Lifelong Indians Fan Reflects On Cleveland's Departed Sons

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I recently asked our resident Cleveland Indians fan commenter and general gadabout Chief Wahoo to write a guest post for Walkoff Walk in which he remarked on the unique pitching matchup in tomorrow night's game. Here's what he begrudgingly emailed me today:

When I was asked to comment on the impending World Series game one matching up CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee my initial reaction was simple: eat a bowl of fuck. I just couldn't handle it. The distinct likelihood of such a scenario had been quietly bothering me for a while. I did what any good Cleveland fan would do: pretended it wasn't happening and avoid thinking about it. Like any other possible tragedy involving a Cleveland sports team it came to pass. Of course it did.

Realizing I had to deal with the situation I sat down and wrote a lengthy "fan's resignation" letter to Bud Selig. No matter how eloquently I stated my case for divorcing the sport and leaving it behind I could not submit it for publication. I knew I was lying; no way I can avoid watching game one, or the rest of the series, or next season and the one after that for that matter. It's like dating a really hot stripper. No matter how many times she steals your money, does all your drugs and bangs one of your friends you're going to answer the phone when she calls. Besides, it read entirely too much like the "fan's resignation" letter I wrote to Paul Tagliabue when the Browns left town and look where that got me.

So I come back to my original take on the matter, slightly revised: eat a bowl of fuck you fucking motherfuckers. Yeah, yeah, life ain't fair. I get it. Right now I get it a little too much. Yes, sports gods, I understand. Can't you go smite some other fans for a while? Enough of Cleveland being the Job of sporting cities. You push people too far and really, really bad things happen. This kind of protracted punishment is the reason otherwise normal men wind up going out and setting hobos on fire. They just snap. Let's discuss the logical way to prevent such a tragedy from occurring.

The playing field needs to be leveled, people. Baseball has a sickness that is going to kill it if it's not addressed and that disease is the decided competitive advantage high-revenue teams have over all the rest. I know it's been discussed here before but there is still somehow mixed opinion on the matter. This baffles me. Can anyone with even a bit of common sense deny that several teams have a clear edge at succeeding? People like to throw up the Rays as proof that a small market club can succeed. Sure they can. My very own Tribe was one game away from going to the World Series a mere two seasons ago. Matter of fact they had a pretty damned good rotation that year even as a lower revenue franchise. The issue is not the ability to win every once in a while. As things stand it is impossible for the lower revenue teams to capitalize on their success for any amount of time.

The very best the smaller teams can hope for is a good run for a year or two. Any very good player they develop is going to leave as soon as they are an unrestricted free agent. Without some sort of regulation they will leave for a bigger market and larger paycheck. I can't fault the players for making that choice; I once did the very same thing myself. The only option a small market GM has is to try to lock up promising players before they are eligible for free agency. Unfortunately this leaves you open to injury or other misfortune. For every Grady Sizemore there's a Travis Hafner.


Teams like the Yankees can afford to write off 40 million for four years to Carl Pavano and sign someone else to replace him, my team cannot. The result is that the Tribe can develop talent to the best of their ability and if they get everything exactly right they can make a run at it every six or seven years. Make a mistake or two and you don't even get that. A guy like Cashman, however, can spend like a drunken sailor knowing he's going to contend every year. This doesn't even begin to speak to the advantages the bigger clubs have in scouting and developing young talent, paying bigger signing bonuses, etc. Something's broke and it needs fixing.

I don't necessarily have the answer but I know the current system isn't it. It's not good for the sport to have such a vast gulf between the haves and the have-nots. The situation is not the fault of the Yankees; they are simply benefiting from their own success. Were it a matter of different companies selling widgets I would begrudge them nothing. Baseball is more than that, though, and needs to be treated as the unique business that it is. I attended my first Indians game at the old Municipal Stadium in 1973. This is the first year since then that I didn't catch at least one home game in Cleveland. Mind you, I've lived in New York City since 1986. A lot of time, effort and money have gone into my rooting for the team. I've got a thousand dollars worth of Tribe throwbacks hanging in my closet but right now I couldn't imagine spending a dime on anything baseball related.

You risk losing us, baseball, unless action is taken. Perhaps something akin to the NBA system will work, if not in specifics at least in intent. I know LeBron is leaving town after this season, but at least the club has a fair chance at retaining his services. It's only fair that the Indians have a fair chance at retaining Grady's services before he decides to leave after the 2011 season. Throw us a bone, Bud.

Read more of Chief Wahoo at A Scouting Life, his fantastic blog at, and on Tumblr

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I've long decried the idea of a salary cap, but I can't disagree with Chief's thoughts either. Perhaps Bud needs to increase the flow of revenue sharing from the top teams to the bottom to increase competition? But please, don't turn my league into anything resembling the shit NBA.

Good stuff, Chief

The saddest part of the whole thing is how we've all gone about just accepting the way it is. The Indians were "smart" to trade Sabathia and Lee when they did. The Brewers would be "stupid" not to trade Prince Fielder now. It's crazy to think that not only do we have no chance to re-sign these really talented players, but our best option is to get rid of them before it's too late.

I will now add eat a bowl of fuck to my personal vernacular.

Solid work, Chief.

Great stuff, Chief. The Rays are a bad example 'cause they got to the postseason once. What we should be looking for is a small market team having sustained success, and in this current system, that's all but guaranteed not to happen. Eat a bowl of fuck, indeed.

Awesome, Chief. For a long time, I thought the Phillies were a small-market team, based on the moves they made. Turns out they just had terrible ownership and an even worse GM.

I'd like to echo the sentiments of Schooly NJPA slightly: the Indians would be in a slightly better position had they not traded Lee and Sabathia for one league-ready prospect and a handfuls of mid-level filler. A better return puts them in a much better position.

Suck it up Wahoo. Your Indians stomped the hell out of all comers during the 90's, becoming the Atlanta Braves of the National League. I have little sympathy for you and far far less for the Yankees. When Kansas City rides Grienke and its gaggle of up-and-coming young pitching to victory for the next five years maybe we will hear less whining from "those who are about to be abandoned by their talent."

Cleveland gave up on Lee and traded him for value. Tampa Bay gave up on Kazmir and traded him for value. All these guys are making bets, and even if the Yankees can buy back in whenever it suits them, there are no guarantees. Look at the Angels - big market team, lots of dollars, and yet they're "cursed" or something.

At the end of the day you need a balance of talent and balls, and it's impossible to know if your team has enough balls without the talent to get into the playoffs. The Yankees had the same payroll advantages and an owner willing to spend from the 70's onwards and a fat lot of good it did them. They were the Daniel Snyders of baseball.

It wasn't until Gene Michael was in charge and he hired a couple of type-A grinders (Brosius, Tino) to go with his high-priced talent (Boggs, O'Neill, Sierra) and his bumper crop of home-grown talent headlined by the one guy every sports-blog-reading-jerk can agree they would want to have had spend his entire career on their team, Derek Jeter - that the Yankees lucked into their current cycle of ridculous dominance in all phases.

Mark my words, if the Phillies stomp the hell out of them this year, and they fail to win the world series or miss the playoffs for the next few years - their money pool will shrink and all of these perceived advantages will fade as the masses find some other chronic problem to complain about. Some other reason why their team is at a disadvantage.

I was with you until you brought up Scott f'ing Brosius. Yuck.

Also: the only place Kansas City will ride Greinke to is the O.R. for Tommy John surgery. That team is wildly mis-managed.

type-A grinders (Brosius, Tino)

Are those sub sandwiches?

The Royals are the team that the "experts" believe will "take a step in the right diretion" each year but each year they still manage to finish 4th or 5th in their division.

Scott Kazmir should probably be exempt from all of these conversations. The only reason the Rays got him in the first place is because the Mets were dumb enough to think that Victor Zambrano would help their playoff push. I don't think that the Rays "gave up" on him, quite so much as they "gave up hope of him ever becoming the reliable #1 starter he was supposed to be."

Ah matt_T, I laughed out loud. So much so that I thought it was worthy of being written out.

And yes, Iracene, you are probably right, but the 90's Indians put together the kind of mix (manny, alomar) that KC may have the beginnings of. I'm just trying to say these little guys can put it together. It's a front-office thing.

1998 WS MVP, Scott Brosius

njpanick - yeah, I wasn't thinking the Rays gave up on him as a person....


1. The Braves ARE in the National League.
2. If Kansas City makes the postseason for even three of the next five years I'll get a team logo of your choice tattooed on my ass.
3. The Tribe "chose" to give up on Lee much like a pizzaria owner "choses" to pay protection to the mafia.
4. Jeter or not, the Yanks don't win most of those recent titles without the ability to buy high priced free agents.

You can't pretend to believe the economics of baseball are the same now as they were 10 years ago Jack?

The scale has decidedly tipped, though fretting free agents is a false dilemma. Let them go, developing your own talent is the key to victory. Such a small percentage of major contributors all across baseball were free agents, worry more about drafting well.

We're all just "rooting for laundry" anyway, who cares if the names change every 4 years rather than 10?

Bring back the reserve clause!

I'm not going to defend the current system, because it is kind of crappy, but there aren't any easy solutions. If the Yankees aren't allowed to spend $209 million on payroll, that has no effect on the Nationals' constitutional right to mismanage the hell out of their team, for instance.

I really enjoyed this read, Chief.

I think the proper solution is to trade every single good player you develop and allow 99% of all free-agents to walk. If you luck into a good run, you can take all the credit. If you blow it, you can blame your low payroll and fire Art Howe and Ken Macha.

Wahoo - GRRR I need to re-read my posts. I MEANT "American League"

2 - KC is an idyllic, future-scenario, example. They bolster my argument precisely because it's unprovable, I'm sure, and I hope for both our sakes that we've forgotten all about this in five years. (In case we haven't, I choose "The Miami Caliente" of the Lingerie Football League.

3 - Lee was having a crap season and they thought they'd get a better deal than waiting to let him go in free agency. Also this way they could sell it to their fans (you) that they were "forced into it". Hook, line, meet sinker.

4 - High priced free-agents or not, the Yankees don't win those titles without their core of home grown talent (Bernie, Posada, Mariano, Jeter) Drew Fairservice says so.

I, for one, welcome our new commenter Jackalicious and look forward to treating him/her with the same amount of respect we give to our regular folks. That may or may not be a good thing.

Declare your team of choice, sir/madam!

Fairservice - I don't think the economics are the same, but the divide kind of is. I remember when the Red Sox had 3 million dollars a year to pay to Rich Gedman - which is exactly the same as 40 million to Carl Pavano today. Two cripples careening slowly around into large objects and hurting themselves and their GM. (Aparently Cashman is as impervious as Lou Gorman was)

"High priced free-agents or not, the Yankees don't win those titles without their core of home grown talent (Bernie, Posada, Mariano, Jeter)"

Don't forget about Pettitte

treating him/her with the same amount of respect we give to our regular folks

In other words, he'll shit on your neck just to steal a bite of the delicious broccoli rabe sangwich that you're eating right now.

Technically, Pettitte is a high-priced free agent too.

Dear Mr. Iracene,

You fool! I will never leave!

Thank you very much. I admit to sailing the seven seas in pursuit of the Great White Wahoo, hoping to harpoon him and drag his massive carcass to my home waters where he will be stuffed and preserved for posterity. My posterity. I want my children's children to sit on him for posed photographs.

I also admit to favoring the Boston Red Sox, despite growing up in New York. My father was born in Lynn. (explains everything) And yes, I agree with all of you that all of the fake loser REd Sox fans of recent years deserve to have their organs removed and donated to hospitals as far away from America as possible. Those of us who suffered so long still suffer today under the yoke of the fair-weather.

Thank you,


Also I am male.

Pettite is a home-grown / free-agent hermaphrodite.

true Rob, but I was thinking of the 1996-2000 run.

njpanick - I have been warned.

As it relates to payroll, the difference between 1 and 30 is far, far greater now. As is the distance between 1 and 2, or 1 and 6. The Yankees are lapped the field because they retain existing talent in addition to filling up with free agents.

Chief, I'm not yet sold as far as a cap solving problems, but your argument is reasoned, persuasive and well-written. Nice work.

And, I agree that Jack-alicious' father being born in Lynn explains everything*.

*has no idea where Lynn is, or what "everything" is supposed to mean.

/does love the signature line, though.

it read entirely too much like the "fan's resignation" letter I wrote to Paul Tagliabue when the Browns left town and look where that got me.

Getting the team back in three years? Not bad.

Nice job, Chief.
Long-winded bastard.

Great read Chief Wahoo. However, "...setting hobos on fire" was a bit over the top.

/recalls own actions after "the Don Denkinger game" & "the Vince Coleman tarp incident"

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