"It's early in the year. It's cold. It's during school," Francona said. "I guess I feel like my responsibility is to try to get our team to play the best baseball we can. And, if you're an Indians fan, you'll be proud of your team. I guess if we get to a point where we're playing like that, and we're backing it up -- not just a hot streak -- our attendance will get better.
"Everybody keeps talking about, 'Let's get back to where it was in the '90s.' That's not fair. The city's not where it was in the '90s. These people have hit some hard times. I don't show up and rate our fans by attendance. I want our team to play good baseball. I know that when I walk around downtown, which I do a lot, people are excited and they're friendly."
Entering Saturday, the Indians ranked last in the Majors with 239,765 fans drawn through 17 home dates. Cleveland was averaging just 14,104 per game. Tampa Bay had the second-lowest average home attendance in the Majors at 18,328.
Asked if the fans who have shown up have been into the games, Francona said he honestly has not noticed.
"I think you'd be shocked at what you don't hear in the dugout," Francons said. "There's times when I leave the dugout, like to take a pitcher out, and it's like, 'Whoa'. When you're in the dugout, it's almost like a cave, You're in your own world and you don't really pay attention to that stuff."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.