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Leigh Montville
May 21, 1990
Indians fans dread losing their longtime losers
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May 21, 1990

Anxiety In Cleveland

Indians fans dread losing their longtime losers

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The worry does not end for the Cleveland Indians fan. He scares easily these days. Loud noises cause him to jump. He mutters. He fidgets. He scratches his head. Insecurity is his constant companion.

"Am I doing enough?" he asks. "Can I ever do enough?"

He does not know.

He wears a Cleveland Indians cap. He wears a Cleveland Indians sweatshirt. The light from a table-lamp replica of a Cleveland Indians batting helmet shines on a Cleveland Indians media guide he reads while he listens to a Cleveland Indians game on the radio. His children are tucked into bed in their Cleveland Indians flannel pajamas. His wife cooks a meal from a recipe she found in the Cleveland Indians cookbook.

"There must be more I can do," the fan says. "Something."

What a fool he has been! There is a possibility his team could be moved to another city, to another—what's the term?—major market. He cannot allow this to happen.

"I have ordered the official Cleveland Indians rug for my floor," he says. "I have purchased 150 tickets to a Tiger game and plan to take everyone I know to the ballpark, where we will spend as much money as possible."

The change in the fan's approach to his team and sport has come in the past three weeks. He was informed on May 2 by baseball commissioner Fay Vincent that he's a backslider and an ingrate. How true! Vincent came to Cleveland to lobby for the construction of a $344 million stadium and arena project, and he left no doubt about the town's sorry fan support.

In a whirl of press conferences and interviews, the commissioner warned that Cleveland was perilously close to fulfilling the four requirements that must be met before a team can be allowed to move to another city: 1) franchise losing money, 2) poor attendance, 3) stadium problem and 4) drop in the importance of baseball to the community. The commissioner said that passage of the stadium-arena proposal in a May 8 referendum would be a virtual necessity to ensure the future of baseball in Cleveland.

The fan was shocked.

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