A classy Kerry Wood made the right decision to move on today.
Now I hope the Cubs follow suit and move on as well.
When I wrote about the Cubs using Wood as a mascot and for fans to let go of their Cubbie blankies, it wasn’t anti-Wood. It was more about being anti-“Cubbie”.
This whole “Cubbie” thing really got kicked up a few notches back in 1984 when the Cubs were starting to become a thing under the still new Tribune ownership. Dallas Green was putting a winner on the field and the Tribsters struck daytime gold with Harry Carry simultaneously. The then mighty superstation WGN parlayed all of this into another cash cow TV show.
It was like Bozo Circus meets baseball.
Now I’m all for a little fun, but somewhere between John McDonnough hawking Beanie Babies and today’s spectacle, baseball took a bit of a back seat on the North Side.
The era of Cubs fans before me worshiped guys like Banks, Jenkins, Williams, and Santo, all Hall of Famers.
My generation had daytime matinee idols like “Ryno” and “Gracie” and the latest in “Woody”. Now at least Sandberg was an actual star, the others just had to be good and popular.
This is a team that never was ashamed of cashing in on a marketing opportunity. They made Fergie Jenkins share his retired number with Greg Maddux who accomplished just about everything in a Braves uniform. I don’t know what was more shameful, the Cubs letting Maddux go or letting him be a part of that ceremony.
We can go on all day about how much was milked out of marketing Wrigley Field, the bleachers, and “Slamming Sammy”, Ron Santo and guest conductors. We all know there is a bit of marketing involved in sports. It’s just at Clark and Addison it often feels like they have it backwards.
I often find myself actually missing the days of the pre-1984 Cubs years when they weren’t such a spectacle.
I remember hearing Dallas Green talk about an organizational meeting in which he was despondent about the then 12 game losing streak the team was enduring. Green was just flabbergasted to hear club exec Stanton Cook declare organizational success at the meeting and rave about how well the team was doing. Cook could only see the gate and in television ratings, baseball be damned.
It’s that kind of thinking that had me hopeful a family owned Cubs team would bring some change. Tom Ricketts talked the talk at first, then it was like someone got in his ear and reminded him what paid the bills around here. Next thing you know Ricketts is wearing Harry Carry glasses.
I hope I’m wrong and the hiring of Theo Epstein is yet the biggest reason for that hope. However, when I firmly believe Theo kind of got the nudge to get Woody back in time for the wait for it….Cubs Convention, my ultra sensitive radar crashed. It wasn't that I didn't want Wood back, it just reeked of the same old mentality.
I have “Cubbie” fatigue.
I just want it to be more about baseball sometimes. I love Kerry Wood, but do you think the Yankees would be having any sort of event like today for a guy with his career accomplishments?
I understand this team hasn’t given you much to embrace, but let’s raise the bar. I feel so relieved for Dale Sveum every time another player that doesn’t fit in long term is removed from his roster.
Let’s let “Theo and the Gang” make their moves based solely on winning and not about marketing or sentimentality ever again. I look forward to the very likeable Wood doing something in broadcasting side of things for this team.
It would be a fitting role as it still seems some Cubs fans prefer a TV show. However, there are some of us who just want baseball, oh and can we get winning too?