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Indians Indians Archive DiBiasio: "No Guarantees Indians TV Deal Will Be Done By Opening Day"
Written by Tony Lastoria

Tony Lastoria

 Indians Vice President of Public Relations made an appearance on Les Levine’s nightly show “More Sports and Les Levine” on Thursday night.  Bob shared some candid thoughts on topics such as the movie “Major League”, the Coco Crisp trade, the new TV deal, Jason Davis, and even Larry Dolan.

Here is a thorough run down of what DiBiasio shared on the show, some of which you have heard before, but some new comments as well.  An encore presentation of Bob DiBiasio’s appearance on Les Levine’s show will re-air tonight (Friday Feb 17th) at 6:00pm on Adelphia Channel 15.

On the TV Deal:

On Thursday, new President of Fastball Sports Jim Liberatore will conduct a press conference providing updates on the TV deals, the channel name, the announcing team, schedule, and so on.

DiBiasio quickly stated that Time Warner is already on board and has agreed to a rate to carry Indians games.  Regarding the other cable/satellite providers, DiBiasio said there are no guarantees a deal will be completed by their first game on April 4th, but they hope everyone who saw Tribe games in the past will be able to continue doing so.

Contracts have been offered to all cable/satellite providers, and negotiations are ongoing.  There is no guarantee everyone will pick the Indians new network up.  March 12th is the first Spring Training game they will air on the new network.  They hope many of the TV deals are completed in time so those cable/satellite providers can jump on board and provide those games to the fans.  

DiBiasio was very straight forward and said fans need to call their cable company and say “I want to see my Cleveland Indians.”  The Indians have been a nightly double digit ratings draw for six months every year.  The Indians broadcasts are the highest rated TV show on a nightly basis in the Cleveland area.

On the Coco Crisp trade:

The trade has been looked at as a good deal for both teams by people around baseball.  However, he feels the Indians made the Red Sox overpay for what they absolutely needed, which was a replacement for the departed Johnny Damon.  The Indians obtained a good right-handed reliever in Mota who prior to last season was one of the top setup men in baseball, a good catcher in Shoppach with good power and defense, and a can’t miss type prospect in Marte who provided something the organization lacked: a legit 3-4-5 hitter, not to mention at a position (3B) which is tough to fill in the majors.

Dibiasio also clearly stated that the Coco Crisp trade was not a deal to cut salary, and that it was strictly a baseball decision.  The Coco trade gave the Indians some great talent in return, and also did provide some payroll flexibility to make a serious move at the All-Star break if such a player is available.

On Bob Howry:

The Indians chose not to pursue Howry not because of money, but because it was a baseball decision.  At the end of the season, Howry came to the Indians and said he wanted to be a closer and wanted to be paid like one (requested $4 million per season).  The Indians felt he was not a closer, and therefore did not want to pay him at his demands.  DiBiasio also said Howry didn’t start to throw the ball with real velocity until the end of June, and that they look at Fernando Cabrera as a possible option to close games in the next year and a half, if not by the end of this season.

On the White Sox:

DiBiasio felt there is a general feeling in the organization the White Sox could revert back to the dysfunctional family they think the White Sox are, and Ozzie Guillen’s recent comments only enforce that belief.  On paper, he feels the White Sox did some nice things this off-season, but he was quick to note that the Indians lost nine one-run games to the White Sox last year and feels if they can do better in that department they can make up some ground with them.

Situational hitting is something the organization is really stressing after their struggles last year, and is a big reason why they brought in Luis Rivera as a coach.  He made sure to point out that situational hitting does not mean more bunting, as he feels bunting is “not a good thing” until the 8th or 9th inning.

On Blake and Boone:

The last 100 games of the year, the organization felt Boone played well.  They knew he would struggle at the outset, although never thought it would take him 3-4 months to shake off the rust.  Going into last season, the Indians felt that adding Boone at 3B and moving Blake to RF was a good move.

The Indians are very interested to see how Boone performs in 2006 since he now is a full season removed from the injury.  On Wedge having tolerance with Blake, Boone and Broussard in 2006, DiBiasio was quick to not that “options dictate whether a manager has patience or not.”  Meaning, there were no options to replace the “Killer B’s” last year, but in 2006 there are now options to turn to.

On Andy Marte:

Boone will be the Indians 3B to open the season provided that he is healthy, regardless of how Boone or Marte perform in Spring Training.  Shapiro feels that Marte needs 100-200 more at bats in AAA to finish him off.

On the movie “Major League”:

DiBiasio was given script approval by Hank Peters for the movie.  All content in the film had to be approved by DiBiasio, and the only thing he had removed from the movie was a comment on Rocky Colavito.  DiBiasio didn’t mention what was removed, but did make reference to Colavito being one of his favorite players.

When asked why the movie was filmed in Milwaukee and not Cleveland, he responded by saying that Milwaukee was not much a union town versus Cleveland, and there was a difference of about $3-5 million to film in Milwaukee instead of Cleveland.

He did share an interesting bit of trivia, in that the Indians actually stopped a Saturday night fireworks night against the Seattle Mariners.  Producers of the movie wanted some shots of the stadium filled with people and with no one on the field, and on that night there were around 70,000 fans in attendance.   The Indians and Mariners agreed to an extended 7th inning stretch of about 60-80 seconds and all players remained in the dugouts.  All, except for Scott Bailes.  DiBiasio mentioned if you look close enough, you can see Bailes doing jumping jacks in the bullpen, which in old Municipal Stadium was on the field.

On promotions for the 2006 season:

Lots of promotions will be announced in a press conference next Friday February 24th.  They still will have the half price bleacher tickets in April and May for fans who bring a Pepsi can, and also discounts to fans that use their Giant Eagle card.  

Tickets will go on sale March 4th, and they will kick off the ticket sale with a free open house at Jacob’s Field on Saturday March 4th from 10am to 2pm.  Fans can come to the stadium and see the clubhouse, hit in the cages under the stands, and there will be lots of activities for the kids.

On Larry Dolan:

The Indians have offered free agents money, and have offered the likes of Manny Ramirez $19M per season and Jim Thome $14.5M per season.  He expressed that it is not what you spend, but how you spend it.

On Jason Davis:

He mentioned that Davis needs to be more consistent with his mechanics.  As a reliever, he can’t have such a mechanics problem as it will lead to many walks.  The feeling in the organization is that if he can fix the mechanics issue, and throws strikes more consistently, that he could be a late inning bullpen guy.  The organization loves his makeup.

On Kelly Shoppach:

He will battle Einar Diaz in Spring Training for the backup catcher’s role.  No mention was made of Tim Laker.

On Hal Lebovitz:

The Indians plan to honor Lebovitz by naming the Press Dining Room the “Hal Lebovitz Press Room.”  A special plaque is also being made to put outside the room.

On his favorite player and season:

DiBiasio mentioned his favorite player in the organization since he joined the team in 1979 was Omar Vizquel.  Just considered him a joy to watch, and felt he showcased true ability and was the whole package.  The best season by a player he ever saw was surprisingly Roberto Alomar’s 1999 season.

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