Sunday, August 9, 2009

Shame on Tribe suck-ups who abetted failure

By Rick Morris

We have long believed at FDH that the phrase “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel” should be revised for sports purposes to “blind homerism is the last refuge of the phony, better-fan-than-thou jerk.” This applies in spades to the mismanagement which has been applied for most of the last decade to the Cleveland Indians.

Now, the Indians are my hometown team, the squad that I have rooted for my entire life. After waiting in vain for the first two decades of my life, the team finally progressed into contention in the 1990s under the tutelage of team architect John Hart. Clearly sensing disaster when the Dolans bought the team at the turn of the decade, Hart wisely jumped ship and matters deteriorated sharply, never to rebound.

The disingenuous honks in the front office, led by General Manager Mark Shapiro – whose insane self-worth derived from having attended an Ivy League school would put Andy Bernard to shame – have drunk their own Kool-Aid ever since, strutting around as though they invented baseball while propagating the wisdom of their “great plan” to all who would listen. Meanwhile, as this “brain trust” thumbed its nose at Hart’s last few draft classes, they themselves went on to produce more guano from first-round picks than the gardens of America can currently utilize.

Unbelievably, many important voices in the national media who should have known better were taken in by their Potemkin village. Peter Gammons has pretty much singlehandedly made it official ESPN policy that all who work there must bow before The Temple of Wise Shapiro. Ken Rosenthal picked the Tribe for the freaking World Series in 2008!

But while their failures in judgment about this regime should have been apparent at the time and are wounding to me in the sense that they lent unwarranted legitimacy to this crowd, I do not take them personally. No matter how great the professional resume, we all make mistakes and the fact that theirs helped prop up the bumblers who destroyed my favorite team is a cross I must bear without malice towards them.

However, I have plenty of wrath to spare for the Vichy turds in the Tribe blogosphere who spent the last few years resolutely refusing to speak truth to power, but choosing to enable their “benevolent overlords” as they dismantled this town’s baseball tradition brick-by-stinking-brick. I refer you back to these past classics from The FDH Lounge, penned when so many unseeing eyes could not see the 2007 playoff run for the fluke and Mother of All Anomalies that it truly was:

I’m particularly fond of the last one, where the pomposity of the Amen Crowd was held up to justifiable ridicule repeatedly. I cited numerous examples time and time again of complete and utter garbage talking points from the front office recycled through willing puppets like Paul Cousineau and Tony Lastoria (one of the prime perpetrators of the grand lie that Jim Thome stabbed Tribe fans in the back – when in fact the truth is that the front office revoked the offer once he accepted it and demonstrated their cowardice and complete lack of character for all these years by letting him take the heat for a falsehood).

So again, for all of the head-scratchers in the “Gee, how could this happen crowd?” I would note that these columns were written in late 2007 and 2008 and contained material consistent with points I had been making on since 2003! Clearly, SOME of us saw this coming! By the way, fellow FDH Lounge Dignitary Tony Mazur also was not fooled by the Three-card Monte operators down at the corner of Ontario and Carnegie.

Sadly, though, as we all learned in school, history repeats itself. Cousineau and Lastoria are doing their Stalinist best to push the vision of the latest Five-Year Plan from Dear Leader Shapiro. This is to be expected; the thought that somehow the scales will fall from their eyes at this late date is fanciful indeed.

Unfortunately, however, even after everything that has transpired over the past eight seasons, all of the false grand promises and absolute gaga about “waves and waves of young talent being generated,” this regime is still sucking in those who should know better. I refer to the talented young scribe who penned this article, which I will generously refer to as most credulous indeed. It saddens and troubles me that even after scores of player development failures this decade that leave the certainty that Ross Atkins possesses pictures of a higher-up with a farm animal that this organization still retains the ability to buffalo those above the Cousineau-Lastoria trough. Because I respect his overall body of work, I retain much hope that this particular journalist will eventually rise above the propagation of rosy scenarios on the public.

Ultimately, nothing will save this franchise except ownership who will understand the truism that “you have to spend money to make money” and commit to at least mid-level payroll year in and year out and a front office without this poisonous level of pomposity and an inability to admit their mistakes. The absolute best that this team can hope for as presently operated is a “win the lottery” type year where all the stars align as they did in 2007 – and the team still came up short in the World Series when the luck that they borrowed against for an entire season ran dry in the final three games of the ALCS. Again, that is the absolute best that can be generated and that is once a half-decade if the team is lucky. Don’t believe me? Ask Paul Dolan, who foolishly admitted publicly what I have been claiming for all of these years – words that branded me a hater by his yes-men!

If you’re an Indians fan – and to an extent, this analogy can be applied to fans of any extremely mismanaged franchises – and you don’t feel that you deserve any better than that kind of treatment, then, hey, enjoy your Stockholm Syndrome. We the outraged real fans will continue to press for the liberation of our franchise from those who hold it hostage and will try our best according to the dictates of our respective religions to forgive you for continuing to sell us down the river just so that you can feel morally superior in your own fandom.

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