The Cleveland Indians do an amazing job with in-game entertainment. I want to say that first and foremost so that my one criticism of their “God Bless America” doesn’t get overblown. Before we get to the one negative, I want to talk about how great it has been to attend Indians games this season because of all the things they do right. It’s especially important to me now because I’m taking my son to more games and it takes more than just pure baseball to keep a 3-year-old engaged. So far so good as the Indians do and it’s great because it makes it easier for me to justify getting to experience baseball live and in-person more times per year.
So let’s get the one negative out of the way. The version of “God Bless America” that the Indians play is wrong. I mean musically it is jarring and incorrect. The song is going along just fine until the end when they inexplicably splice in an upward key change that is missing any kind of setup. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this YouTube video that catalogs some of the most famous utilizations of key change in music history including “Penny Lane” by the Beatles. The key change that takes place at Progressive Field occurs inexplicably before the last “God bless America” and I’m guessing they took a longer version of the song which included a key change that was properly set up, spliced them together and thought it worked. As a musician, I’m telling you it doesn’t. But that’s easily fixed and not what I want to dwell on.
I’ve been to three Indians games in the last two weeks, including both Sundays with my kids. We spent pregame in the kids area on July 7th where we ran into Jungle Terry and his giant 12-foot Burmese python named “Stretchy.” It was crawling around on a carpeted floor of an elevator lobby next to the kids area with kids touching and otherwise handling the giant snake. I, of course was hesitant to get near the snake, but that wasn’t all that was happening.
There was a table set up behind that and kids were getting in line to meet and get autographs from two Cleveland Indians players. The day that we went through the line, I was really impressed to see Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles sitting there signing autographs, interacting with the kids and taking pictures. I don’t think I’m insulting anyone when I say that my 3-year-old had absolutely no idea who either player was, but their presence wasn’t lost on any of the parents or the kids aged about six or older.
The actual kids area itself was perfectly staffed with some of the friendliest ballpark employees I’ve ever seen. They were helping to get toys for my 9 month old and had perma-smiles on their faces as kids darted all over the place. I can’t imagine that it is easy to commit to this level of friendliness, but to also maintain it over the course of a long season is pretty remarkable.
I could go on and on about the hotdog races and other things too. I always thought the hotdog races were a little dumb, but they’ve kept it going and managed to make it an integral part of the ballpark experience. And let me tell you, I almost lost my standing as a father yesterday when I suggested making a bathroom run when the hotdogs were starting to run. You should have seen the desperate look on my son’s face. Maybe someday we’ll say the same thing about the wiener dog races at FirstEnergy stadium. Who knows?
Take my word for it that the Indians are making sure that bringing your family to the park isn’t an impediment to going and they’ve set the bar pretty high for themselves. And they seem very comfortable with that too.
Now, please fix “God Bless America” so I have almost nothing left to complain about.