The Cleveland Indians are playing in front of fans once again this season.
The capacity remains limited, but even having around 10,000 people in the stands is a huge change after the cardboard cutouts and fake noise seen and heard in 2020.
Cleveland opened the season last week in Detroit and Shane Bieber was on the mound for Opening Day.
That meant he got to hear the usual jeers that comes with having his last name.
Shane Bieber on having fans back in the stands: "It’s awesome. I got all the Bieber jokes back in Detroit. It felt like home. Unfortunately, they were all still the same jokes. So, we’re still looking for some originality. … They really do change the game and make it better."
— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) April 5, 2021
Bieber took it all in stride and is clearly just thrilled not to be pitching in front of silent slabs of cardboard.
The Return of Fans in 2021
Television viewers could hear fans in Detroit “wooing” during the season-opening series.
That sound is annoying, but was nice to hear again in a weird way.
The Indians are now back at home trying to give the crowd something to cheer about.
Runs are coming at a premium so far this season and we may even hear some boos from the thousands in attendance at Progressive Field if the team has another shutout.
The next question in 2021 is how many fans will be able to attend in May, June, and so on.
Could there be a packed house this season?
That may also depend on whether enough fans would be willing to attend as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Bieber’s point about fans making the difference proves 2020 was a bizarre season for everyone involved.
A walk-off home run loses some of its luster when fake crowd noise is the only reaction heard from the stands.
Team Starts Receiving Vaccines
One of the top ways attendance can increase this season is if more people in the state of Ohio get vaccinated.
The Indians took their turn this week as they receive vaccines in different groups.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona said half of the team's Tier 1 and Tier 2 personnel received their first #COVID19 vaccine Tuesday at Progressive Field. The other half will be Thursday.
— Marla Ridenour (@MRidenourABJ) April 7, 2021
Getting them on different days allows the team to deal with anyone having side effects from the vaccine.
So far, everything appears to be going well.
The players and staff getting vaccinated also means they won’t have to deal with such stringent protocols throughout the year.
Well, that is true if enough individuals do indeed get their shots.
The sports world is slowly but surely returning to some sense of normal.