April 24, 2014

Survey Says? Digging deeper into the Cleveland Indians fan survey

Indians SurveyLost in the kerfuffle of the Cleveland Indians allegedly polling season ticket holders about their opinion on Chief Wahoo was the fact that said inquiry was literally one of roughly three dozen questions pertaining fans and how they relate to various aspects of the team. Drowned out by all of the noise and nostalgia surrounding the polarizing mascot was the fact that the team was conducting an exit interview of sorts, gauging fan thoughts on items like concessions, ticket prices, and most importantly, the roster of players who wear Cleveland on the fronts of their uniforms.

We have long discussed how attached fans are to the current roster. Gone are the days of having the same group of guys fill the Indians lineup card season after season; Kenny Lofton isn’t walking through that door, as much as he would probably like to. And while the stark reality of another 455 straight sell-outs continues to loom as an impossibility, the team wants to know how much they—despite still rocking their faded navy blue t-shirts with “BAERGA” on the back—assimilate with guys like Swisher and Kipnis and Bourn and Brantley. They want to know how important it is for the owner to be more out in the open, discussing the team’s direction and their plans for the future. They want to know, in addition to price adjustments at the concession counter and box office, what it would take to get that season-ticket base back up—how can they get you to invest in this team’s future?

[Read more...]

Despite the loss, this was a game Cleveland needed

Tribe Pano Smaller

Last night’s Wild Card playoff was a game this city desperately needed. No, one game is most assuredly not “enough.” No, I’m not satisfied that the Indians peed down their leg with runners on base last night.1 All the same, last night was a game that this city needed and it was a game that the team needed. As I said yesterday, this city has been doing a lot of bickering and in-fighting over the years since LeBron James left town and took all of Cleveland’s playoff hopes with him. What was left was a lot of self-loathing, bitterness and negativity.2 It’s been wearing on this city’s fans and filtering to the players too. With those things in mind, I’m elated with the fact that Cleveland got at least one playoff game so the city could explode positively for a night.

It was absolutely electric, except that’s something everyone says. It was more than electric. The pride, excitement, and nearly palpable effort by Clevelanders last night to will their team to victory was everything we all remember as kids growing up with the 90′s Tribe. It was another taste for those of us in this age bracket, but it was even more important for so many people who hadn’t seen it before or were too young to remember. But that’s just the fans. It was also imperative for Cleveland Indians players to see it. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. I’ll leave the real recap work to the experts. []
  2. Some justified and some probably a bit over-the-top. []

The Goon Squad!

Goon squad

The Indians take on the RAYS/RANGERS tomorrow in the one game Wild Card Playoff. The Goon Squad (Aviles, Raburn, Giambi and Gomes) are a huge reason why.

The shirts they are sporting are from GV Art and Design.You may have seen the picture floating around the internet. Several groups have recreated the shot for the guys at GV Art. TD, Scott, Craig and I took a moment to take a shot ourselves when we had a surprise guest. [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...]

Pluto: Conversation with Indians CEO Paul Dolan

The Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto had a conversation with Cleveland Indians CEO Paul Dolan recently, the summary of which was outlined in today’s newspaper. In it, I found this the most interesting was the talk of “pain” from the 68-94 season last year, something fans know all too well.

 

“Dolan said that in the 14 years that his family has owned the franchise, the 68-94 record in 2012 was “the worst” season that he’s endured.

“We didn’t want to go through something like that again,” he said. “In some ways, it was a shock we needed.”

The Tribe had an 80-82 record in 2011. It was 50-49 on July 26, 2012, only 3.5 games behind Detroit in the Central Division — and then finished 18-45.

“The cataclysmic collapse made it clear that we were not going in the right direction,” said Dolan.

The Indians drew only 1,603,596 fans — the second-lowest total since the team moved to Progressive Field. Dolan didn’t give the number, but I heard the season ticket base was barely above 5,000 not long after the season. Now, it’s approaching 7,000.”

 

The Indians spent over $100 million in offseason acquisitions Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds, Brett Myers, and Michael Bourn. They also acquired Trevor Bauer, Drew Stubbs, and Mike Aviles via trades.

Related: The 2013 Tribe and jWAR

Playing with House Money: Why I think the Dolans should consider selling the Indians

The Dolan family needs to step away from the blackjack table and leave the casino with house money well in hand.

After selling STO to FOX, they need to go to the next level and sell the team before they lose any of that money they just “won.” This is the only way I know how to describe what just occurred with their sale of STO to FOX Sports for an estimated $230 million while also selling the broadcast rights for $40 million a year.

First of all, this isn’t some angry fan thing that is telling the Dolans to go away. This is purely how I see it in light of the recent business victory the Dolan family scored. Some may think it’s wrong to liken the situation to gambling when the Dolan family built STO in order to leverage the Indians’ broadcasting rights. They built a new company and sold it, so why would that be anything like gambling?

[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]

Paul Dolan Changes: Not Coming Soon

I know what you all read last night and saw this morning. Indians CEO Paul Dolan says he is not interested in making any changes to his front office or with his manager. Now before you all freak out and scream bloody murder at the Dolan ownership, take a look at the actual quotes themselves.

“We all have a lot of work to do, but their jobs aren’t at stake in this. As I sit here today, I have no intent to make any changes. I have to understand what’s happened. I’m not going to have that understanding today. Hopefully, sometime in this off-season, we’ll be able to assess and move from there.”

“I don’t know how (to explain the free fall), don’t understand exactly what’s happened — other than we haven’t performed at virtually every level of the game for the last month.”

“We had a team threatening to make the playoffs that has collapsed. We have to understand what happened, and I’m not going to make judgments on that right now. It’s going to take more time to assess what we have, what we need, and what we’re capable of doing.” [Read more...]

Indians’ Paul Dolan: I Don’t Know What Happened to This Team

This has been the most difficult stretch we’ve had as owners. At the end of July, we were in the playoffs or on the verge of the playoffs having just beat [Detroit starter Justin] Verlander, then it all fell apart. We have to understand what happened and I’m not going to make judgments on [the future of the front office] right now. But it’s certainly been a very, very difficult stretch for us. [...] In our entire tenure of ownership, we have not seen a contending team deep into the season collapse like this. I don’t really know what’s happened to this team other than we haven’t performed at virtually every level of the game for the last month. [...] It’s going to take more time to assess what we have and what we need and what we’re capable of doing. Hopefully sometime this offseason, we’ll be able to assess and move from there.

– Cleveland Indians CEO Paul Dolan, Thursday, addressing the local media amid his baseball team losing 21 of their last 25 games. Opting to not make a move at the MLB Trade Deadline, the Indians went from first place on June 23 to being 14.5 games back just two months later. Dolan stated that he is “not convinced” that the team standing pat has had any bearing on the team’s collapse. Under the Dolan ownership, which began in 2000, the Indians have reached the playoffs just two times, having won one playoff series.

[Related: Acta Talking Like A Guy Who Wants Out…Can You Blame Him?]

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...]

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...]

Paul Dolan: “A Year Ago, There was a Rumor with Fausto”

In a lengthy sit-down with Terry Pluto, Cleveland Indians CEO Paul Dolan opened up about a variety of topics including the recent arrest, renamining and subsequent contract renegotiations of Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona.

“About a year ago, there was a rumor that there was something with Fausto,” Dolan said. “These type of things [name changes, age changes] do happen.”

In Januaray, Carmona was arrested in his native Dominican Republic while leaving the American Consulate in attempts to renew his Visa to come back to the States for Spring Training. He was charged with false identity and was found to be three years older than he had claimed, only to later get the charges dropped. The team could, allegedly, not gain any furthur information on the matter, but was not shocked to hear that something had happened when it did.

Following the arrest, Hernandez will see his $7 million base salary in 2012 drop to $2.5 million, with an additional $2.7 million available in performance and roster bonuses, determined by the number of starts he makes, the number of innings he pitches, and the total number of days he spends on the team’s active roster.

[Related: Is Ubaldo’s 2010 Fausto’s 2007?]

(Source: Cleveland.com)

Illitch Brings the Dolans Back Into the Spotlight

There are plenty of old bits in Cleveland sports. How could the NFL not force the financially strapped Art Modell to sell, or what if LeBron hadn’t been coddled the way he was, or why didn’t Sandy Alomar go out to the mound and yell at Jose Mesa when he was shaking him off in game seven of the ’97 World Series, or Joel Skinner’s stop sign starting the chain of events which began the unraveling of the ’07 ALCS. But perhaps the oldest of bits and one that was brought back to the forefront last week was a classic; say it with me:

“The Dolans need to sell the Indians.”

I have long been a defender of their ownership in our market, with the emphasis on the “in our market” portion of that sentence. Let’s get the facts out of the way:

[Read more...]

Assessing the Indians New Uniform Tweaks

Last week, the Indians announced some changes to the uniforms for this season. Jon brought you the initial news, and I’ve been waiting to hear a few more details before discussing it here. I don’t know if I’m the most opinionated one on the site about uniforms or not, but I certainly do pay attention and probably voice my opinion more than the rest of the guys.

The changes aren’t major, but could definitely be an upgrade. The most notable differences to the Home white and alternate jerseys are the removal of the trim along the collar and down the button panels. That piping has been part of the Indians’ white and blue tops in some form since the team switched to the new wordmark and uniforms in the ’90s. [Read more...]

WFNY Exclusive – Eric Wedge’s Résumé

Some WFNY sources emailed us this weekend that they were privy to the résumé that Eric Wedge was shopping in MLB circles this past off-season while searching for a new job.  As we all know after this weekend, the former Tribe manager ended up getting the job managing Ichiro and the Seattle Mariners.  Previously this season we also discussed the awkward reunion between Wedge and former Indian Milton Bradley.  Normally at WFNY we try not to publish the rumors and information that come through our emails on a weekly basis, but we had to make an exception after we saw this one.  So check out it out below.

Eric Wedge Resume

WFNY Podcast: Can the Browns Win Their Next Four?

It’s not everyday that we get to talk in depth about all three teams, but with the recent Browns successes combined with a .500 Cavaliers team and some news coming out of the Indians, we have a triple-threat podcast with Dan Labbe over at Cleveland.com.

What should we expect from these next four Browns games? Did Paul Dolan make a bit of a bonehead move by announcing that the team isn’t participating in free agency?  And can the Cavaliers maintain this pace with the schedule getting tougher?  [Read more...]

Indians On Pace For Worst Attendance Totals Since 1992

The Cleveland Indians are officially on pace to have the worst home attendance totals since the 1992 season.

With 59 home games in the books, the Indians have drawn 1,051,837 fans – a number which has been boosted as of late thanks to back-to-back (rockin!) firework nights and the induction of former center fielder Kenny Lofton into the team’s Hall of Fame.  While these events have been beneficial for walk-up sales and all-around fan morale, every other non-event game since opening day has been sparsly attended at best, compounding the term “non-event.” [Read more...]

Eric Wedge Takes High Road in Exit Interview

wedgeWhen it comes to Cleveland and baseball, we will always have the chicken-egg debate.  Is it the manager, or is it the players?  And when asked the same question during the 1:30 press conference today, Eric Wedge said that he tried to do his best with the hand he was dealt over the last seven-plus seasons. 

ESPNCleve/WKNR’s Michael Reghi questioned the slow starts that have plagued this team over the past several seasons, and Wedge was quick to take the blame for his team’s sputtering out of the gate.  He was also quick to point out the successes as well, but understands how the business works.  Wedge was then asked if he feels that he was given a “full, complete shot” with this team – the one that traded away two Cy Young winners. [Read more...]

Redskins Taken to Court, is Chief Wahoo Next?

sick_wahoo_smallWith TMZ reporting today that the Washington Redskins may soon find themselves getting a ruling from the United States supreme court regarding defamation of race, I cannot help but wonder what sort of watershed event this could be for other teams throughout sports.  Being a fan of Cleveland teams, the one that obviously jumps out is the mascot of the Cleveland Indians, Chief Wahoo.

The team has slowly started to migrate away from Wahoo, despite the constant reminders that it is not phasing him out.  Consider it more of an introductory phase of other logos, says Paul Dolan.  And while Wahoo is still (proudly?) displayed in Winter Haven, Florida – mostly due to cost reasons, the new spring training facility in Goodyear, Arizona is littered with the script letter “I” that can be found on alternative jersey hats and soft pretzels alike. [Read more...]