HEY MARK SHAPIRO, HOW ABOUT A WINNER
Football season opens at the high school and college levels next week, so unless something extraordinary happens for the Indians down the stretch, you won’t see any baseball coverage in this column. Recent antics by the Tribe front office have reached new levels of absurdity, however, so a commentary on such foolishness is justified.
Tribe president Mark Shapiro actually wasted valuable time on on August 7th by holding a press conference to announce major renovations to Progressive Field. Below are some details from the team’s press release:
The significant enhancements to the ballpark will create new attractions targeting multiple fan segments; create dramatic new connections to a revitalized Cleveland and Indians players; and celebrate our club’s rich history and heritage throughout the ballpark. The project, with support from our partner Delaware North Companies, is completely privately funded.
Developed after extensive research into the team’s fan base and its preferences and demands, the project will include:
- Expanded Kids Clubhouse: First introduced in 2012, the Kids Clubhouse will grow to two levels. The Mezzanine concourse area also will be renovated, with new, improved attractions for families.
- Social gathering space: A climate-controlled, two-story bar in right field with views unmatched in Cleveland.
- Dramatic new Gate C: The new Gate C area will be a dramatic entrance with visual connection to the field from the exterior and dramatic views of the Cleveland skyline from inside the ballpark. This will be enabled by removing The Market Pavilion and Batter’s Eye Bar and reorienting the fan entrance, allowing for a better connection with a revitalized part of the city and allowing residents and downtown workers better views of the field.
- Connection to players: Redesigned bullpens in center field provide unique interaction with players and a new exclusive seating area.
- Connection to Cleveland: Popular city neighborhoods like Ohio City and Tremont will be incorporated into the new Gate C concourse space.
- Historical connection: More of the franchise’s storied history will be incorporated throughout the ballpark, especially at the new Gate C; the Bob Feller and Jim Thome statues will be consolidated there, and will be joined there by future statues – including in 2015 by a Larry Doby statue.
- New Group seating area: The Upper Reserved area in right field will feature terraced decks for group outings with sweeping views of the playing field, which previously were limited to the Carnegie Tent area on the ballpark’s exterior.
“Fans have changed the way they interact with baseball and other forms of entertainment. As a result, we have to adapt by creating new, compelling experiences to evolve our ballpark to align with fans’ interests,” Shapiro said. “We’re proud to provide targeted, new experiences that enhance the connection between Progressive Field and revitalizing city around us.”
As Clint Eastwood said to one of his bratty younger superiors while playing Gunnery Sargent Tom Highway in Heartbreak Ridge, “I’ll sleep better at night knowing that sir.”
Can’t you just hear the chatter all over northeast Ohio. ”Well, the team isn’t good enough to contend, but it’s worth paying $30 apiece for tickets so my kids can jump on inflatibles all night.” Or maybe “The team is just average, but at least I’ve got a decent place to go when their performance drives me to drink.”
It’s time to demand answers fromShapiro and General manager Chris Antonetti, who have mastered the art of ducking tough questions related to their own performance even more skillfully than President Barack Obama.
For starters, how about explaining why the team lacks a significant power threat at any position? What’s the answer at third base, where there’s been a big hole aside from the first half of the current season? Why is the team’s scouting department consistently missing the boat on talent evaluation? How come the only free agents who sign with Cleveland are overaged and overpriced with worn out parts?
In an effort o increase attendance, Indians management felt the need to cater to those in their “target audience” who attend games for reasons other than the actual contest. Shapiro should have addressed the media with plans for turning the Indians into legitimate contender with a chance to compete on a nightly basis. When that happens, there won’t be enough tickets to satisfy demand.