In this day and age, just after a tumultuous election campaign, a business owner or their employee would never tell a possible patron to stay away. Unless, of course, your Angus T. Jones of “Two and a Half Men” TV fame, and Mark Shapiro of the Cleveland Indians.
Shapiro is the President of the Cleveland Indians, meriting a promotion from General Manager after turning a winning club into a joke not only on the field, but off. Including the minor league system. This off season is the third since Shapiro became GM the farm system has to be “re-juiced”. When will it stop?
Who can forget the scene in the Brad Pitt movie “Moneyball” where Billy Beane fly’s to Cleveland, walks into Shapiro’s office to talk trade and Shapiro is there with 7 other personnel and is unable to make a decision, looking like a joke. Shapiro has spent months telling the media that was fabricated for the movie, yet actions speak louder than words. Except in the following case.
The incident we speak of happened over a week ago. Yet Shapiro is just now facing the music over it. Shapiro was speaking on Les Levine’s radio show, didn’t allow any caller to ask questions and only accepted emailed queries. Yet Shapiro still was caught off-guard when he was asked by a disappointed season ticket holder, “why should I renew my season tickets?”
Shapiro stuttered, stammered, then finally collected himself and told the season ticket patron if he only comes to see the Indians win, then “don’t come.”
That’s right. Don’t Come was his response. According to the Major League baseball statistics for 2012, the Indians were 29th out of 30 teams in total and average attendance. Cleveland was also one of 7 teams who didn’t draw over two million fans for the season. This from a team that sold out 455 consecutive games in the 90’s. In 1999, the Indians drew 3,468,436 fans, leading the Majors, and it was 1.2 million above the game average.
Yet to Mark Shapiro, a disappointed season ticket holder, the lifeblood of a major league teams existence, is willing to tell a possible buyer if he expects winning in Progressive Field, stay away. Don’t spend your money on this team. Shapiro is virtually telling fans of the team, don’t come here. We value “Dollar Dog Night” and the fireworks more than we do the product on the field.
He didn’t even try to rescind his statement. No apology or a declaration he was “misquoted.” No. Shapiro only reiterated his comments, saying he could have phrased them in a different manner.
Shapiro has never been a man who minds what he says. Not that he is careful with words, just foolhardy. The Mark Shapiro you see in “Moneyball” is the same Mark Shapiro you have running this team.
Last year Shapiro promoted nine (9) Dollar Dog Nights, and 12 Fireworks nights. Nothing against fireworks but I do not go to a major league game to see fireworks. A winning ball club will bring people to the stadium more than fireworks or a one dollar hotdog. These nights just serve to thank the fans.
Yet Shapiro doesn’t seem to get it. He’s constantly said this team is a “small market” club and cannot compete in Free Agency with the Boston’s and New York’s. Yet the Indians under Dick Jacobs, John Hart and Mike Hargrove did. Jacobs only mandate to Hart was he expected an 8% return on his money every year, after that, spend away. And Hart did. It was the Dolans, Shapiro and that mindset that lost Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez. Just to name a few.
A word of advise to the Indians. If you don’t care about a winner and only want a promotion that will pack the stands, try 5 cent beer night. That went over so well before. Year after year the Dolans prove they aren’t in this business to promote a winner. Mark Shapiro just proved it.
Dave Mitchell and Mark Donahue co-host the “Ohio Baseball Weekly” show highlighting the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds, returning to UST in March.