View Full Version : Fantasy Lands Opens Monday

09-25-2009, 09:51 PM
Fantasy Land opens Monday when the Cavaliers begin training camp: Bill Livingston
By Bill Livingston
September 25, 2009, 8:42PM

Fantasy Land opens Monday, right here in our own little blue-collar town. Well, actually, at the Cavaliers' practice facility in Independence when training camp begins with media day. But you get the point.

With LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal, two of the greatest players ever to play the game, the Cavs seem to play in a different universe from the Indians and the Browns.

The Browns under the ownership of the Lerner family are a shambles. In a sport with a hard salary cap, eight losing seasons in 10 years and a winless start now, even beginning as an expansion team, is a bad joke. To wit, Cleveland fans wanted pro football in the worst way, and that's exactly what they got.

Then there are the Indians and Cavs, neighbors at Gateway Plaza, but traveling in different trajectories.

Richard Jacobs was the best businessman ever to own a Cleveland team. He bought the Indians dirt cheap and used his political connections to gain support for and win close passage of a measure to build a new stadium at taxpayers' expense. From 1994 to 2001, it was Fantasy Land. The only criticism is that Jacobs sold high -- too high, if you ask apologists for the Dolans, who followed him and are now slashing costs and rebuilding again.

Dan Gilbert, the Cavs' owner, has been very good. But he has not done what Jacobs did.

To his credit, Gilbert has been very creative. He brought in minority owners from China to maximize merchandizing in the world's fastest growing market. He treats the luxury tax penalty for exceeding the salary cap as a mere inconvenience. In a stunted economy, the Cavs' incredible star power on a global basis makes for a monster franchise, like the Celtics or Lakers. This enables a policy of not skimping on costs, a philosophy that (gasp!) understands you have to spend money to make money.

The Dolans look bad by comparison. But it is unfair to compare baseball and basketball owners. The rules are simply too different. The Indians' monster years ended when gate revenue no longer separated haves and have-nots, but local cable revenue did.

Gilbert took over a team with a proven superstar in James, whose salary could be slotted into tiers mutually agreeable to team owners and the players' union.

Baseball is too skill-specific to have many high school-aged superstars. The tolerances are too fine for success or failure. Even if the Indians had drafted a player like the young Alex Rodriguez, they could never have kept him in the absence of a salary cap. The unpalatable facts of life are that teams like the Indians develop young players, then pass them on to the superpowers.

This does not excuse General Manager Mark Shapiro. He has missed on far too many fronts lately. But fans forget that the original rebuilding plan actually worked. There was no World Series, but the 2005 and 2007 Tribe teams were very good.

By contrast, the NBA actually rewards bad judgment to some extent. Bad contracts have value as they expire. The expensive signing of a bust like Larry Hughes would have strangled the Indians.

As for the team playing at the other end of town on the lakefront, I paraphrase Mark Twain on idiots and Congress: Suppose you are clueless. Suppose you own the Browns. But I repeat myself.


I am so happy to see the basketball season only a month away. I can not wait for opening night. I can not wait for 30+ wins in the Q.

Hopefully we are on the verge of something very special this year.


09-25-2009, 10:03 PM
Sometimes it's articles like these that make me grateful for columnists like Brian and Terry. It's because Mr. Pessimistic can't ever stop criticizing, comparing, and just spewing out why this guy isn't that great or why a salary cap would doom the Indians, etc.

Either way, I cannot wait until "Fantasy Land" starts on Monday. We've been waiting too long, then there's only 8 days until a televised game can be seen. Please find a way to stream that, please (someone)?

09-25-2009, 10:07 PM
Indians and Browns should not even be mentioned in the same articles are the Cavs. Let alone their two owners in the same breath as Gilbert. Oh boy, what a year this could be!