Blame the Dolans for the state of the Tribe
So, how come there seem to be so many Dolan apologists running around Cleveland as of late? As the Indians enter the home stretch of the 2014 season with what might better be described as a “limp” rather than a “charge” it’s time to – yet again – do a postmortem on another disappointing season.
What I hear regarding the state of the Indians is truly puzzling. “The Dolans aren’t the ones who recommended we sign Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, etc., so don’t blame them,” is pretty much the party line of those who support the Indians’ owners.
A couple of minor considerations, if I may be so bold. First, the Dolans have to agree or otherwise sign off on any deal the Tribe “braintrust” (for lack of a better word) bring to them, correct? Second, and most importantly, who employs the people who have made these decisions? Who’s accountable for hiring or employing those responsible the (clearly errant) signings? Where does the proverbial buck stop? That would be the Dolans, right? Bingo.
John Hart was the general manager for the Tribe who orchestrated the rebirth of baseball in Cleveland in the '90s. His final two years with the Indians were 2000 and 2001, the last time the Indians, by the way, posted consecutive winning seasons. Hart left for greener pastures when it became clear the Dolans, who took control of the team in the spring of 2000, would place greater limits on what he could do as the Indians GM.
Mark Shapiro took over in 2002 as GM, and in his nine-year run took MLB’s “Executive of the Year” awards in 2005 and 2007. While impressive, it’s also important to recognize that those two years were the ONLY winning seasons enjoyed by Shapiro, and his career record as Indians GM has him 50 games under .500. The guy who orchestrated the trades of CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez, which yielded virtually nothing – and I do consider getting only Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco, and Nick Hagadone in exchange for a pair of Cy Young Award winners and an All-Star catcher virtually nothing – it underscores the reasons behind the Indians' inability to enjoy sustained success.
Shapiro’s right-hand man, Chris Antonetti, took over beginning in 2011, and not surprisingly, the results are similar. In his three full seasons at the helm, he’s posted one winning season with a career record six games under .500. Looks like more of the “same old, same old” to me.
What it means is that in the dozen full seasons since John Hart left the Indians, they have enjoyed three winning seasons, eight losing ones and one split (81-81 in 2008). And people wonder why attendance has trended downward, or why there is such little faith in current ownership? In a city where fans have always been skeptical of their baseball leaders – and have had reason to – a short “aberration” of winning simply isn’t going to get it done. Remember, this is the same ownership group who shrewdly paid the most (at the time) money ever for a baseball team after losing out in their bid to buy the Browns.
Of course, given the state of our football team since they returned in 1999, could the Dolans have done any worse?
Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!