Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Cleveland and Chicago: A Tale of Two (Baseball) Cities



     About an hour after the Cubs won the pennant Saturday night, my boss told me to get myself to Cleveland "pronto.' I was on the 7:35 a.m. flight Sunday. By 10 a.m. I was on the Rapid downtown. I dropped my bag at the Hyatt at the Arcade—I wasn't sure if I was going to stay a day or a week—and was snapping this picture about 12 noon, while wandering around Progressive Field, looking for ... well, anything. My only instructions were to compare the two cities. It was Sunday, and all I could think to do after checking out the ballparks was go to the East Side and talk to black Clevelanders about baseball. I figured, if nothing else, I could look at race and baseball. Somehow the whole thing came together and by 4 p.m. I was back at the hotel, writing this.  Rahm Emanuel hasn't been very high on my list for the past few years but, I have to admit, comparing his remarks to the mayor of Cleveland's, you have to give him credit for verve.

     CLEVELAND — Both downtowns bear ghostly scars, names of great department stores now gone: Marshall Field’s in Chicago, The May Co. here. Plaques in both commemorate where Abraham Lincoln once trod, and both struggle today with notorious police shootings of young African-Americans, reminding us that Lincoln’s work remains undone. Both have hollowed-out industrial zones, more memory than manufacturing, and startup tech centers straining to replace them.
     Still, Chicago and Cleveland, whose Cubs and Indians meet for Game One of the World Series on Tuesday, are more different than alike, starting in size. Chicago is a behemoth. The third-largest city in the United States, 2.7 million people in 234 square miles. Cleveland is a relative sliver, barely squeaking into the top 50 at No. 48, a bantamweight 390,000 people over 82 square miles.
     Which means Cleveland has 15 percent of the population of Chicago and about a third of its density; walk around, and Cleveland just seems emptier: weedy lots, empty streets, distant suspension bridges and rusty warehouses slowly reverting back to nature. Parking downtown can cost $7.50 a day. On Monday morning, a stretch of Concourse C at Cleveland Hopkins Airport contained no people at all.

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  1. Way to grab the ball and run with it. (Whoops, wrong sport, let me try again). Way to hit that fastball over the fence.

    Glad to see something from the perspective of the "other" city, written by someone who was born and raised there. I imagine the traffic on I-80 will be heavy with fans following both teams. It's tempting to drive to Cleveland just to soak up the atmosphere for Games 1 and 2.

    It seems the Cubs have become America's team for the moment, and rightly so, IMO. But it's good to have another "midwest" city participating. The Indians are a great team, so Cubs fans shouldn't expect an easy Series. But I do believe this is THE year. Go Cubs!


    1. Actually the Cubs became America's Team in the early to mid 80's. This was the start of cable TV and WGN was a superstation, bundled with many cable services nationwide. WGN was carrying the Cub games, and a lot of people got hooked. A precursor to the Internet was Prodigy. Back in the day I used to post travel advice for visitors to Chicago. My inbox was always flooded with messages from people looking for Cubs tickets.

    2. The superstation even made the Cubs Belize's team!

  2. Nice Statue of liberty trope.



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