Cleveland Needs More Stepien Rules

This time its not for the Cavaliers though, its for the Indians.  Indians owner Larry Dolan is doing everything he can to allign himself in the history of Cleveland sports right next to the infamous Cavaliers owner Ted Stepien.  In trading away back to back Cy Young winners, and slashing salary at any chance he gets, he is running the Cleveland franchise he owns directly into the ground. He will tell you its not his fault.  He will tell you that his hand is forced because of the fact that his club is a small market team, and as such, this market cannot provide the dollars needed to be successful. But if you look right across the street, you might see Dan Gilbert waving his One Goal towel around his head calling bull sh*t.

The NBA has a salary cap.  Baseball doesn’t. What is interesting though, are the dollars Gilbert is spending on his Cleveland team – same small market – with respect to the rest of his league, as well as that baseball team right next door.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have the 3rd highest payroll in the NBA. With the recent off-season moves – signing Shaq for $20 mil ect – on the books, the Cavaliers have a 2009-10 payroll totalling $79,975,195.  That payroll is more than the big market cities Boston, New York, Miami, Chicago, and Philadelphia are paying their teams.  The Luxury Tax for the 2009-10 season is set at a threshold level of $69.9 million. Which means, for every dollar that Gilbert pays over that level (in his case $10 mil) he has to pay dollar for dollar to the NBA in accordance with the tax.  That means esssentially, that Gilbert’s payroll can be figured at $90 million.  $80 mil in payroll, $10 mil in luxury tax.

Larry Dolan – the brokest cat on Wall Street – now has the Indians payroll sitting at $59,294,641 with the shedding of Cliff Lee’s (bargain basement) contract of $9 million.  That total ranks the Indians as the 27th highest payroll in the MLB, ahead of only San Diego, Florida, and Pittsburgh.  Dolan’s payroll is calculated based on the salaries of his 21-man active roster.  Gilbert’s payroll is figured on 15.  Despite that, Gilbert is paying out $30 million more than Dolan.  

The Yankees are paying over $207 mil for their roster.  But this isn’t about the Yankees.  Its about Cleveland.  If the Cavaliers payroll – including the luxury tax – of $90 mil was compared to other non-salary capped MLB payrolls, the Cavaliers would have the 13th highest payroll in the baseball, just ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals, and just behind the Chicago White Sox.

What this means are a few simple things.  Dan Gilbert should be viewed in this town for being maybe the best owner we have ever seen.  Larry Dolan should be viewed as one of the worst. It also means that if the Indians matched the $90 million that the Cavaliers paid out, they might be half decent.  Except they don’t, and they’re not.  Lets go Cavs. 

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine,,, and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.