Cubs Supplying The Narrative

Cubs Supplying The Narrative


It is a word that has been thrown around here loosely ever since Theo Epstein arrived in town and armed Cubs bloggers and tweeters with new catchphrases to use. A word that is now used as an accusation of sorts, one with a negative connotation. A dirty word, if you will. It is often used to accuse someone of peddling a storyline that doesn’t exist, or to simply overplay the negative angle.

I just wish that was all the current Cubs story was. I wish this was only a bad narrative being created or embellished.

Unfortunately, the Cubs easily supply the bad storyline themselves these days. You think the media is just lining up to take their next rip job at this outfit? The Cubs serve it up on a silver platter most times.

After another long week off the field for the Chicago Cubs, the team President of Business Ops Crane Kenney initially made the mea culpa rounds on the media trail. Except, Kenney doesn't do the public groveling thing too long, or too well.

He made one last stop at WSCR 670 AM Saturday morning and dropped the mic on Bruce Levine. He defiantly announced that he had recently re-upped for a five year extension. Of course he did. Curious timing on Kenney's part for sure, yet not a shock for most that know this group.

Seriously, you couldn't make this shit up if you wanted to.

The best part: Kenney now has a deal that outlasts the Hardy Boys, and they learned about it from…wait for it… the media? Natch.

According to one source, Epstein’s baseball department learned of the contract extension from the media over the winter, offering another example of the disconnect between business and baseball that has grown with every delay to a business plan that hasn’t kept up with the baseball side the last two years.

Is that not fun bad?

The real maddening thing is when you try and convey that this front office would like to enhance their wonderful, wonderful idea of building a winner through a system that can provide “sustained success,” you get blow back that they didn’t exactly need the resources quite yet.

Some will ask you where the Cubs could have spent. Really? How about those numerous young IFAs or Anibal Sanchez? Many other teams missed out on those players, you say? You know what may have helped? Resources.

The Cubs front office has told you themselves that their plan simply can’t be carried out through player development alone. Jed Hoyer mentioned the other day he would like some veteran players, specifically mentioning a Scott Rolen type (pointing out what the Reds were able to do) to help insulate his touted prospects once they get to the majors. I think I have written that post and tweeted that very thought out to ad nauseam.

But wait, now even the players are pushing the negative "narrative?”

Anthony Rizzo is probably the face of this thing here, and he isn’t happy with this recent development.

“They told us, again, that we were going to get approved and it didn’t get approved,” Rizzo said Friday at Miller Park. “So I know a lot of guys are not happy about that. It’s kind of a shame, because we get excited about it.

“I’ve only been here a few years and guys before me have heard it before – changes were going to happen,” Rizzo said. “I don’t know what’s going on. Obviously, it’s not my job to do it. Obviously, we all want it. But when guys are promised that things are going to happen and they don’t happen, they’re not happy about it.

“Now it’s just kind of: ‘OK, when it gets done, it gets done.’ We’re not going to have our hopes up for anything.”

As Randall Delgado would say: They don’t did the rehab.

“It’s been about everything but baseball around here for a while,” another player told Gordon Wittenmyer.

Those quotes sound pretty real to me. Trust me, everyone wants to focus on a successful baseball product. All the media would like to cover other angles here. However, they can not simply choose to sell sunshine. They have a responsibility to cover what they hear and know.

Everyone would like to write positive stories when it comes to the Cubs. However, unless we just follow Kris Bryant around the clock like a reality show, the reality is this is what we are stuck with for now.

The Cubs used to be my escape. Now at times, I just need to escape them.

Please Cubs, help us change the narrative.


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  • fb_avatar

    It seems to me that the biggest FA veteran splash need would be starting pitching. Many of the prospects are getting close and I for one wouldn't want an entitled veteran taking up space at either 3B or even 2B. Our area of greatest need for position might be Catcher (not sold long-term on Beef) but that guy doesn't exist out there right now in the FA market. We missed out on Tanaka not wanting to come to Chicago (do you blame him?) And the Sanchez whiff looks bad more in hindsight than it did at the time considering all of the "promises" that were being spread around. In this current abyss it looms.
    The best thing the front office could do now in my opinion is trade Shark for something other than "promises" or give him the 6yr/100m contract that he seems to be hoping for. At 29, it might seem like a lot, but thanks to his journey, there is potential for a lot of tread left on that tire...

  • In reply to ythguy07:

    Dont defend the FO from themselves. If they say they need the money, Im not making excuses for them.

    FA pitching for sure.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    So is the Ricketts family using the "if you build it, they will come" defense and keeping the personnel purse strings tight to focus on the stadium? Just confused about who is holding out...

  • In reply to ythguy07:

    I'm not sure who is supposed to come. Will free agents come if the clubhouse is remodeled but the team still stinks? Will fans come? Or is the real intent to have AB InBev orgasm all sorts of money to be seen on signs which might be only seen on My50 (especially since it has been reported that Tribune Co. intends to take local Chicago sports off WGN America)?

  • Speaking of narrative, the Cubs auctioned off locker room folding chairs that Jeter and Tanaka sat in while at Wrigley. The photo of Jeter's empty folding chair resting on the Wrigley Field grass with the winning bid displayed at $350--that says it all.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    I don't quite see the relevance here. Teams sell crap like that all the time, and [obsessed people like me] buy it. But it's all for charity and I'm pretty sure MLB pushes the teams to do stuff like that.

    As for the business--baseball disconnect, I didn't know the baseball guys learned about the extension from the media. That is ... concerning, to say the least.

  • In reply to Justin Jabs:

    Yeah they are just making themselves an easy target so media does take advantage on stuff like cake, Tanaka chair.

    Silly but they know they are being scrutinized, so they need to be mindful of that.

    I don't think biz side wants to betray FO in any way by design, it's just not smart stuff happening there all the time.

  • In reply to Justin Jabs:

    Tanaka's empty chair is the ultimate symbol of Cubs failure (or maybe futility, if you're feeling charitable). It's so absurd that they would pick this item to sell, like a cruel joke on themselves.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to baseballet:

    I have maintained that several of the little issues that some people have brushed aside are in fact symptoms of a larger issue. I actually covered that in this post.

    To me, those things illustrate a disconnect between the biz/marketing arm and the fans, or with the city in general. None of these things would be a problem if viewed separate from the rest. But taken as a whole, and combined with the poor play on the field, they all serve to advance the notion that this organization is a bit lost.

    I'm with Justin on the chair thing though; it's the sort of thing that has become very common across MLB. The "authentics" segment of memorabilia is pretty big, and this wouldn't be an issue at all if not for the other eff-ups the Cubs have made.

    Perhaps I'm being a hypocrite by classifying some flubs as signs of reals problems and others as harmless, but I think the latter is the case with the folding chairs.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    It's hard for me to imagine that the Yankees would auction an empty folding chair that was sat in by a non-Yankee, but it's possible they do this, I don't know. I mean the Cubs auctioned a chair sat in by Tanaka, their biggest off season acquisition target since Ricketts bought the team, only to have their best offer dwarfed by the Yankees. And now they're selling his empty chair? It's so tone deaf. They can sell all the Ron Santo framed photos they want, but Tanaka's empty chair?

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Tanaka and Jeter also sat in chairs in the Cell, but someone is going to have a stroke if I mention here that I don't recall that team auctioning them off.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Okay, I do see the irony now. But I still don't think it's a big deal.

    I also didn't think the cake or the mural was a big deal. The Santo card, though, that's another thing. If anything, it should've ended up in the Santo family dumpster, not the Wrigley Field one.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Maybe they can at least get Rizzo to throw a bat, and then auction that off.

    On the PR front, at least the Wrigley 100 moment last was 2 Sosa home runs, which is at least a Cubs player, but one that is supposedly persona non grata.

  • For as awful as the Cubs have been the last 5 years and for as bad as these PR gaffes have been, and for as drawn out as the renovation has been, I still don't think the Cubs have gotten or will get as low as the Blackhawks. And where are the Blackhawks now? The Blackhawks are winning so much that when they don't get to the Stanley Cup Final the vast majority of fans tip their cap to the Kings and say they were the better team and look forward to getting back to the Final next year. Getting the right players is the only thing that has lead to this turn around. You can talk all you want about John McDonough, and he's done a fine job, but winning hockey is what made this team popular and the hottest ticket in town. They won by being able to draft great players after years of bad teams. And then by signing quality free agents when they were ready to compete.

    Now granted the Cubs are self-imposing this exile from winning while the Blackhawks got there through the stubbornness and antiquated ways of Bill Wirtz. And a hockey turn-around is much quicker than a baseball turn-around. But there are still plenty of comparisons to be made and plenty of reason to believe that all this shit about mascots and cakes and Tanaka chairs won't mean anything and won't impact anything. Did the sins of Bill Wirtz and Bob Pulford prevent the Blackhawks from eventually winning two cups in 3 years? No.

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    Yes they did. Bill Wirtz had to DIE. Get that right, DIE.

    So tell us when Tom Ricketts is ready to kick the bucket. Or at least Crane Kenney, since he is gong to be paid for the next 5 years.

  • In reply to jack:

    The cause of the Blackhawks losing was Bill Wirtz and Pulford. The Cubs are tanking on purpose in order to get the best draft picks possible. No one on the Cubs has to die.

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    BTW, nobody had to wait 4 or 5 years for Kane and Towes to come up from the minors after being drafted, either.

  • In reply to jack:

    That's because baseball is a totally unique sport in terms of its minor leagues. Few players go from high school to the majors in baseball. It's become less and less rare over the last decade. In football you can't enter the NFL until you're 3 years out of high school. In basketball you need to attend 1 year of college. Hockey has extensive systems of advanced development leagues, plus Toews himself attended two years of college.

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    But hockey also has the OHL and AHL. The Wolves are not just there to entertain the folks in Rosemont, but as a minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Blues. However, they don't advertise that because Hawks fans then would not show up. The Hawks affiliate is the Rockford Ice Hogs, and there have been plenty of marginal players that move back and forth between the two teams.

    I've lived in smaller cites that only had International League Baseball and AHL hockey, and there basically isn't any difference as far as the local fans are concerned, except, as I mentioned earlier, Cal Ripken Jr. was only there for 6 weeks, not 3 years.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yes, but the system is not nearly as advanced or with as many levels as baseball. From Rookie league to AAA there are 6 levels and many players spend a fair amount of time in each level. My point is that in baseball this is how it works. In hockey it works a different way. As far as I can tell there are no players from last year's draft who have made their major league debut.

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    But is it essential for all minor leaguers to go through all 6 steps? Or is Jed trading for those that aren't very advanced?

    My only point is however they are doing it, the Saturday story indicates that the business side is keeping the baseball side back (at least pinching its budget until 2019), and better not count on paid admissions to Wrigley Field at rates previously budgeted. Now if you have so much faith to continue spending the $67 per game Bruce Levine states is the average take to see a team that can hit every 1 out of 3 days, and will stay that way for the conceivable future, that's your business, but otherwise I don't see that you refuted the financials posted there.

    And, again, you brought up hockey, I didn't, so I don't see why you get so bristled when someone says the hockey analogy you proposed doesn't work. You also haven't said when Crane Kenney is going to kick the bucket. Quit arguing in circles you can't escape.

  • In reply to jack:

    I'm getting bristled? Really?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to jack:

    The Blackhawks also spent huge amounts on free agents to surround the younger players. Hossa and Campbell had two of the biggest NHL contracts at one time. That would be like the Cubs getting Ellsbury and Tanaka last year. The comparisons are not valid unless the Cubs start spending.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    That's true. They were talking on the radio today about how many more years they have to work off Hossa's 17 year contract.

    Also, obviously the Hawks were spending in 2010, or they wouldn't have had to trade half the team to get under the salary cap for 2011. I'm sure jorel can tell us how far under the salary cap the Cubs are, especially given that the payroll for players still on the team is $71 million.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yes, the Hawks were spending in 2010. When did Kane and Toews make their NHL debuts? 2007.

    But if you are getting angry because I'm bringing up hockey then how about a baseball comparison. The Nationals had two #1 picks in a row with Stras and Harper. Strasburg was drafted in 2009 and came up in 2010. Even with him being up it still didn't help the Nationals who got another #1 pick and drafted Harper. Harper didn't make his debut until 2012. Now don't you think Harper could have helped that team get better in 2010 or 2011? But then let him spend some time in the minors. It wasn't until 2011 that they started spending really heavily on free agency with Jayson Werth.

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    So, tell us who the Strass and Harper in the Cubs system are? And when we'll see them? And, based on the Saturday article, when the Cubs will have the financials to start signing what free agents, since they don't have the financials to do it effectively now.

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    I don't have the financials, no one has the financials. What are the "Saturday financials" you keep talking about?

    I don't know who the Stras and Harper are but that's not my point. I'm not looking for direct comparisons, I'm merely pointing out two other examples of teams that were in dire straits, record wise (and in the case of the Hawks PR wise) who used poor records to draft franchise-changing talent. Then when that talent arrived at the professional level, they began spending on veteran free agent talent.

    I still would like to know also, why a White Sox fan is so obsessed with the rebuild and the Cubs financials, and what the Cubs are doing. What are you trying to prove exactly? That the Sox are in better shape? That Cubs fans should abandon their team and head south?

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    I guess you can't follow a link, jorel, which is the text with the red line under it.

    I also can't figure out why someone who answered a post about a meatball fan on Cubs Den is so obsessed about whatever allegiance some other poster has, even if he has guessed it. Does that justify the incompetence in the Cubs front office? Or is that what meatball fans expect?

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    You still haven't answered my question, what are you trying to prove? The Cubs are bad, everyone knows that. No one has any evidence on the financial side, it's all conjecture. I have no idea what to expect, but I don't get why some people think they know exactly what will happen when the Cubs are ready to compete. Will they spend or won't they? No one knows. You seem to think you know that they won't, because you're a Cub-obsessed White Sox fan. I hope they'll spend but I can't say for sure they will because I don't. You and the Gordon Wittenmyers of the world know for a fact that the Cubs won't spend any money on free agents until 2019. Although they have tried to spend. But to you trying isn't the same. Although you're more than willing to keep beating the Edwin Jackson drum. Because the Cubs are the only team that has ever made a free agent mistake (Adam Dunn, Alex Rios). And the Sox got Abreu so they're willing to spend. But they didn't get Tanaka. The Cubs didn't get Tanaka either, but to you the White Sox were for sure ready to spend on Tanaka but the Cubs weren't ready to spend, even though they tried to sign him to a rather large (but not large enough and with no opt-out clause).

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    You still haven't answered:

    WHY ARE YOU SO OBSESSED WITH THE SOX? You said this is a Cubs blog.

    Since you acknowledged you don't know what is going on in the future, and you don't know how to click, on a LINK, what is your point?

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    Until I start posting constantly after every article on a White Sox blog it's safe to say I don't give two shits about the White Sox. You seem to care a great deal about the Cubs since you post here constantly about everything they're doing or not doing. And if you don't like what someone is saying you start needling them and baiting them into getting into an argument with you.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    But when did Hossa and Campbell come on board? Campbell was signed the year after Toews and Kane made their debuts. Hossa came on board in 2010, three seasons after they debuted. So the Blackhawks began spending money after their two key, homegrown talents, were already playing in the NHL.

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    But you said that hockey wasn't analogous.

  • In reply to jack:

    My original point was how winning can erase any PR disaster.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to jorel1114:

    I think the baseball comps are slightly skewed as well. Strasburg and Harper were clear 1-1s. Both were deemed major league ready. In your defense I believe Kris Bryant is major league ready but I understand why the Cubs are adhering to the "Cubs Way" on him, Baez. Alcantara, etc.

    As far as the Blackhawks, Toews and Kane were also NHL-ready, as you stated. And the Blackhawks were still "buying" guys in their formative years, like Khabibulin (first time with team), Campbell (signed in 2008 btw), they just hit the home run with Hossa in 2010. And they were buying guys like Martin Havlat ( a free-agent I believe).

    This is a great article by Tom but the comments have gotten off topic. So I just want to add that the rhetoric that comes out of the business side is frightful, and I firmly believe that Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod will probably be gone when their contracts expire. I don't think there is enough time to change the culture or mask the wretched PR before the baseball guys blast out of town.

    To think, the Cubs are actually making the Astros organization look incredibly smart.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Strasburg was a clear 1 and was up a year after being drafted. But Harper was also a clear 1 and they kept him down a little longer. So of course it depends on the player. I admire "the Cubs way" but I'm starting to agree with people like Todd Hollandsworth who think maybe it's time to bring him up. Not that I think he will carry the Cubs singlehandedly to the second Wild Card spot, but because it might just be time for him. And imagine the line-up protection he could offer to Rizzo or Castro.

    My point wasn't to say that hockey and baseball are identical, merely that winning erases all memory of pantsless mascots and cakes in dumpsters, just like Stanley Cups erase not having home games on TV for decades, or a United Center with a few thousand fans in it.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Hmm that would be awfully nice.

  • wait jack is a white sox fan? lol

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    You can't believe anything from jorel, other than he answered one of my posts about some meatball Cubs fan, thus admitting that it was he or she.

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