I’d write even if no one was there to read it, which is probably what many of my readers would prefer. But as it happens, I’ve got a bit of an audience from time to time, a fact that never ceases to humble and surprise me.
One reason I’m thankful is that my readers often help me to come up with topics, which was the case after my last piece, “It’s a Jungle out There.” I had created a metaphysical conceit that related the Cubs rebuild to an incident I witnessed in a meat-packing plant and some questions were raised afterward.
One reader, jack [sic] commented: “But my question was, who is the individual responsible for messing up the business side. It has to be Tom Ricketts. If he couldn’t have figured out that he was dealing with an abattoir before he bought, he is ultimately responsible.”
I don’t speak French, but I’m reasonably sure that abattoir is frog-speak for slaughterhouse. Of course, given the debt load involved in the purchase, I think albatross is a more fitting term.
Now, I know what Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan would tell us, but I don’t think blaming it on the rain -- even the evil, freezing variety currently pelting my house -- is either accurate or satisfying.
In thinking about the business side of the Cubs’ situation, I’m reminded of my attempt to install a replacement garage-door opener. This shouldn’t be confused with the ill-fated dishwasher installation that occurred a couple years earlier, though my wife inevitably ties the two together.
In any case, the opener went bad and I thought it would be a simple home-improvement project for a Saturday afternoon. After all, the old one was mounted and the track secure; how hard could it be?
So I got a new model and set about my task. Upon closer inspection, the “mount” was all kinds of jury-rigged to the garage ceiling. But did that stop me? Of course not. I reasoned that this was still pretty much a plug and play deal with little actual work required.
Needless to say, I was not feeling the same after nearly 12 hours of work and fingers that felt raw and arthritic. And even then, the belt drive was still too long and the carriage device that actually lifted the door was not running the proper length.
I spent the better part of two days trying and re-trying the device, frequently shaking my fist at it and screaming: “You think yer better’n me?!” The stoic machine mocked just mocked me, its silence a resounding “Yes!”
I eventually discovered that there was a small gear mechanism inside the opener that controls the travel length of the lift carriage, and that said devices individual pieces had become detached from the housing.
With dexterity that would have impressed Lang Lang and Antonio Alfonseca, I maneuvered the little pieces back into position and finally adjusted the opener. Of course, I still had to cut the drive belt down to size and order a new piece for it, but I’ve already wasted enough of your time.
So, c’est la vie and caveat emptor, right? Well, sort of. I had a reasonable expectation that I’d be able to use the tools at my disposal and that I had been supplied with a fully-functional machine. But that wasn’t really the case.
I got it all up, only to find that some of the inner workings were corrupted and needed far more additional cajoling and maneuvering than I could have imagined. Still, I could have paid the $100 or so at Lowe’s and had someone put the thing up for me, saving me tremendous time and effort.
So what in the blue hell did any of that have to do with the Cubs? Good question. The point is that I probably should have done a little more recon before setting about my Sisyphean task.
The Cubs seem to be in virtually the same situation at this point; Tom Ricketts knew, or should have known, exactly what he was getting into from a financial standpoint. However, the issue with the rooftops has proven to be a bit more difficult that he could have imagined.
Other PR issues have cropped up along the way as well: Ron Santo memorabilia being chucked in a dumpster, Clark the Cub’s inglorious introduction, etc. So where do we point the finger?
As the President of Business Operations for the team, Crane Kenney’s name is at the top of the list. After all, he’s been the one overseeing all of these moves. But his continued employment seems to indicate that the Cubs don’t feel the same way.
Kenney’s an easy target, but then again, so is Tom Ricketts. But since you can’t fire the owner, no amount of finger-pointing is going to resolve anything. And the Cubs’ neighbors and business partners across the street must share some of the blame as well.
It might be a huge cop-out, but I can’t lay the flaming pile of blame at any one pair of feet, whether they belong to an individual or a collective. That said, I think everyone involved could have done a hell better job of making this all happen in a smooth manner.
So there you have it: I just spent 900 words to not really answer the question. Now I feel bad. You know what? Kenney always seemed a little smug to me, kind of like a slimmer version of Spaulding Smails.
So I’ll say it’s his fault. Yeah, that feels better.
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