Dick Jacobs: 1925-2009

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Former Cleveland Indians’ owner Dick Jacobs has died:

Richard E. “Dick” Jacobs, the commercial real estate mogul and
former Cleveland Indians owner who helped refurbish downtown Cleveland
and turned its baseball team into a winner, has passed away after a
lengthy illness. He was 84 . . . Although Jacobs made his fortune in
real estate, he became more widely known when he and his brother,
David, bought the Indians from the Steve O’Neill estate in late 1986.
The price was $40 million . . . Jacobs promised to run the club with
sound business fundamentals. He wanted to “stay out of the way” and
hire baseball experts to direct the team. He never told them what to
do, only that they keep him informed, operate within the budget and be
successful.

How nice would it be if every baseball owner had such a philosophy?

Jacobs’ impact on the Indians cannot be overstated. He helped bring
that team back from an oblivion most franchises have never experienced.
When the Indians are bad now, they lose some games and the crowds get
smaller. When they were bad 30 years ago — and they were always bad —
they lost way more games and virtually no one ever showed up. There’s a
reason why “Major League” was set in Cleveland, and that reason all but
disappeared after the changes Dick Jacobs made began to take hold.

I know it’s a commercial impossibility in this day and age, but if
ever there was an owner who deserved to have his name on a team’s
stadium, it’s Dick Jacobs. Progressive Insurance: the good press you’d
get by allowing the team to change the ballpark’s name back to Jacobs
Field would more than outweigh whatever benefit having your name on it
brings. Make it happen and allow the legacy of a man who did more than
almost anyone to help both the Indians and the City of Cleveland come
back from the brink to be honored.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?