Honestly? One of the most talked-about topics lately is the decreased amount of people willing to go to Cubs games. The fans are not filling the park anymore; what were once sure sell-out dates are coming up short. Crowds of less than capacity: 35,000, 30,000, 25,000 and on and on.
If you ask me, the real story isn't that attendance is decreasing at Wrigley Field. What boggles my mind is that there are still so many people who are willing to go to Wrigley Field.
Yes, a sporting event such as a baseball game is a form of entertainment, and entertainment is in the eyes of the beholder. But, assuming there aren't great traveling packs of morons who love seeing miserable fielding, slow baserunners and warning-track power, I would think "entertainment", as it pertains to a competitive endeavor such as a Cubs game, would be almost wholly dependent on the expectation of success.
Success, which in turn, comes from a belief, a hope, that the Cubs are going to play better today than their opponent. And to me, there just isn't any hope anymore.
We are all aware of the problems. One thing we learned recently, from Bruce Miles, I believe, is that many of my fears I have held since last year are in fact realities:
- that in a league beset with horrible contracts, it is common knowledge that the Alfonso Soriano contract is the worst paper in the league. He is as untradeable as anyone in baseball.
- it is also common knowledge that Aramis Ramirez is regarded as possibly the most disinterested player in baseball. Nobody wants him, either.
- Kosuke Fukudome's agent was given carte blanche to work out a trade, any trade, last year, and was completely unsuccessful.
- although many teams would be able to utilize a personal eight-game winning streak like the one Carlos Zambrano had last year, that the fear that his famous temper may explode again totally destroys the notion that the Cubs could expect anything of value in return if he was traded.
- don't forget that the Cubs are still,in effect, paying for Milton Bradley. Furthermore, Carlos Pena has pretty much performed as one would expect: a tremendously poor average which is not quite beset by his occasional power. He, too, would not return much in a deadline deal, especially considering most of his salary due him is back-loaded.
These are just the bad money aspects of a team which, as previously mentioned, boasts the worst fielding in the league; the worst situational hitting; one of the worst performing starting rotations so far this year; and perhaps the slowest team in baseball.
Has any of this sparked your interest in Cubs baseball thus far?
Now, there are Starlin Castro and Carlos Marmol, both of whom are excellent, most of the time. But Castro is being woefully misused as a third-place hitter, and he may someday learn how to play shortstop. He doesn't quite get it right at the moment.
Once again, I realize I am not telling you anything new. But it is clear to me that all I have already mentioned points out the fact that any Hope any of us may possibly have about the Chicago Cubs, they of the bad paper and even worse baserunning, can only stem from one place:
The Ricketts family knows what it is doing.
I no longer think they know what they are doing. Recent articles point to the tremendous amount of debt they took on by purchasing the team (in probably the single worst financial time window of the past 100 years, I bet Sam freakin' Zell is probably laughing all the way to Hell). The Cubs are owned by a bunch of naifs who tend to believe everyone at their word; their strategic direction is being managed by a former Tribune starched shirt who thought it was a great idea to blackmail the State of Illinois at its historical financial low point; their on field product is designed by a sweaty ham-and-egger who never met a no-trade clause he didn't like, and is currently demonstrating his cowardice by blaming the Tribune for all the horrendous contracts he signed off on; and finally, on the field, the team is led by a bush-league jock-sniffer who gives everyone trite high-school nicknames, as if he was the stick-taper for a second-rate Canadian junior hockey team.
Simply put: a major league baseball team should, to a certain extent, be run like a business. It would not be constructive to just throw money at everything. Too much fiscal permissiveness breeds corruption. But at the same time, they do not keep score in the majors on the Dow Jones Industrial Averages, or on the balance sheets submitted to Bud Lite every year. They keep score in the Sports pages, under "Standings", and if you have a management team in place that designed a fifth-place team while paying out the most salary in the league, you have to fire them and bring in a new team.
If you, the owners, are SO financially strapped that you cannot afford to pay a new President, GM and Manager (all of which, combined, probably equal the salary paid to a middle infielder), along with the ones you had to fire, then you should not own a major league team.
Otherwise, I cannot possibly understand WHY the Ricketts are still employing Kenney, Hendry, and Quade, thus quashing any hope any reasonably intelligent Cub fan might still have?
So, if you ARE still turning out to the ballyard day after day, help me out with something: why? What do YOU see that I don't?