ELYRIA — It’s not the losing that gets them. It’s the hope.
“I’ll always support my team. It’s in my blood,” Indians fan Karie Hallauer said as she watched Wednesday’s Cleveland Indians-Tampa Bay Rays game at Wolfey’s Bistro & Pub. “I want to show the United States of America that Cleveland rocks.”
With the Indians not having won a World Series since 1948, it would’ve been easy for Hallauer to be pessimistic when the Rays took an early 3-0 lead over the Tribe. But Hallauer, of Elyria, kept hoping for a comeback.
“I want to show that the little man won,” she said.
At 30, it was easier for Hallauer. For her, Willie Mays’ miraculous catch off Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series is just a black-and-white highlight on ESPN, and she was just a teenager when Edgar Renteria broke Tribe fans’ hearts with a game-winning, extra-innings base hit off Charles Nagy that ended the 1997 World Series.
For Pete Mitchell, 60, of Elyria, it was harder. Mitchell recalled watching “Sudden” Sam McDowell and Luis Tiant toe the rubber at Municipal Stadium as a teenager. Mitchell leaned forward expectantly as the Indians loaded the bases in the fourth inning and slammed his empty beer glass down when Asdrubal Cabrera’s inning-ending double play kept them scoreless.
Nonetheless, Mitchell kept his perspective. Like several fans at Wolfey’s, he said he was pleasantly surprised that the Indians made the playoffs and admired the team’s character.
“There’s no superstars,” he said. “They’re all playing to the best of their abilities.”
Like Mitchell, Todd Ely, 41, of North Ridgeville, has felt his share of suffering. He recalled his father first taking him to Municipal Stadium in 1978 when the Indians mostly were drawing flies. He rooted for “Super Joe” Charboneau who won the 1980 Rookie of the Year before his career tanked because of injuries.
Ely cringed when Delmon Young homered in the third inning for the Rays but tried to stay positive. He rooted for a breakthrough in the Indians’ fourth.
“All right guys, we need to hit the ball,” he said.
“Terrible, terrible,” Ely said when Jason Kipnis grounded out with two runners on base in the fifth. Still, Ely held out hope that the Tribe would get to Rays pitcher Alex Cobb, who was pitching a shutout. “He’s going to give up a few (runs),” Ely said.
Wolfey’s brought in extra help for the game and most seats were full, but the bar began to clear out in the later innings. Still, Hallauer stuck it out to the end, hoping for a comeback that never came.
The loss diminished Hallauer’s optimism, but she said she hasn’t give up on the Tribe.
“There’s always next year,” Hallauer said. “Unfortunately.”