Two things occurred to me tonight when Jim Donovan and I were on the air for the Donovan Live Postgame Show:
1. The Cleveland Indians might be the best run franchise in all of baseball
Here was some of the evidence that Jimmy and I ran through during the show:
- They have the best executive in the game in Chris Antonetti, according to Sporting News
- For my money, they have the best manager in baseball in Terry Francona, who finished 2nd in the AL Manager of the Year vote after winning in 2013 and 2016.
- Their managing tree from Francona, Antonetti, and Mark Shapiro includes this year's National League Manager of the Year in Torey Lovullo, plus new Mets skipper Mickey Calloway, Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash, and John Farrell, who won the World Series with the Red Sox before being fired by Boston last month.
- The scouting over the last five years has brought in everyone from Francisco Lindor to Bradley Zimmer after a decade of waste.
- They went to the World Series in 2016 and had the American League's best record in 2017.
But the key to all of this is Francona.
And let's be clear about an important point: He's not here if not for his relationship with Antonetti and Shapiro, which was molded when Tito worked in the Tribe's front office in 2001 as a special assistant to the general manager.
Antonetti and Shapiro had the connection, and they made the most of it.
Which leads me to point number 2...
2. Jimmy and Dee Haslam don't seem to have those NFL connections that would help stabilize the dysfunction that is the Browns
Don't read that as if I'm saying that the Browns owners will never be able to find the right people to guide the franchise to success, but I think people assumed when Jimmy Haslam bought the team that he had absorbed the secret to being a model franchise while with the Steelers as a minority owner.
Jim Donovan said it best: "They got nice tickets and parking."
The Haslams just don't have the NFL connections to be able to duplicate what the Indians did with Francona.
They can convince Peyton Manning to come to Cleveland and be the face, voice, and guiding hand of the Browns. We know that the Haslams have a relationship with Manning going back to his days at the University of Tennessee. We know that Manning has said that he would like to run a team someday. Perhaps those seeds could be planted into something that works for both sides.
I have no idea whether or not Manning can be a successful executive. I do know that he has a tremendous aptitude for the game of football and would give the venture his full attention and energy (unlike the last 'football man' the Browns put at the top of the organization...looking at you, Mr. Holmgren). That alone makes him very interesting.
If 'Operation: Omaha' doesn't work out, the Haslams had better start having some conversations with some bonafide NFL experts. I talked about this about a month ago.
Because what the Browns are doing as an organization, and on the field, is still not working.
Watch our entire Donovan Live Postgame Show in the player above