleveland ranks last in the league in attendance, averaging only 18,408 fans a game. Perez has expressed frustration with that, and did so again Monday. He said fans seemed to care more about rooting against LeBron James and the Miami Heat than they do about rooting for the Indians.
“I don’t get the psyche,” said Perez, who grew up in Florida. “Why cheer against a guy that’s not even in your city anymore? Just to see him fail? Does that make you feel good? I could see if the Cavs were in the championship, but that’s their mentality.
“They’ve had a lot of years of misery. They say, ‘You just don’t understand because you don’t live here.’ O.K., maybe I don’t. But that doesn’t mean it has to keep going.”
The Indians drew more than 3 million fans for six seasons in a row starting in 1996, the year the N.F.L. Browns moved to Baltimore. The new version of the Browns has not won a playoff game in its 13 seasons.
“That’s what I don’t understand,” Perez said. “Their whole thing is, ‘We want a winner.’ Well, why do you support the Browns? They don’t win. They’ve never won. They left. You guys blindly support them. I don’t understand it. It’s a double standard, and I don’t know why.
“It’s head-scratching. It’s just — they don’t come out. But around the city, there’s great support. They watch it in the bars. They watch it at home. They just don’t come.”
Perez might have a point about the LeBron thing, but even in a rough economy, it’s easier for the Browns to generate interest around 8 home games than for the Indians to do the same for 81. Is it really a head-scratcher?