Cleveland isn’t known for the success of its sports teams, but most fans want nothing more than to rise up and win against all odds.
Football is probably the most equal playing field for smaller markets with teams like Green Bay and New Orleans winning recent Super Bowls, yet even in that socialistic of sports, Cleveland can seem to put a legitimate contender on the field, which shows how poor the management has been since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999.
The NBA has had one smaller market team have success in the last 20 years. The San Antonio Spurs have won four titles in that span, and Oklahoma City seems poised to take over the mantle of small market contender.
The Spurs success has been tied to superstar Tim Duncan staying with the franchise, and the Thunder hope Kevin Durant does the same thing.
In that league, most of the bigger name players want to be in larger markets, the better to make their “brand” more popular. Cavalier fans are very familiar with that idea.
The Indians need to embrace the role of underdog and become a feisty pit-bull of a franchise, instead of one always talking about its problems. Former Browns’ GM Phil Savage must have had the Tribe management in mind when he spoke about the “woe is me” complex Cleveland sports fans have.
A little over a week ago, Indians’ president Mark Shapiro had a town hall meeting in which he spoke to a group of fans. He talked about trying to win this season, but of course, had to bring up the point that the franchise will lose money this season, a comment the organization seems to include no matter what public statements it makes.
First of all, the fans don’t care if the Indians lose money. They want to see a winning team.
It’s time to stop the negativism and become an organization that will fight, scratch, and claw to beat the big boys of the American League. It’s basically the same philosophy the Tampa Bay Rays have taken on since Joe Maddon became manager.
It’s why Jack Hannahan of all people, has become a fan favorite. He doesn’t take crap from anyone.
This change would mean trying to win every game, and jumping on problems immediately, not waiting a month to take care of them.
The Rays are always tinkering with their roster, mostly the last few spots of it, trying to pick up a hot hand, someone who may just be able to make one game’s difference in the standings. They aren’t the only team that does this, bigger market teams do the same thing.
On the other hand, the Indians have an outfielder on their roster that has just 4 hits in his last 42 at bats, and he’s been on the team the entire season.
The Cleveland bullpen has struggled lately as well, save for mainstays Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano, and Joe Smith. No changes have been made there, either.
However, over the weekend, the St. Louis Cardinals, the defending World Series champions, switched three members of its’ relief corps. If the World Champs can do it, why can’t the Tribe?
Manny Acta fits right in with this attitude. After the horrible call made by Mike DiMuro on Wednesday night in Yankee Stadium, in which his starting third baseman was ejected, Acta defended the umpire’s blown call! Something about having a tough angle and a lot of fans in the way.
That’s just sad, and Tribe fans were justifiably angry with the lack of emotion from the manager.
This isn’t to say the fiery skippers have a better winning percentage, but for a franchise looking for some support from its fan base, a manager who acts like I don’t care the deck is stacked against me, we’re going to win anyhow, would be much more accepted by the ticket buying public.
After the incident, GM Chris Antonetti, and VP of Communications Bob DiBiasio were all over the airwaves trying to spin the skippers’ inaction and also deflect criticism for a team that has lost 20 of 32 games before winning the last two in Baltimore.
The GM just spouting more of the catch phrases the front office is famous for: “Core talent”, talking about the inequities of “the system”, etc.
The Indians front office should take this tact. Sure, it’s going to be tough to do, but when we win, we can stick it in the face of all of the disbelievers. Unless the organization gets a cleaning over the winter, that’s not going to happen, which is sad.