May 1, 2016


Coughlin: Towels don’t make for a loud crowd

Television photographers often share a self-deprecating joke when they set out on a story with reporters.
“What do you want today, sound or pictures?” they ask.
It’s a joke.
They’re asking the same thing in the Indians’ front office but it’s no joke. They have to make a choice.
It’s about the white towels.
“Do we want sound or pictures?” Tribe owner Larry Dolan said just before leaving Jacobs Field after Monday night’s 4-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
Monday night’s game was one of the most pleasurable in Cleveland baseball history. The weather was a perfect 70 degrees with no wind. The playoff game was unusually tense but because the Indians led most of the way the fear factor was diminished.
There were several big plays by the Indians’ defense, including a sensational double play started by the Indians’ young second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera. Kenny Lofton gave the Indians a 2-0 led with a two-run homer, his first since the middle of summer, and when the fans demanded a curtain call, Kenny complied.
The fans love Lofton.
The most striking visual was the waving towels. Every fan passing through the turnstiles was handed a white towel imprinted in red with the Indians’ slogan, “It’s Tribe Time Now.”
At big moments, 40,000 fans waved their towels and it was a stunning sight. You probably saw it on television.
Here’s the problem. When people are waving their towels, they aren’t clapping.
Jacobs Field was rocking Monday night, but it could have been louder. Fans could cheer when they were waving their towels, but they couldn’t clap. You need two hands to clap.
We could usually hear drummer John Adams above the din. Before the towels, the din often drowned out the drummer.
There have been some wild nights in the history of Jacobs Field, some deafening nights.
What’s more intimidating, deafening sound or pretty pictures?
These are pros and they should be able to ignore the noise. But football and basketball coaches talk about the importance of “taking the home crowd out of it,” so it must be a factor.
Several times Manny Ramirez looked up at the towel-waving crowd in the upper deck. Whether he watched in awe or amazement or appreciation, we don’t know. I can’t remember the last time anybody got a straight answer out of Manny.
I don’t like the appreciation option, however. Give me a deafening din. It commands attention and causes distraction.