I don’t even know where to start. As you’ve probably heard, Cleveland star shortstop Francisco Lindor will be headed to the New York Mets in a blockbuster trade finalized Thursday. I’m angry, and anyone else that roots for this sorry organization should be too.
Before I get to that, however, some attention should be brought to the deal itself. Cleveland has traded Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco for Andres Gimenez, Josh Wolf, Amed Rosario, and Isaiah Greene according to Ken Rosenthal. On its face, simply looking at the players, this could be worse. Francisco Lindor is a top-five shortstop in the majors and regarded by many as a generational talent. However, he only has one more year of club control and the team clearly did not plan to re-sign him. Carrasco’s departure certainly hurts, but Cleveland has that ever-growing surplus of pitching prospects to fill the gap. In return they get Gimenez, a former MLB Pipeline top 100 prospect, and two recent high draft picks in Wolf and Greene. Amed Rosario is a massive downgrade from Lindor, but he is actually a Major League Baseball player unlike the rest of the pieces in this trade. On its face, this trade is awful for Cleveland, but it could be worse and there are pieces of this return to be excited about. In a few months when the season starts, that is what’s going to matter the most.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about what matters today.
This isn’t new. This organization has never cared about the product it puts on the field past its ability to generate revenue. In fact, they don’t even act like they care about winning. Baseball is a business, after all, and it’s a business the Dolan’s should’ve left a long time ago. In an interview two offseasons ago, Paul Dolan said “Enjoy him” to the fans in regards to Francisco Lindor. Other organizations put out press releases along the lines of, “We are committed to putting a winning product on the field” and at least pretend like they care at all about the fans. I do not mean to praise organizations that act like they care about winning when they don’t. However, it feels they should care at least a little bit about what the people who fill their seats think. Instead, Paul Dolan acts more like an autocrat of eighteenth-century Europe. His power being absolute, we fans are simply at the mercy of whatever team he decides to throw together. This $35M payroll team are the crumbs the Dolan family has decided to leave us rats. “Enjoy him” is the modern baseball version of “Let them eat cake,” and in both scenarios, nothing is going to change until heads roll.
Perhaps this description seems a bit dramatic, and it probably is. That, however, is the crux of another problem fans of this putrid team have to endure. I love the baseball team located in Cleveland, Ohio, and the way they perform each season has a large effect on me emotionally. This is not unusual, as it is the case with diehard fans of any team. As someone who’s rooted for a team that perennially competed for championships in the Cleveland Cavaliers, and a team that went nearly two years without winning a single game in the Cleveland Browns, I can tell you what causes me the most pain as a sports fan. The most heartbreaking, gut-wrenching experience you can have as a sports fan is being devoid of all hope. The Cleveland Browns have been the laughing stocks of the sports world for the better part of my life, and yet every year I turn on the TV for Week 1 full of hope. This is not only due to whatever high draft pick we added that year but the presence of an organization, while completely inept, that actually wanted to win. With this team, that simply is not the case. As a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, every time we lost in the Finals I was heartbroken but also knew that the organization would do all their power to put a winning team on the court the following year. With this team, that is simply not the case.
Every lead we choked, every time we got swept, I thought this might’ve been our last chance. This might be the year they tear it all down. If the Cleveland Baseball Team ever wins a World Series under this ownership, it will be by accident as far as the ownership is concerned. We all know by now that this organization has never cared about winning, and in turn they have never decided to spend big when given the chance to get over the hump. The way they have tried to remain competitive is by trading players who are nearing free agency for young, controllable players (Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, and now Francisco Lindor would all fall into this category). This is what kept them competitive for the last five years, and it worked. However, each subsequent offseason was met with more salary dumps than the last, until finally the team we have today. Everyone knew this was coming, if not through the organization’s past behavior then through Dolan’s comments essentially saying this would happen. This is a terrifying way to root for a sports team, and the Dolan’s put countless people through this every year.
At the end of the day, there are more important things than a baseball team. Maybe this is a total overaction on my part. Besides, if I hate rooting for this team so much I should just stop doing it. The saddest reality of all is that I truly wish I could. If I could snap my fingers and sever all my emotional attachments to this train wreck, I would. But I grew up with this team, and my love for the entire sport of baseball grew from my love of this team. I couldn’t stop caring about this team if I tried, and that’s really what makes this a tragedy. When looking at it this way, is this really just a business? The Dolan’s own and manage a team with countless fans who will support it regardless of what product shows up on the field. It’s not like I could just take my business elsewhere if I’m not satisfied, like a regular business (I understand that many people can and do indeed do this, but this article is not about them). In reality, this is serfdom. I was born tethered to this team, doomed to root for them for eternity. I am but a simple sports fan at the mercy of Lord Dolan, who owns my plot of land. Perhaps I will get lucky and be provided with a free agent signing of a 35-year-old utility man once every three offseasons. The bottom line is that owners of a sports team are responsible for not only the entertainment but the emotional well-being of a lot of people, and yet none of them are required to take this part of their job seriously.
This whole article has been “poor me” from start to finish, but Cleveland isn’t the only fanbase that has to deal with this. Many other franchises have cheapskate owners that put them in the same purgatory as us. The Rays trading Blake Snell to San Diego is a perfect example of this. So, if nothing else, this is yet another example of the failure of this system to create the best product. At what point do we ask why owners even need to exist, or why teams have to be structured this way? Sure, owners pay the players and hire the staff, but they don’t create the revenue pool that they use to fulfill these duties. Owners are simply there to hoard wealth created by the labor of the players. They are bloodsucking leeches in the side of both players and fans, and it’s time we stopped putting up with it.
I don’t know what I aimed to achieve writing this. Perhaps it’s my fault that I care so much about this, but I wouldn’t be writing about it if I didn’t know that others feel the same. The reason sports exist on the scale that they do in this country is that they provide a crucial service to so many people. Major League Baseball, among other American sports leagues, has antitrust exemptions from the federal government because baseball is merely a game and there needn’t be competition among corporations over who can provide it best.
So why, I ask, are these owners not accountable to the public in any way? They have government protection because they provide a beneficial service to society, and yet they are allowed to operate like they exist in a competitive industry. This trade, and the behavior of this organization, is yet again this broken system rearing its ugly head.