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Friday, April 18, 2014
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Published: 6/30/2002

Dolan proves that baseball is business to him

The way I see it, the problem facing the Cleveland Indians is bigger than owner Larry Dolan.

The problem also rests with you, the sports fan.

Don't you see?

To you, the Indians are a pleasant diversion, a way to remove yourself from the drudgery of 9-to-5 and household chores for a few hours a couple of days a week.

We have all played sports in some form or fashion. Playing sports is enjoyable and healthy.

Some people will tell you that the only thing better than being a participant is watching a favorite sport being played by world-class athletes.

It's exciting living vicariously through famous people. There's no risk and little chance for personal involvement.

So, while it's painful for Indians loyalists to watch Dolan tear apart his baseball team for the sake of preserving the all-important bottom line, I believe some good may result from the personnel purge.

It may force fans to finally open their eyes and take stock of how sports should fit into their everyday lives.

Why should fans care more about winning than their favorite team cares about winning?

When I wrote last month that Indians fans should blame Dolan instead of manager Charlie Manuel for the team's decline, I had no idea Dolan would go as far as to approve trading star pitcher Bartolo Colon in a cost-cutting move.

Colon is having a great season. The Indians have now traded Colon, their best player, after failing to re-sign Kenny Lofton and Juan Gonzalez and trading Robbie Alomar in the off-season.

Clearly, Dolan has no interest in winning this year.

To you, the fan, the Indians are your baseball team. You take their on-field successes and failures personally.

To Dolan, the owner, the Indians are a business. He's trying to make money.

Never underestimate the difference.

Dolan and other franchise owners take fan loyalty and the resulting financial support for granted.

Dolan realizes that whatever anger you may be feeling right now will disappear as soon as the Indians start winning again.

It could take two or three years before the Indians turn things around. But you're patient and forgiving. You'll keep attending their games.

The Indians recorded their second sellout of the season Friday night against Arizona at Jacobs Field. Ironically, it was their first home game after the Colon trade.

Granted, the game was a sellout before the trade was made. But here was the perfect opportunity for large numbers of disgruntled Indians fans to stage a protest by boycotting the game.

A small percentage of fans displayed anti-Dolan signs, but I guarantee you that didn't prevent most of the 42,586 fans from paying inflated prices to drink beer, eat hot dogs and buy Indians merchandise.

Sports fans always give the home team the benefit of the doubt. They're incredibly supportive and naive.

If society in general were that sympathetic to the poor, there wouldn't be any homeless people.



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