It has been a while since I’ve sat down and written for this blog. I wonder if anyone has noticed, but it has been some time. I have spent most of my time lately taking care of my beautiful wife, who is officially expecting our first tater. Couple that with work and a few hours of sleep, and having a chance to express my thoughts on sports has been pushed to the back. However, I want to get some things out, and I’ve decided that world-be-damned…it’s time to rant!
CLEVELAND INDIANS Part I: Casey Blake
Well, here we are again. If you are a fan of the Indians and were born before 1990, you have experienced this before. The latest trade of Casey Blake makes is more telling of the state of the Tribe than did CC leaving a few weeks ago. We knew that CC was going to be leaving. Shapiro doesn’t like spending big money on anyone, and that fits the Dolan family just fine. I have more on the Dolan’s in just a minute! CC wants record money. He knows that he will be the most sought after pitcher during the off season, and he plans on cashing in. Fine, cash in, but beware that more pitchers than not have gone into a new situation with MASSIVE expectations and can’t live up to them. Kevin Brown, Barry Zito, Carl Pavano, Bartolo Colon, etc. It is tough to gauge whether a pitcher will outlast a long term contract after they’ve spent as many years in the league as CC has. I’ll give him credit..he’s still pretty young and I see him having several more really great years…in L.A….Dodger blue is rather slimming.
Back to Blake. The trade of Blake signals the end of the old ragime. It may not look that way since it’s taken a few years to make this happen, but with Blake gone the Shapiro, Dolan, Wedge era is now officially in charge. Casey was an old holdover from the really bad years between the Thome led Indians and now. I know many people who are glad to see him go, and have spent most of his time here hating everything he does. However, he was a true ball player. He played wherever he was asked to. He never complained about his team or his role on it. He will never win an MVP award or be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, but he played the game the right way. He played hard and seemed to really appreciate the chances he was given. He appeared to be a true teammate, and during this nightmare season, he was one of the only bright spots. I don’t blame Shapiro for sending him away, however, because his stock has never been higher. The Dodgers needed a veteran bat who could hit in the clutch. Casey does that, and the Indians picked up two top level prospect. I hope he does well in L.A. because he deserves to do so.
Part II: Larry Dolan
As mentioned above…the end of an era officially occurred with the trade of Casey Blake. He was a member of the bad teams between 2002 and 2005. He was a low price veteran who could fill several holes while young players such as Victor, Grady, and Hafner got their feet wet in the big leagues. He was a long term rental. Now, he’s gone, and the team is now belongs solely to the “Brain Trust”…Shapiro, Wedge, and Dolan. It has taken several years for this trio to get together and create a blue print of the team, and now it’s here. They want to field a young, talented team without breaking the bank in order to do so. They have either brought up talent through the farm system or found it through trades of the big names from the Tribe past. They see that certain talent is working and they sign them long term, early, so that when they want big money, they will have already played a large portion of their productive years here. Nice idea, good philosophy, business wise, it’s pretty smart. However, in doing this, Larry Dolan has pushed the past into the corner and created HIS team. He refused to give Omar Vizquel a new contract a few years back, and showed him the door. Omar deserved much better than that, and even said that he wanted to remain here, even though the team was rebuilding. Dolan and his people thought that Omar was too old, especially since he was older than the Golden Boy, Wedge. Dolan has refused to open his check book, and at one point said that the fans of Cleveland would get their contender once they started spending their money at the ballpark. This was something that didn’t get the attention it should have. This RICH, let me repeat it…RICH man was telling the blue collar community of Cleveland that he wouldn’t spend HIS money until we did. I may not know how much money is in my bank account, but I’m sure that in comparrison it’s much less. He found a way to make the losing OUR fault. So, he fielded a winner back in 2005 and the fans came. The Jake started showing signs of life again. However, in 2006 the team fell apart. They started losing again, but in 2007 they were winning and the fans came back. In the meantime, Dolan who promised to spend some money if we came, spent his money on Jason Michaels, David Delluci, Guiermo Mota, Joe Borowski, and Trot Nixon. I WANT MY MONEY BACK!
The final straw with this guy came the day he decided that his ego could no longer take seeing the previous owner’s name on the building every day. Jacob’s Field was named after the greatest owner this team ever had. He spent his money, and tried to give us a winner, and by doing so saw his namesake filled to the rafters night after night for years for a record 455 games in a row. The people of Cleveland LOVE their sports teams, but when they are being given a mediocre product they spend their money else where. The Jake was a symbol of Cleveland..and Dolan pissed all over that by selling the naming rights to a insurance company. It’s funny, Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park never sold their names off, and they are doing just fine. The Prog? Disgusting! It’s Jacob’s Field and always will be, and Larry Dolan is just the guy who came after Mr. Jacobs. One win from the World Series, Larry, and you do nothing to make this team better while everyone around you does. He knows nothing about the game of baseball. Business, sure he’s got it down, but he is holding this team back. Did he see what the Yankees gave up for Xavier Nady? I’m doubt seriously that he couldn’t make something happen for a bat like Jason Bay…wise up…The Prog may never sell out again with this AAAA Team.
Part III: The Redeam Team
First, it’s time to stop naming these basketball teams. The Dream Team is legendary, leave it at that. They are going to eventually run out of words that rhyme with Dream Team, and I want this to stop before we have the Gleam Team or the Coffee with Sugar No Cream Team.
The U.S. is finally putting a team together that deserves the attention that they are getting. The stars of the league are getting involved again, and I am really excited that Kobe has finally decided to put on the Red, White, and Blue. The roster is the best that the U.S. has put together since 1996, and they could very well bring respect back to the country that invented the game. With finishes of 6th, 3rd, and 3rd over the past two World Championship and the last Olympics it’s time for the U.S. to reestablish themselves as the world power. Granted, the European style of play and the growing talent pool over there has evened things up, there isn’t another nation in the world that can boast the type of talent that we can. I would never say that any team could compare with the 1992 team, but this is the best we’ve seen in many years. The biggest thing to get past is turning this team into just that, A TEAN. The NBA is an individual league these days, as a star with a few role players make up the top teams. The international game is not like that. These guys in Europe play together all the time. They play a team game full of fundimentals and defense, which is something our teams have lacked in the past several years. We, again, are putting a team of stars together, but there is a feel that these guys are willing to put their egos aside for the good of the team. Give some credit to Coach K who is THE guy to teach a team first game. The Gold drought should end this summer, and that may give a boost to the Olympics TV ratings this summer.
I’ll have more, but after reading through this I realize it’s pretty long, so I’ll be back soon with more. Thanks!