Sunday, August 9, 2009

Nurse the Hate: We're In This Thing!

"If every four or five years we can have a shot at the World Series like we did in 2007. And compete for a playoff spot like we did in 2005. That's as good as it gets in this market."

-Paul Dolan, Indians President

I've had some backlash from people on my abandoning the Indians. Fuck 'em. Read that statement from Paul Dolan again. Why would you emotionally invest in anything with that low expectation level? I don't need that.

Entering into this season, many "experts" picked the Indians to be a team to compete for the World Series, and at worst, to compete for the AL Central crown. Sounded good to me. I have been a season ticket holder since 1999, the last years of the Dick Jacobs big payroll/big success era. Since the 1997 World Series, there has been mostly unmet expectations, falling apart under pressure, and just plain bad teams. Once again the white flag of surrender proudly flies over Progressive Field, and the team has sent all the core players packing, unable to pay them what the market will pay in upcoming seasons. It's hard to believe really. Six months ago the organization was talking playoffs. Now two of the top three in the pitching rotation are gone. Plus, the set up guy, and four of the starting position players have been dumped for minor league players 2 years or more away from possibly playing at the Big League level..

The truth is just brutal. The only way for the Indians to possibly win a World Series is to sign a core group of young players to long term deals and pray they all become what the organization thinks (or hopes) they will become at exactly the same time. Even when it does actually happen, like these last few years, it still might not matter. For example, the Indians have produced the last 2 Cy Young Award winning pitchers and really have nothing to show for it. Both Lee and Sabathia moved on to big markets, and the Indians were left with a few minor league players that may or may not become legit MLB players. This is the fucked up world of major league baseball.

The question I have as a ticket buyer is why do I have to keep shelling out for this bullshit? The answer is, of course, I don't. And neither does anyone else, as the Indians attendance has slipped to 27th out of 28 teams. I am stuck with 5 more games in my season ticket package at $50 a game to watch minor league players audition for next year's team. Not to worry though, as a customer I am very excited to hear from the head of the Indians organization that once every ten years they might be able to compete. Where do I sign up for my 2010 tickets! Whoo!

Having a smaller market is a huge handicap to compete. There is no doubt that smaller secondary revenue, and less market advertising dollars to compete for are an issue. However, this current ownership can't just lay like a passive dog on the floor with their legs in the air permissively exposing their nut sacks. If you can't sign big money free agents, you would think you would be really good at identifying young talent and drafting them into the organization. That's what the Marlins do. The bad news for Cleveland is that's not what they do. The only pitcher they have drafted in the last 10 years that has done anything is Sabathia (unless you count Jeremy Guthrie who the Indians gave to the Orioles for a snuggie and rechargeable Dirt Devil).

In theory, in the last few weeks the Tribe dealt away the core of a potential Playoff team, and restocked their farm system. The thinking then goes, in four years this team will be really good and compete for a championship when these players ascend from the minors. And it will work too! ...If every guy they traded for works out. ...And if no one gets hurt. ...And if the fans keep coming to the games and spend money at the stadium to fund this little pipe dream. Oh yeah, and if it all comes together, they will have to trade away all the good guys after that one year window because they won't resign them for fair market value.

The Dolan family overpaid for the Indians when they bought the team. Then their core media business fell apart on them, and their cash flow isn't what it needs to be to play in The Big Boy's sandbox of MLB. "Why, they should sell the team! Let's get a new ownership in here like Dick Jacobs that will spend money to win it all!" That would be great, but because the Dolans spent so much money on the team, they can't afford to sell it now at the price it would be expected to fetch. The loss would be too great. This team can't afford to compete now, and they won't be able to compete in the future. That's all there is to it. For the foreseeable future, Indians fans are stuck with the Dolans.

It's a smaller world today than it was even a decade ago. I can turn on my TV and watch any team I want to on my Direct TV package. The transition over to the Giants has been, surprisingly, very easy. I dig these guys, plus I know they have an ownership capable of signing the good players like Lincecum and Sandoval to future deals to keep them in the Bay. With the Indians trading away almost all the players I have watched develop over the last few seasons, rooting for Cleveland is just like rooting for a shirt. I don't know those guys out there. Really, do you think I give a shit how Chris Jimenez or Trever Crowe play? I know more Giants than current Indians, and I'm an Indians season ticket holder for God's sake.

Read that Dolan quote again. Now, get on board with me and the Giants. It's like the promo on Bay Area Fox Sports says..."We're in this Thing!".

Random Notes: I have become increasingly interested in the hippie country rock from the early 1970s. That Flying Burrito Brothers "Guilded Palace of Sin", New Riders of the Purple Sage "8/27/72 live", and later Byrds records are in very heavy rotation for me. I'd look for some new fucked up Daredevil version of country tunes in the near future... In the studio where we have been recording our new record, they have the board used on Zeppelin's "In Through The Out Door". Sometimes, if you listen hard enough, you can hear Robert Plant's voice say "Are we really going to let John Paul Jones put another keyboard on this track?"...I went to a really good microbrew festival in Erie PA a couple weeks ago. I became a big fan of Lancaster Brewing, and also am more convinced than ever that Great Lakes Brewing makes the best beer in the region...You should never trust anyone that doesn't have a Lou Reed record... Check out the Trainwreck Riders. They are a mosh up of Meat Puppets/early 70s Neil Young/Uncle Tupelo/Six String Drag. I stumbled onto their latest release on Alive Records and really am a big fan of it..I have been losing unspeakable amounts of money betting against the Washington Nationals this week. They can't win 8 in a row, can they? Can they?


At August 10, 2009 at 8:14:00 PM EDT , Blogger Ken Miller said...

I was down at Progressive Field filling my season ticket obligation on Thursday. I looked over at The Terrace Club in left field and saw plywood where a large window pane should be. We are now at the point with the Indians that they are literally boarding up windows.

Let's go Cardinals!

At August 17, 2009 at 8:24:00 AM EDT , Blogger AZ said...

Greg, I am with you. I have been a lifelong Reds and Jays(Have seen at least one home game in every year of their existence) fan, but totally agree with you that things have changed.

Small market excuse is bullshit as already proven. What truly irks me living in Cincinnati is how everyone agrees that Mike Brown and the Bengals are losers, but somehow the Reds avoid this tag. I have been here almost 15 years nad every crap excuse, or "next year is the year" garbage is swallowed up without question. I mean people liked the Baker hiring for goodness sake.

Anyway you are totally correct in abandoning them. I have Reds season tickets left and look at them as voluntarily deciding to do community service. Who does that? However, that was before. The only problem is that you cannot as easily watch OUR new Giants being in the AL, so I will be rooting for both of us when OUR Giants roll into town to beat up the Reds, just like the Nats finished doing.

Not an indians fan, but the Victor Martinez deal has no explanation in a sane world. Go teams that care!


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