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The Birth of a Cleveland Indians Fan; Part 2

Born in a blowout.

ottoneu creator Niv Shah wasn’t always a Cleveland Indians fan. In part one of this two-part piece, we covered the beginning of that night when Niv called friend Chad Young (currently blogging about being a member of the FanGraphs Experts League) and said he had some tickets to the game that night between the Rays and Indians.

Though there might have been some resistance to the strange formatting, the die is cast. The format has been decided. Chad got Niv to the game, it turned into a blowout, and yet they stayed to appreciate the Jake. Now it’s time to bring this night to its thrilling conclusion!

Eno Sarris
: Do you remember a moment when you were like, hey wait a minute, let’s sit down? A player at the bat, or some cheering or something?

Niv Shah: i honestly don’t think we did. i remember a point where we were like, wait a minute, we might come back here – i think it was fryman’s homer in the 7th… definitely a home run in the 7th that was like “Wait… we are not down that much”


david f*cking lamb too

Eno Sarris: I’ve never heard of David Lamb before. Honestly.

Chad Young: ..and yet he has played a massive role in Niv’s baseball life. everyone has those players that just made a huge difference in their fandom – I vividly remmeber watching Nagy face off with Clemens as a kid… I remember Manny making Eck say “wow” with a walk off slam… Niv remembers Lamb botching two plays in one game and letting the Indians complete a comeback/blowout.

Eno Sarris: Was it the Travis Fryman homer that got you up out of your seat for the first time at a baseball game? I mean in the cheering sense, not in the I gotta go to the bathroom sense.

Niv Shah:

Bottom 7th: Single to RF (Ground Ball); Justice Scores; Alomar Scores/Adv on E4/No RBI; Lofton to 3B; Wilson to 2B

that is when the tribe took the lead (lamb error)

but the fryman homer was really when we were like WAIT A SECOND
and then cordero homered
and we paid a lot of attention the rest of the way

though i really dont’ think we ever went back to our seats

the fryman homer was definitely a niv and chad jumping up and down moment

Chad Young: The back-to-back shots cut it to 1 and the Lamb error let two more in. The Indians went up 12-11 and added another before the inning ended.

The best part, though, was the 8th. In the 7th you see 13 guys come up and put a 7 spot on the board and I remember thinking “man, Niv almost didnt want to come tonight and how often do you see a 7 run inning?!” and then, in the bottom of the 8th, they did it again. Have to imagine the WPA graph for that game is a fun one (and I wish I had known to even imagine something like that in 1999). The Rays had that game locked up…and ended up getting blown out.

Niv Shah: yeah i mean the 8th was just a f’ing smorgasbord of ridiculous

Eno Sarris
: How many people were left to see the eighth with you?

Chad Young: Now THAT is a good question…mostly because it helps explain something that made no sense to me, which is that i seem to remember Niv and I being able to wander up to random seats and just sit and watch from wherever. but at that time, games were EVENTS in Cleveland and every seat was always filled. But i imagine the 10-2 lead chased some folks away.

Niv Shah: pretty empty by the 6th i think… probably 1/3 of the crowd left? i’d guess?

Eno Sarris
: Was the Fryman homer your clearest, most distinct memory of the night? Was there another?

Niv Shah
: david lamb’s first error
those were the baseball memories

but man
arguing with chad about going
being proven completely wrong
and seeing all the jake had to offer

Chad Young: MY most distinct memory of the night was driving to Niv’s house without a guarantee that he would even leave his house and hoping I would do a better job convincing him in person.

After that was the Lamb error.

Eno Sarris
: One last question, half-facetiously, half-seriously: How has it been, over the years, to be an Indians fan?

Niv Shah: it’s not cliched

we have had a good mix of superstars and young guys and old guys

it’s unique and special
i wouldn’t trade it for anything


Chad Young: See, Niv gets to take his Indians-fandom mixed with love for the Spurs, which i think makes a difference. A handful of NBA titles, i think, makes being a tribe fan easier to swallow.

As a native Clevelander, being an Indians fan is part of the Cleveland sports experience – Elway and Jordan and Renteria (one of these is not like the others!) all hold a special place in my…heart (yeah, we’ll say heart).

But for the past 17 years, being an Indians fan, despite all the near misses, has been really great. The organization has built teams the “right” way – through drafting and trading and finding young gems, instead of just buying hired guns. We have had the chance to watch Lofton, Thome, Vizquel, Belle, Ramirez, Sabathia, Lee (I am sure I am forgetting some guys) grow from either minor leaguers or relative unknowns into hall of fame talents. Now we are getting the same thrill with Sizemore and Choo, the early stages with Santana, and Chisenhall, Kipnis, White, Pomeranz, and others coming up next.

It hurts at times, but being a fan of ANY team hurts at times. The difference is we haven’t hit the ultimate high in so long – not just as Indians fans but as Browns and Cavs fans – that it sometimes feels like something is missing to off-set that sorrow.

But, as Niv said, it’s unique and special and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Niv Shah
: hey man, i was in boston when lofton didn’t get sent home

Chad Young: I wasn’t doubting your pain…just saying that Duncan and Manu and Parker and the admiral make it just a bit better whereas Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, Bernie Kosar, and Lebron James make it worse. Not to mention Tim Couch…

But yeah…I mean, we have to deal with Lofton holding up at third, but we also can take credit for the destruction of Joba. Those midges didn’t bother me at all.