The house that insurance built?

There’s a certain excitement that goes along with going to a baseball game. It could be the sense of tradition, a game our families have enjoyed for more than a century. It may be the rush of an entire city coming together to cheer on nine men. Don’t forget about the tension, the electric feeling right before a game-winning home run.

Maybe it’s the smell of freshly mowed grass under the summer sun.

Whatever the reason, baseball is a sacred institution in America. The game has held our attention, even obsession, ever since the opening pitch. Every team has its fans, and no fans are like Cleveland Indians fans. Indians fans know all about the true spirit of the game; they’ve followed the team through all of the wins, losses and disappointments.

Sure, Boston had the Curse of the Bambino. Cleveland has its own curse, Colavito’s. On top of that, there are all the other sports teams, the economy and jokes at the city’s expense to take into account.

But the Indians have been a source of pride for years. The comeback our generation remembers started back in the mid-’90s, when we were all in elementary school. The winning seasons came after the construction of a brand new ball park, Jacobs Field, named after the team’s owners, David and Dick Jacobs.

If you’re from the Cleveland area or a fan from somewhere else, you followed them all the way to the Series and heartbreak in ’95 and ’97. They came close a few times again. This past season brought back memories of the young team from our past.

As of Jan. 11, The Jake is now just another memory. The Progressive Corp., the insurance provider, bought the field’s naming rights for $57.6 million for the next 16 years. That’s right, another faceless corporation taking over a piece of history and pride and slapping its own name on for advertisement purposes.

According to the Plain Dealer, the deal came with more than just a terrible name for the field. It comes with radio and TV ads and signs in and outside the ballpark. The paper reported while $1.2 million will go to change the current signs, a deal like this is almost entirely profit for the team.

Considering the Mayfield-based company just announced plans to eliminate 341 employees (many of whom are from Cleveland), spending almost $58 million on advertising seems a little hypocritical. That money could have been put to better use keeping at least some of those men and women employed. Obviously, the solution probably isn’t that simple, but it sure doesn’t help their image in a city that doesn’t want to give up The Jake.

Besides, how many laid-off employees are going to want to go to the field named after the corporation that screwed them over?

Cleveland has a long memory. We remember every mistake and loss because it makes us stronger. We hold onto every victory because, unfortunately, they come too far in between.

Progressive can put up as many signs as it likes, but that field, and all its memories, will always be The Jake.

The above editorial is a consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.