Cleveland Indians ownership has had a rocky relationship with fans ever since the Dolan family took control back in 2000.
Jacobs Field is now Progressive Field, stars are routinely traded away, and 2021 has brought what may end up being an all-time low payroll.
Fans are not exactly happy.
The trade of Francisco Lindor may even be the final straw for some.
It never appeared as if the Indians would reach what Lindor wanted in an extension.
But that draws into question why the Dolan family, and specifically Paul Dolan, would continue to run a team when they won’t try to compete to win a World Series.
Should they finally move on and just sell the team?
Arguing for the Dolans
Indians fans constantly hear about the lopsided economics of MLB and how Cleveland is a “small market.”
It is true, the Indians don’t have the biggest television deal in baseball.
Teams in markets like Los Angeles can added hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue on television money alone.
That means the Dolans are operating with a different budget, even if they are worth over $4 billion and the team is worth well over $1 billion.
Oh yes. The poor Dolan family. I feel so awful for them. How could they possibly afford to pay the face of their franchise?
Dolan bought the Indians for $323 million in 2000.
The franchise is now valued at $1.15 billion.
Paul Dolan net worth: $4.6 billion.
Poor Dolans. Ugh. https://t.co/7YcbjU3ipf
— Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) January 7, 2021
More on that in a bit.
The Indians organization is still a business and slashing payroll after a season with so much lost revenue can be a fair argument.
Why They Must Sell
It is hard as a regular, everyday fan to truly launch into a defense of a billionaire looking to save costs at every corner.
A multi-billionaire in Steve Cohen just bought the New York Mets and is actively using his fortune to pay stars to help bring a title back to Queens.
Why can’t the Dolans commit their wealth to such a cause?
The Indians are worth over $1 billion and are going to have a payroll that Paul Dolan can pay off with personal checks.
Owning a professional sports franchise should be about more than just running a business.
If the Dolans are concerned about losing money they can just cash out, take their $1 billion, and become fans again.
Cleveland *chose* to dump money.
Cleveland only *had* to dump money if you add the caveat: “…in order to maintain a profit margin satisfactory to owner Paul Dolan.” https://t.co/o7uiFREcNt
— Nick Francona (@NickFrancona) January 7, 2021
It makes no sense to slash payroll and actively hurt your team’s chances of winning a World Series.
They need to sell the franchise to someone who can afford to play star players and not just become a glorified farm system for other MLB teams.
Can Dolan afford to pay Shane Bieber when the time comes?
What about all the top prospects acquired in trades who may one day be the next Lindor?
If the answer is no, he should sell the team to someone who can afford it.
The sad thing is fans knew a Lindor trade was coming for years.
There was nothing the front office could do other than plead with ownership for more money.
Even if fans disagree with paying a player a $300 million contract, the fact the Indians are a team who cannot even get into such a conversation is a problem.
A billionaire claiming he can’t afford something is also not going to go over well in a city like Cleveland.
Dolan should cash out now and seek a buyer who wants to win.