When Tom Ricketts purchased the Chicago Cubs, he thought he was buying a perpetual-motion machine, a self-sustaining cash cow. But with all the moving parts, bloviating business owners, and dead-end nonsense negotiations, it appears as though what he actually acquired is an entropic Rube Goldberg device.
And many fans feel as though they've been sold a bill of goods. The goal of a consistently competitive team was, and still is, a worthy one, but there's not a spoon in the world big enough to hold all the sugar it would take help the losses go down.
I can't help but imagine the Ricketts' purchase of the team looking somewhat akin to the scene in Ghostbusters in which the protagonists are scouting locations for their new HQ. But Ricketts didn't have Egon there to tell him: "I think this building should be condemned. There's serious metal fatigue in all the load-bearing members, the wiring is substandard, it's completely inadequate for our power needs, and the neighborhood is like a demilitarized zone."
Pretty much nails it. Well, other than the neighborhood part, though even that would have been true in the not-so-distant past. And please don't feel that my use of a Ghostbusters reference follows too closely on the last one, and is thus a dereliction of whatever loose journalistic and/or literary duties I should attempt to uphold. Given recent events, I think it's more than fitting.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...Tom Ricketts just slid right down the fireman's pole, due diligence be damned, and is now enjoying the blessings of owning a sports team in Chicago.
But are we all that much different as fans? So enamored are we with our team that we routinely elevated newly-minted major leaguers to cult hero status before they've even had a cup of coffee. We look not at what they really are, but what we desperately want and need them to be.
We're Ray Statz driving that old ambulance, smoking and sputtering, into the driveway. Our team's not that bad, right. Needs some suspension work and shocks. Brakes, brake pads, lining, steering box, transmission, rear-end. Oh, and a clean-up hitter.
In the movie, the firehouse and ECTO-1 came out looking pretty darn spiffy. But this isn't Hollywood and you can't edit out the time, events, and effort of the rebuilding process. We're sitting here and watching all the footage that is just going to end up on the cutting-room floor.
In other words, we're getting the full-on Editor's Cut at this point. And the critical reaction, by and large has been: "Son of bitch! Shit!"
So what will it take to exorcise the spooks and specters of losing? Well, just like the Ghostbusters, the Cubs are going to need to cross the streams. But rather than combining the arcs from separate positron colliders, the Cubs need simply to align the efforts of both the baseball and business sides.
After all, the addition of a jumbotron, signage, and hotel are supposed to provide, say it with me...additional revenue streams.
Some have likened a Cubs World Series title to a sign of the coming apocalypse, as detailed by Vinz Clortho: "Gozer the Traveler. He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldrini, the traveler came as a large and moving Torg! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him: that of a giant Slor! Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!"
Can the Epstoyer brain-trust combine with Crane Kenney and the business arm to make this work in the end? I sure hope so, as the prospect of being roasted in the depths of a Slor isn't very appealing to me.
But in all seriousness, the Cubs are going to have to build positive momentum then start adding the kinds of veteran players whose presence on the field and in the clubhouse elevate the play of the young guys around them. Tom's talked about it on this blog before and he's certainly not alone.
Perhaps the Cubs could have spent on the team on the field, could have thrown more money at the free agents to spare us all the recent doldrums of ineptitude. But for those who have slogged through the ashes left from the dumpster fire of the last few seasons, it'll be well worth it when the phoenix finally rises.
So why did I just spend nearly 700 words, at times awkwardly shoe-horning movie quotes into the midst of my own words, just to say something many of you already know? Well, because I kinda wanted too, though not out of selfish motives. No, in my own twisted way, this was the best method I could think of to talk about the Cubs while also honoring the memory of a great entertainer.
Godspeed, Harold Ramis. Your work brought joy to millions and will continue to do so. Thank you. I only hope the Cubs can follow the blueprint you set forth for us in the 80's. Well, the blueprint of producing wildly successful results, not the one of making everyone laugh.