I think you are being overly pessimistic. It has been proven conclusively that a team in Cleveland playing in a cavernous, decrepit, 60-year old stadium had better contend if they intend to draw fans. Yet this is the first year of the Jacobs Field era in which the Tribe hasn’t contended all season, a year in which we traded away our two best pitchers before August, a year in which a labor dispute threatened the completion of the season and still an average of 32,000 per game have showed up. Not to take this for granted, mind you. Attendance will be down over 500,000 this season, more than a trifling amount, and it may well fall again next year. But I think the Indians will still draw greater than 2 million next season, good enough to put them in the upper half of the AL in home attendance, provided they resign Thome.
Now that I’ve said that, I know I’m setting myself up. At the trading deadline, Thome said all the right things about staying in Cleveland but rumor has it that he was very nearly dealt to the Giants. The Indians were in Oakland on July 31 and Thome sat out the game that day. Had Thome been able to negotiate a contract extension with San Francisco, he might well have been peppering the waters of McCovey Cove with baseballs instead of finishing the year with the Tribe. Now Larry Bowa says that the Phillies should make a run at Thome in the off-season, while in the same breath belittling his own first baseman Travis Lee. Wouldn’t it be a perversion of everything revenue-sharing is supposed to represent if Philadelphia (the 6th-largest media market in the US) signed the Indians best player using dollars they received from the Tribe as revenue-sharing?