Dolans Struggling to Get “It”

By: T.J. Zuppe

During the baseball winter meetings, Indians CEO Paul Dolan had the opportunity to address members of the media about the current state of his organization and how the Cleveland Indians were navigating the 2010 off-season.

Dolan explained to Cleveland Plain Dealer Indians Beat Writer Paul Hoynes, that the Indians were not in a place yet to start spending legitimate dollars towards improving the baseball team, at least in free-agency.

He also dove into the differences between types of spending and discussed deficit spending that takes place in baseball. This is what makes the Indians different from teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, who spend from the great pool of money that they take in.

Indians CEO Paul Dolan

And the city of Cleveland let out a collective yawn.

Nothing fires up a fan base quite like a team’s owner explaining that his organization was not in a place to make a run through free-agency. Are you kidding?

This is just further proof that the Indians’ ownership just does not get it. Yes, it is true that the sport of baseball has the worst salary structure of all major sports. It does nothing to help teams in smaller markets and makes competing much easier for teams with larger pocket books.

But let me speak for the city by saying, who cares?

This city is basically begging for a winning team.

The Browns are 3-6 on the season, yet with a small glimmer of hope, fans are taking the streets proclaiming a playoff berth could be on the horizon. The Cavs are battling the .500 mark and fans are still filling up the Quicken Loans arena to support their team.

Who could blame them for feeling that way?

The city has experienced so much misfortune that Cleveland would do anything for a winner. Anything that is remotely close to that is gravitated towards, with great magnitude.

But on the other side of this fence, they will not feel sorry for any organization that cries “poor”. They will not understand why they should support any team that does not put every effort on the table towards getting better.

The only thing that will matter is the perception.

The Dolans are perceived as cheap, regardless of what the truth may be.

All of the young talent and reasons to support a raw, up-and-coming team will go straight out the window. And to be honest, the only thing that would have to change is the perception of not committing to winning.

Instead of spending an off-season explaining 20 reasons why they cannot spend money, it should be about the game plan of how they can maximize their dollars.

After all, this is all being compared to the other teams in this town who have seemingly turned the corner in terms of “getting it.”

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert pumped up his fan base by firing off a passion-fueled email that backed the city, when Lebron James left Cleveland. Browns owner Randy Lerner has finally won over some of his faithful by some of the front-office moves he made, bringing in Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert, and getting the hell out of the decision-making position.

Yet, here is Dolan talking about patience and understanding.

Most people are aware of market size and the truth of financials in baseball. But when they see a team like the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series and doing it by drafting an outstanding starting rotation, building through trade and taking risks in free-agency, they do not believe that it cannot be done.

The truth is that it can be.

The model has changed.

It is up to the Dolans to take those physical handcuffs off of the front-office and allow them to do their job. If they do not, things will only get worse at Progressive Field next summer.

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