The Los Angeles Dodgers finalized a fantastic new ownership group last month with Lakers great Earvin “Magic” Johnson becoming the new face of the ownership. Dodgers fans are ecstatic, first from shaking off the weight of a cash-poor owner who was slowly mortgaging the team to keep his own head above water, and now with the prospect of maybe the biggest sports hero in Los Angeles history as the face of the franchise. They have hope again.
Like with Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers, having a man at the forefront who knows what it means to win and wants to win so badly is just so emboldening for fans. And Magic is fully ingrained in the very fabric of Los Angeles culture (unlike the transplanted Bostonian Frank McCourt), so it’s like one of their own is running things. It makes one wonder: Who would the dream ownership team for the Indians be?
Given the chance any die-hard Indians fan would love to own the team, but most of us don’t have anywhere near the net worth to spend several hundred million dollars. If Mr. Dolan decided to move on and end his time as a franchise owner (though who would ever want to do that unless they truly had to is beyond me), who should come in to lead the way? Here are some notable names from the history of Cleveland sports or culture who could truly energize the fan base and get it all moving toward the top of the mountain were they to take the reins of the franchise.
What can you say about Jim Brown? Some argue he’s the greatest player in NFL history, and certainly top-three at worst. The Hall of Famer played for the Browns from 1957 to 1965, winning three MVP’s, averaging 5.2 yards per carry for his career, and generally just being an unstoppable force of will. He’s pretty much the greatest professional athlete to make his career a Cleveland affair, and he was in Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He still frequents Cleveland and despite a nasty tiff with the Browns management not keeping him on in any real capacity when Mike Holmgren took over, still loves the Browns.
A guy like Brown who actually cares about the city would be perfect for a frontman of a new ownership group. He knows big, powerful people, he draws attention and adulation, and he would bring an innate sense of winning to the Indians no matter what. Like Nolan Ryan’s hard-nosed approach to life (which has only a little to do with baseball) and his legendary status for the Rangers, Brown’s unyielding drive to be great wouldn’t be lost on young players. Cleveland may not be a hotbed of superstars, but when you can produce the best at his sport, ever, that’s not too shabby. Rich northern Ohioans would clamor to be a part of the ownership group, and the Indians would be able to contend on every front with any of the big boys in the majors.
Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, and Kenny Lofton
Really it could be any of these guys, or a couple others like Sandy Alomar or Carlos Baerga. Anyone from those 1990’s Indians teams would be just fine. The Indians were pretty much awful from the mid-50’s to the early 90’s, so there’s not a lot of history to fall back on. But that one decade was a shining, glorious moment of never-ending victory and joy.
Having Thome as the frontman would be great, because everyone loves the guy and he could put together a good collection of money men, if only because they wouldn’t be able to say no to him. Perhaps Manny would be a bit of a lightning rod what with his last few years of controversy in Boston and Tampa Bay, but the memories he created in Cleveland have to carry over, right? They’re all baseball-rich, which isn’t ownership-rich, but they could attract money like Ryan or Magic (though he is a brilliant businessman).