Survey Says? Digging deeper into the Cleveland Indians fan survey

Indians SurveyLost in the kerfuffle of the Cleveland Indians allegedly polling season ticket holders about their opinion on Chief Wahoo was the fact that said inquiry was literally one of roughly three dozen questions pertaining fans and how they relate to various aspects of the team. Drowned out by all of the noise and nostalgia surrounding the polarizing mascot was the fact that the team was conducting an exit interview of sorts, gauging fan thoughts on items like concessions, ticket prices, and most importantly, the roster of players who wear Cleveland on the fronts of their uniforms.

We have long discussed how attached fans are to the current roster. Gone are the days of having the same group of guys fill the Indians lineup card season after season; Kenny Lofton isn’t walking through that door, as much as he would probably like to. And while the stark reality of another 455 straight sell-outs continues to loom as an impossibility, the team wants to know how much they—despite still rocking their faded navy blue t-shirts with “BAERGA” on the back—assimilate with guys like Swisher and Kipnis and Bourn and Brantley. They want to know how important it is for the owner to be more out in the open, discussing the team’s direction and their plans for the future. They want to know, in addition to price adjustments at the concession counter and box office, what it would take to get that season-ticket base back up—how can they get you to invest in this team’s future?

Poll a large portion of Cleveland fans, varying in degree in terms of fandom of the Indians and Major League Baseball in general, and the majority will say that the odds of the Cleveland Indians repeating—or trumping—a 92-win season are very slim. The team had to rattle off an epic winning streak just to make the postseason; Ubaldo Jiménez and Scott Kazmir are free agents and could be eying up a nice payday; the bullpen situation has the makings of being a huge mess; Asdrubal Cabrera has had year-over-year declines in production since 2011—the list goes on. Paul Dolan, fresh off of his payday from the sale of SportsTime Ohio and knowing that it was now-or-never in terms of getting fans (however many) to buy in, finally decided to spend in free agency. Chris Antonetti, despite missing wildly on Mark Reynolds and Brett Myers, struck gold with Ryan Raburn and Jason Giambi. His acquisition of Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles for Esmil Rodgers was Executive of the Year-type stuff. But for as successful as these low-risk moves were, how repeatable are they? Will the Indians’ win total rely on finding the next Giambi and Raburn year after year?

[Related: It's time to say 'goodbye' to Chief Wahoo]

Some fans want to poke holes in the return on investment in guys like Swisher and Bourn, but in a season where every single win was important, having a few loss leaders on board aren’t exatctly a bad thing when marginal victories are obtained.

The issue arrives in building off of this success, realizing that unlike the offseason that followed the 2007 run, merely acquiring someone like Masa Kobayashi while resting on the laurels of an overachieving season would not be enough to keep fans coming. The price of a ticket or a 12-ounce beer is likely impactful to the fringe fan—there’s a reason the survey asks how big of a fan one is, how many games they have attended over the years, and how many they plan to attend in the future. But at the end of the day, consistent winning is all that the city of Cleveland covets. Yes, the hardcore fans will be there every night; the TD’s and Jon’s of the world will watch every pitch, home or away. But to get Progressive Field to be filled at a respectable level, it’s player development, smart front office acquisitions, and consistent winning. The logos and uniform layout are fantastic talking points. Dynamic ticket pricing is still a new way of life, and people largely hate change. But these would be entirely ancillary if the team had a fraction of the success of other Midwestern squads like the St. Louis Cardinals or Detroit Tigers. At the end of the day, they could be renamed to the Cleveland Bachelorette Parties; their hats can be festooned with neon dildos; every at-bat could be accompanied by obnoxious screaming and off-tune singing of a Dixie Chicks song; every drink stand could limit their menu to cosmos and drinks made with Apple Pucker. If the team can provide fans with a consistent roster of players who they can relate to as they rack up 90-plus win totals, corporate investment will increase and the season ticket base will grow.

Hopefully, this is what the team will take away from yesterday’s fan survey. It’s tough to not recall the comments made by Mark Shapiro from a season ago, saying that if all fans want to see are wins, that they shouldn’t come to the park. It’s also tough to not believe that Shaprio would gladly erase those comments from the memory banks of fans across Ohio. Winning is hard. Consistently winning is harder. But if the goal of this team is to increase attendance, increase the emotional connection to players that was there many moons ago, they have to do it on the field. Again. And again.

  • Natedawg86

    I don’t know that I would ever wear a pink dildo on my shirt

  • Denny

    What if it was a different color

  • Clark Quick

    This article is my favorite. Well done Scott and thank you.

  • Steve

    The team already knows that wins rule above all. But it is incredibly important to gauge exactly how important all that other stuff is. And make no mistake, the Wahoo question may have seemed to just be tossed in a bigger questionnaire, but that was intentional, to downplay that it is a pretty huge question.

  • Bill

    “Don’t Send a Ten Dollar Word to Do a Two Cent Word’s Job”

    There is no point in using a word like kerfuffle in a short article about the Indians. In longer features I get it but it comes off as elitist and smug.

  • mgbode

    and you don’t have to put on a Browns helmet in Target and take a picture either, but, if you do, then you are revered.

    so, get over it :)

    note: this is all in good fun. the usage of the word Kerfuffle is a bit of a running term/gag here lately as the Target Browns helmet used to be.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    No. Thank you!

  • Garry_Owen

    You know what else comes off as elitist and smug?

  • Garry_Owen

    Methinks thou protesteth too much. Hmmm.

  • CB Everett

    What’s also elitist is buying a ten dollar word at full price for the purposes of “self-aggrandizement.” And yeah, I’m not too proud to admit I bought that word for 3 bucks at TJ Maxx. What of it?

  • Garry_Owen

    It’s the hyphen that makes it so expensive. Those things ain’t cheap. So what you have there is two $4 words that have been combined, marked up at wholesale, but then “factory reconditioned” post-retail to the low, low TJ Maxxx price. In the end, you’ve saved 5 bucks at a minimum! All in all, I’d say that’s a fine piece of bargain shopping. (But did you happen to pick up any of that Drakkar Noir knock-off cologne that I was looking for? ‘Cuz, it ain’t easy smelling like 1989 at today’s prices.)

  • mgbode

    I got the pirated version of that word for free. Thank you brownbeard_words.com

  • Garry_Owen

    Cross-referencing. Nice. We’ll get this legend thing off the ground, bode. You’ll see.

  • CB Everett

    1989, TJ Maxx, Drakkar…just had a flashback: Stop complaining. You’re not just a regular kid which is why you’re going to wear these irregular jeans.

  • mgbode

    I’d prefer just out to sea

  • Garry_Owen

    Well, how about “lake,” anyway?

  • mgbode

    to go jump in?

  • Garry_Owen

    At least you had jeans. For me it was whatever my mom could find at KMart to go with the highspeed Traxxx (flashback also courtesy of the “Maxxx” reference) shoes that she could pick up real cheaplike. That “whatever” often included sweatpants, last decade’s parachute pants (yep), and sometimes even cotton/wool blend “slacks.” Not to say I wasn’t popular in junior high school, or anything, but . . .

  • nj0

    So the length of a piece should dictate what words you use? I just… I just don’t… What?

  • ???

    Scott, wtf is up with that first sentence? Forget about the use of kerfuffle, can anyone make any sense of that?

  • Eric Maldoon

    can someone please tell me what scott is trying to say in that first sentence… editors.. do you guys exist?

  • Bill

    Within the context of a longer feature (like the most recent one about the MMA fighter), using language like kerfuffle seems more appropriate. I understand this is part of his “shtick” when he writes a piece (been reading WFNY since ’09) but it seems unnecessary and over the top, almost forced in a way, like “hey look guys, I can use big words!” That was my point, there’s a time and a place, and the opening line about an Indians survey isn’t the place. All criticism aside, he’s by far by the most talented writer this site has, just something I’ve noticed over time in his articles and never really understood.

  • The Astute Linguist

    You probably prefer saying fecal matter over poop, NERD!

  • Jason Hurley

    Good god you have too much time to think about this stuff.

  • Jason Hurley

    Why all the kerfuffle over editing and sentence structure in the comments?

  • Bill

    If it’s a running gag then my fault, haven’t read the site much lately. It was more of a critique of using words like that in general.

  • http://www.sogosurvey.com/ Emily Woods

    You are right.. Winning is hard. Consistently winning is harder. All you can really do is try your best. I had conducted a survey on SoGoSurvey where I discovered that people focus too much on the end result rather than the journey towards it. As a result, they end up missing all the fun.

  • WaHoo

    Very simple. No Chief Wahoo, no Indians. The C stands for Cincinnati. Maybe Chicago. PC had gotten totally out of control. When a cartoon insults .001 percent of the population it is time to look at our democracy.