The Indians are terrible again and naturally folks are calling for heads to roll and for the Dolan family to sell the franchise. Last night, our friend Joe Lull on 92.3 compared the Dolans to a young family that adopted a dog but could no longer afford to take care of it, which is typical. At this point it’s an article of faith on local talk radio and and message boards that Tribe fans would be better off if the Dolans would sell to a more worthy owner, whoever that might be.
So who might it be? Or, more to the point, how could anyone reasonably expect any ownership group to do better than the Dolans have since purchasing the Indians in 2000 given the skewed economics of Major League Baseball by which market size-based television contracts allow some franchises to comfortably spend three-to-four times more on talent than their supposed competitors?
In eleven seasons under the Dolans’ leadership, the Indians have come within one game of the World Series once. So who among their small market peers has done any better?
See MLB playoff history here, and note that if we’re looking at markets any smaller than the Cleveland-Akron-Elyria combined statistical area the answer is none, which makes the Dolans the top small market MLB owners in the business (see list of metropolitan statistical areas as well for full comparison). Even if you don’t want to define “small market” in this way, it’s undeniable that no MLB ownership group has done any better than the Dolans under the same constraints. So folks calling for the Dolans to sell based on the team’s performance are doing so without a single example of anyone who’s been able to do any better.
But if you want to hold the Dolans to a higher standard and compare the Indians to franchises that draw from bigger markets than they do, but markets smaller than Detroit’s (which falls just outside of the top ten), we’re looking at the A’s, Brewers, Mariners, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Royals, and Twins. (Note: The Cardinals are not a “small market” club by any reasonable definition.)
Among this group, only the Rays and Rockies have done any better than the Indians have, and not by much, with each of those teams making it to the World Series once only to get blown out in it (Rays lost in five and the Rockies got swept). So if you abide by the maxim that it don’t mean a thing without the ring, all small market MLB clubs are tied as the best small market clubs.
If folks want to criticize the Dolans for not uniting with their small market peers to do something to fix MLB’s glaring and growing competitive balance problem, that’s a different story and a more productive discussion, but that’s not the discussion that’s taking place.
DISCLAIMER: Thanks to their stubbornness in clinging to the disgusting Chief Wahoo logo, the Dolans are of course the absolute worst. The preceding discussion excludes the Wahoo issue for the purpose of inclusiveness as well as for the analysis and discussion of other issues to which so many poor fools find the Wahoo issue to be impertinent.
The 5-year Plan: Despite a June swoon, the Dolan promise is holding up
The quote of the day is a tie:
“I’m more like Ben [Roethlisberger] than Michael Vick.” — Brandon Weeden
“[I will meet the enemy] in front of their armored personnel carriers” [to tell them they are not welcome]. … I don’t want U.N. troops in Lubbock County.” — Lubbock County, TX Judge Tom Head
Which is all for today. Important Cheddar Bay annoucements and who knows what else tomorrow. Thanks.