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Bad News for Larry 

The Tribe's bean counters are rebuilding too.

Though the Indians beat Baltimore 8-3, April 15 was probably a grim day at Jacobs Field. That morning, The Wall Street Journal reported the sale of the Anaheim Angels for $180 million.

Larry Dolan, you may recall, paid $323 million for the Indians in 2000. Dick Jacobs must wake up whistling, because the chances of the Tribe fetching that price today seem about as remote as Chad Paronto winning the Cy Young.

Earlier this year, Forbes estimated the value of the Indians at $331 million. But Forbes also said the Angels were worth $225 million. Using the Halos sale to adjust the magazine's numbers, the Indians today would command $265 million.

Unfortunately, even $265 million seems high. The Angels, after all, are aglow from a World Series victory. The rebuilding Indians are averaging fewer than 20,000 fans a home game.

Mark Rosentraub, a sports economist and dean of CSU's College of Urban Affairs, says Cleveland remains a viable, valuable baseball town; Dolan, however, would be pressed to find a buyer willing to match his offer from three years ago. "I would think the team is worth in the vicinity of $225 million, depending on the value of the prospects in the minor league system," Rosentraub says.

As an investor, Dolan would have been better off keeping his millions in the stock market. Since he bought the club, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen almost 23 percent. By Rosentraub's estimation, the Indians have lost more than 30 percent of their value.

School of hard knocks

Case Western Reserve is a prestigious university -- or so say the brochures. But a recent e-mail sent from its security department to students makes one wonder whether Case needs to hire more professors for its Department of Street Smarts.

According to the e-mail, a Case student was walking past a Euclid Avenue bar earlier this month when she fell for one of the oldest scams in the esteemed history of swindling.

The student was approached by a middle-aged man, who asked if she'd ever heard about "the Delta Program," then brandished a bank-deposit bag inscribed with that name.

The woman said no. So the man asked an older guy masquerading as a bystander if he knew about the Delta Program. Of course he had. The suspect then opened the bag to reveal what appeared to be a large sum of cash.

Somehow, this was enough to sell our hapless student. The two men told her they'd split the money three ways, provided she fronted some cash to open a bank account. (Why guys with a large pile of loot actually needed cash remains to be seen.) But the student withdrew $360 from an ATM and gave the suspects the cash.

The men then drove her to Ohio Savings Bank, where a teller was supposed to give her a $4,000 check to open a new account. Once inside, however, she discovered that the teller didn't know what she was talking about. The alert student finally figured out the ruse. But by the time she got outside, the suspects were gone.

The e-mail doesn't explain what "the Delta Program" is supposed to be, but it's believed to be Bulgarian for "Hand over your money, moron." (Details of various street scams can be found at www.crimes-of-persuasion.com).

Which brings us to a teachable moment: Do not give large sums of money to guys you just met on the street. Too bad that's not covered on the SATs.

He's No. 21

Some people don't like the way billionaire Peter B. Lewis throws his weight around. But few can say they throw their money around with the same pugnacious generosity as the Progressive Corporation chairman.

Last year, Lewis shelled out $47.2 million in charitable contributions, making him the nation's 21st most generous benefactor, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Lewis handed $15 million to Princeton, $12 million to the Guggenheim Museum, and $9.9 million to Case Western Reserve. Yet Lewis's largesse was overshadowed by criticism when he vowed to withhold contributions to all Cleveland nonprofits until Case's board resigns. He's angry about the university's handling of construction of the business school building he's underwriting.

Whatever his attitude toward Case, Lewis continues to give away his daily bread. He's already doled out $8 million this year to the American Civil Liberties Union, the largest individual donation ever made to the group. It tops the $7 million given to the ACLU in 2001 by . . . Peter B. Lewis.

The noose comes loose

The nightmare appears over for Donald Schulz, the Cleveland State professor who incurred the wrath of Mexico's all-powerful Hank family ("White Tiger Unleashed," May 17, 2001). His single offense: Showing a journalist a classified government document that linked the Hanks -- who control a billion-dollar corporate empire -- to the Mexican drug trade.

After that journalist -- Dolia Estevez of the Mexican daily El Financiero -- wrote an article based on the document Schulz gave her, the Hanks sued Schulz, believing him to be one thread in a conspiratorial web aimed at sullying their good name.

It took two years, eight months, and most of the professor's retirement savings, but a settlement has finally been reached. The Hanks agreed to call off their attorneys if Schulz promised to stay mum and admit he was an unwitting conspirator.

In his affidavit, Schulz says he now believes Estevez "is part of the scheme to injure the reputations" of the Hanks. He also claims the document he gave the reporter contained no evidence of Hank involvement in narcotics.

It's hard to tell if Schulz actually believes any of this, or if he's merely a broke professor trying to escape a nasty suit. When he spoke with Scene two years ago, he scoffed at the idea of a conspiracy. He did mention, however, that the only way he could dodge the suit was to admit to a plot.

Tango Room FAQ

Since our April 16 cover story, Scene's been bombarded with calls and e-mails from aspiring snobs requesting more info on the Velvet Tango Room. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions:

Q: Where is the Velvet Tango Room?

A: Wouldn't be a very good mystery bar if we told you, would it? But here's a hint: The address is listed somewhere in this very issue.

Q: Will they throw me out if I order a beer?

A: Probably not, but going to the Tango Room for a tasty American brewski is like ordering Cajun in Iceland.

Q: What's the back room like?

A: You know that secret room in that James Bond movie with the Russian chick and the bad guy with the eyepatch? It's nothing like that.

Q: What should I wear?

A: Men, grab the slickest, most expensive thing in your closet, unless that thing is lime green or bears the number of your favorite NASCAR driver. Ladies should steer clear of denim, sequins, fanny packs, and arm candy that goes by the name Otis or Myron.

Q: Will I really see celebrities there?

A: You live in Cleveland. There isn't a celebrity within 500 miles. You'd be more likely to see a famous guy at Chuck E. Cheese, which pays a high school kid minimum wage to walk around in a mouse costume.

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