Dear Tom Ricketts:
As a lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs, I think it’s time you and I had a little conversation about baseball.
I’m sure you’re getting a lot of these letters lately. Most of them are probably upset with your plans for “upgrading” Wrigley Field.
I’m not one of those kind.
I fell in love with the Chicago Cubs in 1980, the last full season the Wrigley family owned the team. The year before the “Dark Times” of the Tribune Company’s ownership of the team began.
So, when you purchased the team a few years ago, I was hopeful for the future of my favorite franchise. Because I felt like someone like me was now in control. Someone who spent his summers tuned into WGN-AM, listening to Harry Caray’s call of the game, rooting for likes of Ryne Sandberg, Ron Cey, Rick Sutcliffe, Leon Durham and Jody Davis.
I was just glad someone who cared about Cubs Baseball was calling the shots again.
And I’m not a purist, necessarily, and I completely understand the economics of professional sports. So, I don’t begrudge you wanting to put a Jumbotron the size of a football field in left field of Wrigley Field.
But, I’ve recently come to the conclusion you’re operating the Cubs no differently than the Tribune Company did.
I think perhaps you have become so focused on your desire to make the franchise profitable that you forgot the most important ingredient: baseball. You can have all the bells and whistles you want at your ballpark, but even with the most marvelous “fan experience” on the planet, you still won’t be successful if you’re putting out teams that want to compete with the 1962 Mets.
And, let’s be honest here for a second. Last year’s Cubs were certainly in the running. This year’s Cubs look like they’re well on their way, too.
In fact, I can’t remember two consecutive seasons where I couldn’t even say, “Maybe next year” in May.
No matter how you cut it, sprinkling ketchup on a poop sandwich isn’t going to change the fact that you’re biting into a poop sandwich. Sure, the bleacher bums are going to show up, whether you put Carlos Marmol on the bump with a three-run lead in the bottom of the ninth or not.
But the fans, those of us who buy your licensed team merchandise, do actually expect you to win from time to time. At least tease us with the prospect of a World Series appearance sometime in our lifetimes.
Instead, we’re treated to a small-market team (think Kansas City Royals) with a Second City payroll. We’re left wondering if the front office even has the ability to accurately evaluate baseball talent.
Enough is enough.
Improve the team, Tom, or get out. And, if you won’t do either, I’ll save you the trouble and do the unthinkable — I’ll pick a new team to root for; a team that won’t take the fans like me for granted.
I just don’t think you respect me, or fans like me, enough to have earned my continued support.
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