420 hours… I guess that’s a bit of a misnomer. Yes, the average baseball game is around 3 hours, and there have been 140 of them in the Cleveland Indians season to this point, but factoring in drive time to and from the stadium, opportunity cost of attending/watching, analyzing, mindful thinking, rain delays, writing, hoping… and that number is probably around 750 hours… and that’s being conservative.
What does 750 hours have to do with anything? 750 hours is the approximate time that I have dedicated to Indians baseball so far this year (at time of writing; Sept. 8). Barring a miracle, any hope of postseason play was not only crushed by 3 straight losses to the division leading Tigers, but that all too familiar pain of a thousand daggers reared it’s ferocious head and took aim at my core again.
750 hours, added up, is a little over a full, 24-hour a day, 7 days a week, calendar month dedicated to nothing but all things Indians baseball… I’m not complaining, there is very little else in the world that means as much to be as baseball, and in turn, Indians baseball. How many innings did I miss this season? Four. I know, I know, I’m a horrible fan for missing those four innings. But here’s the deal, Tuesday, July 19th I was on my honeymoon in Hawaii, 11 hours away. My lovely Indians-loving bride and I were driving the Road to Hana in Maui (highly recommended if you get a chance). The HTC Thunderbolt is a terrific phone, but its battery life is about as good as John Mayberry’s ability to get a date. As I’m enjoying the incredible scenery and an Indians lead, I am met with a crossroads. The dreaded 15% battery life remaining screen pops up… the choices are: 1) Continue watching the baseball game and rely on memory to get us to our dinner restaurant and back to our resort… or 2) Do the sane thing, turn off the phone, conserve power and use it for directions. Listening to sports radio was out of the question as the Road to Hana is more or less a rainforest impenetrable by satellite signals. Of course I took option 1 and luckily Maui is only 3-4 roads that all lead more or less lead to the same places. As we disembarked from the best restaurant on Maui (Mama’s Fish House), I was finally able to get a semi-sports related channel and heard that the usually reliable Chris Perez blew the save and the Indians had lost… and yes, from 4 time zones west, I felt partially responsible for the outcome.
Now, I’m not telling you this, and the fact that I followed along with the game at my own wedding reception, to prove my superfan status. If I wanted to do that, I would also state the fact that I have watched every single NFL football game played in the last 12 years (aside from one Sunday in Chicago, but still went to a sports bar in the area and was able to see quite a bit). The point is to explain the outlandish, borderline inconceivable passion that people like myself have for sports. Then again, who knows, maybe there is no point other than typing words onto virtual paper and coming to grips with the fact that a promising Indians season that featured a near double-digit game division lead was undone by injury after injury and will quietly end without playoffs, but it’s my site, so…
Speaking of injuries… Here is the list of Indians players that have spent time on the DL this season: Shin-Soo Choo, Michael Brantley, Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner, Carlos Carrasco, Fausto Carmona, Jason Kipnis, Joe Smith, Alex White, Jason Donald, Mitch Talbot, Matt LaPorta, Trevor Crowe. In total, 10 different pitchers started games for the Indians this season. The headline injury is Carlos Carrasco who will be undergoing Tommy John surgery next Wednesday. Obviously, every team deals with injuries… but the sheer amount that the Indians had to overcome was more than a mid-market team could bear.
Still, hope is not lost for the future. The core is strong, the window is open, and it seems (judging by the Ubaldo Jimenez trade) that management is on-board with a run at glory. Still, as the months turn to years, the wins are great, but the feeling isn’t as strong as the pain from the losses.
Whether or not you care about the Indians or even baseball for that matter, if you’re a true fan of any team, you know the feeling of dedication to a cause out of your control that is right there within grasp… that slips away. You also know the feeling of walking through the office or your city and seeing people that just don’t care about sports and not understanding what they have in their life to get them through their lives. Then again, Keeping up with the Kardashians is a hit show and watches people who are famous for nothing live their lives.
Maybe those people have it right, after all baseball was played long before I was here, and after I pass, the world of baseball will not know the difference and will continue with business as usual. True enough watching “reality” TV where spoiled, no-talent human beings complain about what they don’t have is more in line with the mindsets of many people. That said, there is nothing… and I mean nothing quite as artistically beautiful as a perfectly executed double play. So, now, and for the rest of my days on this rock, I’ll keep dedicating hundreds of hours, keep watching, keep hoping, keep willing, keep living and dying with the changing seasons, and keep thinking that I have something to do with the outcome of games… after all, faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to; and at the core, that’s really what being a fan is all about.