Don't Get Upset by Chris Perez's Comments, Browns Fans - He's Right

The Cleveland Indians’ closer Chris Perez has certainly made waves this year, both on and off the field. Earlier in the season, he criticized the fan base for not showing up to watch a contending team. Now, old comments about the city’s love affair with the Browns surfaced in his New York Times interview.

“Their [fans] whole thing is, ‘We want a winner.’ Well, why do you support the Browns? They don’t win. They’ve never won. They left. You guys blindly support them. I don’t understand it. It’s a double standard, and I don’t know why.”

Naturally, the first reaction among fans and many media members was that of unstoppable scoffing, a roll of the eyes, and a “You just don’t understand!” retort.

But Perez makes a point. While he needs some work in choosing his words more carefully, his main point is that, no matter how bad a season goes or how much a front office screws up the team’s roster, fans will continue to support the Browns. The Indians are simply on the outside looking in, wondering how they can garner that kind of loyalty.

It can’t be denied, and Perez’s frustrations are shared by plenty of people in the city.

So why does that double standard exist?

It might have something to do with the fact that the Browns have been nothing but bad since returning in 1999, save for one short-lived playoff appearance. Without any success to gauge against failure, what choice do fans have but to support the team? When a team finally reaches that upper echelon, even if it is for a few seasons of sustained success, losing no longer appears to be an option. What fan, after sipping from the goblet of success, wants to go back to the dungeon of ineptitude?

The animosity then develops from the desperation to keep that winning feeling alive. When that period inevitably ends, fans become distraught, unable to comprehend why the good times simply couldn’t keep rolling. They take it out on the current team and wonder why it isn’t as good as previous rosters (see Indians fans’ obsession with the 1995 team).

If the Browns had somehow gone to the Super Bowl in 2003, then had eight years of horrific on-field play, the mood might be different. Rather than blindly throwing support into a team and patiently waiting for things to finally turn, the Browns would be facing a mutiny from a fan base still basking in the glow of a far-gone golden year.

Of course, the other argument is simply, “Cleveland is a football town.” Perhaps that is true. Maybe the Browns are simply immune to fan defection. Maybe, for some reason, the city hitched its wagon to one team no matter what and feels that everything else is expendable.

If that’s the case, it’s too bad for the Indians. They are the product of a delusional fan base that is stuck in the past. The Browns – perhaps still coasting on even coming back in the first place – continue to get a free pass.

The Browns deserve to win, and they will eventually. But when they do, it will hopefully result in the same level of fan scrutiny.

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  • Arowhead_Addict

    As an Ohioan I disagree. Perez doesn’t get it. The Browns aren’t blindly supported. Far from it. The difference is simple. The Browns play 8 games in Cleveland a year. Football is the most popular sport in the country. Fans are going to fill up that stadium.
    The Browns are the only team in living memory to win a championship for Cleveland. The Indians have had some good years but the organization continues to be frugal, shipping off stars for prospects. Fans get weary of that. The Indians teams of the 90s had unheard of support. You couldn’t get a ticket to a Tribe game and they play a billion home games every year. For a city with the population of Cleveland, that is simply remarkable. Fans were driving from all over Ohio to see the Tribe.
    It is pretty simple. Win and win consistently and you will get butts in the seats. Have an owner that is willing to spend money to keep stars so the team doesn’t have to rebuild every five years and the fans will show up.
    It might not be fair but there are too many games and too many seats in baseball to expect fans from all over Ohio to drive up to Cleveland to watch an average ball club get smacked around by the Yankees. It’s never going to happen.
    Trust me, the Tribe has support. Just because there aren’t people in the stands doesn’t mean the fans don’t care. Supply in demand. There is a small supply of Browns tickets. There is an unending supply of Indians tickets.
    If Perez and the Indians want more support then they better stat putting a better product out on the diamond.
    Cleveland fans are awesome. But they aren’t stupid. The Cavs were 3rd in attendance the year after LBJ left. They were absolutely horrid. Even after that season, they still only slipped to 19th in last year’s shortened season.
    The Indians, Cavs and Browns don’t deserve support from the fans in Ohio. They need to earn it. And I think they’re all getting an equal shake.

  • klipp

     @Arowhead_Addict Also remember, when the Tribe was selling out games, there were no Browns. And while that may not be directly related, it is still going to bring more fans to the ballpark.
    The Cavs were 3rd in attendance the year L****n left because the season ticket holders purchased their season tickets prior to the decision. Most people were stuck, and even though the tickets were sold, there were not that many people in the seats.
    I wonder if Perez ever thinks about last years downward spiral that put them 15 games back by the end of the season. Maybe some people are not ready to buy into the Tribe yet. 
    The Tribe is on the same path as last year, and Perez will really have his foot in his mouth at the end of the season if they end up reciprocating what they did in the last few months of 2011. 10-17 record in June of 2011, currently 11-15 this June. -@klipp

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