July 22, 2014

Justin Masterson’s offer might be fair, but that doesn’t make it good: The Diff

Angels Indians BaseballIt’s a popular opinion to dislike the Dolan family for their ownership of the Cleveland Indians. Ever since purchasing the team in 2000, they’ve been characterized as cheapskates unable to consistently afford to compete in the non-salary cap landscape of Major League Baseball.

Last night’s news that Justin Masterson negotiations have ended for the spring certainly didn’t help that narrative. Per the reports, the team’s ace had been eager to sign a short-term deal to stay in Cleveland after narrowly avoiding arbitration for a final time. Now, it appears he’ll at least test the open markets this winter.

Despite the popular opinions, there actually might be some logic to what the Indians might (or might not) be doing with this maneuver. There might be sound reason for hesitation with Masterson’s reported three-year $52 million offer. Let’s explore some reasons why.

[Read more...]

Scott Raab on Andy Samberg, The Freedom Tower, “cart-offs,” the Browns and Tribe – WFNY Podcast – 2013-08-19

WFNY Podcast LogoThis week, I’m going to save you the bullet points. Instead I’m going to share my pre-show email to Scott Raab (@ScottRaab64) with my ideas to discuss on the show. Doing this enabled me to stay in the podcast a bit more without typing notes as I went along. So here (with very few edits) is what I sent to Scott the night before we were ready to talk.

I enjoyed the Q&A with Andy Samberg. I just wanted to talk a little bit about how big he would have been in a different era with all his different talents around comedy. Just like we can’t have another Beatles because of the change in the music business, it’s increasingly difficult – even with the same TV show as a launching pad – for there to be another Bill Murray or even Sandler or Will Ferrell.

I enjoyed your Freedom Tower piece too. I wanted to discuss how anything 9/11-related is such a difficult “sell.” World Trade Center movies haven’t done particularly well. Kathryn Bigelow wins awards, but largely doesn’t blow anyone away with box office receipts. And here you are telling an important story about the political dynamics of what should be the most important part of the re-development at the WTC site, and I still get the feeling that nobody wants to talk about it. What is it? Is it a defense mechanism? Fatigue? Something else? Do the blustery politicians from your piece prefer it that way? [Read more...]

The renaissance of the Cleveland sports fan – Scott Raab on LeBron, Josh Gordon and Jim Thome – WFNY Podcast – 2013-06-24

WFNY Podcast LogoScott and I had a conversation over the weekend prior to the podcast in which we decided it was time to see if there’s a greater purpose that we can serve. With all the news of LeBron James, Josh Gordon, Greg Little and Tristan Thompson last week, we decided to discuss whether or not Cleveland fans need to redefine who they are. We’ve lost our way. Our organizations, from owners and players are more temporary than we are and it is time to stop letting everyone else define us. We need to define ourselves.

  • LeBron and his legacy is secured now
  • Can we let storylines unfold?
  • Did this cement the Spurs legacy?
  • Do the ends justify the means?
  • Magic Johnson and how much butt he kissed of players during the finals
  • Philanthropy and who the most generous people in the world are
  • The word genius and the senior superlatives
  • The quarterly earnings announcements and Apple
  • Tax avoidance in corporate life and “branding”
  • Josh Gordon and Greg Little hanging with the Heat and “branding”
  • Let’s assume that they were down there trying to do business
  • Tristan Thompson and Rich Paul hanging out with the Heat
  • Cleveland sports fans have lost their way
  • Browns fans didn’t lose their identity when the team was left
  • We need to define ourselves and who we are as fans as something more than victims
  • The fans and their fandom will outlive all the players and owners
  • Scott Raab and his conversation with Dwyane Wade
  • Cleveland internalizing the worst of their self-image
  • Tom Brady and wearing the Yankees cap around Manhattan
  • The symbol of Dan Gilbert’s original sin was LeBron’s Yankee cap at Jacob’s Field
  • You can’t indict players for their personal relationships or who they want to associate with
  • Josh Cribbs using Dan Gilbert’s seats and tweeting about LeBron
  • Jim Thome statue is pathetic and it defines Cleveland
  • You can’t define your ceiling as Jim Thome
  • Devil’s advocate, but aren’t we being too overly sensitive?
  • This doesn’t happen in other cities
  • Do the owners ever talk to each other?
  • The letter that Dan Gilbert wrote was truly great
  • Who’s more important to you as a business? Employee or customer?
  • Please let us know what you think.
  • What can we do? [Read more...]

Forbes: Cleveland Indians’ franchise value jumps 36 percent

Per usual spring tradition, with Opening Day just around the corner, Forbes unveiled its 2013 MLB franchise valuations on Wednesday. One of the biggest movers? The Cleveland Indians, whose franchise value jumped 36 percent, as the team moved from 26th on the list to 23rd.

Last season, there was a great scamper when the 2012 Forbes report listed the Indians as making money — lots of money. Although operating income dipped by about $8 million this season, the always-controversial valuations have the Indians being worth $150 million more this year.

Value: $410 million in 2012; $559 million in 2013
Revenue: $178 million in 2012; $186 million in 2013
Debt/Value: 27 percent in 2012; 20 percent in 2013
Operating Income: $30.1 million in 2012; $22.9 million in 2013

Cleveland’s franchise valuation jump of 36 percent was the fifth-highest in baseball, behind the Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays. Overall though, this is by far the highest value of the franchise in Forbes’ tracked history dating back to 2004. As a reminder, the Dolan family purchased the team for $323 million in 2000.

Some of the notable changes since March 2012: The turmoil of the 68-94 season, front office turnover that brought in Terry Francona, the sale of SportsTimeOhio, and the acquisition of notable free agents Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. Excitement about the team is as high in March as maybe since following 2007′s playoff run, which was the team’s previous value peak at $417 million.

The three teams that the Indians passed on their route from No. 26 to No. 23 this offseason: Cincinnati, Colorado and Miami. Those three teams now rank No. 24-26, respectively.

Unsurprisingly, the New York Yankees still lead the Forbes rankings by a mile. NYY came in at No. 1 with a $2.3 billion valuation, followed by the No. 2 Los Angeles Dodgers ($1.6 billion), No. 3 Boston Red Sox ($1.3 billion), No. 4 Chicago Cubs $1.0 billion) and No. 5 Philadelphia Phillies ($893 million). The last-place team was the Tampa Bay Rays at $451 million.

[Scott's Article from 2012: Devil’s in the Details with Forbes’ Value Report]

WFNY Podcast – 2013-01-28 – Did Jon and Craig get cocky?

WFNY Podcast LogoI don’t believe Jon was joking when he told me that we shouldn’t post this one today. We went for a long time and we talked about a lot of things, but I think Jon’s feeling is that we got too big for our britches. When going into these podcasts I prefer not to have an agenda per se, but this podcast might have benefited from an agenda. We talked about lots of things, including sports, but we also got off on some tangents. Anyway, in the interest of putting all our potential warts out there, here is the podcast.

Did we do OK? Was it a misstep? Let us know in the comments.

  • The Browns, their ownership and patience
  • The Indians and their ownership and patience
  • Craig watched a national NBA game
  • Deconstructing sports fans’ defenses of their favorite sports
  • Owning up to your own homerism for your favorite sport
  • The Pro Bowl and the band Train
  • The Goo Goo Dolls on Live from Daryl’s House
  • Omar Vizquel doing a karaoke version of “Broadway” by the Goo Goo Dolls
  • Jon’s database project over the weekend
  • Craig’s deathmatch weekend
  • Plagiarism and whether it is a good sign for the artist who commits it
  • Much much more…

[powerpress url="http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/WFNYPodcast2013-01-28.mp3"]

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On Optics and Perception

rob-chudzinski

Is Chud the right coach for the Browns? You don’t know.

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.- Albert Einstein

“As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.” – Donald Rumsfeld

“Chip Kelly is close to a deal to become the Browns coach” – Ian Rapoport

In the wee hours of Thursday night/Friday morning, I found myself in conversation with two friends about the Browns new head coach, Rob Chudzinski. One the participants in this conversation is a huge sports fan who, like myself, is always one click away from twitter machine and the unhealthy, delicious rumors that are found within.  

But my other buddy, he cannot be more disconnected from the sports world. He doesn’t watch Sports Center, not on twitter (certainly never listens to sports talk radio). It’s just not his scene. When he entered the Chud conversation, the dialogue went something like this:

[Read more...]

CBS Sports: Dolan family listed as fourth worst MLB owners

The Dolans aren’t very popular in town, at least as owners of the Indians. They don’t garner much respect from the rest of the baseball community either. On the heels of Jeffrey Loria’s latest shenanigans in Miami, CBS Sports.com published a list of their five worst ownership groups in Major League Baseball. Guess who cracked the list-

“4. The Dolan family, Indians: Remember when the Indians used to go to the playoffs every year? It wasn’t that long ago, but it sure seems like it. The Dolans bought the team in 2000 and the Indians have made the playoffs only once since 2001. They have traded CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee since then, though. Cry small market if you wish, but Dolan bought the club for $323 million in 2000 and Forbes magazine values the club at $410 million now. Also, the Reds, Cardinals and Brewers play in smaller TV markets. They seem to do OK.”

Those owners listed ahead of the Dolans- David Glass (Royals), The Wilpon family (Mets), Jeffrey Loria (Marlins).

[Related: Podcast: Craig and Jon discuss the Marlins firesale]

Acta Goes Down, But Antonetti Should Have Gone With Him

Full disclosure right off the bat: I am in the tank for Manny Acta.

Say what you want to say about Acta the manager, but the man himself is a true gem. Anyone who has covered him, seen him speak in public, or was lucky enough to cross paths with him can’t help but like him. He is the definition of the word “personable.”

In the end, personality can only get you so far. The results on the field are what matter most, and when you are 214-266 in almost three full years while overseeing back to back late season collapses, likability no longer matters.

Manny Acta lost his job yesterday to the surprise of nobody. The timing of it all was a little odd, but as GM Chris Antonetti explained it, it was done with the players exit interviews in mind. Acta tried everything he could with this year’s bunch, from coddling them to getting in their faces, which included a team meeting in Seattle where he tore into his sagging group. But as one unnamed player told Indians.com beat reporter Jordan Bastian “by that time, it was too late.” [Read more...]

Manny Acta dismissed, Sandy Alomar named interim manager of Cleveland Indians

Saying Manny Acta was the problem this year with the Cleveland Indians would be tough to do with a straight face. It also would be tough to say conclusively that he was a part of the solution going forward. With that, and on the heels of an disappointing epic of a season, the Cleveland Indians have fired Manny Acta with six games to go and naming Sandy Alomar Jr. as interim manager, according to Jordan Bastian.1

It’s difficult to understand the timing of the dismissal. With six games left, it doesn’t seem like the Indians are getting any kind of substantial look at Sandy Alomar as manager. Additionally, if they don’t know Sandy by now, it is reasonable to wonder if they ever will.

I’m sure the story will come out eventually. Was Acta pushing the Indians to make their decision? Were other teams calling for permission to interview Alomar with the end of the season so close? Are there some other tea leaves blowing in the wind that I just can’t smell yet?

For now, we know that Acta is gone and he won’t be back next season. There will be a 4:15 PM press conference with Tribe GM Chris Antonetti.

[Related: Indians win 6-4, knock White Sox out of first place]

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Footnotes:

  1. And every other Indians writer and commentator for that matter, but I saw Bastian first. []

Chris Perez gag order in effect?

Chris Perez hasn’t had a quiet season, but has been quiet of late. According to Paul Hoynes’ report, it might have finally been mandated from over Chris’ head after the team largely stood up for its controversial closer most of the season.

Reporter: What do you think the team has learned from this year?

Perez: “No comment. I have opinions, but I’m not going to say them right now.”

As Perez walked away from reporters, he said, “It will be a fun last couple of days of the season when I’m allowed to talk again.”

I’m not sure whose idea of fun it will be. Obviously Perez was being sarcastic, but you have to think some in and around the Indians organization are at least wary, if not scared, of what kind of damage Chris Perez might do at that time. Even if you think Perez has largely been right in his commentary this season, there’s just no doubting it has, at times, been at odds with the organization’s goals to move on from a disastrous season and at least sell a few tickets next year.

[Related: Kluber Spoils Afternoon For Sox, Perez Spoils Win With Postgame Comments]

Chris Perez Compares Indians’ and Tigers’ Ownership, Blasts Decision-Making

In an interview with FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi, Cleveland Indians All-Star closer Chris Perez was asked to discuss the difference between his team and the Detroit Tigers. He obliged, and rather handsomely.

“Different owners,” said Perez.  “It comes down to that. They (the Tigers) are spending money. He (Ilitch) wants to win. Even when the economy was down (in Detroit), he spent money. He’s got a team to show for it. You get what you pay for in baseball. Sometimes you don’t. But most of the time you do.”

The payroll of the Cleveland Indians is roughly $50 million shy of their division rival Tigers. When asked for specifics, Perez, once again, provided. The Indians, in contention near the All-Star break, went on to win five games in all of August due to an utter collapse by the pitching staff coupled with a relative inability to produce runs and now sit 15.5 games back in the AL Central.

“You can’t miss,” Perez said. “You have to be right. That’s why I say it’s not just ownership. They don’t make the trades. It’s the GMs. It goes hand in hand. The GMs can only spend the money the owners give them, but they pick who they spend it on or who they don’t. They pick. The owners don’t pick.

“Josh Willingham would look great in this lineup. They didn’t want to [pony] up for that last year. That’s the decision they make, and this is the bed we’re laying in.”

Perez has been a sounding board for the duration of the 2012 season on topics ranging from attendance woes to the Browns and LeBron James.

[Related: Indians 3, Tigers 2: What a Real, Live Baseball Team Looks Like]

 

Acta Talking Like A Guy Who Wants Out…Can You Blame Him?

The losing is getting to everyone. How can is not? And its not just the fact that they actually lose seemingly every day, its the spectacular fashion in which they do.

I’m not one for moral victories, but at least the Indians were in all three games this series with Seattle and didn’t get blown out. Somewhere, I can hear Harry Doyle say “you have to give ‘em credit, at least he didn’t spike himself.”

I will sum up the game in short:

With the score tied 1-1 with one out in the eighth inning, Kyle Seager laced a ball down the right field line off of Vinnie Pestano. Shin-Soo Choo got it and came up firing. The ball clearly beat Seager to second where Asdrubal Cabrera was waiting. Seager dove in head first and made a brilliant play to avoid the tag. Asdrubal and manager Manny Acta argued to no avail. In an act of clear frustration, the mild mannered Acta was tossed. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… NFL Preseason Success, Jason Kipnis’ Injury, Extending Byron Scott

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

Looking at what Friday’s victory might mean: “Yet here’s the rub with these preseason games: Teams that look pretty in preseason do no necessarily translate that into wins in the regular season. The most famous account occurred here in Detroit. The Lions were 4-0 in the 2008 preseason before finishing 0-16 in the games that actually count. The Browns expect no less than six rookies to see significant action on both sides of the ball. In essence, this game was a different — and much-needed — style of practice for players like Travis Benjamin, Josh Gordon, John Hughes, Mitchell Schwartz, Brandon Weeden and Billy Winn.” [Don Delco/Orange & Brown Report] [Read more...]

Cleveland and Detroit – Similar Markets – Except When It Comes To Baseball Ownership

You want a recap? I will give you one. The Indians were annihilated by the Twins 14-3 while giving up 10 runs in one inning. That’s your recap.

Last night’s debacle, the Indians 10th straight loss, has me seeing things differently. In fact, this moment of clarity came over my weekend trip to Detroit.

On Saturday night, I made the trek down to Comerica Park with my family. Upon arrival, it was a sea of Old English D caps, Tigers shirts and jerseys. The sell out crowd was nothing new in Detroit. They fill the park the majority of their games. In fact, the Tigers rank ninth out of 30 Major League franchises in attendance, with an average of over 37,400 fans. Not coincidentally, the Tigers have MLB’s fifth largest payroll at over $132 million. [Read more...]

Ownership In Cleveland And Generational Perspectives

Why do we care so much about owners in Cleveland? That was the question posed in a Twitter discussion involving yours truly earlier this week1, and it got me thinking. Do Clevelanders put too much of the onus on the guy writing the checks? Is this mindset different in other cities? Are Dan Gilbert, Larry Dolan, and, now, Jimmy Haslam III the three most important people in the city of Cleveland when it comes to our sports hopes and dreams as fans? Let’s discuss.

First, I believe we focus on owners so much because of the things we’ve seen as Cleveland fans. All three teams have changed ownership in the last 13 years. The NBA has a rule named after one of our former owners to protect an organization from itself. Our former NFL owner moved our beloved Browns to Baltimore in the ultimate cloak and dagger move. Two of the owners had their names on venues in the Gateway complex in the mid-90′s. This font will forever be associated with our current Cavaliers owner. Yes, we’ve seen a little bit of everything from Cleveland owners over the years.

[Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. H/T @Nominataur []

Sifting Through The Wahoo Rubble

The Indians lost last night, extending their season long losing streak to seven games. Just one week ago, the Tribe had taken two out of three against these same Tigers in a last ditch effort to hang with the White Sox and Tigers. They sat at 50-49 after beating Justin Verlander, and hopes were relatively high again. Now, with the streak and the symbolic subtractions of veterans Lowe and Damon, all doubt has been removed and this team is not playing beyond Game 162.

Right now, there’s a lot of collective anger to go around, and fans are falling into both educated and not-so-educated trains of thought. The Dolans are cheap. Antonetti blew what little money he had this offseason. The MLB economic structure itself is criminal. The players are’t giving it their all. Acta has lost the team. Meanwhile, us fans are dead last when stacked up against 29 other teams’ fans. It certainly seems that the Indians are caught in contention limbo. The real question is what can they and we as fans do about it now?

I think we all understand this team needs more to contend. As their starting rotation has displayed so eloquently in the last two weeks, the Tribe lacks an ace as well as a true number two starter. Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez could have been the two most important players on this roster heading into the season. And, sifting through the rubble that is now the 2012 campaign, they would be the first two players’ names I would bring up when we’re talking about most disappointing seasons and most crippling blows to the team. Hitting is down everywhere across the bigs, and make no mistake, any lineup that is trotting out Casey Kotchman, Johnny Damon (formerly), and Jack Hannahan daily1 has issues. But, if Masterson and Jimenez had performed up to the level of expectations in the first two months when Gomez and Lowe were both going so well and carrying the starting staff, the Indians would’ve had a ten-game lead in the Central and this seven-game slide would’ve only dropped them out of first place instead of knocking them out of contention period.  [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Not to mention a slumping-until-recently Carlos Santana and an over-the-hill Hafner []

What Happened With Dan Gilbert, The Cleveland Indians and Twitter Last Night?

Apparently some Indians fans were tweeting to Dan Gilbert about buying the Cleveland Indians. Dan Gilbert tweeted and twitter exploded. Here’s how it went down.

Dolan, Lerner, Best Buy and Amazon.com

One of the topics that has become hot this weekend with all dirt that Chris Perez stirred up this is that Cleveland sports fans are hypocrites. As we all know this fan base sells out Browns stadium year-in and year-out1 with an ownership group that has been almost 100% inept in winning football games since 1999. By comparison the Indians have done far better in their standings and certainly playoff appearances. There is no denying that. So the thought then is that Cleveland sports fans are hypocrites for supporting the Browns while not selling enough tickets for the Indians to be above last place in attendance in the major leagues when they’re also first place in their division. While that seems to make some sense on the surface, I find it to be a red herring.

It made me think of Best Buy. I have been fascinated by Best Buy and their downfall for a lot of the last year. I invested a little bit in them after a bad quarter of sales thinking I could make some money on the stock. It seemed to me that Circuit City dying could only help them and they were sure to turn it around quickly. I quickly learned otherwise, and sold the stock when I heard some scary things from company management. Best Buy was failing as an electronics retailer. There are lots of complaints about them and their business model, but the one thing that kept coming up was that they were angry with Amazon.com customers using Best Buy as a showroom so they could then order products online. They were also clamoring for a fair deal with regard to local sales tax which Amazon skirts in many states due to aging catalog rules. When I heard this, I instantly though, “Uh oh.” Thank goodness the Indians brass hasn’t said anything like this, but it is still troubling to hear it out of the fan base in Cleveland.

So, what does electronics retailing have to do with the Indians and the Browns? [Read more...]

Dolans need to fight the law even if the law wins

It is a topic that won’t go away. The Indians are currently in first place in the standings and last in attendance. What gives? Can Cleveland support three teams anymore? All these topics and then some have been top of mind ever since the NFL draft stopped flooding local talk radio phone banks and web servers alike. I haven’t really weighed in on it yet because frankly I find it wholly depressing all the way around. I am a bit embarrassed by it as a fan. I am indignant as well because I don’t think fans should be judged harshly on justifiable actions. Somewhere between these two competing emotions I find the whole topic of conversation completely exhausting, but I have the answer. The Dolans don’t need to spend more money. They need to at least look like they’re fighting the system that leaves them without the ability to spend just as much.

This time of year teams like Baltimore and Cleveland can occasionally thrive. Sometimes a team will maintain this level of quality all the way until the playoffs, but more often than not the quality provided by deeper pocketed ownership usually rises to the top over 162 games. That’s where being a baseball fan is so irrational. It is fun to laugh and point at big markets when they struggle, and then flip the switch to complaining about inequities when a high percentage of those big spenders qualify for the playoffs. It is predictable and I long for the year where I not only recognize that, but break the cycle. Yet, here I am. [Read more...]

Larry Dolan issues statement about the tragic shootings in Chardon

There’s been a dark cloud hanging over the Cleveland area ever since news of the shootings in Chardon broke yesterday morning. The Dolan family has been a big part of that community over the years as Chardon has been the home of the law firm where Larry Dolan practices.  That being the case, Indians owner Larry Dolan made a statement about the shootings.

“On behalf of the Cleveland Indians Baseball Organization, and specifically the Dolan family whose roots are deep in the Chardon community, we offer our deepest sympathy to all involved in this senseless tragedy. We pray that the strength necessary to endure all the pain will come to the survivors. We hope for all of you peace and tranquility in due time.”

I live in the next school district over and it has been very difficult to come up with anything to say.  I’ve written and deleted about five things so far. As we have learned that a third child has passed away this afternoon, it seems there isn’t much to say other than to echo the sentiments of Larry Dolan.