'Dolan' out the excuses

You know, the older I get, the easier it has become to see clearly what's going on in the world around me. And, no, I'm not referring to the glasses I now wear (though they have helped considerably, albeit in a literal sense).

I believe it's much more than that. Be it politics, the economy, the societal benefit derived from Madonna and her music, I feel I have a pretty good handle on it all. Go ahead: ask me a question, and prepare to walk away enlightened. There's nothing I can't grasp. Well, except for one nagging, mind-numbing, incessantly agonizing thing...

Larry Dolan's ownership of the Cleveland Indians has been a source of great consternation for me ever since he bought the team from Dick Jacobs in 2000. Countless hours of analysis, including seeking the opinions of some of the more knowledgeable people in the sports world (a.k.a. my in-laws), have ultimately yielded the same agonizing result. Nobody can give me a straight answer, which in turn becomes an important first step in summoning whatever bad-nicks lie within my brain and ultimately trigger my migraines. But, I digress. Stay focused, Jeff...

Larry bought the team when it was at the very peak of popularity, in both an artistic and financial sense. It was on the tail-end of the four hundred and fifty-some-odd consecutive sellouts at Jacobs Field. After decades of losing, the Indians had become a perennial division leader and World Series contender. Every revenue source the Indians had was at full-throttle, meaning they had maximized their income from every conceivable tap.

In spite of this, most experts agree that the Dolan group paid tens of millions more for the franchise than was necessary – eclipsing the second-highest bidder by $100 million. At the time, I remember my son and I surmising that it appeared Larry had become so enthralled with the prospect of owning a Major League Baseball franchise, he didn't want to risk not getting the team, so he went way overboard with his offer.

It's ironic when you consider that every move the Indians have made since the Dolans took over has been with one eye on the bank account. Dolan "apologists" will argue that they're simply running the Indians like any other sound business would/should be run, which always drives me nuts when I hear it.

Nobody in their right mind buys a sports franchise with the idea of running it like a business – you know going in that most sports owners are egotistical maniacs – and toss around real money like, well, Monopoly money.

The analogy I tend to use when describing the Dolans' ownership is to liken it to the guy who saves up all his hard-earned money over a long period of time, and goes to Vegas for a chance to finally roll with the "big dogs."

Not paying particularly close attention to his expenditures along the way, he finds a high-stakes poker game and antes up a significant sum. He has a pretty good hand and stands a good chance of winning, and is ready to go all in, but when he goes to bet and looks for his chips, discovers that he has only a few left. Someone else raises the bet, but he can't cover it, so he has to fold. He leaves the table and heads for a game with much smaller stakes.

So why did you get in the game, Larry, when you knew all along what the stakes would be?

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits.

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Volume 4, Issue 6, Posted 11:50 AM, 03.20.2012