If the year 2020 has taught me anything, it is that I can live with the idea of starting all over again. In the end, I feel like I spent my 28 years as a Cubs fan looking at the seemingly endless and eternal reconstruction. What I can’t live with is being lied to.
Let’s be clear, despite the way the owners work, the Cubs are not a small market team. In fact, Chicago is the third largest television market for all professional sports leagues, if only because of its size, behind New York and Los Angeles. Eleven years ago, when the Ricketts family took a majority stake in the Cubs of the Tribune Company, the team was valued at $700 million. This year the Cubs are worth $3.2 billion, and the Ricketts family is currently worth $3.1 billion.
The 22nd. In February of this year, the Cubs launched the Marquee Sports Network, with an estimated revenue of $100 million. And as if that wasn’t enough, the Cubs took the lead in 3rd place. September entered into a $100 million partnership with DraftKings to become the first MLB franchise to integrate sports betting into the live experience. I’m no mathematician, but like Jay-Z once said: Men lie / women lie / numbers don’t lie. So you’ll have to apologize for my disgust every time I hear Tom Ricketts talk about guilt and financial hardship when I try to stretch my $600 incentive check on the monthly cost of groceries for a family of five.
You’re not resigning Kyle Schwarber? Okay, there won’t be a DH in the National League next November, so it’s better suited for LA. You’re talking about Chris Bryant’s business? No problem, he has deteriorated significantly and offensively since he won the MVP title in NL in 2016. They’re not giving Baez overtime this season? Okay, he was very bad on home plate last year, and he has to show that he doesn’t fall back into the same bad habits that haunted him when he was first called. But sending an ace to San Diego in exchange for an overworked starter with a bad field and a bunch of youngsters who, if they manage to play in the big leagues, won’t do so until 2024, is a completely different matter.
Photography : Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
Scratch the surface of the dark trade. But diving into details is just boring. Of the four prospects the Cubs were given, none were in the top 10 of the Padres farming system. Which is even worse: Given the Cubs’ eagerness to pitch, both in the minors and the majors, one can only assume that this is exactly what the team would have asked, you know, to pitch in return. But not only did they not, they also did not have a receiver (like Luis Campusano), although they did include Victor Caratini, their spare receiver.
It looks like the team is in the process of buying Wilson Contreras, one of MLB’s top five prospects, still in its 20s, and currently available for a meagre $1.6 million next season. This suggests that the Cubs expect him to come on the market if he becomes a free agent. If these messages are true, the team does not intend to make Contreras a rich man, because they want to replace Miguel Amaya, who is currently tenth among the potential recipients behind the plate (by the way, Campusano is fourth). That said, David Kaplan of NBC Chicago tweeted on December 28 that the Ricketts family’s debt is $1 billion, so perhaps none of this should come as a surprise.
Reginald Preciado (17), considered to be the best hope in the Darvish trade.
Yes, I agree that in five or six years’ time, we could very well call this job a masterpiece for Jed Hoyer and praise his ability to plan for the future and ensure the long-term health of the team. But the fact is that less than one in five candidates has already fulfilled his dream of a promotion to the first division. In fact, from 1981 to 2010, only 17.6% of the drafted and signed players participated in the series. So we have to admit that this trade was in fact wage dumping by a big club trying to portray itself as the Kansas City Royals.
Here’s the bottom line: Nine years ago, when the Cubs went into full tank mode, they were promised that if the fans would tolerate the team on the field a little longer, the results would be long-lasting and sustainable, without the need to rebuild in the future. Well, they lied. And it’s not a lie we just told, it’s a lie you told me. This is completely and utterly unacceptable, and Cubs fans everywhere should be furious enough to support a team owned by this Ted Cruz scammer.
I still wonder what would have happened if high society hadn’t turned a blind eye to the idea that Mark Cuban would buy the Cubs in 2007 (perfectly read by my talented colleague Marty Lavelle), but that’s a discussion for another time. You see, I’ll always be grateful to everyone who’s given the Cubs their first world championship title in 108 years. My father died in 2015 and didn’t have the chance to see the Cubs become champions in his life. I haven’t forgotten. But I also refuse to sit back and accept the direction the team seems to be taking again.
Mark Cuban at Wrigley’s booth.
Photo: Chicago Tribune
The very idea of a return to a known series of defeats is critical enough to suggest the same kind of boycott that led the Tribune to give up ownership in the first place. There has been talk of a modern dynasty after 2016, and the Cubs’ front office and ownership has disappointed the fans in this respect. The Dodgers or even the Astros (minus the deception) are as the Cubs should have been. It is no longer the kind of organization you would expect to grow steadily, sprinkled with occasional successes.
The Favorite Losers label may be a thing of the past, but it’s still a thing of the past. So, Mr. Ricketts, if this is how you plan to run your team, then sell… now.
Cub fans deserve better.
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