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SICILIANO: Last straw for Indians fans

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Andrew Siciliano

 
   
 
Shhhhh. Can you hear that? Listen carefully. That's the sound of an entire city turning off their televisions and ripping up their tickets in unison. That is, if one assumes the fans in Cleveland were even paying attention. Unless you're a masochist, there was truly no reason to watch this year. Why would waste time on an organization making no effort to win? The All-Star second baseman was traded over a hot stove. The slugging — albeit injury-prone — RBI machine was allowed to walk. Their first baseman, the homegrown heart and soul of the franchise, wasn't offered a new contract, setting the table for an inevitable mid-summer deal. Now, in a sickening move, one of the best young pitchers in the game is shipped to Montreal. Welcome to baseball, Larry Dolan-style. Dolan wasn't initially afraid to spend money after taking over the Tribe in January of 2000. He gave the thumbs up to sign . He let John Hart roll the dice on after took his communication skills to Fenway. signed on last year for a shot at a ring. Little did we know 2001 was the last shot Dolan would take. We'll never know for sure when exactly Dolan decided to tank his team. However, it's not difficult to read between the lines. John Hart knows the answer. Early last season, Dolan told Hart the free-spending days were over. Payroll would be slashed, veterans sent scattered across the league. In other words, Dolan wanted to hop in the time machine and catapult his team back to the 1960's. You remember the '60s, don't you? The were a civic embarrassment. Hart had the good sense to pack his bags for Texas and hand the wrecking ball to Mark Shapiro. To be fair though, don't blame Shapiro. The man is simply following orders from an owner who has no desire to win. Shapiro says the are now officially rebuilding. The problem is, Dolan's fiscal insanity just forced Shapiro to trade his best building block. is a general manager's dream, a 29-year old ace on pace to win 20 games with a laughably reasonable price tag of less than $5 million. There are 20 American League starters who make more than Colon. Better yet, the club holds an option for next season at only $6 million. But wait, there's more. 's days are numbered, despite the fact his salary ranks only 24th on the AL scale. Thome represents everything that's right about today's game. He's a valuable veteran leader who has played over a decade for the team that drafted him. God forbid Dolan would keep around a relatively affordable fan favorite. The optimist says the kids harvested in these trades may one-day turn into superstars. and Sandy Alomar developed into All-Stars after Joe Carter was sent to San Diego. But you can't compare the 1989 to last year's team. The '89 team finished in the basement of the AL East. Last year's won their division. The '89 Tribe had the 13th worst attendance in the league. The 2001 Wahoos drew over three million fans. The '89 squad featured Luis Aguayo , Tommy Hinzo and Brad Komminsk. Last year's team had three potential Hall of Famers. Despite winning 91 games a year ago, Dolan decided to play demolition. , one of the greatest to ever grace second base, was traded to the . is told to shop elsewhere. The sad fact is, Dolan broke up a team that was still capable of winning if he was willing to spend a few more bucks. Sure, is slumping this year with the . But, if he were still in Cleveland, chances are he'd still be hitting .330 and playing stellar defense. Never underestimate the power of familiar surroundings. Gonzalez is a different issue. It's understandable the were leery of re-signing a guy with the back of a geriatric patient. But if you let your RBI machine walk, you owe it to your team and your fans to buy another bat. That is, of course, unless you're not trying to win. This year's team didn't have great pitching, even with Colon in the rotation. Still, statistically, the staff was in the middle of the AL pack. Yet, the aren't running away with the Central Division. The re-define inconsistency. If only Dolan had spent some money. Dolan needs to take a trip to Las Vegas and learn some basic financial strategy. It takes money to make money. If you don't believe me, go ask any blackjack dealer stuck on an overnight shift with drunken cowboys playing $5 hands. It's a rather simple concept. If you spend more money to produce a superior product, the consumer is more likely to buy your product. In other words, if Dolan had dropped a couple of bucks on this team in the winter, the fans would still be lining up outside Jacobs Field handing him the needed money to cover his expenses. One fan told me the Colon trade was as painful as a carpet bagging Art Modell moving the Browns to Baltimore. Okay, so Modell relocating one of football's proudest franchises was far worse than dealing a pitcher to Canada. But both illustrate Cleveland's propensity to find lousy owners for its teams. The Browns were eventually reborn. It remains to be seen if the will ever rise from the ashes of Dolan's bonfire. Andrew Siciliano can be heard Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. Noon EDT on 's Tony Bruno Show.
Tagged: Red Sox, White Sox, Indians, Twins, Rangers, Nationals, Mets, Manny Ramirez, Bartolo Colon

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