I usually leave the sports writing to the guys who are paid to do the sports writing, but the events of the past week have forced my hand. As is well documented, I am a die-hard Cleveland Indians fan. Some of the best memories I have come from the time spent at the ball park or huddled around the television or radio while the Tribe played into the fall.
I grew up during the depressing times of the 1980s when the only good thing that happened to the Indians was ... well, nothing. They were terrible in those days and the crowds at the stadium were either pathetic or non-existent. Then the explosion of the 1990s, when the team featured future hall-of-famers and the most electric baseball atmosphere in the entire league.
Well, welcome back to the 1980s!
With the unfathomable trades that have occurred this week, the Indians have ensured themselves to be dwellers in the basement of the American League for the foreseeable future.
Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Ryan Garko, Rafael Betancourt and earlier in the season, Mark DeRosa have all been jettisoned to contending ballclubs for the stretch run. What is completely baffling about the moves of Martinez and Lee was they still have a year on their contract, are relatively young and were the two best players we had. Unlike C.C. getting traded last year, these guys would have been here for another year.
Mark Shapiro and Eric Wedge have done nothing short of ruining this ballclub that was contending for a World Series berth just two years ago. Poor free agent signings and even worse long term extensions for guys who showed they were good for one year have caused the ''brain trust'' to completely dismantle this team.
What really stings is the total disregard for the fans that is being shown by the organization. We here in the Mahoning Valley and all points west deserve better than what is being presented to us, because we are the ones who are spending our money to watch these guys.
The small market mentality to develop star players only to see them leave for bigger money and bigger potential is ruining these once proud organizations. Remember guys named Bob Feller, Larry Doby and Lou Boudreau? How about Albert Belle, Sandy Alomar and Omar Vizquel?
There was a pride that used to come along with the Cleveland Indians, and although it may seem like that was a long time ago, many of the fans haven't forgotten it. The way the fans flooded the streets and the area around the old stadium to purchase tickets to the 1954 World Series. The way the city celebrated together in 1995 when they reestablished themselves as a contender. These are the ways the Indians should be remembered. They should be remembered by the game winning home run by Tony Pena in the 1995 playoffs against the Red Sox and or the excitement that followed them throughout the 1990s. Not like this.
There have been a number of times during my life when the Indians have effectively ripped out my heart, but it was because they fell just short of the ultimate goal of a championship. Believe me, I would rather experience a lifetime of almosts instead of what is happening now.
If the front office of the Cleveland Indians is so determined to cut costs and rid themselves of their best players, I think I will react in kind. I will now announce my free-agency for the 2010 season. I have given far too much of my time and emotions, not to mention money, to this organization that apparently has no intention of returning the favor.
I had planned on retiring my jersey as an Indian fan, but how many times are we expected to go through "rebuilding"?
If they expect me to pay money to watch a second rate product, as much as I love spending the summer evenings at the stadium, I will have to pass. I would rather spend my money on the Scrappers who feature young, hungry ballplayers and a great atmosphere to enjoy the game.
Maybe that's what gets to me the most. In the big leagues, the game takes a back seat.
I will now devote most of my baseball time to the local ballclub, because in the end watching talented ballplayers playing the great game of baseball with a passion is what the game is really about.
Joshua is searching for a team that won't break his heart. If you know of one, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.