During Wednesday’s game at Cleveland’s Progressive Field, the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers faced the second-place Cleveland Indians. Detroit had taken the first two games of the series with Justin Verlander besting Indians ace Justin Masterson in the 5-1 game. So game three of the series was a predictable grudge match as Detroit fans helped fill out the crowd at Progressive Field (Detroit is a quick 2 1/2 hour drive from Cleveland). By the top of the 9th inning, the game was tied at four and the crowd was raucous. I even texted a friend who was at the game to ask about the drunk guy who could be heard over Fox Sports commentators Rick Manning and Matt Underwood and over the teams chanting “Let’s go Indians!” and “Let’s go Tigers!”
And then the Indians fans began to drown out the Tigers fans with something completely different.
My friend, Pastor Jim McComas, posted this on Facebook:
“Cleveland Indians fans are chanting “Detroit’s Bankrupt.” If you can’t beat ‘em on the field, mock their city’s fiscal responsibility! #GottaLoveIt“
Sure enough, ever-optimistic Cleveland fans found a way to see the glass as half full in a city that has not been to the World Series since 1997 and has not won the Series since 1948. And has never won an NBA championship. And has never won the Super Bowl (at least Cleveland shares that “elite” status with Detroit).
DE-troit’s BANK-rupt! clap-clap, clap-clap-clap!
Twitter lit up over the chant. A guy named Camillo claims he started it with his “buddy George”:
Never thought we would be the start of a chant at an Indians game. Detroit's bankrupt thanks to my buddy George!!!
— Camillo Gaia IV (@BigCam07) August 6, 2013
Indians fans counter the "Lets go Tigers" chants with "Detroit's bankrupt" Hahahahaha that's hilarious #ClevelandRocks
— Kyle Hadding (@Kyle_Hadding) August 8, 2013
Some Detroit fans hit back:
Indians fans chanting "Detroit's bankrupt?" Nice. Low blows from the losers with the inferior ball club.
— Sammy McLean (@SammyMacAttack) August 8, 2013
Indians fans chanting "Detroit's bankrupt". This is true, but Cleveland can't be far behind.
— P (@Toirtap) August 8, 2013
It will interesting to see if this taunt follows the Tigers around the league.
I will concede the point that — at least this week — the Indians have the inferior ball club. In Wednesday’s game the Tribe had the advantage of a sparking performance by the highly touted prospect Danny Salazar, who struck out ten in seven innings. The Indians took the lead in the 7th inning, lost it in the eight, and sat by while the Tigers chewed through their bullpen until Detroit finally broke through to take the lead for the final time in the 14th inning, winning the game 6-5.
But is it true that Cleveland is not far behind Detroit in the bankruptcy department? Actually, no.
On Wednesday Crain’s Cleveland Business reported that Cleveland has been able to avoid many of Detroit’s mistakes and is on much stronger financial footing. The multiple financial experts they consulted attributed the city’s relative financial stability to it’s long history of conservative fiscal management.
Public finance analyst Kevin O’Brien said,
The big change came after Cleveland defaulted on $14 million in debt in 1978 — the first American city to hit a financial bottom since the Great Depression — and [Republican] George Voinovich replaced Dennis Kucinich as mayor in 1979. In turn, Mr. Voinovich appointed William Reidy, then a partner with the Coopers & Lybrand accounting firm, as finance director.
Ever since, the city has conservatively budgeted and managed its money.
The city also does not face the pension crisis we see in Detroit. Cleveland does not manage their own pension system but is part of the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System managed by the state. Last year the Republican Ohio legislature passed (and Governor Kasich signed) sweeping legislation to reform the state’s pension system, assuring that all its liabilities would be paid within 30 years.
So while we Indians fans would sure like to see our team in the World Series — or at least see them beat Detroit — fiscal responsibility is a pretty darned good alternative.