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Indians Indians Archive A Letter to Mark Shapiro from the Fans
Written by Jonathan Knight

Jonathan Knight

hot dogDear Mr. Shapiro,

Ever since your email blast letter to fans a couple of weeks ago informing us of the fantastic news that our undying loyalty to the Indians and willingness to tolerate a frequently intolerable baseball team on your watch was being rewarded with cheaper hot dogs at the ballpark, we wanted to take a moment to respond.

While your announcement revealing the $8 “Classic Combo Deals” on select concessions is indeed the most meaningful and impressive news to come out of your office this year, we can’t help but wonder how much better the 2012 team might have been on the field had you and your associates spent as much time attempting to acquire or develop players at any kind of discernible talent level to fill the gaping holes on your roster as it has contemplating the effect of a Sugardale all-beef hot dog on the satisfaction level of Indians fans.

We understand you don’t have the financing of the Yankees, but we are consistently flummoxed by how you spend what money you have. Without blinking an eye, you persistently toss cash at a menagerie of players who don’t play: Grady Sizemore, “Fausto Carmona”, and the oft-injured Travis Hafner all come to mind. Two more prime examples are Casey Kotchman and Johnny Damon, who are taking a $4.25 million bite out of this year’s payroll and are each hitting roughly .230. Think of how many hot dogs you could buy with all that money.

We can only imagine what players could have been acquired with the money pissed away on this group alone, all here as a result of nonsensical contract extensions and panic-attack free-agent signings.

But that’s all hot dog water under the bridge. Let us talk about the here and now, and your baseball team that you keep insisting is not fading into oblivion.

First and foremost, they don’t hit. Oh, sweet merciful Jesus, how they don’t hit: not with two outs, not with runners in scoring position. Not during the day, not at night. Not on a plane, not on a train.

At one point they could pitch, then they couldn’t. At one point they could draw walks and steal bases, then they stopped. They used to be scrappy and energetic. Now they look like Jimmy Dimora running a half-marathon.

Put in concessional terms, watching your team right now is the equivalent of drinking a steaming mug of hot dog juice.

We understand that each season presents it own unique challenges and it’s difficult to fix problems mid-stream. If the problems listed above had just cropped up in the last few weeks rather than, y’know, 2008, we might be less inclined to shove our fingers through our eyes every night at 7:05.

Put another way: the Browns have been the most impotent franchise in professional sports over the past decade - and yet we’re genuinely excited that they begin practice this week so we have something to talk about other than the translucent Indians. And while the Browns may in fact be legally mentally retarded, they just signed the best running back in college football to a contract. 

That same day, you traded for a  guy hitting .165.

Hats off to you, Mr. Shapiro. With your Double-A offense running on fumes, you managed to find Brent Lillibridge, the one Major League Baseball hitter not good enough to play here. And you traded for him.

Assuming Lillibridge is unable to triple his production, this is a team built around its eighth-inning set-up man and its closer. Which is like hoping that people will buy a hot dog just for the ketchup. (And now, rumor has it, you’re shopping the ketchup.) 

Speaking of Classic Combo Deals, we’d also like to encourage you and Chris Antonetti to please pick a mountain somewhere in Asia, climb to the top, and stay there until the trading deadline passes to prevent you from making things even worse. 

Every five days we’re reminded of what you’re not capable of when the chips are down when Ubaldo Jimenez takes the mound to throw 115 primarily high-and-outside pitches in 5.1 innings. As we fill another jelly glass with Wild Turkey to get through these games, we wonder what another front office might have acquired in exchange for its top two pitching prospects.

Though on the plus side of that particular trade, it enabled you to move one step closer to clearing your Number-One-Draft-Pick Bingo card, which we know you’ve been working on for several years now - symbolized by your releasing 2005 top pick Trevor Crowe three days after your Hot Dog Manifesto.

Hard as this may be to believe, not a single one of your 14 first-round draft picks since 2000 will do anything to assist this year’s Indians’ team. In fact, only three of those 14 are currently in the Indians’ system and only four ever actually reached the Indians’ dugout. Lonnie Chisenhall, the sole salvageable commodity at the moment, is out for the season and there’s some question as to whether he’ll be the same hitter he was before. (So sounds like the perfect time to sign him to a five-year contract extension, right?)

While your less-than-stellar performances on draft day flame out primarily behind a curtain, we’ve all seen what you can do at the trading deadline, and the memories often result in nausea and a tingling sensation in our extremities. As a buyer you seem to be quickly taken advantage of, as a seller you compromise faster than a drunken bridesmaid. So we speak as a whole when we say: please just stop.

We’re now hearing whispers that Manny Acta’s job may be in jeopardy. We suggest you throw yourself in front of that crazytrain right now before somebody points out that you don’t go into a knife fight with a Pixy Stick and expect to win. Or finish as high as third in the painfully mediocre AL Central, for that matter.

In your letter, you said you’ve listened to our feedback throughout the first half of the season and the most common recurring themes are accessible transportation, parking options, and affordable concessions.

We politely reply, “Bullshit.”

Our most common recurring themes, in no particular order, are:

  • An offense incapable of scoring more than 20 runs in a week
  • Four starting pitchers with ERAs over 5.00
  • Closing in on the 10th anniversary of the last time we had an adequate left fielder
  • A garlic-to-vampire aversion to talented right-handed hitters
  • No free-agent signing worth sitting up for in over a decade
  • The far-too-frequent Brent Lillibridge WTF? moments
  • Watching other mid-market teams such as Tampa Bay, Detroit, Cincinnati, and yes, now, even woebegone Kansas City and Pittsburgh manage to put together exciting teams that can at least contend within their own division

In conclusion, thank you again for your commitment to Sugardale and Pepsi. Your ignoring our feedback and providing trivial benefits we don’t particularly want helps us justify and improve the experience we have in our living rooms watching the Indians on television before turning them off as soon as the opponent scores four runs. Please don’t hesitate to continue to offer special deals on snacks and parking, because we’re not precisely sure who’s listening anymore.

In the meantime, we look forward to your harried signing this November of a downtrodden .241 career hitter to a three-year, $12 million contract before you turn your attention where it belongs: the price of hot chocolate at Snow Days.

We certainly hope this apathy toward $8 combo deals demonstrates our commitment to seeing an entertaining (if not winning) baseball team and makes it easier for you to appreciate that this team is drawing fewer fans than any other in baseball. And you can’t blame us.

Ultimately, while your intentions are admirable, we can score a dozen Oscar Meyers for $3.29 at Giant Eagle and we’ve all got microwaves at home.

Your move, sir.



The Fans

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