Wahoo Rhetoric: Why did I come back?
Anyone who read my columns last summer knows how I feel about the Tribe's ill-fated "What If?" advertising campaign. I don't want to go and reopen old wounds, but suffice to say I found the entire "process" – as Eric Wedge used to say – considerably flawed. So, I had taken a solemn oath not to criticize the Indians' 2013 marketing strategy as long as it was anything but "What If?", and I'm proud to say I've honored that pledge.
See, the thing that really bugged me in 2011 and 2012 was that the premise of the entire advertising campaign centered around Indians fans closing their eyes and imagining (which was really, really hard, by the way) the Indians being contenders. Now, don't get me wrong – the "closing your eyes" part turned out to be excellent advice, given how the teams collapsed during the second half of the past two seasons – but the whole premise of implying that fans needed to be dreamers in order to share the Tribe's vision was tainted, at best.
This year, even though the delivery method was different, the message remained pretty much the same. Much of the radio advertisement – at least the stuff I heard – centered on Terry Francona providing a boatload of reasons why he came "home" to Cleveland to manage the Indians. Certainly, he has plenty of personal history here, as he played for the Indians in 1988, as did his dad in the late '50s and early '60s. I have no issue with that, although making it sound as if "coming home" was the primary reason he took the Indians' managerial job is undoubtedly a stretch. (In other words, when the time comes that he gets fired, see how long he hangs around "home" before moving on to greener pastures).
The thing that really bothers me about the advertising – and this holds true with the Nick Swisher radio spots as well – is how Francona talks of Cleveland being a baseball town – a Tribe town, if you will.
Now, anyone who has been in Cleveland for longer than, say, thirty seconds, recognizes this is Browns town, baby. It's a tough admission for me to make personally, as my first allegiance has always been to the Indians, but nobody could possibly make an argument to the contrary. Not even Terry Francona or Nick Swisher emphatically stating that this is a baseball town, a Tribe town.
For one thing, does anyone out there really think that true baseball towns, such as Boston, Detroit or St. Louis, need to run ads claiming that they are baseball towns? Of course not. Or to put it another way, wouldn't you think it odd – or perhaps flat-out stupid – if the Browns wasted advertising revenue proclaiming this to be a Browns town? Of course you would, because they'd only be telling you something you already know.
In the case of the strategists employed by the Indians, however, we have that "Little Engine That Could" mentality. If they keep waving the watch in front of us and instead of telling us "I think I can, I think I can," they are saying "This is a baseball town, this is a baseball town," maybe we'll run out and buy tickets to watch the third straight (what is now an annual event) collapse.
Then again, perhaps their strategy is working, because watching the Indians' offense this year is making me very, very sleepy.
Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!