My wife and I took the boys to see Toy Story 3 today. It's a fine movie, but it reminded me why I don't go to movies very often anymore. I told my youngest you eat popcorn when you go to the theater, but I didn't tell him it cost $6.00 for a bucket of stale, burnt-toast flavored not-goodness.
And as I shelled out good money for something I knew would make a negative contribution to the cinematic experience (yet fulfill my popcorn promises), I thought about what a terrible business practice it is to so blatantly screw over your customers. But then I inwardly scolded myself. I can't be that critical of a business practice if I'm stupid enough to fall prey to it (and I'm standing in line with my fellow intellectual paralytics). I shouldn't have told my son it's tradition to eat popcorn at the movies. I should have told him that movie theaters treat ticket holders with contempt and that any smart person would refuse to accept it.
But I didn't, and I got what I deserved. And everyone in the Cubs universe gets their just deserts*, too.
Carlos Zambrano invented his own personal brand of crazy and will be punitively sent to the bullpen upon his indefinite return from suspension. Does he deserve it? Why not. You act like that in front of people who don't like you and have the power to make you pay for it, you know there will be consequences.
Cubs' management showed with this bullpen shift that Zambrano's initial stint as a reliever had nothing to do with baseball. Hendry and Lou wanted Z in his place even though they knew he didn't belong in the bullpen—he belonged in the doghouse. So they got what they deserved, an angry, ineffective, jerked-around anti-ace. They should have seen this blow-up coming, because Z isn't exactly an easy-going flower of a man. Doing something so stupid as giving their $91-million pitcher the Samardzija treatment makes much less sense than signing either of those guys in the first place.
Zambrano, meanwhile, deserves both his money (he pitched very well in his early career and would have commanded an even larger contract on the free agent market) and the foul treatment. He gave the Cubs a hometown discount (yeah, believe it or not, a discount), but he should have known it came at a higher price than just a few million dollars. He signed with a team he should have predicted would screw him over. Shame on you, Carlos. You and the Cubs are each other's just deserts.
Jim Hendry, you've created something of a trend with your indefinite suspensions, ironic since you were responsible for signing the players you suspended. Why you would make someone a mega-millionaire and then ground him is up to you, but when the message you send fails to result in winning baseball, the dizzying mess of bleating, whining, and winless chemistry will be well deserved.
Lou will walk away from the Cubs at the end of this season with a lot of extra millions, a couple of extra headaches, a slightly higher blood pressure reading, and only the slightest hint of regret. He knew what he was walking into when he took the helm in Wrigleyville, and he knew the glory and the criticism that would pour down upon him with every win and loss.
Derrek Lee and his fellow teammates, all of whom received a vicious tongue-lashing from Zambrano, fully deserved to be criticized publicly by a crazy man.
Kevin Millar deserves to be working TV with the opportunity to laugh at the misfortunes of his former spring-training team.
The Ricketts family profess to have been fans of this team and yet still saw fit to pay nearly a billion dollars to make it their own. They got what they paid for. They're the proud owners of a one-of-a-kind masterpiece of awful. Congrats. Your just deserts just happen to be plunging in value at the moment. Go ahead and raise ticket prices again, why don'tcha?
I mustn't forget my favorite group of friends, the fans. We cheer for a team we know won't win. Some of us, myself included, are willing to pay upwards of $60 to sit in the blazing hot sun and bask in the glow of a 12-0 suckfest. I deserved what I got, a good time with friends, an uber-fast lopsided loss, and the freakiest farmer's tan I've ever seen. Should I be upset that the Cubs are now running a promotion to dispense those same tickets at a $10 rate (which is nearly doubled by fees) or that other fans can buy scalped tickets for even less, sans convenience fees but with twice as much convenience?
No, I should be just a bit more aware of the idiocy I've allowed to run my life. This feeling of anger and apathy swirling together in a delicious angst-ridden suckcicle is my just desert and I must suck it.
*No, I didn't spell it wrong. Look it up.