The cold winds to the north off of Lake Erie will soon arrive to usher in the long winter throughout Northeast Ohio. Yet my whirlwind return to my Cleveland roots during World Series week has revealed a city that pulsates with rare unity and positive energy. “Cleveland Rocks” seems real as civic pride in the recent success of the revered, professional baseball Indians take center stage in the nation now.
Choosing to join suburbanites sacrificing their hometime to travel downtown on a weekday by way of the city’s aging rapid transit system, a distinct buzz of Indians fever-talk rocks each jam-packed rail car now. While many of these baseball-enthused travelers will never be afforded the opportunity to actually attend a World Series game, this contagious enthusiasm for Indians pride will no doubt lead to numerous Indians celebrations in sports bars, restaurants, and streetside environs of Progressive Field.
For a $5.00 charity ticket, I gladly enter the ballpark to watch a live telecast of the first World Series road game. Hours before game time, long lines have formed at stadium gates yet there is little evidence of human impatience at the cold weather/security inconveniences that these fans must face tonight. Red rally towels are distributed, and the ballpark fills to near capacity. As Indians mascot antics and celebrity appearances begin the pregame festivities, it seems I am witnessing a live game tonight.
As the game proceeds, there is no time for casual conversation now as a heated pitching duel guarantees that the intensity of evaluating each pitch closely matters. Feeling the pressure, I opt to pace nervously around the stadium and depend on the “oohs” and “aws” of the crowd for my in-game references. Descending to the Indians Hall of Fame statue section beyond left field, I am reminded of the glorified heroics in Cleveland baseball history from immortals Bob Feller, Tris Speaker, and Satchel Paige…
So many times I have elected to leave a stadium early to beat the traffic or get extra sleep but tonight feels different. I resign that I will stay to the end of the game as I prove honest allegiance to my beloved team. Such patience will soon be rewarded as the Tribe will win a hard-fought, 1-0 nail-biter tonight. Smacking “high-fives” with strangers as I exit the stadium, I quickly realize how much this olden game of men in silly uniforms chasing a little white ball means to myself and my country.
The “spirit of fair play” in baseball demonstrates that there is logic to earning one’s success in America through hard work pursuit and ultimate outcome acceptance. “Believe-Land” optimism in Cleveland winning baseball rejects a lifetime of sports futility in this city to embrace the fruits of this simple credo as the team draws closer to a World Series title. As we are faced with difficult choices in this contentious, Presidential election year, one might similarly consider how Donald Trump’s propensity for arrogance, lies, and bigotry represents a clear threat to this “Believe-Land”hope for retaining faith in the future of our country.