MESA, ARIZ. - At Cubs owner Tom Ricketts' annual spring training kickoff news conference, he stole a page from Sister Teresa and beamed only positivity and delusional hope in the face of the Calcutta slums-like prospects of his ball club.
Owning a team certain to finish fifth in the National League Central Division for a fifth consecutive year, Rickets faced a phalanx of highly skeptical sports reporters. However, Ricketts clung to his ever-sanguine guns, which his right-wing father recently gave him as a Christmas gift and which by Arizona law Ricketts can carry nearly anywhere concealed. But on Wednesday, he came out blazing.
“Look at your Cubs history. As recently as 1945, they said that team had no post-season chance, but they made the World Series,” he said. “In fact, we hold up 1945 as our template, both by trying to reduce our payroll to 1945 levels and fielding a squad that looks as if its most able-bodied men were drafted and shipped overseas.”
The answer also shocked reporters for being Ricketts' first answer not to be introduced with the Nebraskan epithet “Gosh.”
Attempts to get a response from the Cubs' team captain went unanswered as no one knew who that person was. Fortunately the ever-reliable soundbyte slinger Jeff Samardzija was game as ever.
“Baseball’s a business. Even Tom, who was born into wealth, knows you eventually must do something to stay wealthy. That’s where I think he’s coming from: a trust fund kid who’s getting nervous he's pissing it all away,” said Samardzija.
Beat reporters pressed Ricketts to give at least one positive change fans can cling to other than a change in unproven managers, a change in unproven radio color men, and a new “stranger-danger” mascot.
“Gosh, are you reading from my talking points? Gosh, that’s really not fair. Gosh, next question,” he said, pulling his notes closer to his golf shirt.
A reporter then asked how much it hurt to not only lose both free agent manager Joe Giardi and Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka to the Yankees, but then lose Beggars Pizza as a vendor to the White Sox.
“Really? The White Sox got Beggars Pizza? Gosh, that’s huge for them, but I’m happy with D’Agostino’s Pizza. I really like D’Agostino’s Pizza. I expect to eat D’Agostino’s Pizza all the way to the playoffs. Either that or a foie gras sampler with my favorite sipping sherry.”
SkitSketchJeff is Jeff Burdick, who expects the Cubs’ 2014 team leader to again be Captain Morgan.
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