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

Random Thoughts Day 6: Fascination

Okay, I would like to clarify.  My obsession with Joanna Garcia is more of a fascination.  I am not stalking her.  I just think that she seems like the kind of girl I would want to be my friend, and now that she has moved to Cleveland, she needs some local girlfriends, right?

Part of the reason I like her is because of the man she fell in love with.  Nick Swisher is a cool cat!  The more I get to know him, the more I like him.  Last week, he gave an interview on Opening Day, and he made a comment about bringing a win to the “216”.  Immediately, I felt an affinity for him.  He has only been a Cleveland Indian for three months, but it was evident that he already called Cleveland his home.

Secondly, I like that he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously.  Many pro-athletes get caught up in their celebrity status, and they look down on those who do not have their name on a jersey or get their pictures splashed across newspapers.  He seems like the type of guy you could walk up to in a restaurant and say, “Hey, my son loves you.  Can you sign this napkin for him,” and Swisher would whip out a pen and sign happily.  Many athletes are not like that.  My brother once told me that he and his wife were eating in a rather upscale restaurant in Chagrin Falls and Jim Thome and his wife were at an adjacent table.  My brother politely asked if he could sign a napkin for his son, and Thome flat-out said “no.”  But I don’t think Nick would say no.  I think that he knows that he has been blessed with athletic prowess, but I have to believe that it hasn’t gone to his head.

Thirdly, this week, I was driving to work and I was listening to Lannigan and Malone, a local radio talk-show on Clear Channel’s WMJI.  (I tell you this fact just in case you have the I Love Radio app.  They make my morning commute very enjoyable.)  Anyway, they were interviewing woman from a local organization called Providence House.  It is the nation’s oldest non-profit crisis nursery.  They were discussing their yearly fundraising luncheon, and the woman promoting donation boasted that the Swisher’s foundation had just made a $75,000 donation.

$75,000!  Of course, I Googled his foundation.  He started a non-profit organization in 2007 called Swish’s Wishes.  It is an organization that is solely committed to helping children through difficult times.  Ah!  My heart melted.  Nick is an honest to God good person.  He isn’t shoving his money up his nose or wasting it on bottles of Crystal.  He isn’t trying to impress anyone.  He is truly giving back to his community.

Photo by Plain Dealer's John Kuntz

Photo by Plain Dealer’s John Kuntz

Lastly, he loves his job.  Last night, when his two-out RBI scored the winning run against Chicago, he was legitimately excited.  He’s a team player.  As a lifelong baseball fan, I love the sport for that reason, it’s about being part of something that is bigger than yourself.

So maybe my fascination is not just with Joanna.  Maybe my fascination is with the Swisher family.   If you look at the type of people I have surrounded myself, my friends are genuine; they are sincere; they are generous; they do not take life too seriously; and they know how to love.  The Swisher’s seem like they have all of these qualities.

So, Joanna and Nick, give me a call.  Let’s get together.  I think we should be friends.