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The Indians to their fans: if you you only care about winning baseball, don’t come out to see us play

Nov 28, 2012, 5:40 PM EDT

Progressive Field

That’s a paraphrase, of course. The actual quote from team President Mark Shapiro goes like this, reports Bruce Hooley of ESPN Cleveland, which I did not know existed until just now:

“If you base your decision to come to the game on whether we win or lose, don’t come. You’re missing out. You’re missing out on what baseball is all about, and I’m fine with that.”

That is Shapiro’s more full followup to what is apparently some sort of minor controversy in Cleveland following his appearance on a local TV. A fan emailed him to ask why they should renew their season tickets for 2013. Shapiro said then, that if all the guy cared about was winning “don’t come.”

I can see why such a position would be controversial — fans have come to expect the old rah-rah and we’re number one stuff from members of their team — but Shapiro is right. The Indians aren’t likely to win a lot next year. Saying so should not be controversial as long as he can demonstrate that the team wants to win and is trying. Personally I’d rather my team’s brass be realistic about the local nine as long as they aren’t resigned.

But more broadly, it’s a sentiment I have agreed with ever since I fell in love with the 1987 Braves, who stunk on ice. Baseball is awesome. Come out and see baseball if you have the time and the means. It’s a lot more fun when your team wins but, jeez, it’s still a lot of damn fun when they don’t.

  1. thebadguyswon - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    The Mets and Marlins might as well say the same thing.

    • Old Gator - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:15 PM

      I can’t speak for the Mutts, but the Feesh do say that, just not in so many words.

      • richyballgame - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:16 PM

        Mutt pride! But I’d go to one of their games no matter what.

    • dcfan4life - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:47 PM

      The fish dont say they are not going to win anymore, they say they are going to lose, badly. So they advertise the side events at the park like crazy. Pool activity contests, baseball contests, contests on top of contests. I mean they have a nice dance club, bar and indoor pool to go to and not even watch the game. Especially since, and im not kidding here, they hire extremely pretty girls just to occupy those areas to encourage patrons. Why watch the Marlins get crushed when you can see models in bikinis playing games with you in contest after contest. These were just the distractions last year. Who knows what they will come up this year.

  2. The Dangerous Mabry - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    Or, as it was so eloquently put in Major League:

    “They’re still shitty”.

  3. echech88 - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    He’s not entirely wrong…I enjoy going to baseball games even when my team isn’t so hot.

    But that is also because I pay next to nothing for a ticket on StubHub. Different story if someone is shelling out serious $$ for a seat.

  4. vansloot - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    I renewed my season tickets to the Twins and I certainly don’t expect them to be competitive next year, and I completely agree that you should go to baseball games for the love of the game not just because they are winning (don’t most people dislike “fair weather fans?), BUT that is not the most tactful way to express that opinion by the president of a baseball team.

    • JB (the original) - Nov 28, 2012 at 7:22 PM

      Do you you have full season tickets? I didn’t renew this year (after 10 years) because they have systematically stripped the “baseball” benefits I have had as a 40 game season ticketholder, while adding more useless “carnival” benefits. My plan (at the dome) included the home opener in the package, keeping “my” seats for the playoffs, and being able to buy full (through the WS) strips for the playoffs. Now, at Target Field, I can’t sit as close (best you can get on the lower level w/o a full plan is the outer edge of the infield dirt), home opener is no longer included in the package — I must enter a lottery to see if I can get seats ‘somewhere’ in the park, I don’t get to keep my seats for the playoffs, I can’t even buy full strips–I can get 1 game of a 5 game series and maybe get lucky in a lottery if it goes to a 3rd home game. As a 10 year 40 game season ticket holder laying out $$ for the best tickets I’m allowed to buy, I now get the same “benefits” as a 1st year 20 game season ticket holder that buys the cheapest seats in the park. Screw that. But hey, they’re offering a 10% discount on food this year!

      • jlovenotjlo - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:49 PM

        The good news is, this year, you’ll be able to buy your old tickets on StubHub at a fraction of the face value you used to have to pay. Cheers!

  5. Kevin Gillman - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    The problem with Shapiro isn’t what he said, in fact I can understand where Mark is coming from, baseball is the best sport in the business, bar none. But the problem is Mark also skates from the truth many times. We hear about how this man is smart, because he graduated from Stanford, or this guy graduated from Yale. Graduating at an Ivy school doesn’t neccessarily mean you’re smart, it means that you have been blessed to have a family fitting the bill, on most times.

    I can graduate from the Institute of Graphing, but it doesn’t mean I can’t design a state of the art building, and this means that because a person is smart, doesn’t mean that they can run a baseball organization.

    So don’t treat the fans like they don’t know anything, and be up front with them. How difficult is that to do?

    • chill1184 - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:10 PM

      Agreed, while Shapiro may be right (you cant predict baseball) he doesn’t need to treat the fans like idiots. I can only speak for myself but with the state of my own team I continue to go to the games because I believe in the plan of the front office. At the very least teams should show their fans that they want to build a contender, not be a doormat/farm system for the rest of the league.

      • Kevin Gillman - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:37 PM

        I think that is what bothers me the most, in his mind he can do no wrong, even if the plan does not work. He barely acknowledges that his drafting was poor during the GM regime, and that is the reason why the Indians are a doormat for everyone else.

      • chill1184 - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:47 PM

        @Kevin Gillman

        Sounds just like Omar Minaya and boy I’m glad he’s gone

    • dnc6 - Nov 29, 2012 at 12:40 PM

      It’s good to know that the biases against Shapiro are still out in full force. Where you went to school isn’t an absolute on how smart you are, but almost all of the kids getting into Princeton (where Shapiro went) are bright. Anybody who gets too caught up on either side (acting like they’re brilliant because they went to an Ivy or acting like the Ivy kids are just the ones with rich parents) has other, deeper, issues to deal with.

      When has Shapiro ever treated the fans like they don’t know anything? He’s as upfront as should reasonably be expected. The Indians always have a guy out in front of the media explaining what they did and why.

      Just a couple months ago, Shapiro did an interview where he answered questions on the poor drafting, admitted it was not as good as he hoped, and how they adjusted moving forward (Brad Grant, who’s done a pretty good job in the last couple years).

      Shapiro is a very humble guy. He knows that he’s made some mistakes, and he’s always talking about working on getting better. The problem lies with the people who don’t want to bother to understand what the plan is, and just want to bitch and moan because Sabathia and Lee test the FA market, and the Indians can’t outbid the Yankees or Phillies.

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    The Mets now say: Come to CitiField and you are guaranteed to see at least one major league quality team play!

    Really though, every team is all but guaranteed to win 60 games, and lose 60 games. It is only within those additional 42 games or so that there is any variation, and most teams fall into a much more narrow window of expectation.

  7. kkolchak - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    Having endured some pretty brutal seasons with the Nats as a season ticket holder since the beginning, the one thing I will say is that when you attend a game in the middle of a 100-loss debacle of a season, you don’t see a lot of those annoying twits who pack the stadium when the team is winning but really don’t care about baseball. It’s also a LOT easier getting home afterward. 😀

  8. kylewo - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    I think the problem is that there is a perception that the Indians aren’t really “all in” on building a winning franchise. No one expects their team to win every game, or really to have a winning record every single year. I think Cleveland passed that threshold a while back.

  9. mightymike1250 - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    It’s even fun when your team doesn’t win? Not if you’re a Yankees fan.

  10. sweetk24 - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    Maybe if he spent a little $$ we could win some games after the al star break

  11. APBA Guy - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    Speaking more generally, you hate to see a GM or club President say something that’s so easily avoided. Better to say “we’re going to do everything we can to win.” Then allow for some “but’s”. Like “But we’re a very young team in a Division packed with veteran stars.” or “But we know we need more elite arms.”

    Speaking from experience of watching a team that loses a lot, or at least they did between 2002 and 2011, the A’s front office almost never says anything like what Shapiro said.

    They leave the fan insults to the owners.

  12. yahmule - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    I don’t think a team that utilizes a red Sambo as their mascot is terribly concerned about alienating people.

  13. modellforprez - Nov 28, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    Hey it still beats the clark W. griswalds outta how they operate in pittsburgh. 1-2 1-2 HOKEY HEY EY EY OH HOKEY HEY EY EY. or some bull fertilizer like…..

  14. mrobinson14 - Nov 28, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    @The Dangerous Mabry Shapiro replies with, “But at least we aren’t the marlins!”

  15. thelmt82 - Nov 28, 2012 at 7:49 PM

    Having actually watched the hour long interview, it was jaw-dropping how arrogant and smug this guy is. This is a guy who is truly lucky to still be employed. He also justified the terrible Sabathia and Lee trades with, “Well, what did those other teams get for those players?” The point is not what other teams got, as us fans don’t care, it’s what did you get? And that is Michael Brantley and Carlos Carrasco. He needs to take his Princeton (or whatever Ivy League school he graduated from) and go somewhere else. He and Antonetti (along with the shallow pockets of the Dolans) have destroyed this organization. 1994-2001 seems like 50 years ago. And when only 900,000 people show up this year, he can finally blame himself for this mess.

  16. tfoltz - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    This sentiment has applied to Padres fans for decades.

  17. ytownjoe - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    $75 for a box seat to watch a team that cannot compete?

  18. billgatesbarber - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    Shapiro, try telling that to your boss.

  19. phillyson - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    You are an idiot if you entitle super millionaires to put nothing into their team and expect you to keep coming out to support their business. Should I go see all of Lindsay lohans movies to prove that I am a “cinema purist” who will watch any crappy movie that is made? Owners should feel an obligation to field a quality team especially in a place w potential for such a strong following

  20. pens5829 - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:53 PM

    Proof baseball owners don’t give a rats a$$ about the fans. None of them! Especially the jacka$$ in Pittsburgh. Stopped going to games years ago. 2013 New Years Resolution? Stop watching on TV.

  21. tashkalucy - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:50 PM

    In mid-2008 the Indians under Shapiro began a rebuild by trading CC Sabathia for prospects.

    In the ensuing 4-1/2 years the Indians have not been a serious contender for a AL Central crown – possibly the worst division in MLB. They have no prospects in AA or AAA that resemble blue chip prospects. On most “Top 100 Prospect Lists” the Indians place one guy at most – Linder in Class A, he blistered the ball at a .260 clip this past year. The team currently has 7-8 true major league players, not one of them that has the makings of a star player. In 4-1/2 years this is what Mr. Shapiro and his boy wonder Chris Antonetti have built. And you can factor in that they not only traded CC, they traded Cliff Lee (a 2nd Cy Young Award winner) and Victor Martinez, a perennial .300 hitter to get some of those 7-8 players.

    Cleveland fans would like to see a team that has a chance to win. Cleveland fans have had the worst team in the NFL since it returned in 1999, a pathetic Cav team since Lebron James left, and the Indians fit right in. Local sports fans spend 365 days a year of following professional teams that are among the worst in their leagues year after year. Worse yet, most of the time the teams are totally unwatchable.

    The Indians can’t win partially because the Dolan family will not spend money. But mostly it’s because the Dolan’s insist on employing Mark Shapiro (who is still involved in baseball decisions) and Chris Antonetti. They lucked out in 2007 when the Indians stayed relatively healthy as all other AL Central teams had major injuries. The overall record shows that the team has finished over .500 two times in the 12 years Shapiro has been running it. Of course he’s going to say you shouldn’t expect wins.

    I’ve been following MLB for over 55 years. I’ve never seen a front office in MLB that was any worse then the one Shapiro has been running for 12 years. This guy is glib and kisses the national media’s butts. If they had any integrity they would look over his record and see what he’s done since taking over a team that was a perennial contender the 8 or so years before he took it over.

    • tashkalucy - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:55 AM

      May I add…..

      Shapiro’s team has lost over 90 games in 3 of the last 4 seasons.

      The guy is totally transparent.

    • ewingms - Nov 29, 2012 at 4:55 PM

      “I’ve been following MLB for over 55 years. I’ve never seen a front office in MLB that was any worse then the one Shapiro has been running for 12 years.”

      From ’73 to ’85, the Phil Seghi Indians never finished above 4th, and we finished last or second to last in 8 straight seasons.

      • tashkalucy - Nov 29, 2012 at 5:09 PM

        What’s your point?

        The Indians under Shapiro are no different then they were in the 60’s. 70’s and 80’s.

        Please keep in mind that the Rays have been competitive in the AL East for the past 4 years – a much better division then the AL Central – with a payroll 20% lower then the Indians. Shapiro and Antonetti are being taken to school by other front offices. Yes, they have returned the Indians to periods where the organization developed players for other major league teams.

  22. protius - Nov 29, 2012 at 1:04 AM

    Mr. Calcaterra wrote: “Baseball is awesome. Come out and see baseball if you have the time and the means. It’s a lot more fun when your team wins but, jeez, it’s still a lot of damn fun when they don’t.” A very nice, simple way of looking at a beautiful game. Just enjoy it for what it is. Thank you Mr. C. for sharing your thoughts with me.

    Can I quote you elsewhere? I’ll be sure to use the proper citation.

  23. scoregasmic - Nov 29, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    Right there with ya, I fell in love with baseball watching the old tigers, being a fan is about going through the highs and lows with your team, and as a life long tigers and lions fan…I get a lot of practice. But there is nothing like watching your team grow into a good team. I remember the feeling when the tigers got to the playoffs after constantly watching losing season after losing season…nothing better man

  24. mazblast - Nov 29, 2012 at 2:04 AM

    I don’t understand why Shapiro and Antonetti are still employed by the Indians. They are either obviously making little or no effort to build a winning team, or have no ability to build one. The current organization and team remind me, sadly, of the Indians of the 1960s and 1970s.

  25. temporarilyexiled - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    Yeah, baseball is awesome. But it’s also expensive. Even if I did live near my team, I couldn’t afford to go see them. Unless of course I lost all sense of where my money should be spent. I watch it on TV. And apparently, seeing as TV money is kind of in the news these days, so do a lot of other people. And I guess some of those people actually watch the stupid commercials, thus somehow justifying paying for the rights. If I was running a team, I’d think twice before calling out the fans if I couldn’t put a winner on the field. For a whole lot a money, as a fan, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to expect to see a good team in a good venue. Just call me cheap…and a baseball fan…in that order. I kind of like the idea of sending my kids to college and not falling over dead of old age while working at a fast food joint.

    • tashkalucy - Nov 29, 2012 at 5:16 PM

      Baseball is awesome?

      It sure is!

      I support my grandchildren’s high school and traveling teams. It doesn’t cost me over $100 fior 2 people to see a game on a warn summer evening.

      I have friends that coach traveling teams of high school kids, and those kids pay better fundamentals then the Indians do. Shapiro and Antonetti have their statistics, but neither one of them has a clue as to how baseball is meant to be played.

      • temporarilyexiled - Nov 30, 2012 at 8:22 AM

        Maybe the Indians will hire them. Sounds like it couldn’t hurt. Alas, my family can’t go down this road. We’re not exactly athletic genetic specimens, no matter how hard we try. This excerpt from the hilarious little book, Haikus for Jews, by David M. Bader, describes our situation best:

        Seven-foot Jews in
        the NBA slam-dunking—
        my alarm clock rings.

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