Speaking to the media in Mesa on Wednesday, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts was nothing if not optimistic. However, I found it a little hard to detect sincerity in his words, particularly when they refer to a team that has done little to improve after losing nearly 200 games over the last two seasons.
Chicago Tribune reporter Mark Gonzales covered the interview in a bit more detail here, but I want to focus primarily on the pie-in-the-sky portion.
Quoth the Ricketts:
“I think we have a team right now that can go to the playoffs. We have a good, young nucleus. We have to have guys step up, but we have depth in our system.
“Like I’ve always said, you have to build a championship team. We’re doing that. We’ve got good young guys on the team this year and got good young guys coming, and it’s every year we’ll keep getting better and better and be consistent contenders. We’re not given anyone this year. The fact is, if these guys step up and play to our potential, we’re going to be fine.
There are a few teams that flip it around in one season. We have a good young nucleus of guys. If they get back on their career trajectories that we anticipate, they will. We have a great new manager and a lot of positive energy coming through. Anything can happen. We’ll be fine. It’s going to be an exciting season.”
Playoffs?! Don’t talk about playoffs! You kiddin’ me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game. Well, it’s a good thing Jim Mora’s not the Cubs owner. Or is it? At least he shot straight, even if it was from the hip.
Listen, Mr. Ricketts, we fans might have our myopic vision clouded by cataracts of emotion, but we’re not stupid. If I wanted this kind of contrived dialogue, I’d turn on Duck Dynasty.
I know that some have and will defend the playoff talk by saying that the alternative, which was to either talk around the question or to be bluntly honest, would have drawn as much ire. But c’mon, you can’t tell me that people would turn on Ricketts for being truthful.
Admitting that your team is built to win in the future but not right now would be fine. I can’t think of anyone but the most starry-eyed optimists would dare to think otherwise.
And when you really get down to it, the opening line of the statement is really the only part that gets Ricketts in over his head. Well, other than the questionable grammar. But take out the line from the playoffs and you’re left with typical clichés.
Then again, toward the end, he did start sounding a little like a jilted lover who’s trying to rationalize why his bride-to-be left him at the alter to run off with a carnie who wore jorts and had his Camel Reds rolled up in his greasy shirtsleeve.
And lest you get the idea that the specificity of such an incident means that it happened to me, think again. It could have been a guy I know though. No, it wasn’t. Well, you can imagine what it’d be like if that happened though.
Anywho…I can deal with the losing because I feel that, in the long run, it’s for a purpose. That sounds awful, I know, but I’m not alone in believing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. But by tossing out that playoff statement, Ricketts insults in the intelligence of Cubs fans, whether they think "rebuilding" is a sound strategy or a scheming money-grab.
Because no matter what the owner says, no one believes the Cubs are headed to the playoffs this year. Unless…hmmm. Maybe he meant that he’d be buying playoff tickets for everyone still on the roster when the regular season ends.
Yep, that’s gotta be it.
Follow me on Twitter: @DEvanAltman
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