The Cleveland Indians, the youngest and likely least talented team in Major League Baseball, came out of the All-Star break with surprising vim and vigor, winning 13 out of 22 games and looking like a team that had found itself, or at least found… something.
Sadly, predictably, having played over their heads for three weeks, thereby shooting their anemic collective wads, the Tribe then returned with a vengeance to the miasma of suck, losing 13 out of 16 games, leading to a stultifying current record of 50-76, with an entire month of miserable ickiness remaining in another pathetic, lost season.
Having cleared out every random veteran from their roster — again — the Indians once again speak of the process of rebuilding. Who do they think they are, the Pirates?
Sure, the Indians have acquired some young talent over the last few years — Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana (knee injury, out for season, naturally), Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley; and pitchers Chris Perez… crap, he’s the only one worth a damn — as they have shed Cy Young winners Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia and essentially every other player from the team that, miraculously, almost made it to the World Series in 2007.
Yes, Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner remain, but Hafner has chronic shoulder problems and will never be the same; and Sizemore has been injured most of the last two years himself, to go along with declining numbers in every category.
So, what’s the answer? The answer is a new owner. Professional sports teams CANNOT be run like a business. You cannot, especially in a medium-sized market, try to match your payroll to your revenue. This is exactly backwards: you decide you want to win, you are willing to spend money to build the best possible team, THEN the fans come, you break attendance records, and you kick ass for almost ten years (’94-01).
This is what the Yankees do, as do the Lakers, and the Indians of the ’90s. You better already have your money when you become a pro sports owner. You do it for fun, civic pride, and love of the game. Making money comes last, and it WILL come when you are successful on the field.
This is what owner Dick Jacobs — I miss the name “Jacobs Field” — and GM John Hart did with the Indians in the ’90s. Douche nozzle Larry Dolan (who has the freaking money) bought the Indians from Jacobs in 2000 and it’s been in perpetual rebuild mode ever since, with this year being the most appalling yet.
The fans of Northeast Ohio deserve better than “wait ’til next year,” every year. They need an owner who commits to winning – then the fans and the revenues will return.