Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 5/21/12
One theme emerged from Chris Perezs bluster and blather this past weekend: Negativity.Perez said he didnt understand it, but hes right when he says its real. In Cleveland, a loss feels like seven and unpopular moves are equated with cruelty to animals. Positives are accepted, negatives are wallowed in.Its not new, either. Many years ago, a Browns executive -- upset at something he had read -- marveled at how negative the mood in Cleveland was regarding its sports teams. He even mentioned the Indians, who at that time were in the midst of a season when they won 90-some games.They win all these games, the executive said, and people still dog them.Cleveland fans are negative? A good part of a person wants to say, Yeah, your point?Go through the history. The Drive. The Fumble. The ninth inning with Jose Mesa. Game 5 vs. Boston. The Decision. The Move. That ALCS vs. Boston. All the guys who have left. The list could go on and on and on. This is a town that has lived not just through losing, but sports heartache that rips at a persons guts.Then the local guy the guy who was going to change it all he played the most disinterested playoff game probably ever and then he left. And did so like he was driving a telephone pole into the stomach of everyone who ever rooted for him.What fan in his or her right mind would not be negative after that bombardment?The feeling that disaster is expected is palpable.At every Browns game the crowd seems to wait for the catastrophe and then the team obliges by oh not breaking the huddle on time or snapping the field goal try into the guards leg.The Indians American League Championship series against Boston in 2007 also comes to mind, especially the fifth game in Cleveland when one win would have sent Cleveland to the World Series. For every Indians playoff game prior to that one, fans were up. They roared at every strike, bellowed for every strikeout. In Game 5, the mood was subdued as if nobody could believe the Indians might actually succeed and (gasp) win.New players who come to town might know this history, but they dont feel it. And really to be appreciated it has to be felt.Too, something Perez didnt say, something he couldnt say, also is present. And its something that the Indians as an organization must feel, even if they might not admit it.In Cleveland, the Browns are treated like one of Caesars conquering armies. Fans turn out in droves to see them even though they have been and there really is no other way to describe it embarrassingly putrid since they returned in 1999.This is a team that has won 18 games the last four seasons. Yet the chatter about the draft this past April was suffocating.Who could blame the Indians if they ask: What the heck?Since 1999, the Indians have won 90-plus games five times. Three of those were in 1999, 2000 and 2001, but the Indians were able to rebuild on the fly and win 93 games in 05 and 96 in 07. The latter was the season they got to the playoffs and blew that 3-1 ALCS lead.The Indians again are competitive and leading a Detroit team predicted to run away with the division. Vegas still has the Tigers at 1-8 to win the AL Central, so skepticism isnt limited to Cleveland. But nobody can criticize or argue with what the Indians have done so far.Yet they arent yet averaging 20,000.It should be noted that the situation is not limited to Cleveland. The Bengals had an outstanding season in 2011, but drew so poorly they had to offer a two-for-one deal for the season finale when a playoff spot was at stake.While the Bengals struggle, the Reds draw like mad. Is Cincinnati a baseball town and Cleveland a football town, as the conventional thinking goes, or does the perception of ownership affect attendance with the Bengals and Indians?Mike Brown and the Dolans both are oft-criticized for ways seen as well frugal. This offseason, the Indians signed Casey Kotchman and acquired Derek Lowe while the Tigers signed Prince Fielder. Never mind that the Indians tried to sign Carlos Beltran, the cheap perception grows.Indians owner Larry Dolan followed Dick Jacobs, who owned the team at the perfect time and sold it at an even more perfect time. Now the Indians are owned by a group that says it will spend money when it makes money, and it will spend when the team can compete. Moves are made with two eyes on the players contract.Team president Mark Shapiro rightly says its not fair to compare the Dolans tenure to the 455 consecutive sellouts of the 90s because things were different. But fans can judge what has happened since the last playoff appearance.The Indians followed that playoff letdown with a poor start in 2008, which led to the trade of CC Sabathia. The next year they traded Cliff Lee and became the first team ever to trade Cy Young winners in consecutive years.Then they hurt a lot of hearts by trading Victor Martinez.The moves had logic behind them and some of the guys acquired are helping now, but no fan base shrugs off losing Cy Young winners two years in a row. The Indians are still dealing with the fallout.Maybe its the times. Maybe its the mood of the city. Maybe its all the crushing losses. Maybe its, as manager Manny Acta said, negativity is louder than positivity A bomb makes more noise than a hug, he said.But negativity is real and present. How to account for it is the problem.Talking about it wont help, as Perez will learn. Doing something will. Which is one truth about all the teams they are working their hardest to win.Really, thats the only solution.At some point, just the law of averages would be on the citys side. Wouldnt it?
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