Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Economics of the Cubs Dodgers Deal

If the buzz leading up to the trade that sent Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot, and cash to the Dodgers for Wallach, Smit, and DeWitt, the primary snag prolonging the negotiations was the matter of just how much if any cash should be smuggled along with Lilly's things. The number everyone was throwing around was $4 million. Ignoring the talent of the various pieces being swapped, I wanted to look at how much the Cubs are saving by making this deal.

I don't know how anyone ascertains exactly how much is left on a player's deal, but looking at the regular season alone, the Cubs had about 36% of their games left to play. I know that's not perfect, but it's close enough for me: it would leave Lilly with $4.37 million remaining on his contract and Theriot with $947 thousand (MLB Trade Rumors put them at $4.24 million and $918K). Like I said, it's not perfect, but I'm okay with that margin of error for the sake of argument.

Kerry Wood Is a Yankee

The Yankees adding Kerry Wood to their bullpen greatly increases his chances of getting a World Series ring, though I don't know that it does much to increase the Yankees' already solid chances of doing so this year. Best of luck, Kerry. I wish this was your attempt at a 2nd ring, but . . . yeah.

I believed then. I believe now, he'll finally be a champion, though no more responsible for it than Joe Girardi.

Lilly and Theriot to Become Dodgers, Cubs get Blake DeWhatnow?

UPDATE II: It's Kyle Smit, not Smith and Brett Wallach, not Walch. I interpreted Smit's name as an abbreviation and Walch as the entire name . . . got those two mixed up.

UPDATE: Jayson Stark is saying the Cubs will, along with Blake DeWitt, receive minor leaguers Brett Walch & Kyle Smith, and the Cubs will pay $2.5 million of Lilly's remaining $4 million in salary. I feel it's my duty to pretend to care, and I'll update when I muster up enough feigned emotion to do so.

About a million people are tweeting that the Cubs and Dodgers have completed a deal sending Lilly and Theriot to LA in exchange for infielder Blake DeWitt and prospects. I'll update when it becomes officially official.

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh

The Chicago Cubs are a professional baseball team. In the majors.

The best news for the Cubs on Friday was that Carlos Zambrano got hugged.

The best news for Cubs fans on Friday was that Jim Hendry knows they suck and has for quite some time.

The second best news for Cubs fans (and it was a hard-luck runner up) is that several teams (all of them in the NL West, for some reason) have interest in Ryan Theriot. Being on their team. I know, right?

The Cubs haven't won a World Series since the year the Baseball Writers Association of America was founded (1908). Think I'm jaded against the beat writers? Now you know why.

17-2.

Friday, July 30, 2010

George Ofman Joins Us for a Trade Deadline Edition of WTF

WGN's George Ofman took a break from fielding the calls from angry/delusional Cubs fans to call into our sarcastic corner of Cubdom on Wrigley Talk Friday with Julie from LOHO and Tim from Aisle 424. He had some intriguing perspectives on the Cubs' next manager, the return of Carlos Zambrano, and recent developments from the talks between the Cubs and Dodgers about a deal that would send Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot to the land of Mannywood. Two big shockers: the Cubs have known they were out of it as long as we have, and Hendry had a chance to pull the trigger on a deal that would have sent Ryan Dempster to La-La Land. Listen in the sidebar player or here.

Many thanks to George, who blogs on That's All She Wrote and tweets under his eponymous handle.  Kudos to Julie for bringing in a steady stream of great guests, including next week's guest, former Cub Doug Glanville. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Reserve Your Cubs World Series Tickets Now!

This is the year! Seriously. Kind of.
Major League Baseball has a brand new innovation this year that makes it possible for even us lowly Cubs fans to reserve our place in line for World Series tickets . . . in 2010! I wish I was kidding. Well, I wish I wasn't being sarcastic about not kidding.

For the low, low price of $20 ($10 for NLDS and $15 for NLCS) any fan can reserve the opportunity to buy World Series tickets at the home ballpark of his or her choosing (plus a $1 per order transaction fee, because it wouldn't be MLB if they didn't charge you for the convenience of buying the right to buy something).  So you can go right now and be assured that if the Cubs make the World Series, you'll have a chance to buy a ticket at face value. No strings attached. No chance in hell attached, either, but that's your gamble.

Article | First Things: The Perfect Game

Article | First Things: The Perfect Game:
"These—and I shall close on this thought—are the great moral lessons that only a game with baseball’s long season and long history and dramatic intensity can impress on the soul: humility, long-suffering, dauntless love, and inexhaustible faith in the face of invincible misfortune. I could no more abandon my Orioles than I could repudiate my family, or my native heath, or my own childhood—even though I know it is a devotion that can now bring only grief. I know, I know: Orioles fans have not yet suffered what Boston fans suffered for more than twice the term of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness, or what Cubs fans have suffered for more than a century; but we have every reason to expect that we will. And yet we go on. The time of tribulation is upon us, and we now must make our way through its darkness, guided only by the waning lights of memory and the flickering flame of hope, not knowing when the night will end but sustained by the sacred assurance that whosoever perseveres to the end shall be saved."

If you thought I took baseball seriously (I do) or that the fans kind enough to comment here feel strongly about the Cubs (they do) you should read this description of baseball as the perfect game. (h/t to my Russian friend, Elena, to whom I taught everything I could about baseball and who taught me everything I know about the Russian language)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

WWCFD?

Bracelets always help make decisions easier.
Derrek Lee exercised his no-trade clause to void a deal that would have sent him to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California Past the Second Hot-Dog Stand. He told reporters that he agonized over the decision, but ultimately decided to stay with the Cubs for the remainder of the year because it's better for his family to do so.

Doug Glanville recently posted his thoughts on just how hard it is on a ballplayer to change teams midyear, and I'm sure there's a lot of truth to that. But what if there wasn't? What if it were simply a change of wardrobe and an increased chance of winning? If you were in Derrek Lee's place, and changing teams had absolutely no effect on you outside the world of baseball, would you do it?

Because that's exactly the scenario facing every Cubs fan in the world. Switching teams would be painless. I could become an Angels fan right now, and the only thing it would cost me would be the price of a new hat, some t-shirts, and the pro-rated deal to watch the remaining Angels games on mlb.tv. Seriously, I could turn this into an Angels blog overnight or whatever team I choose.

You could do it, too. If you want to trade yourself to the Yankees, here's the Replacement Level Yankees Weblog to get you started. Become a fan, enjoy the wins, and put the mock-agony that is being a Cubs fan in your rearview mirror. You're welcome.

Don't bother telling me how different it is, because I've already established that it's a lot different. It's harder on a baseball player to switch teams. It would be easy for you. That's how it's different. Yet you still don't want to do it. Actually, if you have, I won't hold the decision against you any more than I blame Derrek Lee for not switching teams.

I'd like to know, now that the Astros have tossed yet another shovelful of dirt onto the Cubs' coffin, will you switch teams for a shot at cheering for a winner? Put on the bracelet and decide, and then get back to me with your thoughts on Derrek Lee's much tougher choice.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Zambrano Fails to Apologize to Starving Children

When do they get their dinner, Carlos? And when do they get their apology?
I said yesterday that Carlos Zambrano said all the right things in his apology to the fans and his general statement that everything about his dugout tirade was wrong, but that was before I had all the facts. It has since come out that Zambrano has yet to apologize to the Cubs as a congregation. He hasn't even embroidered all his shirts and jerseys with the scarlet A for Anger as ordered by Pastor Morrissey.

Sure, Zambrano has apologized to players individually, but what about the team as a whole? What about the Wrigley Field ambassadors? What about the children? Never mind the convenient fact that Zambrano has been separated from the Cubs by an average of 1,000 miles since he was suspended. That doesn't change the fact that he's apologizing in the absolute wrong order.

The first person he needed to apologize to was obvious, but whether he did that or not is between him and DeRosa. After that, he should have apologized to Derrek Lee. Okay, he did that, too, but only once? Another 99 are in order, and they should all be in public and/or under the supervision of a priest. Next comes his teammates, coaches, agents, and every innocent bystander.

Next he should have apologized to the media, starting with the white guys. Sullivan, Morrisey, Telander, Wittenmyer, Kaplan: these guys feared for their lives when Zambrano's rage boiled over. No, he didn't hurt anybody—this time—but he looked like he wanted to. The fact that he made his apology in an interview with Pedro Gomez won't be lost on them. You could cut the racial tension with a knife, which is exactly what the Chicago sports media is afraid of.

But the most overlooked group on Zambrano's apology waiting list, with its chronology screwed up beyond even Quentin Tarantino's comprehension, are the millions of starving children around the world. While they looked on in horror, the biggest, whiniest, most spoiled child of them all went out to dinner with the manager of the opposing team. Zambrano stuffed his petulant face with dinner, completely deaf to the rumbling empty stomachs of those less fortunate than himself.

But himself is all Zambrano thinks about. He's sorry. He was wrong. He is embarrassed by his actions. He is trying to improve the way he handles his anger. Selfish, racist, diva. This apology was all about him. The families of the victims of the Hindenburg disaster? Never even crossed Zambrano's mind.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Zambrano: I'm Sorry, Cubs Fans


Carlos Zambrano is sorry, and he wants the world to know. The statements he made (quoted in that ESPN Chicago article) are pretty much exactly what people are looking for from a guy after an embarrassing episode. The video is more an apology to the fans, which, again, is exactly what the Cubs organization is expecting from Zambrano.

They're also expecting him to pitch better, so we can only hope there's some connection between his composure in general and his abilities on the mound. I've always doubted that to be true, but I hope I'm wrong. Will writing in his anger journal every time he gets mad really help him locate his cutter?

Hey, maybe it will. No one who watches the Cubs with any interest can deny that emotional investment in this team has its share of physiological effects. Fans get nervous during games, so players undoubtedly do too. The difference in most professional athletes, or any public performer for that matter, is that they can harness the nervous energy as a catalyst, propelling them to even better levels of performance than they would otherwise achieve. That's why we cheer, isn't it, to provoke such a response? 

Anger isn't usually so beneficial, but it can be. Vin Scully has said that Jackie Robinson played better when he was angry. His vitriolic reaction to the hatred he faced fueled his performance without causing him to explode. Most human beings don't respond that way, but some do (my only other example is Wesley Snipes in White Men Can't Jump, so I'll move on). I don't think anyone suspects Zambrano of being one of those rare exceptions, at least not anymore. 

From what Zambrano is saying, much to the pleasure of Jim Hendry and the rest of the Cubs' front office (and potential trade partners, I suppose), he's taking his anger management therapy seriously and views it in a positive light. Some people, with Ron Santo as their most vocal leader, think Zambrano's anger and lack of composure is the only thing stopping him from being an all-world pitcher. If they're right, the next couple of months should be a lot of fun to watch.

Will Cubs Baseball Ever Love Us Back?

D'oh.
In his Hall of Fame induction speech, Andre Dawson repeatedly mused that if you love the game of baseball enough, the game will love you back. The moment itself was proof enough to Andre of the truth of his proverb, but the Cubs-Cardinals game that followed presented a pretty convincing rebuttal.

Even though Cubs fans still get caught loving the possibility of sweeping St. Louis and hoping that things would turn a bit less hopeless, baseball has no love for Cubs fans. Every team loses. Every team goes through stretches where they leave runners stranded, watch opposing homers untie games in extras, and find new ways to turn excitement into disappointment at neck-breaking speeds. But chronic losing isn't an every now and then affair with the Cubs.

For the Cubs and their fans, losing is a way of life.

Apparently we love it. Sure, the Cubs had a date with world-champion baseball for a couple, but it's been over a century. I don't know if she's gonna call back. The Cubs and winning have been seeing other people for 102 years. I'll keep loving baseball—yes, Cubs baseball—but with all due respect to the Hawk, I expect my love to go unrequited for another century or two.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hawk Soars to Cooperstown

Andre. That is all. Photo: FansEdge Blog
Congratulations, Andre Dawson! Many will debate your stats and your Hall-of-Fame cap, but no one will ever question your commitment, power, talent, and overall badness. Thanks for sacrificing your knees to make the game better.

My favorite Andre trait: the patented "this pitch is going over a Tru-Link fence, sucka" stare. What's yours?

UPDATE: Be sure to check out Charley Beatley's (of Hawk4theHall fame) post of the Top 10 moments of the Hawk's career. It's a great compilation.

Friday, July 23, 2010

With Z, the Picture's Worth 1,000 Angry Words

What does this man have left to say?
Zambrano is going to be allowed to speak his mind to his teammates before he says anything to the media. That's phenomenal. I think the look on his face in the photo (imported from the link above) says it all.  Maybe he's just tracking the flight of a fly ball, and I'm probably reading far too much into it, but he looks like a guy who is taking in a game he loves while feeling like he no longer belongs.

I'll allow you to draw your own conclusions.

What the Past Year Has Told Us About the Ricketts(es)

Pete, Todd, Laura, and Tom Ricketts discuss plans to launch a Fat Albert cover band.
I've heard from a lot of Cubs fans who believe the Jim Hendry not-yet firing (and the fire sale that still lacks the spark The Boss told us was essential for such matters) tells you all you really need to know about the Ricketts family. There isn't consensus on what that is, but people's opinions on the matter have galvanized considerably. Here's the gist of some of the varied views:

The Ricketts are typical fans who plan on catering to their own kind. They don't know what they're doing, they're fueled by emotions and dreams and rainbows and latent racism, and deep down they probably have no desire to win as long as everyone enjoys their time at the ballpark.

We knew the Ricketts were fans when their names emerged as candidates to buy the team, but I don't know what they've done that reflects the mob mentality of fans in general. Some say the Ricketts were behind Milton Bradley's suspension. Others point to the decision to stay in Mesa. In my mind, both of those were no-brainers although the former seemed more like a vitriolic response straight from Hendry while the latter resembled shrewd business and political manipulation, not blind adherence to tradition. And keeping Hendry hardly represents the typical fan sentiment.

I just don't see how a fan mentality has reared its irrational head in any significant way just yet.

The Ricketts are slimy suits who care only about money. I try to make it clear whether by illustration or direct statement that I know nothing about business (the lack of ads on this site says that quite loudly), but my gut tells me that the net return on the Ricketts family's investment in the Cubs is somewhere along the lines of -$800 million. People like to point to George Steinbrenner's windfall from increasing the value of the Yankees franchise 100 fold, but The non-Springsteen Boss bought low on the Bronx Bombers. The Cubs are never going to be a $2 billion franchise, let alone a $100 billion franchise.

Yes, they have implemented a number of revenue gimmicks: the ticket pre-sale, the noodle, and the Who Wants to Be A Middle Reliever? game show. But keeping Hendry and endorsing his "we're not rebuilding, we're competing" mentality is not the move of someone who prizes revenue over winning. Hendry doesn't exactly follow the Andy McPhail Guide to Winning on the Cheap. If the Ricketts just want revenue, their going about it all wrong, and I don't think they got rich by being that stupid.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Top Ten Non-Player Trades the Cubs Should Make Right Now

Make this move, and I'd never turn away from the TV for a second.
Photos from lamoltihalstein.wordpress.com/ and Mary Altaffer / AP 
With the trade deadline just over a week away, the theories, rumors, and proposals about who's going where and for what are running amok across the information superhighway with reckless abandon. And while the mainstream media and the superbloggers out there would have you believe only players can be traded, that won't stop me from encouraging the Cubs to take their mercantile thinking outside of its proverbial cardboard enclosure.

Here are ten trades that could improve this ballclub right now and in the future, and they don't have to deal a single player:

10. Chicago's weather  and a half a pizza for San Diego's weather
Do I really need to tell anyone how bad the weather sucks in Chicago? No, I don't. But it sucks. I've never been to San Diego, but I hear it's nice. I don't want to have to go there to confirm the matter, so I expect Hendry to bring the deal to me. And there's still half a pizza left for him to enjoy, so no complaints.

9. Len Kasper to Crazytown for Mike Tyson and a sedative to be named later
This deal has so much upside for both parties, it makes me want to gnaw my ear off.

8. Jim Hendry to DD for a box of donuts
It's not that I think he's doing such a bad job, it's just that the Gift-of-the-Magi irony would be, quite literally, delicious. I love delicious irony.

Zambrano Takes Care of Business

What was supposed to be a showcase of the projected odd numbered starters for the 2009 Cubs (1. Carlos Zambrano, 3. Rich Harden, 5. Jeff Samardzija) turned into an odd mix of an encouraging win, an embarrassing loss, and an early exit . . . but not necessarily in that order. Carlos Zambrano was expected to get some bullpen work in Wednesday night's game between the Iowa Cubs and the Oklahoma City Red Hawks but left the scene after an early workout to, as HOFICMACSH* Ryne Sandberg put it, "take care of some business." I hope Bobby Scales didn't talk him into selling Amway.

Samardzija picked up his seventh Iowa win of the season after going five innings and allowing one earned run. He earned the W against his old (so old that right now he's looking like he should join Lou in retirement) teammate Harden, who delivered a familiar 5 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 9 SO performance as he continues to rehab from a strained left butt cheek.

No reason to panic as Zambrano is scheduled to take the hill in relief on Thursday. Unless, you know, Zambrano pitching makes you panic. Or if the business he was taking care of was, in fact, dinner, in which case the National Guard needs to act pronto.


*Hall Of Fame Iowa Cubs Manager And Cubbie Skipper Hopeful

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Portrait of Cubbieness

Ricketts and Hendry reflect on the Piniella era: it's not success, but it ain't that bad.
Now that we know Lou Piniella's days as manager of the Chicago Cubs have a definitive number (while Jim Hendry's do not) and we've all endured the initial explosive reaction from media both social and mainstream, it's time to take a deep breath of whatever gaseous substance you wish to inhale and look at where the Cubs really stand. Between the lines of yesterday's press conference is a rather clear portrait of what the near future of the Cubs is going to look like.

While I can't argue too fiercely with interpretations to the contrary, I don't think it's that bad. Let's strip down yesterday's off-the-field developments to bare facts.

Lou Piniella is retiring after this season. I always thought this was the plan, but until yesterday Lou had discussed his longterm outlook with a certain je-ne-sais-Favre. Speculation swirls as to why Lou's agent let the news slip at this point in the season, and I can answer that question with resounding certainty: I don't care. I mean, really, between the trades that aren't happening and the NL Central deficit that isn't shrinking, there isn't much left to distract from. The reasons behind the news leak or Lou's decision to retire construct a thoroughly boring mystery. I trust Lou when he says he's retiring because he wants to retire and not because of the product on the field. No one really cares about the why, it's the what next that's generating real buzz. And Lou's replacement is far less important than the matter of Hendry's job security.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lou Piniella, former Yankees manager and player, will retire as manager of Cubs at end of season

Lou Piniella, former Yankees manager and player, will retire as manager of Cubs at end of season

The New York Daily News is saying it's Toodle-Lou after this season. No official word from the Cubs, yet. Also uncertain: whether a throng of disenfranchised Cubs fans will follow Lou out the door. Seriously, this season could make a lot of people want to quit following baseball, let alone the Cubs.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Also a Way of Life: [L]inguistics

Because sometimes . . . um . . . yeah.

You Gotta Keep It Perforated

I have no idea where this image came from, but it's pretty funny.
The following is a post from a rarely updated blog of mine. I just felt like posting it. Enjoy. Or don't.


Dear Adam,


Dude, I can't stop perforating. I'm a ticket printer. I print tickets for a living. 50 years I've been printing tickets and perforating the stub. Ticket printers had to perforate it so when the ticket takers take the tickets, the stub tears off nice and clean before it takes up permanent residence in a wallet or a scrapbook or something. You leave the theater to go number one? You still got a nice evenly separated stub to show the one in every thousand ticket takers who actually check stubs on re-entry. Anyway, the point has been rendered moot by scanners. They scan the barcode on the ticket now. There's no such thing as a ticket taker. They're ticket printers now. Now us ticket printers got a reality to face. There's no ticket tearing. The perforating seems superfluous. What should we do?


With thanks,


Ticket Printer on the Perf

Dear Perf,

Listen to me, buddy. Listen to me good. You keep perforating that ticket. You have a story to tell. You have posterity to think about. Think about the children. Last week I took my son to a baseball game, and he held that perforated ticket in his hand. It never got ripped. The ticket scanner did not take a thing from us except the experience of what it used to mean to enter a ballpark. Without that perf, my son will never ask why those little almost-holes are lining up three-quarters of the way down the ducat. With the perf, he may one day ask why there is a line waiting to be ripped. And I will be ready to tell him that we used to live in a world where ticket takers took your ticket. They ripped it, and they ripped it good. We used to live in a world where ticketing agencies didn't charge you $2.00 to print a ticket on your home computer (what the blazes is up with that, anyway?). We used to live in a world where barcodes were something you put on groceries, not the pass that delivers you through the gates of Wrigley or into the hallowed halls of an R.E.M. concert.

Don't you dare stop perforatin', Perf. Tell your story. Don't ever stop!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Second-Half Survival Strategies for Cubs Fans

The goal is to capture the flag. When that fails, try to avoid looking like a total idiot (unless idiocy is your strategy).
The Cubs begin play today 10 games under .500 and 10 games behind the Central Division's new leaders, the St. Louis Cardinals. They're 4th in the Central and 9th (9.5 GB) in the Wild Card standings. None of those circumstances fill me with joy, but the state of the 2010 Cubs season makes me feel a lot like Miracle Max overlooking the Man in Black's mostly dead body: I've seen worse.

Aside from going through the team's pockets to look for loose change, the prevailing opinion among pessimists, realists, and guarded optimists has been that the Cubs should hold a fire sale. Toss the bulky expiring contracts overboard like so much ballast from the sinking ship and try to sail again next year (or the year after that {or the year after that}). Other more delightedly delusional fans think it's not too late for the Cubs (yes, the Chicago Cubs) to make a run at the postseason. These fans seem open to a trade or two, but the only white flags they want to see waving at Wrigley are the ones of the rarely used W variety.

I don't know what the Cubs should (or even can) do, but I want to help you, my fellow Cubs fan, understand what your options are as our team finishes out the remaining 70 games in this seemingly interminable season. Is it too late to hope, and what should we be hoping for? Let's survey the landscape and see what mindset will result in the fewest headaches and/or heartbreaks.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cubs Fan Report: The Rant

The great minds and relentless forces behind the daily email Cubs Fan Report have conspired to create a dead-on artistic portrayal of the typical angry Cubs fan. I'll let the cinematic awesomeness speak for itself, but I will say they have my reading-level pegged with laser-guided precision. And seriously, especially if you're not a ravenous blog aggregating fiend, I highly recommend you subscribe to their email feed. They guide you to a ton of Cubscentric news and opinions in the mainstream media and throughout the Cubbie Blog Mafia.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Some Cubs Traditions Just Won't Go Away: Steve Goodman

The Cubs added lights to Wrigley Field. They started playing walk-up music instead of organ preludes. They might put an end to the celebrity 7th-inning stretch (not that I've heard anything, but it could happen). They could sell the naming rights to the ballpark. Willis Field has a certain ring to it. They could stop playing day games. They could move. Bleacher aristocrats could stop throwing home-run balls back onto the field. Almost any Cubbie tradition could come to an end.

Almost. The one the Cubs don't appear to have any inclination to change is their bent toward losing with commitment and creativity. I posted this video around this time last year, so I thought I might as well make it a tradition for this blog. Because, although they might eventually choose a song other than "Go Cubs Go" to blare over the Wrigley loudspeakers, they'll always manage to live up to the dismal hopes of this Steve Goodman rhapsody.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Also a Way of Life: [L]amebrained Planning

Mattress on the roof > Zambrano to the bullpen. Photo by e0nn

I'm All for Advertising, But . . .

Have you noticed Cubs.com getting a little less Cubbish of late?
It's so nice of the Illinois State Lottery to include a little Cubs-related content on their website. I wonder if the Cubs had to pay for that?

Nope, that's actually a screenshot of Cubs.com, and it ought to put to rest any speculation that the Cubs blocked the Horseshoe Casino rooftop because they didn't want to tarnish the Wrigley brand with a blatant endorsement of gambling. I didn't really buy that theory to begin with; it's the Cubs, not Wrigley Baptist Church. Besides, I'm not here to criticize the Cubs choice of sponsor (the lottery is head and shoulders above Toyota and BP, anyway).

But Cubs.com of late has hosted an advertising onslaught that makes the site more hassle than it's worth. Over 50% of the screen is covered in ads. Links often trigger pop-up ads for Publisher's Clearinghouse giveaway. Autoplay ads and highlights slow down load times while aggravating the snot out of me. They (like all of MLB) refuse to share highlights. And they still fail to see the irony in the It's a Way of Life banner gracing a site that looks like total crap for a team that plays that way.

I hope fans can let this put an end to another myth: that the Cubs organization is at all concerned with the fan experience. They may be obsessed with prolonging the illusion of the Wrigley experience—transcending time and space to bring a slice of wholesome, whimsical nostalgia to anyone who lays eyes on the Cubs logo—but they're doing a lousy job of it. The Cubs have very little interest in making a personal connection with you as a customer or as a fan. They just want your money.

I'm not saying the Cubs are wrong to prioritize revenue over customer satisfaction. The merits of what they should do on ethical grounds or what would constitute better business practice is another debate entirely. I'm just saying, until they change the way they operate, don't give the Cubs organization the satisfaction of suspending your disbelief. You know the nature of the way they do business. It's not mystical. It's not family friendly. It's a 2-bit carnival show. Granted, I love watching the team. I just have zero affinity for the organization, and I'm sure it doesn't bother them in the slightest.

But look at it this way: the Cubs are doing you a favor by encouraging you to leave their site and play Mega Millions; it dramatically increases your chances of winning.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Steinbrenner [W]ay

George Steinbrenner, July 4, 1930–July 13, 2010
11 AL Pennants. 7 World Series Titles.

Monday, July 12, 2010

What Cubs Fans Can Learn from LeBron

I've heard wanting to win at all costs is a way of life, too, but I'll have to take LeBron's word for it. Maybe it has something to do with being a Yankees fan.
Opinions about LeBron James's decision are like pirated versions of the summer blockbuster Inception; if you're an absolute Google expert, I'm sure you can find at least one online. Alright, maybe I've understated the ubiquity of Lebronology on the Interweb, but this topic is experiencing a dearth of understatement, so I thought I'd do my best to help out.

The Decision, for its depraved lack of subtlety, is not without its valuable lessons. LeBron made a rather sick display, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert responded in kind, and every sports journalist in America (along with some ESPN employees) overreacted to both of them. All of the overreactions can teach us Cubs fans a thing or three about the dangers inherent in caring about sports.

Sport is, by definition, an exercise in amusement, so the waves of reactionary rage rippling through the sports world betray the concept of entertainment just a tad. For LeBron, basketball is his profession (as is inflating his image, and I don't mean that sarcastically; his image is his livelihood). I understand why this is important to him. Dan Gilbert stands to lose a lot of games and a lot of money, so I understand why he's angry along with the citizens of Cleveland who suffer the economic ramifications of LBJ's departure. The rest of the outrage feeds off moral indignation and jilted fanaticism. I ride on both bandwagons as much as the next guy, so I can't criticize too heavily except to say we should all probably just move on to the learning stage of this saga.

The first lesson, taught by Professor James, is that people who win don't befriend too many losers along the way. The New York Yankees and their fans don't care that you don't like them. Their goal is not to win friends but to win championships. If the public were to arrive at a consensus that the Yankees are fair, modest, and considerate of the desires of their small-market competitors, someone by the name of Steinbrenner would start firing people until that perception met it its untimely doom. Anyone who really wants to win at all costs will suffer a considerable amount of hatred and dismiss it happily as collateral damage.

An insatiable desire to win will make people do unpopular things. For those with power, talent, and foresight, acts of desperation usually correspond to strides of great progress (and the occasional embarrassing LeBronesque largesse). For the Cubs and their fans, desperation usually just leads to stupidity. We want the Cubs to win so badly, we're willing to believe it's possible. We'll offer up suggestions that, if followed, are sure to make it happen. We'll buy tickets and merchandise and electronic delivery systems that allow us to feed the Cubs' coffers in the hopes that our financial and emotional investments will lead to a championship that is all the more honorable and valuable because of its overwhelming unlikelihood.

When the miracle doesn't happen, we have a chance to learn the lesson taught in glorious Comic Sans by Dan Gilbert. He was angry. Langston Hughes told us what to expect when a dream is deferred, and in Gilbert's case, it exploded. It's not cause for intense analysis anymore than Z's dugout tirade was. He was angry. Angry people say and do stupid things sometimes. Whoa! Shocker! The lesson: don't put a whole lot of stock in what angry people say. And maybe try not to get so angry about a game.

When the Cubs lose, we tend to respond by saying ridiculously stupid things. Sometimes in defiance of the team, sometimes in their defense, but more often than not in stupidity. I don't want to begrudge people their murderous Cubs rants. They are what they are. I just want to make sure we understand that what they are is generally stupid. It's a way of life, not a way of genius.

The third and final lesson comes from all the fans and media members who feel the need to spout off about these events as though it's Churchill and Roosevelt in whose hands the state of the world rests. I don't expect people to stop discussing it, but do we have to take it all so seriously? The same goes for the Cubs. Obviously, I'm a Cubs blogger so I'm devoting an unnatural allotment of time and effort to this baseball team. It's a sickness, and I understand that. Save yourselves! But seriously, if I may be so bold, I suggest we enjoy this team for the amusement they provide and to walk away when it starts feeling like suffering. Maybe not a total break up, but a break nonetheless. Hey, look, it's three days off, right on time!

To sum up the LeBron thoughts, we have ambitious guy, angry guy, and analyst people, all of whom are primarily concerned with a bouncy ball and guys in shorts. I'm as guilty as anyone of caring too much about any of that. And all I've got to say is . . .

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Also a Way of Life: [L]azy Sundays

Sometimes you feel like cheering for another team, but your indolence is chronic. Now go get me a cupcake.


And for your viewing pleasure, enjoy the musical version of this Way of [L]ife.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Also a Way of Life: [L]oving Your Captors

From Wikipedia: In psychology, Stockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express adulation and have positive feelings towards their captors that appear irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims. (courtesy of CubsMagicNumber)

Also a Way of Life: [L]osing Everything

This one's courtesy of Tim from Tales from Aisle 424. If you're willing to bet it all that some day your luck will turn around, you're living the Wrigley Way of Life.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Also a Way of Life: Meth Addiction

This really is the best marketing slogan ever.
Here it is, the first in a series of things besides being a Cubs fan that can also be considered A Way of Life. And to think someone considered "A Way of Life" to be a good thing. . . .

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cubs Facts that Don't Make Me Angry

On any given day, the Cubs have a really solid chance of winning, even if it's against the Pirates.

Pat Hughes is the best radio play-by-play man I've ever listened to on a daily basis.

Watching the Cubs lose in a hopeless summer is still better than the hopeful baseball-free winters.

There are an awful lot of Cubs fans that I like an awful lot.

Alfonso Soriano is no longer painful to watch.

The next heartbreaking playoff loss appears to be quite a ways off.

Ticket prices are going down like . . . well, like the Cubs.

Starlin Castro is still in the majors.

Tyler Colvin can hit.

The pitching has been pretty good this year, and I've always felt that bad pitching is much more frustrating to watch than bad offense.

Whether Tom Ricketts wants to run this team as a fan or as a businessman, he's going to have to put a better product on the field to be happy.

I really like the calzones at Wrigley.

However awful the walk-up music is, I haven't heard any Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber yet.

Even if they did, a little "Party in the U.S.A." never hurt anybody.

Most people won't admit it, but Carlos Zambrano spoke for all of us.

I'm pretty sure I have a fear of success, and the Cubs have been very understanding in that regard.

The fire sale is inevitable. And who doesn't love a sale?