Browns and Indians stories inversely related to a quarter-century ago

Wow. Who woulda thunk it? The Browns playing football more than halfway into January … and meaningful football, at that. With Covid and all, the timing really couldn’t have been much better for the city. The holidays were in the rearview mirror, the Cavaliers were capturing the imaginations of, well, no one, and more than a month until Indians spring training, we needed something to get us through these cold winter nights, right?

With Baker Mayfield looking like the real deal, the best running game in the NFL, and a defense that – well, okay, as Meatloaf once sang, “Two out of three ain’t bad” – the Browns are actually fun to watch.

It did get me to thinking, though (which in my case, is always dangerous) about the situation in Cleveland in the mid-’90s, just over a quarter-century ago, when Art Modell announced on Nov. 6, 1995, that the Browns were indeed moving to Baltimore.

The Indians were becoming good and capturing the hearts of the city, getting a favorable lease deal and other incentives to keep the Indians in Cleveland. Indians owner Dick Jacobs was a smart businessman, who knew exactly how to work the city of Cleveland for financial breaks in just about everything imaginable.

Browns owner Art Modell saw this and asked for the same consideration for the Browns. The city never listened closely to Modell, feeling he didn’t need the financial assistance the Indians did, completely unaware that Modell was on shaky financial ground. You know how the story ended.

Now, the situation is essentially the opposite. The Browns are the up and comers, the Indians – thanks to the Dolans – are facing a long uphill climb. And it’s not because they traded Frankie Lindor that I make that claim. We knew Lindor was gone, but the inclusion of Carlos Carrasco is what convinced me that the latest Indians run is toast.

But wait, there’s more.

Consider this: With the Tribe not ruling out the possibility of trading Jose Ramirez, and dropping the team name (and BTW, if the name’s so horrible how come they are still selling Indians merchandise? Oh yeah, I guess the name isn’t so bad that they have to trash all of that Tribe merchandise, eh? That would be financial insanity, and the Dolans know a thing or two about maximizing their dollars, no?) ... but I digress.

This is the perfect time to relocate the franchise. No fans to protest at Progressive Field. (And when fans do return to Progressive Field, support will be lousy because of the gut job the Dolans did on the team … and it will be Browns Town, anyway.) Other cities – did someone say Las Vegas? – will be more than willing to cut lucrative sweetheart deals to get the franchise to relocate.

Sure, MLB will cry “foul” (see what I did there?) and Frank Jackson will go Mike White and pledge to keep the team here, but when the Dolans show MLB how bad the situation is here and how good it would be in Vegas, and you can bet on it (I did it again), the Dolans will tearfully announce that they “don’t want to leave” but, as we all know, WILL.

I hear you all laughing, but you also laughed at the rumors of the Browns moving 25 years ago, didn’t you?

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 13, Issue 2, Posted 9:58 AM, 01.19.2021