I feel like I’m white whining a little bit, writing about how hard it is to be a Chicago Cubs fan. Much like pimping, it both is and is not easy, but I will always maintain that there’s a certain loyalty beyond the implicit self-loathing that it takes for a team that hasn’t won a championship in 103 years. But that’s not what I’m here to write about. Today, I want to write about what is wrong with the 2011 Cubs. The 33-48 2011 Cubs. I’m not a sports writer; I admit this and I hope that you can bear with a general lack of statistics and a general lot of ranting. Consider this Heave’s one-off answer to Around The Horn. That said, here we go.
Five Reasons The Cubs Are A Mess.
1) Jim Hendry.
Picture this: You work for a mid-level company. Doesn’t matter what they do; the byline talks about synergy and other shit I don’t understand. Say you have an employee who accidentally started a fire. You figure it’s an accident, and everyone moves on. So, he starts another fire. You kind of warn him, but figure it won’t happen after the warning. Fast forward two years: he’s punching people in the head for no reason, eating food that is clearly labeled as belonging to Linda in HR and generally being a fuck. And you still don’t fire him. That’s essentially what Jim Hendry has been doing to the Cubs for years now. Anybody with his record of colossal failure would be fired from any job, and yet in Cubs world, he’s still allowed to negotiate with and sign new players. Which brings me to…
2) Old guys.
I know. So far, I’m not covering any new ground. But it does beg being said that the bloated contracts given to Kosuke Fukudome, Alfonso Soriano and company haven’t helped things along. Unlike some, I can understand where this came from; unlike the revolving door the Cubs typically run, they tried to lock down one team and have a solid core for years. The problem, as it always is, is that they a) traded away prospect after prospect from their mess of a farm team in order to supplement these contracts and b) got dudes who’d already been playing for years, are prone to injury and were notably entering their autumn years when guaranteed the better part of a decade in Chicago. I know they’ll all be expiring in the next year or two, but it’s still a fair deal embarassing.
3) Tom Ricketts.
This dipshit. Now, I try really hard not to speak out against sports figures, most of the time. I do. I feel like it’s a waste of breath and that most of them are doing the best they can at a job I can’t rant about because I’m not qualified for it. With that said, Ricketts might be the most inept manager in the MLB right now, and that’s in a year where the Los Angeles Dodgers are barely a step away from having repo men come and take their stadium away on a trailer hitch. To wit: his declaration that nothing is wrong with the Cubs right now except for injuries. Or how much fun he had spending time in Boston while the Cubs got their shit pushed for an entire weekend. My personal favorite bon mot of his, though? The part where he wants to tear down Improv Olympic and put condos and a hotel in its place. Because, you know, Wrigleyville isn’t quite enough of a theme park yet.
4) Wrigley itself.
To qualify: I’m not blaming Wrigley Field. I fucking adore Wrigley Field. Even with the Old Style, the antiquated sound system and the general smell of urine making it really hard to enjoy my $5 italian ice, it’s still the last classic-feeling ballpark. Though it could stand for some updating, it’s not so much an issue with Wrigley as it is the culture of the park: that nobody actually watches the goddamn baseball game. More time is spent talking about everything BUT the game, in fact; I’ve never seen another crowd that treats the doing of the wave with as much gravity as Cubs fans. I’ve also never seen a crowd, at least until this year, give so much patronage to a land where mediocrity holds sway. On that note:
As Cubs fans, we did this. We’re trying hard to undo it; Wrigley attendance has hit record lows this year, mostly because a team that’s currently below the Pittsburgh Pirates in the standings doesn’t tend to rouse all that much excitement. That said, the culture of the lovable loser is something that we have to negotiate in ways that we haven’t been. I believe that Wrigley, and even the Cubs, need to stay scrappy. I also genuinely believe that if the Cubs ever became a sterile monolith, a World Series win would somehow feel wrong. That said, the whole organization needs to be stripped from the ground up, and to do that we need to stop indulging complacency. Then again, I really do like those italian ices.