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Changes In The Cleveland Sports Scene
October 17, 2012 - Al Stephenson
The Indians have a new manager and the Browns have a new owner. Are these positive changes? Will the Indians win more? Will the Browns? Cleveland sports fans want to know and I'm here to tell you the answers.
In a nutshell - I don't know. We will all find out eventually, but no one can say for certain whether these changes will be better or worse. I do have some ideas though and I will share them with you.
Let's start with the Tribe. I am a big fan of Terry Francona. I think he is a quality baseball guy and a good manager. Can he turn the club around? Probably not. The Indians, you see, are now a small to mid-market club. They do not have the money to go out and pay for the top free agents. If some of the young players today develop into the stars of tomorrow, will we be able to afford to keep them when they hit the free agent market?
The answer is a sigh inducing no. Terry Francona may get more out of the current crop of players than Manny Acta did, but he will still be managing a Triple AAA minor league team that happens to be playing in the majors. It will be better Tribe fans, but contending for a playoff berth every year isn't likely to happen.
As for the Browns, they are looking a whole lot brighter these days. New owner Jimmy Haslam is a wealthy man, owning a series of truck-stop businesses. He can bring financing to the franchise and that is extremely important. It doesn't guarantee success, but without funding success on a regular basis is not likely to be forthcoming.
There are two things to like about Haslam. First he admits that he does not have all the answers. That is so refreshing. It also means that he will likely let football people make football decisions. In his truck-stop business he had a philosophy that he expects to use with the Browns. The philosophy? "You get the right people in place and let them do their jobs."
Haslam has made one change already. Mike Holmgren is out and Joe Banner (formerly with the Philadelphia Eagles) will take over in the front office. Expect more changes after the season. Haslam has been a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. There he learned the way the Rooney family does business. The Steelers have had three coaches since the late 1960's. The Browns have had five since they returned to the NFL in 1999. Can you say consistency?
The second thing to like about Haslam is the fact that he wants to do things the right way. He wants to rebuild a once proud franchised from the ground up. He knows it will take time, and that quick fix of changing coaches every other year hasn't worked very well for the Brownies. If Browns fans are patient I believe this owner will make a big difference.
The view from my seat suggests that all Cleveland fans should feel good about both their baseball team and football team. Things are looking up - finally!
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