There is no question that in the past few months, both the Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers’ organizations have shown to be less than stable.
Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam has replaced his head coach, his CEO, and his general manager in a six-week span since the end of the season. In addition, his football has lost ten games or more (the baseball equivalent of losing 100 games) six years in a row, and ten out of the last 11 seasons.
The Cavaliers have been a mediocre franchise ever since LeBron James departed, qualifying for a lottery pick each and every year, and not a low pick either, the wine and gold have had one of the NBA’s worst five records each season.
And recently Dan Gilbert fired his GM and replaced his head coach following last season.
Yet, the least popular owner in the city happens to own the franchise that has had the most success. That would be Indians’ owners Larry and Paul Dolan.
There are several reasons for the lack of popularity, the first being Gilbert and Haslam come off pretty well in press conferences, showing people, whether or not it can occur, that they are determined to bring a championship to Cleveland in their respective sports.
The Dolans probably shouldn’t talk to the media because when they do, they say things like the best fans can hope for is contending every once in a while due to the economic restraints in baseball.
That really doesn’t give fans a great deal of confidence.
To be fair, the Indians have the most stable front office in team president Mark Shapiro, who has been here for 23 years, and GM Chris Antonetti has been with the Tribe since 1998. And they lured Terry Francona, a two-time World Series champion as manager to the same post with the Indians.
So again, why the lack of love for the Tribe ownership, particularly in comparison to the other woebegone franchise on the North Coast?
There is a lack of trust for the Dolan family, even though they are from here, while Haslam and Gilbert aren’t.
Part of that comes from the article in Forbes showing the Tribe was making large amounts of profit. While the number may not have been accurate, the magazine should be regarded as a reliable source. After all, the figure didn’t appear in the National Enquirer.
Fans should understand that owners need to make a profit, but they would still like to see more money poured into the product on the field too.
The fans don’t feel like it’s a priority for the ownership to win a World Series for the city. The other owners talk about it, they may not really mean it, but they have enough sense to communicate the desire to the fan base.
This off-season is a perfect example of what we are saying.
Interest in the Tribe, dormant for a while, picked up in September as the ballclub was making a push for the post-season. The wild card home game sold out very quickly.
Yet, some of that momentum has been subdued due to a relatively quiet off-season in which the Indians have lost more (starting pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir) than they added.
That’s the problem in a nutshell.
Had ownership opened up the purse strings even a little and allowed the front office to make a good acquisition, and there were some decent values out there, some trust would have been gained.
Instead, Tribe fans are muttering “same old Dolans”, and counting on Francona’s expertise to return to the post-season.
If they accomplish a playoff spot again, it will help the ownership’s cause. If they don’t, the anger toward them will like get more intense.