Minor league mentality

Tribe fans, the transformation is complete.

In case you hadn’t noticed – and that’s the underlying problem, apparently no one has – the Indians have succeeded in turning what was once one of the premier organizations in all of sports less than a decade-and-a-half ago into the minor league operation it is today. Well done, guys. Here, have a “dollar dog” on me.

Yes, the franchise which was once the model of success for everyone else in baseball has succeeded in wiping out the last trace of the goodwill they had going for themselves at the turn of the century, and transformed themselves into a circus sideshow.

The reasons behind this still-hard-to-fathom nosedive are easy to trace: Dolan ownership.  

Recall that the Indians had an amazing stretch of 455 sellouts which began June 12, 1995, and ended April 4, 2001. The Indians were the ticket in Cleveland, thanks to the influx of money and financial wisdom of then-owner Dick Jacobs, who built a topnotch, highly competitive organization. Cleveland fans fully embraced the idea of paying a good buck to see an entertaining product (which is not exactly a radical concept). He sold the team to Larry (and son Paul) Dolan in 2000, and it’s no coincidence the sellouts became few and far between – as did winning seasons – shortly thereafter.

Fast forward to 2015, and Tribe fans have once again been subjected to a mediocre product on the field, due to poor trades, free agent signings, and particularly awful drafting. Their farm system is – and I’m being gentle here – not very good when it comes to producing impact-type players. It should come as no surprise then that the Tribe, which currently ranks at or near the bottom of MLB attendance, and is headed for a fourth straight year of decline in fans-per-game.

So how have the Indians responded to their attendance woes? By clearing out the same-old, same-old management group in the front office? By selling the team to someone with perhaps, shall we say, a more demanding philosophy? You know, like maybe do something that might help produce a winning baseball team?

Silly, silly Tribe fan. Of course none of those measures will work! The key to success, silly Tribe fan, is to inundate you with really cool promotions to – as the Indians put it – “enhance the game day experience” since they obviously know what we want. And apparently, it’s not a winning baseball team.

Instead, we get promotions like “1995 Celebration” which, as much fun as that was, 1995 occurred a generation ago. Maybe they think if we’re wallowing in nostalgia we’ll forget about now? What’s next, something crazy like a Mike Hargrove replica jersey giveaway? Darn right, coming soon to an almost empty ballpark near you.

I do like the “kids run the bases” promotion because, given the state of the Tribe’s sorry offense, this is probably your best opportunity to see someone from Cleveland running the bases. And I get a kick out of bobblehead night, which is typically awarded only to the first 10,000 fans who enter the gates to, you know, create a “sense of urgency.” I wonder what they do with all the extras?

And you just gotta love the dollar dog and dollar soda nights. I mean, what says “cheapskate” better than the guy who responds to a bargain like that?

Of course, it occurs to me that by going and standing in that line it overwhelmingly increases the chance of you bumping into Larry or Paul Dolan.

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 9:32 AM, 06.16.2015