It’s obvious that area sports fans have a lot more interest in the Cleveland Indians this season because a lot more readers are complaining about their experiences at the games.
Here are a couple of interesting emails I received on consecutive days.
Bob: At the last minute, we decided to go to the Indians game [May 12]. Arrived at Progressive Field about an hour before the game and went to the box office.
I like sitting in the bleachers and, with the low attendance they have been having, we figured that would not be a problem. Much to our surprise, they said the bleachers were sold out. That was not a deal-breaker, so we purchased reserved seats.
During the game, I had a clear view of the bleachers, and at no time did they appear to be even half-full. Do you think there could be that many “no shows,” or are the Indians just trying to sell more expensive tickets?
It would be a shame if that were the case because there probably are some fans who can only afford bleacher seats.
Bob: On [May 13], my eldest son took me to the Indians-Yankees doubleheader.
Between games we decided to purchase a couple of bottles of Pepsi. The vendor right behind Section 454 handed them to us without the caps. Much to my chagrin, I could find no one to explain why we couldn’t have the caps.
Later I called the Indians for an explanation and was told they didn’t want fans throwing the caps onto the field if there was an unpopular call.
As the conversation continued, I explained why the Pepsi cap was important at the ballgame:
1. To keep the carbonation in the Pepsi.
2. To keep debris — peanut shells, seagull droppings — out of the Pepsi.
3. If the cap is on and you knock it over, you don’t spill any.
4. With a cap, you can take the Pepsi home if you don’t finish it.
The young lady was very polite and took notes and indicated she would convey my concern to the higher-ups. As we continued to talk, I brought up a related policy that seemed to contradict this one: You are allowed to bring into Progressive Field an unopened 16-ounce bottle of water, with a cap.
So will there be security eyeing you as you empty your bottle of water to see what you do with your bottle cap? If you intend to buy a bottled beverage at Progressive Field, do you covertly smuggle your own cap into the game?
In all my years attending athletic events, amateur and professional, I have never encountered a bottle-cap threat.
Ron and Bernie: For answers we turn to Bob DiBiasio, the Indians’ Maven of Information — and, sometimes, befitting his duties, the King of Spin.
During his 34 years with the Tribe, “Bobby D” has risen from an assistant PR guy to the senior vice president for public affairs. He now lives in royal splendor, with a home in every American League city and a yacht in every port.
OK, maybe not. But the guy has been around. DiBiasio has been at this for so long, in fact, that he and I first crossed paths in 1979 when I was working for the Wooster Daily Record. I was only 5 at the time, a child prodigy.
But we digress. By a lot. By the length of a tape-measure homer. Must be the holiday vibe throwing me off.
Anyway ... Info Man was quick to provide answers.
“The bleachers were sold out,” he said of the May 12 game. “It was very hot, and people were hanging out in the main concourse and other shade-covered areas.”
That certainly rings true. Given the Tribe’s attendance woes in recent years — and for most of this season — you can be sure the team is not refusing to sell anything to anyone.
The bottle-cap issue required a bit more finesse, and DiBiasio was up to the task.
“The ‘no-cap’ policy is a safety issue, one which is shared with most all sporting venues that distribute bottled product,” he said via email.
“As for the inconsistency of allowing those fans who bring in a single, factory-sealed plastic water bottle to keep their cap, there are some trade-offs we must make along the way as we ponder customer-service issues. There is a relatively minimal number of capped bottles that are brought into the ballpark, compared to the number purchased throughout a game.
“We need to keep our eye on the greater good for all who visit Progressive Field. Safety is number one on the list.”
Yes, a no-cap policy is common in professional sports. Right next door to Progressive Field, the Cavs do the same thing. But allowing carry-in caps while prohibiting game-bought caps clearly is a double standard. And I still say — as I did of the Cavs’ policy back in 2010 — that confiscating bottle caps is absurd.
Would you rather get hit in the back of the head with a plastic bottle cap or a plastic bottle filled with 16 ounces of liquid? Anyone idiotic enough to heave a bottle cap is idiotic enough to throw the whole bottle.
Would you rather be sitting in front of a person who accidentally knocks over a capped bottle or an uncapped bottle?
Next thing you know, sports franchises will be forcing you to chug your pop before you leave the concession stand.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or email@example.com.