Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Crap Holes We Have Known: Cleveland Municipal

Ed. Note: This is the first in a continuing series of episodes in which FTT throws dirt on the graves of old ballparks, and shows the world just how freaking old we are.

Cleveland Municipal

It might have been OK for football, because frankly, you can endure a lot for football. Eight games a year, four hours a game, you are just not there that much.

For baseball? Oh dear God.

The old Mistake By The Lake was a giant round toilet, built in 1948, for two expressed purposes:

1) Match and mirror the dimensions of the dominant franchise (New York Yankees), of the age, because clearly, it was these dimensions that made them great, not the players in the uniforms, and

2) Make sure that the home team could take advantage of their strong, year-in and year-out winning ways by fitting up to 60,000 people in the park.

Then the American League stepped in and told them that the dimensions were not going to be that way. At which point the team decided to throw a 50-year hissy fit and have 80 to 100 feet of dead space in the outfield, between the fences and the bleachers. They parked cars there. No, seriously.

Next, the team stopped winning, following the monumentally bad ‘50s trade of Colavito for Kuenn. It was the kind of deal you would expect from a team that made stadium dimensions without checking to see if the league would allow them first. Or from people who would turn their best outfield seat locations into parking spaces.

Next, the people in the outfield decided that they had better things to do then watch a terrible franchise from very far away, while being eaten alive by the tens of thousands of insects that liked living next to a big damn lake. (There was a game that was called there due to insects once. We shit you not.) This was soon followed suit by the people who were watching the team from closer in.

In July 1990 the Tribe faced the dominant Bash Brothers Oakland A’s. A group of friends and I went across the country for a two week baseball road trip. Our pitching matchup was NBX’s own Dave Stewart vs. Al Nipper, a 103-win A’s team vs. a 85-loss collection of aimless Tribesmen, and about as much of a lead-pipe lock of a contest as you can get outside of a homecoming game in college football.

Nipper, for those of you who did not have the pleasure of first hand experience, was a “bulldog” kind of pitcher, which meant that he was ugly, drooled, and smelled of urine. He’d mix, match, and get mauled whenever he fell behind in a count to a good hitter. Originally with the Red Sox, he had bounced to the Cubs and Tribe. By 1990, he was completely spent, and the night we saw him, he was in his last week in the majors. (The Tribe, in their finite wisdom, gave him *five* starts.

Here’s the box score, if you have no life.

The A’s went up early. Stewart treated the Tribe like disobedient children. The 30,000 people in attendance, in a stadium that fit 60,000, still made it feel empty, except when they decided to make Jose Canseco, then the best player in baseball, mad with Super Roiding Power.

The Tribe yanked Nipper and brought in Tom Candiotti. Jose responded with an absolute moon shot to left that almost made it to the seats, clearing the parked cars and open spaces that had been lying fallow since 1948. The ball went about 480 feet, and took about 10 seconds to land. It was if someone shut off the gravity.

The crowd shut up. The A’s won in a game that should have been stopped on cuts. We ate at a Subway after the game, because there was not anything better near the park, and got out of town as fast as we could.

I’m certain that someone reading this blog has something good to say about that place, in that this is the Internet, and you can find someone with something good to say about furries and toad lickers.

If you are that person, please post in the comments.

And also, get some help.

Next up: Montreal!

1 comment:

Tracer Bullet said...

Nah. I've been to Cleveland twice, both times for funerals. The first time, my grandmother's brother accidently burned my eyelid with a cigarette. The second time was to bury a friend from college. He was 22. So fuck Cleveland.

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