Cleveland sports fans are upset, and understandably so.
On Wednesday, the Browns traded running back Trent Richardson, the third overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft, to the Indianapolis Colts for their 2014 first-round pick.
So what does this mean for the Indians, the Browns’ cross-town counterpart?
The Tribe returns home on Thursday in the thick of the American League Wild Card race, taking on the hapless Houston Astros for four games.
By the end of the series – if the Indians take care of business – they could officially be a playoff team.
It’s been a roller coaster season for the Indians, having been declared dead in the water a handful of times. But this resilient bunch has always fought its way back into contention.
You wouldn’t think that from the way the stands look, though.
The Indians have had a major attendance problem this season, a topic that was avoided as long as possible through a variety of excuses (“We’ll wait until the weather is warmer,” “We’ll come when school is out,” “We still don’t trust this team,” etc.).
Only now, as the season winds down and the team stays in true contention, has the issue been further pressed. It’s obviously hard not to notice, as the team can barely draw 10,000 fans for weeknight games. Weekend games aren’t much better, and the upper deck is always as deserted as the rest of downtown Cleveland.
But can the Browns’ trade spark something in Cleveland fans? There is certainly a lot of collective anger and resentment boiling up for Browns fans, who usually just so happen to be Tribe fans as well.
Could they find themselves so disenchanted by the move that they finally support the Indians, and the team somehow draws 35,000+ (per game, not just as a series total!) to Progressive Field over the weekend?
If Cleveland fans were smart, the answer would be yes. After all, meaningful games are actually being played in the city; most fans are just choosing to ignore them because the Browns have started playing whatever it is they often try to pass off as professional football.
Now is the perfect time for Cleveland fans to jump the orange-and-brown ship and situate themselves squarely on a new bandwagon.
Could it really happen?
One supposes it could, but this is Cleveland, where self-loathing reigns supreme.
So here’s to the ghost-filled seats of Progressive Field, likely to far outnumber those filled by humans this weekend.