Locals hold breath, pray for Cleveland
NILES — The thrilled cheers of Indians fans traveled Wednesday from Progressive Field south through the Valley, where they were echoed by local fans holding their breath and heaving with the energy of Game 7.
The cheers and groans were heard collectively by a crowd dominated by fans of Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team at Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant and sports bar in Niles. There were Chicago Cubs fans there too, but they were sparse.
The Cubs had a leadoff home run to start the game, but Indians fans didn’t have to wait long to log a run of their own in the third inning, tying it up.
“Its a tough start, but it’s a long game, we have time to get some runs on the board,” said John Ross of Howland.
The room was generally optimistic at first.
“It was a rough start for Cleveland. They need to get it settled down and continue to master the Cubs like they were doing,” said John Harsany of Warren.
Chicago put that on hold, notching up a few more runs before the end of the end of the fourth.
“It’s been a stressful series,” Harsany said. “You think you have it in the bag and then the tide turns.”
Isn’t it odd too, Harsany asked, that the Cleveland Cavaliers were down 3-1 in the 2016 NBA Finals when they turned it around, pushing off the Golden State Warriors in a 4-3 series. And now, the Indians started with a 3-1 advantage in the series, only to see it level out and stretch into Game 7, Harsany said.
The Cubs got two more runs in the fifth.
Harsany said he hoped to make a victory call to his father, a native of Cleveland, who was 3 when the Indians last won the Series in 1948.
Jacob Harsany, 17, a third-generation Tribe fan, said the Indians are a team he looks up to as a baseball player himself.
“They were kind of pushed aside but rose up against that,” Jacob Harsany said. “It is inspirational.”
Zac Hanley of Hubbard agreed with Harsany, noticing the similarities and differences between the NBA and MLB finals. He said some of the games in the Series have been disappointing — mainly the games where the Cubs garnered large, insurmountable leads. But, Hanley said, the close games have made it a “decent” Series.
Tyler Miller-Gordon of Youngstown said the atmosphere and connection to Cleveland had him excited to be among fans Wednesday.
“People didn’t expect much out of Cleveland this year, but they delivered to Game 7,” Miller-Gordon said. “I am proud we made it this far. The rustbelt teams are usually underestimated and disregarded, but we have a team to proud of, right in Cleveland.”