Tom Ricketts’ Playoff Talk Rings Hollow

Tom Ricketts’ Playoff Talk Rings Hollow

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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  • If one owns the team it's safer to ring hollow than to crack the bell with with the cold hard truth. Anyway who knows? Maybe Cubs will wish that they had risked a couple bucks on those good odds in baseball futures.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Maybe Cubs fans that is.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    I'm not even necessarily saying that he should have said, "We suck and we'll be lucky to end up ahead of the Astros." Just that he could have easily excluded the playoff portion of the comment. No one expects the playoffs but everyone expects them to be pretty awful. So you go out there and say, "Hey, listen, we're a young team that's building towards being a consistently competitive club. It's taken some time already and it'll take some more. But with the players we have coming up, I have no doubt that we're not dealing with a long timeframe before that happens. Teams can turn it around very quickly and I believe that is something we'll be able to do here."

    Listen, he's damned either way; I just think saying things that are unrealistic is the wrong thing to do at this point.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    Jerry Reinsdorf saying that the Bulls were mediocre got some attention.

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    In reply to jack:

    Sure, but the media (of while I suppose I could be thrown in with by only the loosest affiliation) is going to take whatever angle is given. However, I can say that I wouldn't have written anything had Ricketts not mentioned playoffs as a possibility. That's just me. But since I'm more fan than paid media personality, I don't need to come up with something no matter what. Plus, if a team is mediocre there is a possibility that they could end up being either good or bad. The Cubs aren't even mediocre; even getting to that level would be a stretch with this roster.

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    In reply to Evan Altman:

    While? Wow. *which*

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    Rule #1 of management create a positive atmosphere for your employees. That means saying things like we can make the playoffs.

    No matter what the situation is an athlete, coach or owner of any sports teams says the same thing at the beginning of the season. The goal is always the same.

    Make the playoffs!

    There are many examples of teams going from worst to first without having added a single new piece of talent.

    The Bulls took — in many reporters' and bloggers' eyes — a step backwards with their talent acquisition this past off season. They lost Rose for the season yet they have one focused mentality born from their coach.

    While Reinsdorf says they are mediocre, which their record says they're barely over .500 at the moment, they are still very much in the playoff scene due to this single-mindedness.

    Without this type of mentality you can't get buy-in for your employees or your talent. The message Tom put out there is as much for fans, investors, vendors, TV, radio and sponsors as it is for the players. Sure behind the scenes Tom could have said we're going to make the playoffs to the players, but the players read newspapers and they need ... no want ... to read that their owner thinks highly enough of them to say they're going to the playoffs.

    P.S. I could care less how much crap you know about nonsensical '80s trivia. I can be as sarcastic as the next person, but sometimes your writing pisses me off. As today's article did.

    At times you're as bad as Gordon Wittenmeyer from the Sun-Times. He can't say one kind word about the Cubs or the Ricketts. Quite frankly you're becoming Gordon Wittenmeyer Jr., and I can't stand him.

    And, you wonder why you get slings and arrows sent your way. If you don't like it in the blogosphere, go back to writing for Yahoo.

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    In reply to JeffK:

    I'm sorry that you've been forced to read my stuff, Jeff. I can imagine how painful it must be to be helpless when it comes to the content you're allowed to read on the Internet. And I don't wonder why I get slings and arrows; it's because I put my work out there for public consumption. But you read it and you commented on it, so I must be doing something right. But stick around, there's positivity coming soon. If you're still able to stomach my work.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    I don't think so Evan. Two read articles is enough to know you're not the type of author I want to read. I'll just read Tom's posts.

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    In reply to JeffK:

    Well, thanks for reading those two. Tom's got some great stuff coming. I hope you're reading Brian, Tommy, and AJ's stuff as well. I am more snark and randomness, while they're more stat/fact based, though not devoid of flavor by any stretch. I appreciate the feedback, because you at least cared enough to reply.

  • Don't mind Ricketts.
    He's just selling tickets.

  • When I heard playoffs yesterday, I just had to laugh. The FO would never say such a thing at this point. Yeah, he's on owner though. Got to sell some hope.

  • Ricketts continues to lose credibility with me left and right. Messaging is TERRIBLE across the board, Theo seems completely out of sync with the business side and so is just no commenting on things like payroll etc. At some point perception does become reality, Ricketts should realize this, NDA or no NDA.

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    In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    I think that's exactly my concern; the left hand *may* know what the right is doing, but the messaging seems to say otherwise. At this point, Ricketts would likely be skewered no matter what he said, but I feel that the fans deserve to be treated like adults. Whether you agree with what the team is doing or not, you know that this is not a playoff team now. So it does no good to sell it as such because no one's buying that. You wanna sell hope for the future? Fine. Just don't try to sell some far-fetched dream for today.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    the message just isnt for the fans. he needs to show confidence in his team weather he actually believes it or not.

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Theo is doing exactly what he should be doing in regards to a rebuild.

  • cubs fans sure are an over sensitive lot. doesn't matter what ricketts said, a good chunk of the fan base would have been pissed just to be pissed.

  • In reply to wpbc:

    Truth to that.

  • You got to love Ricketts and his public positivity, but somehow even the cheer "We've got Ricketts!!" just doesn't sing the way it should.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Arrrrr, do we have scurvy, too?

  • In reply to jack:

    For what it's worth, I was plagiarizing myself. Here's my Onion-style fake news story of the same headline:

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    In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    That's good stuff, Jeff.

  • Les Grobstein had the sound effects to go with this story.

    What might be even more troubling is Gordon Wittenmyer's column that Ricketts has not explained where the $60 million per year that was taken out of the Cubs' payroll compared to the time of the acquisition, nor the $20 million set aside for Tanaka, but not spent, and theoretically still is in the baseball operations budget. Unlike Gordon, I'm not assuming that profits are being drained out or that capital gains from TD Ameritrade stock should be plowed back into the team, but all Ricketts is providing is pleas of poverty and asking the fans to pay major league prices for a minor league caliber roster.

  • In reply to jack:

    Gordon has had a spur up his ass since the Ricketts family took over the Cubs. He can't say one kind word at all. Great he's on top of the Cubs financial accounting when he isn't even in the Cubs organization — quite frankly Gordon is clueless unless he is being fed financial reports.

    Let's see. The Cubs bought property in the DR and build an academy. They spend money on building a new stadium and training facility in Arizona. They spent how many millions on international signings last year.

    Oh yes, no one has seen the actual contract between the Cubs and the Tribune Company, but we've all read about how the deal was heavily debt based so Sam Zell and the Tribune wasn't burdened with large tax bills.

    Any one who has purchased a car or home and has taken out a loan to pay for it knows there are covenants that must be followed. It's no different with the Cubs. They have debt burden to pay. Any reporter and fan who didn't think that was going to impact talent acquisition is simply being naive.

    Lastly, the Cubs are a privately-held, family-owned business. They are no different than any other privately-held or family-owned business. They don't need to explain their finances, their messaging or their decisions with any one but those who they have to pay loans back to — that includes fans or reporters.

    If you don't like what the Cubs are doing or saying don't be Cubs fans. Don't follow them.

    And if you want to sling arrows at the Cubs and Ricketts for what they say, being willing to have those arrows shot back at you.

  • In reply to JeffK:

    I don't think you said anything that wasn't said in the column. It just seems like you didn't like who said it.

    Anyway, the fans aren't sitting in the stands to see the next mortgage payment clear. And, apparently, they aren't so eager to sit in the stands and watch the team that is being put on the field this year.

    So, even though they don't need to explain the private corporation's business, I think they do have to explain what they are willing to put on the field this year, they should expect that other than the die hard like you, people aren't going to show up. buy season tickets, or use their official ticket exchange.

  • 2014 Cubs= GIGO

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Did Steve Goodman write that song?

    And what is going to happen to that song if the Cubs end up on Channel 50.1?

  • He's the owner of the club, I guess I expect him to make such statements even if he knows they are patently false. Although most fans of baseball and Cubs fans know so, there's always a certain segment of Cubs fans who will always believe no matter what. The "wait til next year" crowd. Those are the people I believe he was talking to. Although if I were to give Tom some advice, it would be to not put yourself in the position of having to make such statements.

  • Mr. Rickets.
    Drinking bathwater can make one ill.

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