Tag Archives: paul dolan

The Tribe is Alive!

The Tribe is alive. I can’t believe it either.

The Cleveland Indians are just 4 games back of the second wildcard spot entering the final month of the season.

A month ago, I, and many others, were counting the Tribe as out. The bats were dead, the starting pitching wasn’t keeping the game in check and the bullpen was suspect. Add to that the lack of moves by the front office at the deadline and our suspicions weren’t unfounded.

This season was over, in every sense of the word.

And then, slowly but surely the Tribe won a few games.

Then the won a few series and then, they got a sweep.

The bats have been working lately, the starting pitching has been keeping opposing hitters at bay, and the bullpen, when they’ve been needed, have delivered.

The defensive play has been the hidden lynch pin to the Indians streak of success as of late. Who would have known that the addition of Abraham Almonte (seriously?) in centerfield and the return of Lonnie Chisenhall in RF along with the play of Francisco Lindor and Giovanny Urshela on the left side of the infield.

After the current series with the Blue Jays, the Indians have games within and only within the AL Central. Those games include 6 against the Tigers (3/3 Home/Away), 6 against the White Sox (3/3 Home/Away), 7 against the Royals (4/3 Home/Away), and 6 against the Twins (3/3 Home/Away). They are going to need to win approximately 80% (20) games to cement themselves in the wildcard playoff for the American League. There is no chance anyone in the American League Central will catch the Royals. Currently, they are 13 games ahead of the second place team, the Minnesota Twins and 16 games ahead of the Indians.

The next month of baseball could be very interesting. Undoubtedly, memories of 2013 have begun to whimsically drift into the back of my head as I reminisce about one of the greatest months of baseball in recent memory.

While the next month will be interesting, the big Indians-related news of the week occurred late Sunday night

Shapiro back, back, back and gone to Toronto

Reports surfaced last week of an impending offer of the Presidency/CEO duties of the Toronto Blue Jays to current Indians President Mark Shapiro. The collective interwebs and social media were aflame with ifs, ands, and buts about the whole thing before it went quiet for a few days.

Then on Sunday, the hammer was dropped. Multiple well-known and respect sports journalists reported that Mark Shapiro would accept the offer from the Blue Jays effective at the end of the 2015 season. Soon after, the team confirmed it and a press conference was scheduled for Monday afternoon.

At the presser, Mark said he was excited about the opportunity for growth in Toronto and addressed (barely) issues he faced here in Cleveland. When asked about attendance, he side-stepped the issue and moved on to other topics of interest.

Direct reports to Shapiro will now report to Paul Dolan and Dolan also stated he will not look outside the organization for a successor for Mark. It would appear that the next era of the Cleveland Indians Presidency will take effect from within the organization and speculation has begun about who that individual will be.

When looking back over Shapiro’s impressive 24 year career in Cleveland, one can’t help but feel bad for the guy.

When John Hart left the organization in 2001 and Shapiro ascended the GM throne, he was left with a very bad situation: a fan base used to winning and winning a lot, a minor league system devoid of any serviceable talent ready for the majors, and owners who didn’t want to spend much money on talent.

With that, Mark began the process of shaping the Indians from the ground up into the team he envisioned. Unfortunately for him, his drafts were awful. In the early to mid-portions of the first decade of the 2000s, you would be hard-pressed to name one decent major leaguer that came up through the Indians farm system (and no, Matt LaPorta isn’t decent. At all). Where Mark really shined was in his ability to leverage current team assets towards futures of other teams’ farm assets.

Case and point: the Bartolo Colòn trade of 2002:

In 2002, the Cleveland Indians were out of contention and Shapiro pulled the trigger on a deal that sent staff ace Bartolo Colòn to the Montreal Expos for Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, and Brandon Phillips.

I don’t need to tell you about the contributions and accolades that group of players have garnered over the course of their MLB careers to prove to you how fantastic that trade was.

When Shapiro stepped aside for Chris Antonetti to assume the role of GM, he took over as team president and was able to turn his attention things outside of personnel and baseball operations. His role in the new construction at the ballpark which debuted this season and his work in making Progressive field more fan and family friendly have been enormous. I love what has been done to Progressive field and I feel way more connected to the team and the game when I’m at the stadium than when I was younger.

Mark Shapiro has been around the Indians organization for longer than I’ve been alive. He has been there with us during the highs (1994-2001), the lows (2002-2006), and the playoff runs and appearances (1995-1999; 2001; 2007, and 2013). He has felt the heartache we’ve all experienced at one point or another. He’s felt the exhilarating highs of Tom Hamilton’s walk off calls in the lazy summer evenings and the lows of a Matt Underwood curse before an opposing player does something great.

Sure he’s a part of the organization, but he is also one of us. He did the very best he could with the resources he had, and I for one, can’t blame him for anything. He’s going to a great organization north of the border with deep pockets and a handful of great hitters. I wish him nothing but the best, and hopefully, he’ll come back around Cleveland from time to time to check in on us.

Maybe Last Place Will Wake Up the Dolans

Now how in the wide world of sports did this happen?

And no, I’m not talking about Brandon Weeden and his dismal 5.1 quarterback rating.

In my continued effort to try and stay as far away form any Art Modell tributes as possible, I decided to forego watching the first Monday Night Football game when I remembered there’s also a baseball team in Cleveland that technically still has games until October 3rd.

Unfortunately, I think it’s unbearably apparent that this team mailed it in over a month ago.

I was never one who thought that the Indians would be serious contenders in 2012. At the beginning of the season, I thought they’d go 79-83 to finish third in the AL Central because the front office made no real improvements to the team over the offseason. But now as we sit here on September 11, the Indians are in last place at a stunning 59-82, and are tied with the Minnesota Twins for the worst record in the AL.

Who would have thought they’d make me look like such a fool?

And yet, in a strange way, I’m see a positive that can come out of this horrific and historic collapse. Maybe, just maybe, the Dolans will finally see that the system they’ve created is one of mediocrity and they’ll be willing to shake things up.

A few weeks ago, Indians CEO Paul Dolan said that before making any judgments about the fate of the front office and manager going forward, he has to understand what happened to the team this season. He needs to understand why his baseball team had this dismal collapse. He has to figure out how his team that he believes was contending all of a sudden had the worst month of any Indians team since 1914 with a mind boggling, and franchise record tying 24 losses in August.

Really, I don’t understand exactly what there is to figure out. The team played OK for a couple months, and then the bottom fell out. And if you’re really serious about it, there’s no way any rational person can say the Indians were in contention. Being in first place in April, May, and June isn’t contending. And even though the Tribe beat Justin Verlander to climb to just 3.5 games back in the Central on July 26, the team never really had a shot at the division title.

The numbers tell the whole story. The Indians run differential has been negative for pretty much the entire season. They have been battling it out with the Twins for the dead last ranking in AL ERA for the entire season. They haven’t gotten any kind of good, consistent production from LF, 1B, or 3B all season. Their top two starters in Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez have been inconsistent—at best—all year, but as of late have both been awful with Jimenez’s ERA well over 5.00 with Masterson’s creeping up to the Weeden-rating mark.

With all those chips stacked against a team, how were they supposed to compete with the likes of the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox?

Obviously one bat or one pitcher wasn’t going to solve all the Indians’ problems, but it certainly would have been nice to see the GM Chris Antonetti go after someone not named Brent Lillibridge or Lars Anderson. I didn’t want Kevin Youkilis because at the time of his trade to the White Sox Lonnie Chisenhall was still healthy. But someone, anyone to light a spark on that team might have helped.

Instead was as fans get futility. We get votes of confidence from a GM to a manager when both probably should be out of a job in less than 30 days. We get a closer who blasts the front office and ownership to the media after blasting fans for not coming out to the ballpark early in the season to support a bad team playing over its head.

I understand doing due diligence and not trying to make knee jerk reactions, but when will enough be enough? How many mediocre or just plain bad teams will it take before the Dolans realize that something in their organization must fundamentally change? Say what you want about Randy Lerner being an absentee owner, but at least he knew when to pull the plug on poor management.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to just assign blame so the Dolans can fire everybody and be done with it. There is plenty of blame to go around for the way this season has turned out—from the players, to the manager, to the coaches, to the front office, all the way on up to ownership.

But I sincerely believe the only way the Indians organization can cure what ails it is for the Dolans to stop tolerating mediocrity and start demanding excellence. Otherwise, we’ll continue to see the same losing product year after year.

Poll: Why Aren't the Indians Getting the Attendance they Deserve?

I know we’ve all been talking about the paltry attendance at Cleveland Indians games a lot lately.

We tweet about empty seats, post Facebook status updates about how cheap bleacher tickets are, and call in to sports talk radio shows to call out all of the “bad” Indians fans, but none of us have a viable solution to the problem.

Some folks think cheap seats ought to be enough to get people to games, others think a first place team should be the catalyst we need, and yet another group is adamant that there won’t be a sellout until the Dolan family sells the team.

Maybe each solution is a little bit right, but we’ll never be able to solve the problem until we know the cause. For all of the talking we do about attendance at Progressive Field, I can’t seem to put my finger what the majority opinion really is on why we’re not going to Indians games.

Considering the amount of fans at games, we should be able to fill up the bleachers with voters on this topic. Once we get this figured out, More Than a Fan will work on fixing the problem.

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If you’d like to be a part of our May Opinion roundup, vote on the More Than a Fan Polls and be heard!

Paul Dolan and the Indians Do What Randy Lerner and the Browns Can't

The life of a Cleveland sports fan is one of almost constant drama. Between the never-ending talk of how the Cleveland Browns will inevitably screw up the NFL draft, the Cavaliers losing down the stretch, and the small market stigma that the Indians front office has put on itself, many days Cleveland sports coverage sounds like slightly less drunk episode of Jersey Shore.

As fans, we usually either blame or credit ownership. Life is a top-down proposition. The few at the top are ultimately responsible for the many at the bottom, and there aren’t many instances that this is more evident than in a professional sports organization. Randy Lerner takes twice the daily blame than Continue reading Paul Dolan and the Indians Do What Randy Lerner and the Browns Can't