The Hand-Wringing Begins

I just saw this gem from a “Hey Hoynsie!” column:

Q: I have been a loyal Indians fan for 46 years. From sitting in the obstructed view, straight-A student seats in the old stadium to club seats at the Jake, I have faithfully attended Tribe games.

But this latest deplorable decision not to sign Omar Vizquel is too much to bear . . . Not to sign him immediately and make it possible for this amazing ballplayer to retire as a Cleveland Indian when the time comes is unforgivable.

If Omar does not come back to Jacobs Field, then neither will this once loyal Indians fan. – Eva Webster, Solon.

A: Hey, Eva: I can’t tell you how many e-mails I’ve received just like yours. I can’t remember this kind of response when the Indians lost other big-name players such as Albert Belle, Robbie Alomar, Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez.

It shows you what kind of hold Vizquel has on the community. Maybe the front office will listen to you and others. Maybe owner Larry Dolan will expand the budget so that GM Mark Shapiro can improve the club and keep Vizquel. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Frankly I don’t want to go over whether or not Peralta is better than Vizquel. I’m sure some of you who are reading this feels like Vizquel has another year or two left. And that’s fine.

But I would think we’ve seen enough of what goes on in baseball to not fall in love with a player to the point where the love of a player trumps the love of a team. That’s what happens when you’re a fan of a middle-market team; you’re going to see players leave who you don’t necessarily want to leave. However, with this Vizquel situation, I think it goes deeper than that; we’ve elevated Omar so much as a community that he’s become something that he’s not. If the Indians lose Vizquel, it might hurt the team (I don’t think it will), but not nearly as much Belle or Ramirez or Thome leaving hurt it. The fact that some fans are willing to give up their season tickets because their favorite player is leaving, despite the improvement of the team on the whole, despite the fact that Dolan is finally willing to spend more money, mystifies me. Yeah, it’s your money, and you can do with it what you want. But I just don’t get this mindset at all.

For the final time, please root for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back. That’s what I thought Indians fans have learned, especially in the past 7-8 seasons.

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