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Sheldon Ocker: Fans and their odd ways are for the dogs

By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer

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CHICAGO: Sometimes I just don’t get it.

• Why do fans leave Progressive Field after the visitors bat in the ninth and the Tribe is losing? Inasmuch as the faithful already have invested at least 2½ hours of their time, why not hang around 10 more minutes to see if the Indians can rally in their last at-bat?

Yeah, I know. The baby sitter has to be home by 11, and if someone doesn’t take the dog for a walk real soon, the next person who steps into the living room better have his shoes on.

• I don’t see this much in Cleveland, but I have seen fans in other cities present their ticket at a turnstile, get their bobblehead and leave immediately to sell the souvenir to a hustler across the street for $18.

Since the person already paid more for the ticket than the bobblehead is worth, why not stay for the game and sell the collectible on the way out, when there are likely to be more buyers on the street?

Why will there be more buyers after the game? Because that’s when most of the would-be sellers leave the ballpark.

• Why are the loudest oohs and aahs reserved for a batter who breaks his bat and hits a weak ground ball to an infielder?

I can’t even begin to guess why this phenomenon is so prevalent among the sporting public. Do these people react the same way when they see their neighbor split a log for his fireplace?

• Why do fans acquiesce to every request that’s flashed on the scoreboard? When the message reads “Make Noise” or advises them to “Clap Your Hands,” the fans do as they’re told instantly and without reservation.

Another Tribe beat writer wants to test how far fans are willing to go when it comes to obeying orders on the scoreboard. He thinks the scoreboard operation should flash the following message: “Everyone reach in your pocket, take out your wallet and hand it to the nearest usher.”

• This happens in Cleveland like clockwork. A player from an opposing team who was a star for the Tribe five or even 10 years ago, steps in the batter’s box and is roundly booed by every one of the 9,500 fans in attendance.

Get over it. Since he was a fan favorite in Cleveland, the player has been employed by three or four teams. And he probably never would have left if the Indians had paid him market value.

And I don’t want to hear, “How much money does one man need?” Don’t answer that unless a rival company offers to double your salary to $20 million, and you turn it down.

Fans sometimes even boo a player who didn’t leave on his own volition, a player who was traded?

One player is immune from this obnoxious practice. Thankfully, Omar Vizquel never has been jeered at Progressive Field. The only thing more disgraceful: the head of the PTA booing Mr. Rogers.

• Why is the loudest applause of the night — this applies especially to games at Angels Stadium — reserved for a 40-year-old fan wearing a first baseman’s mitt and a batting helmet who catches a softly hit foul ball in the grandstand?

• Fans will pay $200 for two tickets, parking and Tribe gear, if they can buy a hot dog for a dollar. Otherwise, they will stay home because attending a baseball game is too expensive.

• Teams will launch almost any promotion to induce more people to buy tickets, but is it really necessary to ask pet owners to bring their dogs?

• Why would anyone want to bring his dog to a baseball game?

Couldn’t the fan get his kids or his girlfriend to go with him? Does he need the dog to carry the baseball he’s going use for autographs? Is the dog’s breath easier to deal with than his wife’s?

Fans who bring their dogs to Progressive Field are given terrible seats next to other fans who brought their dogs, which can create hostility among the dogs.

And I really don’t know the answer to this: What does a fan do who has to use the bathroom? Does he tie the dog up outside or take him inside? And what if the dog needs to use the restroom? Does the dog owner tell his pet to wait until they’ve gotten back to the parking lot?

All of this reminds me of a joke that longtime Tribe coach Luis Isaac used to tell:

A man and his dog walk into a bar and sit down. The bartender looks at them and says, “You can’t bring that dog in here.”

The man says, “But this dog can talk.”

Bartender: “Yeah, right. Get him out of here.”

Man: “No, no, the dog can really talk. I’ll show you.”

So the man points to the ceiling and asks the dog, “What’s that?”

Dog: “Roof, roof,” and the bartender says, “He’s just barking. Get him out of here.”

Man: “Give him another chance.”

Bartender: “One more.”

The man asks the dog, “What is sandpaper like?”

Dog: “Ruff, ruff.”

Bartender: “That’s it. He’s out of here.”

Man: “Hey, just one more, you’ll see.”

Bartender: “All right, but this better be good, because I have a gun.”

The man asks the dog, “Who is the greatest hitter in Yankee history?”

Dog: “Ruth, Ruth.”

The bartender screams that both of them better get out. He grabs the gun, starts shooting, and the man and the dog run out the door and don’t stop for several blocks. When they do, the dog says, “What’s wrong with that guy? What was I supposed to say, DiMaggio?”

Now, that’s the kind of dog I would take to Progressive Field, one who knows the game.

Sheldon Ocker can be reached at socker@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.


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