Should There Be Urgency?

Everyone in northeast Ohio is aware that no professional sports teams in this area have won a title since 1964.

That’s 48 years for the mathematically challenged.

So understandably, fans are extremely impatient.  They want to win and win now!

The folks that run the franchises around here feel the need to win, but are conflicted by the need to build a team with a strong foundation, one that can have a chance to play for a title for the long haul.

The Browns were a mess when Mike Holmgren took charge in late 2009, suffering through poor drafts since Cleveland returned to the NFL in 1999. 

Holmgren has made some mistakes, but the most notable is keeping Eric Mangini as coach for the 2010 season, a move that retarded his efforts to build the football team from the bottom up, and with people who share his vision.

The Cavaliers saw their immediate chances for a championship go out the window when LeBron James left following the 2010-11 season.

They have a new face of the franchise player in Kyrie Irving, and are now trying to put the proper pieces around him in order to climb back to the top of the mountain.

Surprisingly, the Indians have been the most aggressive in trying to get to the post-season, giving up two top prospects last year to get Ubaldo Jimenez.

Fans want teams to sign free agents to speed up the process, but in many cases, the players who are available are being paid much, much more than their worth.

That may be great if a franchise is possibly one player away from a title, but we can all agree that is not the case with any of the Cleveland teams.

And overpaying free agents who are not elite in a salary capped sport has severe ramifications down the road.  That is, of course, unless you are in the NBA and the commissioner gives the larger market teams all sorts of loopholes.

In baseball, the one thing the smaller market teams can do is bill through the draft.  Look at the success of Tampa Bay, Cincinnati and Milwaukee over the past few years. 

They have built through the amateur draft, the less expensive way to go. That’s why the Indians have to be very careful about dealing more top prospects (i.e. Francisco Lindor) for playing who will only wear a Cleveland uniform for two to three seasons.

So, the front offices are torn between winning soon, which would appease the starving fan base, and make heroes forever out of the people who brought the title to Cleveland, and putting together a solid foundation.

The latter method would erase the errors of the past, which is the reason for the long drought without a title.

Think about it, in the last 50 years, how many teams were put together correctly?  Obviously, the Browns of the 1980’s, with Ernie Accorsi being the architect.  He put together a strong defense, a franchise QB in Bernie Kosar, and used the demise of the USFL to build a contender.

The Cavaliers of the late 80’s and early 90’s used a strong draft guided by Wayne Embry to get Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Ron Harper, and Hot Rod Williams as the base for a very good team.

And the Indians of the 90’s, which used a strong farm and scouting system to acquire players like Albert Belle, Jim Thome, and Manny Ramirez to become one of the sports’ best teams of that era.

When Cleveland teams have won, they’ve done it the long, hard way, just like they seem to be trying now.

Fans should remember that when they long for the quick fix.

KM

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