07/18/2002 00:48 am ET
Indians' owner denounces competitive imbalance
By Justice B. Hill / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Indians owner Larry Dolan accused Yankees owner George Steinbrenner of using his bankroll of local TV revenue to drive up salaries and wreak financial havoc on the sport, area newspapers and the Associated Press reported.
At a corporate luncheon Tuesday afternoon, Dolan spoke to about 200 people and expressed his frustration with the spending imbalance in the sport, which Dolan claimed Steinbrenner had helped exacerbate.
"George is not spending George's money," Dolan was reported telling the audience. "George is spending revenue the rest of us don't have."
In news reports from three sources, Dolan did applaud Steinbrenner, who once tried to buy the Indians, for recognizing that baseball needed economic balance and for voting to give Commissioner Bud Selig full authority to achieve that balance.
But the almost-bottomless resources that Steinbrenner has at his disposal, Dolan said, make staying in the current economic climate a losing proposition for most franchises, no matter how deep an owner's pockets might be.
"The days when you have owners who have money and it's reasonably expected the owner will spend that money without regard to the revenue from his organization are gone," the Indians owner said.
According to published reports, the Yankees now have a payroll of about $135 million after trading for Tigers ace Jeff Weaver and Blue Jays right-fielder Raul Mondesi.
During his talk, Dolan, whose team's payroll is around $82 million, cited the World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks as an example. He said Arizona's owners "bought themselves a World Series last year."
"Baseball cannot continue with its current economics," Dolan said. "It just can't. It's not in any of our interests to have baseball be such that each season it's going to be the Yankees against some other team in the World Series. That can't continue."
Dolan said team owners, including Steinbrenner, have unified behind a drive to put a revenue-sharing plan in place that they are hoping will restore competitive balance.
Yet he acknowledged that a strike might be the consequences of trying to put such a plan into practice. He stopped short, however, of saying a strike was evitable.
"If we don't get something from the players relative to revenue sharing ... I'm not sure what's going to happen," Dolan said.
Justice Hill covers the Indians for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.