Friday, April 9, 2010

Dick Jacobs Wanted Tribe in AL East?

Posted by on Fri, Apr 9, 2010 at 12:00 PM

indians-yankees.jpg

Jonah Keri was on Mike and Mike the other morning talking about parity and competitive balance in baseball, specifically focusing on the Yankees and Red Sox compared to small market teams. The gist of his argument, and the topic of the sports talk for the week, was the amount of money the Yankees dump back into revenue sharing for small teams and how those small teams spend the money.

This was after Yankees president Randy Levine criticized Brewers' owner Mark Attanasio's comments that Milwaukee can't afford to resign free agents like Prince Fielder because they don't have the kind of money the Yanks do.

Keri came down, for the most part, on the side of the Yanks, saying that the only teams that have a concrete beef with the current economic disparity in salaries and ownership in baseball are teams in the AL East, the ones that have to directly compete with the Yankees and Red Sox.

While I disagreed with most of Keri's comments (I won't get into that here), Baltimore, Toronto, and Tampa Bay do have the most legitimate gripes to being unfairly effected by the devil in pinstripes. Every year they have to go toe-to-toe with gargantuan payrolls.

Circling back around to the Tribe... Imagine if the 1994 realignment landed the Wahoos alongside New York and Boston. Imagine how the last 16 years would have turned out. Imagine that same empathetic gaze you cast towards the Orioles, except living inside that desperate and forlorn viewpoint every game of every season as you watched the Indians.

Apparently, that's exactly what former Indians owner Dick Jacobs wanted. I didn't know that. Maybe it's common knowledge, but I can't find reference to it anywhere.

How close did it come to happening? I'm not sure. Peter Barzilai blogged this morning for USA Today about Jacobs' hopes of landing in the AL East, and the team of Dan O'Dowd, Mark Shapiro and John Hart that, thank heavens, laid down some common sense.

Barzilai writes:

O'Dowd cringes as thinks back to realignment talks in the early 1990s when Indians owner Dick Jacobs discussed the possibility of playing in the AL East. Jacobs loved the idea of having the Yankees and Red Sox come to Cleveland three times a year and the benefits of increased attendance during those series. Indians GM John Hart and his assistants, O'Dowd and Mark Shapiro, were able to talk Jacobs out of it and into the AL Central, where they won five consecutive division titles from 1995 to '99.

"John and I said it would have been suicide,'' O'Dowd says. "If we had been in that other division, we would not have had that great run.''

Thank you Dan, Mark, and John. Thank you very much, on behalf of all Indians fans, for stopping Dick Jacobs from making a catastrophically bad choice.

Follow me on Twitter: @vincethepolack.

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