Say It Ain’t So, Joe?

Baseball.
America’s pastime.
Cracker Jacks and hot dogs.
Iced cold sodas and even colder beers.
Three hours of pure Americana– a timeless sport of modern heroes.
The strike of the ball, the swing of the bat, the crowd.
A coalescence of all walks of like coming together to cheer on the home team.

Danger.  Danger.  Warning, Will Robinson.  Warning, Will Robinson.

A coalescence?
Absolutely in 1950.
Definitely in 1980.
Probably in 2000.
Today?

It is almost impossible for an average American family to attend a ball game.  I find this reality to be somewhat of a tragedy, a precursor signaling the onset of the “us and them” attitudes of the rich and average.

We are a family of five.  My husband and I both work full-time.  We pay our mortgage, our car payments, and our taxes.  We find enough money to support the kids’ activities, and in the summer, when the city is bustling, we want to get involved and have our children experience life for all it has to offer.  We want them to feel a kinship with their fellow Clevelanders and become true enthusiasts and supporters of all this city has to offer.

“Let’s go to a ballgame!” 

What a great idea!

Then I look at ticket prices.

Within the last five years, what used to be a twenty dollar ticket  has skyrocketed to $55.00 a seat.  How do I justify spending close to $300.00 just to walk through the door (I’m taking into account Ticketmaster charges and parking)?   Once I factor in concessions, we are probably looking at another $100.00.  What middle class American family can afford to attend multiple games in the summer knowing this is what they will be spending?   Sure, we could go to one, maybe even two, but I LOVE baseball and I want to attend more than that!

I try to rationalize.

It’s only money.  Sounds good until I look at my checking account and sure wish I had an extra four bills to put toward the landscaping project in the backyard.

Tom and I could just go.  Well dang it, that defeats the whole “family” thing I’ve got going on.

We could pawn two off at a time, and only take one at a time.  Yes, we could do that, but the bonds of sisterhood can be formed over a blustering rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” that lands them all beaming on the jumbotron.

So, I am left with a few options: break the bank or skip the game and feel a slight sense of guilt because I cannot afford to give my children what I want them to have.

I guess baseball has finally entered into the arena with all other major league sports.  The problem is that no other sport plays 164 games in regular season.  The other sports can charge more because in a world of supply and demand, there are less seats in relation to the length of the season.  When taking into consideration they Browns only play eight home games, it is much easier to rationalize a more expensive seat.

Maybe the sport of baseball will remember that they need me to be able to bring my girls to five or six games a year so that they will develop into the baseball aficionados that I am, and someday, want to share the love of the sport with their own children.

Our family used to try to support the Indians a few times a year.  However, it seems impossible.  Maybe its just a sign of the times.  Baseball has moved itself into the realm of the other major markets who aren’t looking at “the family” as their customer any longer.

Sometimes, when I want to be able to embrace the spirit of sitting in the ballpark, I feel as if I have been tricked.  I feel as disappointed as that young fan standing outside the courthouse in 1920; the boy who thought of Joe Jackson as a paladin: a regular guy living out a dream one home run at a time.  However, it was a ruse, a curveball of the greatest proportions.  “Say it ain’t so Joe.”  Maybe, the greed of Joe Jackson has always been the driving stimulus of our sport, and I have been tricked into believing they were playing for me, my city, and for the love of the game itself.

 

 

An Open Letter to Nick Swisher

Dear Nick,

On behalf of the people of Cleveland, I want to say “Thank You.”  Thank you for having a heart.

Last week, when I found out that you were single-handedly paying for the fireworks show after Saturday’s game, I was moved.  What a kind gesture!  I was so touched that I began telling my friends about it because I viewed this gesture as purely altruistic.

Sadly, my coworkers and friends did not see it the way I did.  “So?  He can afford it.  He’s making millions.”

To be honest, Nick, I was kind of deflated by their pessimism.  Why does it matter if you can afford it or not?  Does kindness have to come only from those who struggle to give it?  Does benevolence have to cost the giver?

I think I understand your generosity in a way others do not.  You see, there are a great many people with money who are not paying for fireworks shows just to provide twenty minutes of entertainment for the average Joe.  Sure, like you, they make amazing donations to charities and foundations, money well spent because it helps provide research and assistance to people who are in true need.

All donations are laudable, but something about this donation was different to me.  You wanted to do something nice just for the sake of doing something nice, and in the true spirit of an altruistic giver, I believe you are not expecting anything in return.

In a world of pessimists where worth is based on the consistency of one’s batting average, it is easy to see why so many other players see themselves as transient.  Many players do not take stake in a community because they are afraid of “the trade” or what will come at the end of their contracts.  Many players are in cities, and as much as they may love their teams, they never fall in love with the city and feel truly rooted in it.

Nick, I personally feel that your positivity and energy are good for this city.  It is obvious to me that you have rooted yourself in our community, and you embody the change you expect to see.  Whether you realize it or not, like the pebble that skips across the water creating rings, your efforts are creating a rippling effect in Cleveland.  Your passion and excitement are infectious!

Thanks again,

Cheryl

What We Do When We Cannot Afford What We Want to Do.

This summer, even more than any other summer, I have truly felt like I am on a vacation.  Each week has offered a plethora of fun activities, and at times, I wonder why I ever long to “go on vacation.”  At times, I feel like every day is kind of a resort day.  In the past week, for example, I have been able to go on a boat ride, see a movie, go to the track to gamble, play in a pretty amazing outdoor pool, go to a cookout, and eat a few pretty amazing restaurants.  I have gotten a private tour of Severance Hall and I have finagled some good deals at the Westside Market.  Opportunities seem to continue to present themselves, and with each fortuity, I seem to enjoy each day even more than the last.

This morning, a rather exciting occasion presented itself yet again.  I was over a friend’s house helping his daughter with her summer reading assignment when a text came from Tom.

“Hey.  It just so happens that the Tribe game is not sold out tonight.  Maybe we should go?  Omar Visquel bobblehead night?”

I read his message and immediately felt a surge of excitement in my belly.  Oh, how I love Progressive Field.  It is magical being in the ballpark: the excitement of the crowd, the crack of the bat, the way the ball sounds when it hits the catcher’s mitt.  Truly, baseball is my love, although I never played, and going to a game tonight sounded exactly like what I wanted to do to continue my fun-filled vacation days of summer.

I got home from tutoring and immediately went on-line to see what kinds of seats were available.   I was ready and willing to buy.   Well, that is until I saw the prices!   A ticket in section 109 that usually goes for $24.00 was suddenly $49.50. Hmmm.  My mind did some quick calculations: Game 4.  Detroit Tigers.  Bobblehead.  2 1/2 games back.   The front office is not dumb.  They know that this is a series that would be popular and that many people would bite the proverbial bullet and spend the money for a chance to see a Tribe/Tiger standoff.  However, if we went as a family, it would be $250.00 just to walk through the door.  Add parking, hot dogs, pretzels, pops, beers, and a bag of peanuts, and that amount easily jumps to $400.00.

I am a rationalizer, a justifier if you will, when it comes to all things fun.  However, no amount of justification could possibly convince me to spend this kind of money tonight when tomorrow, when the Tribe starts their home-stand against the Toronto Blue Jays, I could purchase five tickets in section 109 for just over a hundred dollars!  Begrudgingly, I texted Tom and told him it was too much money.  He understood, but I knew he felt a pinch of disappointment (as did I).

An hour later, I received another text.  This time, he suggested taking the kids to the game again.  However, the idea was nothing less than creative, thoughtful and genius!

007

Go Tribe!