[from Reservoir, April 18, 2007]
As we all know by now, after so many years of shamelessly fielding a mediocre team and laughing in the faces of a downtrodden fanbase, the Tribune Company is finally parting ways with the Chicago Cubs. Rumors have persisted for years that the small bears were on the auction block, but in the end it took the intervention not of the Department of Justice, not of Congress, but of Major League Baseball to break up the Cubs and their media empire benefactor.
Obviously, it wouldn’t look good for someone to have a stake in both Chicago teams, but it’s hard not to laugh at the fact that a guy with nothing to lose would rather own 15% of the Sox than 100% of the Cubs.
As the speculation begins over who might step up and shell out the reported $600 million (plus whatever it costs to buy Wrigley Field), I’d like to add another name to the list of prospective buyers: mine.
The Cubs’ problems, while seemingly monumental to anyone who’s willing to exchange a simple understanding of baseball for another round of Jagerbombs at Mullen’s, are really very basic and under my leadership could be quite easily fixed. As the Cubs’ new owner, I believe I could solve them in three easy steps.
STEP 1: DEMOLISH WRIGLEY FIELD.
Wrigley looks nice on TV. In real life, Wrigley has more obstructed seats than any other venue in professional sports (and I use the term “professional” loosely in the case of the Cubs) and reeks entirely of urine. And failure. A wiser man than I once said that to walk into the light of the future you must shed the reminders of darkness in the past. I can’t think of a more iconic representation of the Cubs’ legacy of weakness than the hellhole they play in. Some will say that fewer people will come out to the park if it’s not Wrigley; this is not true. People will go to any park, so long as you give them something worth coming out for.
STEP 2: FORMALLY DECLARE WAR ON THE WHITE SOX, CARDINALS, BREWERS, ASTROS, YANKEES, RED SOX, TIGERS, TIGER WOODS, THE NHL, NASCAR, ESPN ET AL.
In all seriousness, this “lovable loser” business just doesn’t work anymore. What the Cubs need to do is find some organizational hostility. Remember that brawl on the South Side last summer? That was good. That should also just be the beginning. If you’re going to lose, at least drag everyone else down with you. Go head hunting. Slide with your spikes up. Run television commercials showing CGI simulations of Miller Park being demolished by a wrecking ball with a Cubs logo on it. Light an Ozzie Guillen jersey on fire and raise it up the center field flagpole before Sox-Cubs games. Lovable losing is dead; loathable losing is the wave of the future.
STEP 3: DOUBLE TICKET PRICES.
Actually, they’re already doing this, but it’s taking an average of seven seasons to do so. Meanwhile, the other 29 teams are averaging 12 years between that huge a change. Still, the Cubs are going to need some serious cash. We’re going to outbid every team for every player, we’re going to overhaul the farm system entirely, and of course we’ve got a new park to pay for. But fret not, Cubbie faithful, those tour buses from Iowa will still come out to see Wrig…oh wait, we already tore down the only reason for the team to exist. Well, consider it a test of faith. You have to weed out the non-believers at some point anyway.
Anyone can build a team, but here we can go one step further and turn the Cubs into a war ensemble. But hey, what do I know? As a Sox fan, I’d rather see them fail anyway, or at least move to Schaumburg. Here’s hoping new ownership keeps glory from the North Side forever.