For Cubs Fans, Free Baseball is Anything But

For Cubs Fans, Free Baseball is Anything But

Ah, free baseball, the extra innings fans get without having to pay for them. Well, not with their money anyway. With last night's loss dropping the Cubs to 1-5 in extras (and 2-8 in 1-run games), fans are finding that while the baseball itself might be free, the tax of sitting through it is anything but.

I'll give the Cubs this though: they sure are doing a great job of finding new and interesting ways to lose ballgames. While I realize full well that the karma from yesterday's piece about an ill-advised beanball (I suppose rather than linking to it I could have trusted you to simply go back to the homepage after reading this, but I thought it better not to leave that to chance) didn't impact this game, you have to admit that the Cubs losing on a walkoff HBP is some pretty ironic stuff.

At least the Blackhawks series-clinching win in Minnesota and the fact that the Cubs/Cards game was being broadcast on The U prevented this loss from being any more damaging than it already was in a vacuum. Well, the fact that this is exactly the sort of thing Cubs fans have come to expect from their team may have cushioned the blow too. Same old Cubes, amiright?

Much has already been written and discussed in terms of the Cubs' ticket prices and the overall high cost of attending games at Wrigley, so that's not a topic I'm going to get into here. And not only because they were playing in St. Louis last night, but because I want to look a little deeper into the costs of calling this team your favorite. After all, it sometimes feels as though being a Cubs fan is more detrimental to your health than a pack-a-day commitment to Marlboro Reds.

I enjoy reading the work of my esteemed colleague AJ Walsh because he gets into advanced metrics to look below the surface of the game and into the true performance of batters and pitchers. He wrote Monday that the Cubs basically need to score at least 5 runs in order to have a shot at winning the game (there I go linking to a very recent piece again), a tally I considered unlikely after Monday's explosion.

After all, as I have continued to state, the Cubs are like an offensive camel (social media experiment time: you think we could get #offensivecamel trending?). I don't mean that the team is some sort of uncultured dromedary, but rather that it can survive for long stretches without scoring many runs, allowing relatively infrequent outbursts to carry it through in the meantime.

I've got neither the time nor the desire to get into an actual cost analysis relative to the Cubs "free" baseball this year, but I'm going to take a stab at a guess. And I think the total will be higher than many of you might care to admit. By my estimation, the true cost of watching the Cubs play past the 9th is comprised of, but not limited to:

  • lost sleep
  • extra beer consumed
  • emotional damages
  • neglect of family and friends
  • cost of energy (for TV, PC, etc)
  • phone data charges
  • property damage (which is likely magnified by the first couple points and includes burning shirseys in effigy)

So if we add all of those together and multiply by the total number of extra innings played, then divide by the number of Cubs wins in extras, we'll get our baseline. That must then be multiplied by the square root of π before being run through the proprietary Cubs Insider Cost of Extra Innings (CoEI) algorithm.

When all the chalk dust clears, we're left with roughly $1 billion *raises pinkie to mouth.*

Okay, you got me. There isn't really a proprietary CoEI algorithm, nor do I have concrete figures for the factors listed above. Disappointed? Probably not as much as you are that your team can't scratch out more runs in the late innings of close games. And while I can't put a real total on the cost, there's no doubt that we've all lost more than just a couple hours of time.

Regardless of low expectations and gleaming beacons of hope shining in the minors, even the sunniest Pollyanna watching the game through rose-colored glasses had to have felt a little glum after last night. At this point, I would prefer that the 10th inning refer only to the Cubs post-game show and not to those additional frames that serve little other purpose than to shave time and happiness from my life.


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  • The walk off beaning was during a commercial for Craig Ferguson, so I actually saw it. I didn't see how the ineffective reliever loaded the bases to get to that "climax."

    But the Cubs are getting way too predictable on many fronts. Remember when I said a couple of days ago that the next throwback promotion was going to be uniforms from the Ruth calling his shot game? And someone said something about Sox throwbacks? Well, it is worse. During last night's game, they said they will be giving out Ruth pointing his shot bobbleheads. Then the Wrigley 100 moment was Musial getting his 3000th hit. While at Wrigley, didn't he play for the team where the Cubs were now visiting? I know that John McDonough isn't with them any more, but what's the deal with the marketing department promoting failure on a consistent basis?*

    Also, the 10th inning made talk about pulling Arrietta in the 5th and thus depriving him of the win moot.

    *I don't think they can get rights to Bartman bobbleheads, but maybe the 2003 promotion will be hopping Moises Alou. Remember his outburst when he couldn't get to the ball in the stands?

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    In reply to jack:

    You know I've actually been chastised (albeit in the comments after a Yahoo article, so take that for what it's worth) for calling Alou a whiner and saying that he threw a tantrum? That display of his was just awful.

    Perhaps not as awful as the Cubs' performance between big games, but still bad. I'm going to treat my camel analogy like I do horses and beat it until it's dead. When that's done, I'm going to put a stick into a tub of glue and continue the metaphor until people are more sick of me than they may already be.

    This team has the ability to put up runs in a contagious manner, but the problem is that when the mania wears off, the depression quickly takes back over. These guys have the consistency and excitement of watered-down oatmeal most of the time, despite the strong play of the core guys.

    It's like watching Kevin Costner movies; for every good one, there are several more bad ones, and the latter group has become increasingly frequent.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    I got tired of watered down oatmeal and had watered down corn mush with cranberry preserves swirled in it this morning.

    But I wonder if on the 100th anniversary of Fenway, they had Bill Buckner bobblehead night?

    On the "put up the runs" point, Len had all sorts of filler about the number of runs when they win vs. the number when they lose, which I guess was a more boring way of making the point.

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    In reply to jack:

    AJ's post from the other day laid that out; basically, they have to score 5 runs to win and even that isn't near a sure thing. I believe the Red Sox did indeed have Buckner back for some sort of deal a couple years back, though I'm not sure if it was for the 100th ann'y or simply a mea culpa now that they don't feel as bad about losing in '86.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, I got up at 11:45ish to take the dog out, then thought I would check to see the Cub final score. Instead I caught the final fatal bottom of the 12th. What you missed were an opening single by Peralta, a strike-out, a walk, a walk, and the hit-by-a-pitch send-off.

    BTW, since I was up I tuned in to your favorite Craig Ferguson and enjoyed his bit with the pianist from the audience.

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