So Glad I’m Not a Cleveland Fan

I read a piece today by the Cleveland-based blog Waiting for Next Year. You might remember them as the guys who reported that Tom Izzo going to the Cavs was a done deal, even though he decided to stay at MSU.

Today, someone hiding behind the initials “TD” penned a piece that called out Miguel Cabrera as a whiner. Not only does the author call out Cabrera, but he refers to Brandon Inge and Johnny Damon the same way, although the examples he cites actually don’t show any kind of whining at all. Unless you consider Inge expressing his desire to return to Detroit next year or Damon’s choosing to stay with the Tigers instead of accepting a trade to Boston as whining. I don’t, but again, whatever.

“TD” closes with this as his big finish:

See Tribe fans, things could be worse. The Tigers are actually the Indians right now, except their payroll is double.

And they want to pick up Jhonny Peralta’s $7.5 million option for next year and attempt to play him at shortstop.


Yep. That’s what he said. The Tigers are actually the Indians, but with a higher payroll. I mean I suppose I would be bitter, too, if I had to watch my favorite team trade away CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Victor Martinez in the span of 12 months. But if the Tigers were actually the Indians, their owner would have ponied up the cash needed to retain a star player or two.

Which is worse, spending boatloads of cash and being a good team, but not making the playoffs? Or choosing to sell off your best players year after year, and making a nice profit while battling the Royals for the cellar? I’d rather be the franchise that actually tries to win.

They traded Sabathia in a walk year, I understand. After all, they still had Lee anchoring their staff. But they then traded Lee with a year and a half left on his deal. In the same situation, the Tigers kept their ace and signed him to a long-term contract. You can say what you want about some of the deal that Dave Dombrowski and Mike Ilitch have handed out, but one thing you must admit is that they have not been stingy when it comes to trying to put the best possible team on the field.

And that’s why, despite a failing economy that plagues both cities, the Tigers routinely play in front of crowds of 25,000-30,000 fans, while the Indians can barely reach five figures on many nights.

Franchises like Cleveland can compete in their market. They have shown they can. This is a team that was one win away from going to the World Series in 2007. Their owner chose their path and now the fans are angry. I get it, I would be too.

That fact is that the markets in which the Tigers and Indians compete are not terribly different. The Indians choose to be lumped in with the small market clubs while the Tigers choose to spend with the big boys. As a result, the Tigers have put a more competitive product on the field lately, while the Indians have fielded a team of prospects, by and large.

And as far as the Peralta thing is concerned. I, for one at least, certainly do hope the Tigers exercise that option and play him at short next year. The production he has provided since coming to the Tigers more than makes up for any limitations he has defensively. And by the way, Peralta’s actually done a very good job at short with the Tigers, as well.

So Indians fans are laughing at us, huh? That’s cool, I guess. All of baseball has been laughing at them since 1948. Keep waiting. Maybe it’ll happen someday, if your owner ever decides he’d rather spend some money and try to win some games.

Next Tigers Game View full schedule »
Thursday, Aug 2121 Aug1:10at Tampa Bay RaysBuy Tickets

Tags: Cleveland Indians Detroit Tigers Miguel Cabrera Mike Ilitch WFNY

  • Jen

    I agree with you. Cleveland fans are very bitter–and with good cause. I’d be fuming. This is a team that gets rid of Victor Martinez, who cried at his presser. And Peralta has been a pleasant surprise defensively to me. I scoffed when we traded for him. Much better than anticipated.

    • John Parent

      Not only has Peralta been quite good, but did you see where he says Shin-Soo Choo told him he wants to come to Detroit as well? Of course he’s under team control until 2014, but still, that must be a bad environment if players are talking about wanting to get out.

      Again, they traded Lee and Martinez they each had a year and a half left on their deals. They didn’t have to do that. They could have worked extensions with both, but the owner cried poor. And Martinez desperately wanted to stay. I wonder why no one goes to the games?

  • Ed Carroll

    Honestly, I’d rather go through this full-out rebuild than be meddling like the Tigers every year. Say what you want about Larry Dolan but he has spent when he said he would (Payroll was in the $90 million range from 08-09) and it’s his ownership that is keeping this team in Cleveland. While the Tigers are winning 80-something games, failing to make the playoffs, and acquiring late-round draft picks that will keep the team right where it is: the middle of the pack.

    I know the Tigers are definitely a more entertaining team to watch, but I want a team that’s going to win a championship. (Random fact: did you know that in the past eight years, the Indians have won more postseason series than the Twins, who won 5 of the past 8 AL Central crowns?) There has been mismanagement in the Indians, but it’s not like the Tigers are perfect (Dontrelle Willis anyone?) but they have the pockets to overcome their mistakes. The Indians simply don’t. But I’d rather load up for one or two legit runs and stare the likes of the Yankees in the eye rather than just be decent every year like the Tigers.

    And go ahead, sign Jhonny to an extension. You’ll see soon enough.

    • Chris

      Ed, the Tigers were a missed HBP call on Inge in game 163 from being in the playoffs last year. Actually coming up short should not be confused with being destined to come up short. Making the playoffs is the first and only necessary criteria for a legit run. The ’06 Cardinals won the World Series. Those dominating M’s didn’t. The Cardinals are a team that has a shot at scraping into the playoffs every single year, wonder why they keep selling out?

    • John Parent

      First off, thank you Ed for chiming in. It’s nice to get a Cleveland perspective here as well. And I’m not advocating signing Peralta to an extension, simply picking up his option for next year. $7 million is a nice chunk of change, but considering the alternatives on the market and in the organization, plus the performance he has put up in the last two months, I think a one-year flier is worth it.

      A couple of things you said that I’d like a bit of clarity on, though. Is there a real possibility that the team would be relocated if Dolan weren’t there? I hadn’t heard of that possibility. That it even has been discussed surprises me. I have seen several games at Jacobs Field and the stadium district of Cleveland is actually quite nice. Why is it that the fans have deserted the team? I know before the Jake opened, the Indians never drew, but they were playing at Municipal Stadium and that place was a dump. The Indians were also terrible every year. I guess my question is is it that the fans stopped going because the team wasn’t as good as those 90s teams? Or is it that the fans stopped going because the Browns came back, or because the team begin getting rid of the fan favorites? I’m not just talking about the Sabathia, Lee, Martinez trades, but letting go of Thome and Vizquel and Ramirez? (I do realize that in the case of Thome and Ramirez, the Indians did try to keep those guys.)

      I’ll not pretend the Tigers have made a host of great decisions, but from where I sit, the community still supports them and still comes out to the park. I’m wondering why that’s so different in Cleveland?

      • Ed Carroll

        @Chris: The 2009 Tigers would have been knocked out by New York just as Minnesota was. Look at the Twins. 6 Central titles in 9 years and nothing to show for it. Anything can happen in the postseason, but most of the time what happens is what’s supposed to happen. Does anyone outside Minnesota legitimately believe the Twins can even win the AL this year?

        @John: Though there has never been any public talk (outside of speculation by local sports personalities), I do believe that there would be a very real possibility this team would leave if the Dolan family ownership were not in place. They don’t draw fans (dead last in attendance this year), even when they win (21st in 2007). Part of this is because Cleveland is (inexplicably) a football town, and will support the Browns over anything else (even though that team has been more horrendously mismanaged than the Indians could ever dream to be). It also doesn’t help the Indians that the Cavs had a asshole named LeBron James for a little while there. But mostly the return of the Browns has taken a lot of money out of the Indians’ pockets.

        The departures of guys like Ramirez, Thome and Vizquel devastated the fan base. The Indians had just started to get good again, and then the team buckled under the expectations, CC Sabathia refused to discuss an extension, and the whole thing fell apart, making fans even more bitter towards this team. If the Indians left town tomorrow, I’m sure a good number of Clevelanders (not a majority, just a good number) would say “good riddance.” Cleveland Browns Stadium is damn near capacity every Sunday for a terrible team, nobody will come out to an Indians game unless it’s opening day or the playoffs. It’s sad, but it’s true.

        • Zac Snyder

          “The 2009 Tigers would have been knocked out by New York just as Minnesota was. Look at the Twins. 6 Central titles in 9 years and nothing to show for it. Anything can happen in the postseason, but most of the time what happens is what’s supposed to happen. Does anyone outside Minnesota legitimately believe the Twins can even win the AL this year?”

          @Ed: Just like the 2006 Tigers were knocked out by the Yankees? whoops.

          Do I believe the Twins can win the AL? Yes. Do I think the Twins will win the AL? No, but that wasn’t your question.

          The Twins have to be accountable for their postseason failures just like the Tigers are accountable for their second-half failures. Mailing in complete seasons is an awfully convenient way to avoid criticisms about performance. Carlos Santana looks like a player but the rest of the “pieces” that Cleveland has assembled for Sabathia and company look a lot more like pieces of garbage. Watch out AL Central, here comes the Matt LaPorta era!

          • Chris

            Assuming the Twins meet the Yankees in the first round: If someone gave me even odds, I’d put my money on the Yankees. If someone gave me 4-1 odds on the Twins, I would certainly put my money on the Twinkies.

  • Chris

    I think you’re being a little bit unfair to Cleveland management and ownership. They’ve been very candid about the reality of operating a franchise in a place like Cleveland, and their strategy isn’t and hasn’t been to put replacement-level talent on the field year after year and milk revenue sharing for all it’s worth. If they make a pennant push (and particularly if they make the playoffs) the payoff is significant, but they cannot afford to be decent but unimpressive. 83-win teams lose money – often lots of it. Because their roster is less deep and less well-stocked they have a small margin for error, a few bad breaks and the Indians tumble from a playoff contender to an also-ran hemorrhaging cash. Among other things, those bad breaks have been Sizemore, Pronk and almost everyone ever to answer a call in the bullpen the past 3 years. Tigers fans are blessed that Illitch is willing and able to lose money on this team, which is the norm when a team makes a real push for the playoffs and comes up short. For other franchises that is not a viable plan. Cleveland fans are understandably bitter that their franchise has thrown in the towel, but I’d have to note that they stopped showing up well before the salary dump began. The Tigers are still drawing well, in a bad economy, with a team that’s out of contention.

    • John Parent

      Agreed Chris, the Tigers are blessed to have an owner like Mike Ilitch. What’s remarkable to me is that Ilitch didn’t always spend on the Tigers. Remember, he owned the team through some of the darkest days in Tigers history and was always hesitant to spend big money, unlike how he dealt with the RedWings. It wasn’t until Dombrowski came on board that Ilitch opened his checkbook for the Tigers as well.

  • Chris

    Illitch first spent, then came to the realization that cash alone doesn’t win divisions. All I’m saying, really, is that Cleveland fans have it a heck of a lot better than Pittsburgh fans. That is a franchise that does it’s best to make money without winning.

  • Pingback: All The Money Or The Simple Life Honey | Deep Left Field | A Cleveland Indians blog