You hear a lot about the preparation baseball players make for Opening Day. The rigorous strengthening routines, the winter ball in Venezuela, the off-season Lasix surgery. But always overlooked is that fans prepare as well. They spend hours digging through closets and dusty garages unearthing their own gear for the special day. After all, Tribe fans aren’t born looking this good.
There seem to be two rules to Opening Day fan fashion. Follow them and foul balls will part the sea of hands straight to the left-handed glove perched on your right hand, and Casey Blake will wink at you as he takes his place in the field: ...
1) The older the gear, the better the fan: You’re not one of those fly-by-night Frank Robinson-era Tribe followers. Your undying love for the Indians is as old as dirt; as a child, you spent hours gazing at the Tris Speaker poster hung above your bed. So you show it off in your gear. Sure, wearing a jacket from the 70s, or as it’s known in sports uni talk, “The Barf Color Era,” will get you some daps at the Batter’s Eye bar. But for true respect, you need to reach back to World War II era and earlier. You need to wear a jacket with a Chief Wahoo logo so garishly offensive that it will melt the eyes of the Native American protestors outside of the Jake.
2) Wear so much Indians gear that it defies all practicality: The more Indians shit you got, the more money you’ve given the team, and the more you’ve helped them to succeed. Dress your family in so much Indians crap that other fans thank you for paying Jensen Lewis’ 2008 salary. Don’t stop at the Tribe hat, jersey, underwear, socks, fingerless gloves, and hologram sunglasses; put an Indians skull-cap under that baseball hat—that sweat pouring off of your cranium is the physical manifestation of Tribe Pride. Hang an Indians keychain from your pierced ear. Put a Wahoo sticker on your forehead. And remember—Opening Day is the only time a grown man walking along the street can wear a helmet without bystanders asking him how he got separated from his group, and would he like a Dr. Pepper while we wait for the police? Take advantage of this special occasion—wear two helmets!
With the second rule in mind, yesterday’s promotional handout was an especially cruel trick. Fans were given commemorative Progressive field hats as they entered the stadium. The dilemma is obvious: we hate the re-naming, and that the insurance company spend so much cash on the rights after laying off hundreds of Ohio employees. But… we love swag! Which explains why about half of the people in attendance dutifully donned their new Progressive caps, many of them wearing them over the baseball caps they wore into the stadium. – Gus Garcia-Roberts