Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tribe overrated -- who knew? We did!

By Rick Morris

One of the biggest collapses of the 2008 Major League Baseball season has belonged to the defending American League Central champions, a team up 3-1 in the 2007 American League Championship Series. Yes, the Cleveland Indians are absolutely El Stinko this year, and although I as a lifelong fan am frustrated by the fact, I am equally amused by the "This is Absolutely Unthinkable" refrain from the team's slavish Enabler Caucus.

Dumbos like Diatribe are hilariously posing the question right now: who knew this could happen? Well, if they'd pull their nostrils from the tuckess of Mark Shapiro and turn their attention to this here FDH Lounge, they'd be aware of this: WE KNEW!

Actually, now's not the time for me to start being unduly modest. Not only did we know, but we called it way ahead of time and we chastised the ownership-enabling homers for taking their 30 pieces of silver from Larry Dolan and trying to brainwash the populace into thinking that this was a legitimate World Series team. And for any misguided souls looking to label me a basher, consider this: even I was way too optimistic! I put this team down for 88 wins and a second-place finish in the division this year!

When everyone else was caught up in the heat of the moment about the ALCS meltdown last year, I correctly pointed out that the team had not choked away a 3-1 lead; the law of averages had merely caught up to them in a harsh and decisive manner as an infinitely superior team blew past them (if you don't believe me, check the records for Boston and Cleveland this year). Even going into the playoffs last year, when even sober media figures were losing their heads in the rush to proclaim Mark Shapiro (by the way, the true pronunciation is Sha-PIR-o -- folks don't realize that Sha-PIE-ro is his kayfabe name) the greatest GM in sports history, I exposed the truth about the fact that the organization hadn't proven anything of note yet.

Oh, and because those who shilled for the front office and proclaimed them above public accountability aren't going to be accountable for their own complicity in this season's disaster, I'll provide this compendium of their heinous apple-polishing before their masters in the organization. The doofus who repeats the lies about how Jim Thome snubbed the Indians is particularly laughable.

Now, before any remaining Kool-Aid drinkers get their unmentionables in a wad, I'll concede that the team isn't as bad as they presently look. Injuries have played a part in the team's demise, although the brass can certainly be held accountable for wheeling out a half-dead Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner for months at a time, hoping that somehow playing would be therapeutic in the healing process! So no, the team is not really this bad. But I was right about the fact that they weren't really that good last year when they caught fire, won most of their games against a horrific division and fooled the world into thinking they were really a 96-win caliber team. And ultimately, if they're not really as great as they convinced people they were last year, who really cares if they're a 75-win team or an 85-win team? Since when are Indians fans supposed to be satisfied with willful mediocrity?

My FDH Lounge and colleague Tony Mazur and I stood up repeatedly to the disinformation campaign of Diatribe and the other Shapiro coddlers and pointed to the vast amount of work to be done if this organization was to change its approach and get serious instead of just talking that way. For that, we were labeled haters by our STN colleague James Bridges (who is actually a friend of mine and a great guy, although I'm going to give him a hard time here), who bought the spin every step of the way. Tony and I each love this team and both of us have so many fond memories of watching Tribe games with our families when we were growing up in the area. Nobody ever has the right to tell us that we shouldn't expect a team's front office to reward our fan loyalty with the utmost possible efforts to put a winning team on the field. The consequences of enabling a front office that will only do as much as the public pushes it to do are now painfully obvious.

Who knew? We freaking did!

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