New York Yankee fans are busy celebrating their team’s 27th World Series championship today. They’ve got nothing on Indians fans. Today is also a huge day for celebration in Cleveland. Why? Well, today we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Larry Dolan buying the Cleveland Indians.
Yes, we’re now entering the second decade of Dolan ownership of the Indians. And what a ride it’s been. It started with a bang when Dick Jacobs told the media that he didn’t think he would, “suffer from buyer’s remorse.” Selling an overvalued baseball team for a then-record $320 million will do that to a guy.
The Plain Dealer editorialized that Dolan “looks like a fine prospect” and that “Cleveland Indians fans couldn’t have asked for a better beginning from Larry Dolan.” During his initial press conference Dolan talked longingly of keeping score of Indians games he listened to on the radio while growing up.
What were the Yankees doing 10 years ago today? Ummmmmmmmmm, celebrating their 25th World Series championship. But you’ve only won two more than the Dolans since then, Yankees! Take that. Larry Dolan certainly had grand plans when he and his family trusts bought the team. One championship wasn’t going to be enough for the new owner:
“I don’t want one World Series for the Indians, I want a string of them.”
Now his son Paul is saying that competing for a title maybe once every four or five years is the Indians’ best chance. Egads.
Ironically Dolan only bought the Indians because the year before he had been outbid by Al Lerner for the Browns by $5 million. Cries for both owners to sell their teams come from all corners of Northeast Ohio today. Maybe they should just trade. The Dolan family appears to be in financial straights but remains committed to a vision which may or may not be successful. Randy Lerner, now the Browns owner after his father Al passed away in 2002, is currently paying two head coaches and two general managers while the fan base demands he hire a third of each. Give Randy Lerner’s deep pockets to the Indians and give Larry Dolan’s systematic plan to the Browns and maybe there’s different results for each.
Instead we’re relegated to the basement in both sports. The Indians finished tied for last in the American League Central this season while the Browns are last in the AFC North, only one win better than the worst team in the NFL. (Yes, hard to believe someone’s worse than the Browns, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are winless.)
Now before everyone reading this goes to their kitchen in search of the largest, sharpest knife they can find in order to slit their wrists, let’s look back at the Indians best moments against the Yankees during the Dolan era:
1) THE BUG GAME
We’ll never forget the Million Midge March. In Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS between the Yankees and Indians, a swarm of midges descended on Jacobs Field and distracted Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain. The Tribe trailed 1-0 in the eighth inning when Chamberlain, in as a reliever, unleashed a wild pitch that scored Grady Sizemore with the tying run. Travis Hafner eventually won the game for the Indians with a single in extra innings. The Tribe went on to take the series; the game went down in baseball lore.
The Indians handed the Yankees their worst defeat in new Yankee Stadium in mid-April, 22-4. The Tribe’s season was already shaping up as a disaster as they came into the game just 3-8. But for one day the Indians ruled baseball. The Indians scored 14 runs in the second inning and filled the new Yankee Stadium record book. They collected the most hits in an inning against the Yankees and scored the most runs in the second inning of any game in history. The 22 runs also tied the most runs against the Yankees that was set by …
… the Indians in their 22-0 victory over the Yankees on Aug. 31, 2004. Omar Vizquel tied the AL record with six hits, the Indians matched the largest shutout win in the majors since 1900, and handed the Yankees their worst loss in history. Derek Jeter didn’t even stick around after the game to answer questions.
So take that, Yankees! You may have CC Sabathia, you may have 27 World Series championships, you may have a $200 million-plus payroll, you may have a dreamlike new stadium, you may have Jeter and A-Rod and Mariano Rivera and Pettitte and Posada and hot wives and fancy cars and all of New York City in the palms of your hands, but we’ve got these memories. And we’re never going to forget them.