How tough is it to be a Cleveland Indians fan?

Here’s the local newspaper’s idea of a fun flash-animated baseball game:

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No, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke.

Use the arrow keys on your keyboard or the buttons on the game to move the tarp out as low clouds bring snow, and back in again as the snow goes away.

Don’t let the field get too wet or the ump will call the game. But don’t leave the tarp out too long or there won’t be enough time to finish!

This is really what April is like for Cleveland baseball fans.

I wish they’d win the World Series one of these years.  The fans deserve it.  They really do.

Sprint — away, as fast as I can

I was a loyal Sprint customer starting in 1986, when "U.S. Sprint" had the cheapest rates I could find. I traveled constantly even then, so long distance was a necessity, and saving a few cents per minute could really add up.

For more than 15 years, I accumulated points in the Sprint Rewards program, eventually racking up enough for several round-trip flights to Europe. I never took those, however, because in July 2002, Sprint suddenly changed the rules, politely telling screwing hundreds of thousands of customers to go screw themselves. The company is now subject to a class action complaint.

Obviously, I stopped being a Sprint customer, but I would have left anyway. T-Mobile had a much better deal for international travellers at the time, although now Skype is the way to go.

Nonetheless, two years ago, in January 2006, I got an unsolicited email from Sprint, totally out of the blue, asking me to be a part of the Sprint Ambassador program. Google around, and you’ll find that this was a klutzy attempt at guerrilla marketing, where Sprint shoved free phones at hundreds of bloggers, almost randomly, promising to engage our feedback while really just hoping we’d all be so blown away by a free phone — yippee! — that we’d froth pure joy to a cumulative hundreds of thousands of readers.

Thing is, the phone was OK, nothing more. Sprint hardly has a reputation for genius innovation. I put the phone on a shelf, figuring I’d give it to somebody who needed it someday. Meanwhile, the program didn’t quite get the desired results, and they shut it down about ten weeks ago with one last email farewell, including a phone number for anyone with Ambassador-related questions.

Still, I have a friend who still has Sprint service (I don’t let this come between us, though) and needs a new phone, so I figure maybe I can give her my old unused Sprint Ambassador handset.

So I contact Sprint today, hoping to get a few simple obvious questions answered. Or I try to. The Sprint Ambassador web presence? Gone; it now auto-forwards weirdly to some tech forum. The Sprint Ambassador customer service number, sent out just last January? Already dead.

OK, try Sprint’s regular customer service… and not only had the guy not ever heard of the program, he all but accused me, basically, of making it up. And no, he wouldn’t let me speak to a supervisor, not at first. When the supervisor finally came on the line, she hadn’t heard of the program, either, questioning the program’s existence even after I begged her to use that obscure research tool called Google.

Her actual suggestion: I should print out the emails from Sprint and take them to a Sprint retail store, and hope I could convince somebody there that the program actually existed.

Let’s review: Sprint shuts down the contact mechanism for one of its programs so thoroughly that now I’m supposed to bring Sprint its own emails in order to prove to Sprint its own programs existed?

Wow. I don’t want to call the Better Business Bureau. I want to call Franz Kafka.

This hereby completes my lifetime interactions with Sprint. I hope.