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The great irony behind George Steinbrenner's ownership of the Yankees is that they weren't his original target. He settled for the Yankees only after he couldn't buy his first choice, the mighty Cleveland Indians, the previous year.


What would have baseball been like had Steinbrenner been able to buy Indians instead? Off-Base takes a look at a parallel universe ...


1972: Steinbrenner purchases the Indians for $12 million and promises to not get involved in the day-to-day operations of the ballclub. He then fires recently-hired manager Ken Aspromonte and hires Billy Martin, which presents a tricky situation because Martin is unfortunately managing the Tigers at the time.


1974: Steinbrenner hires Frank Robinson, making him the first black manager in major league history.


1974: Robinson becomes the first black manager to be fired.


1976: Led by Steinbrenner's first crop of free agents, the Indians win their first pennant in 32 years but lose the World Series to their down-state rival Cincinnati. Steinbrenner, however, is named executive of the year not for that but for changing the Indians' uniforms to white with navy pinstripes from those all-red polyester nightmares.


1977: Cleveland catches New York in the final week and wins the AL East when new Yankee Reggie Jackson goes hitless in a season-ending four-game series, prompting Steinbrenner to describe New York's high-priced free agent as "Mr. August to the Third Week of September." The Indians go on to win their first World Series in 39 years, forcing columnist Terry Pluto to change the title of his future bestseller from "The Curse of Rocky Colavito'' to "The Cuyahoga is Burning.''


1978: The Indians rally from a 13-game deficit to beat the Red Sox for the AL East title, then win their second consecutive World Series, inspiring Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli to record the No. 1 hit, "Cleveland, Cleveland.''


1979: Cleveland falls into second place for the first time since 1975 but Steinbrenner says he still has no plans to hire Martin, who has just been fired from the Yankees again. "Only a fool panics by changing a good manager after a single disappointing season,'' he says. "I mean, you can't win every year.''


1980: After the Indians lose on Opening Day, Steinbrenner fires his manager and hires Martin.


1981: Steinbrenner signs Dave Winfield to the largest contract in baseball history but it pays off when Winfield hits five home runs in the World Series, including three in Game 6 when the Indians beat the Dodgers for their third title in five years. "I am so glad I signed a winner and a true champion, who stirs the drinks and always rises to the occasion under pressure,'' Steinbrenner says, "instead of signing Reggie Jackson.''


1983: John Elway refuses to sign with the Denver Broncos (who acquired his rights from the Baltimore Colts), deciding instead to stick with baseball and play for the Yankees, who signed him to play minor league ball the previous summer. "It would be different if I weren't already in the Yankees' farm system,'' Elway explains. "They may be coming off several losing seasons but that just means the path to the majors is wide open.''


1985: Steinbrenner signs another free agent to a huge contract but it pays off when Ed Whitson wins the Cy Young and leads Cleveland to another World Series. "I dedicate this award to the people of Cleveland, the greatest fans in the world,'' Whitson says. "There were times when I lost confidence and probably would have really struggled had I played in a city that wasn't so supportive."


1987: The Cleveland Browns beat the Broncos in the AFC championship when the Broncos go four-and-out on a final drive that starts at their 2-yard-line. "If only we had a great quarterback capable of leading dramatic comebacks,'' Broncos coach Dan Reeves complains.


1988: After beating the Broncos in the AFC championship game again, the Browns go on to win their second consecutive Super Bowl behind MVP Bernie Kosar.


1989: The Cavaliers cement Cleveland's distinction as "Title Town'' when they win the NBA championship. The only difficulty for the Cavs during the playoffs is Game 5 of the opening series with the Bulls, but they pull that out when Craig Ehlo blocks Michael Jordan's desperation shot at the buzzer. Ehlo says his play -- which will become ever known as The Swat -- was made possible because Jordan was distracted by the glare from all the championship rings worn by Cleveland athletes watching from courtside seats.


1991: The movie "Major League'' hits theaters with the story of the lowly New York Yankees overcoming an owner who purposely tries to field a last-place team so she can trigger an escape clause and move to a more lucrative market. The movie goes on to win the Academy Award for best documentary.


1992: The Indians-Pirates World Series gets record-low ratings. "People are just bored seeing these two dynasties play every year,'' a Nielsen representative says.


1995: Browns owner Art Modell signs a 50-year lease to keep his team in Cleveland's Municipal Stadium. "I know a lot of owners are enhancing their revenue streams by blackmailing their communities into building fabulous new stadiums,'' Modell says. "But I just can't in good conscience leave a stadium with such a rich history of champions in two sports as ours. I just can't see us being as successful anywhere else.'' Steinbrenner congratulates Modell saying, "We shouldn't be spending tax money on new stadiums. Spending that money instead on public education is why Cleveland's public schools are ranked the best in the country.''


1997: The Indians lose the World Series when Jose Mesa blows the lead in the ninth inning of Game 7.


2001: The rich get richer when Derek Jeter signs a $250 million contract with the Indians. "I love New York and all the single women there but I just couldn't stand losing anymore,'' Jeter says. "I want to know what it's like to play in the postseason.'' Despite signing with the Indians, Jeter records Bob Sheppard's voice announcing him to be played at Cleveland home games.


2002: Steinbrenner dramatically increases franchise revenues by creating the Ohio United Indians Network. In addition to Cleveland games, the OUI Network begins airing Indianography documentaries on such Cleveland immortals as Duane Kuiper, Rick Manning, Len Barker and Andre Thornton, aka, Mr. October.


2004: The Red Sox trade Manny Ramirez to Texas for Alex Rodriguez, who goes on to lead Boston back from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS to beat the Indians, who have now gone four years since their last world championship. The humiliating defeat for Cleveland prompts their fans to complain that Jeter is not a "True Indian.''


2007: The Yankees reach the postseason for the first time in 43 years but baseball's lovable losers are knocked out in the division series when a sudden swarm of midges carries away reliever Joba Chamberlain in a late-inning loss to the Indians.


2008: Weary fans in the Northeast gripe about ESPN's Rust Belt Bias and the network's obsessive coverage of the Indians-Tigers rivalry.


2010: Wanting to stay in the city of champions, LeBron James re-signs with the Cavaliers.

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And this intellectual exercise is supposed to make us feel .... better? worse? Is it supposed to help us feel differently about Steinbrenner? And the point is????

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The Market would still be different if he owned to Indians.... He's able to spend the money he does in New York because its a much larger city so there's more profit. If he was in Cleveland he would be just like the Dolans, he may wanna win but he dont wanna go broke doing it. George brings in much more than he spends in NY

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