I will admit that the pictures are pretty incriminating. There I am, barely dressed, wearing diapers, fascinated at that time by shiny objects and there is a large Chicago Cubs hat perched just above my mop of dark hair. Further on in the book there are more incriminating photos of me, at about age two or three, wearing a Cubs hat and a jacket. About the time I turned five the photos stop because it was at that time I saw the light and became a Chicago White Sox fan.
So, yes, in the interest of full disclosure, I am going to say that I am a true-blue (or black as the case may be) Chicago White Sox fan. I have been for most of my life. I have never once regretted it. I did, however, grow up surrounded by Cubs fans. My father has been a Cubs fan his entire life. So, despite being a Sox fan, I must admit there is a part of me that also wants to see the Cubs finally make it to the World Series in my lifetime. More importantly, I would like to see it done within my father’s lifetime. Right now, this does not look like a possibility.
Even the most diehard Cubs fan right now has admitted that this team sucks. My father admits it and this is a man who watched the religiously throughout the 1970s. The team cannot seem to buy a win. Something is very broken in Wrigleyville and it isn’t just the crumbing wreck known as Wrigley Field.
Sox fans have been criticized for not supporting their team. I don’t believe that’s true. I just think Sox fans are realists. We don’t buy into the idea that losing is somehow cute and something to be proud of. However, the Sox may not have been racking up division wins during much of my life but they were awfully close. Throughout most of the 90s the Sox were consistently finishing in second place. They just had the disadvantage of being in the same division as the Oakland As for a while. Had they been in the eastern division they would have won many of those division titles throughout the 90s with Fisk and Thomas and Ventura on the team. Never mind the fact that the As were probably so juiced with steroids that it probably shot out of their ears, Major League Baseball is not likely to go back and award the Sox division titles for those years.
See, as a Sox fan our beliefs are simple. We don’t have a curse. We just have bad teams. We don’t believe Shoeless Joe Jackson is hiding in the dugout like The Babe and putting hexes on the bats. We don’t believe there is a Black Sox Curse. We just admit that the team stinks. We hope for the best, but expect the worst. Why spend all of your money on tickets to the games and parking to watch a team stink when you can watch them stink from the comfort of your own home? You put a good product on the field and you get the fans to come out again. That’s the way it should work. That’s not the way it works on the north side.
First you have the field there. That horrific, crumbling mess that people get all misty-eyed over known as Wrigley Field. A more uncomfortable and disappointing place to watch a baseball game I cannot imagine. Yet Cubs fans talk about it as if it cures cancer. There is an aura of losing over that place. Why is it that players who do so well elsewhere end up sucking when they come here and then leave only to do better elsewhere again? Nomar Garciappara is a good example.
The second problem you have there is the management. I am not the biggest fan of Jerry Reinsdorf. I am still angry over the way he treated my all-time favorite player, Carlton Fisk. However, Jerry has managed to bring six basketball championships and one baseball championship to a town that sees few of those. By my count that means seven championships in two sports in my lifetime. The Cubs are owned by a soulless corporation who have no motivation to put out a good product when blindly dedicated Cubs fans snap up tickets and sell out games even when the team is at its worst. Why spend the money? They come for the stadium and they come to hang out in the world’s largest open-air bar and there’s no other reason to buy decent players. The Tribune should sell the team to benefit the team, but I see no reason why they should. If Cubs fans would stop coming to the games maybe they would reconsider.
I like the idea of a Mark Cuban-type owning the team. He maybe an idiot and act like a stooge but he does have passion about his teams and his sports. He wants to put out a winning product. He turned the Dallas Mavericks into a team that was close to a championship. You need individuals in the offices of a team in order to bring about a championship feel. You can’t run a team by a board of directors.
Third, if you are going to get rid of Dusty Baker then you need to get rid of Jim Hendry. The entire management of the team needs to go. Get someone passionate in that dugout. Ozzie Guillen may fly off at the mouth but you cannot deny his passion for his players and his team. Dusty sits there and chews his toothpick and looks bored with the whole situation. Jim Hendry has not done a damn thing for this team and if Dusty is to blame then Jim has to share it with him and both of them should be standing outside Wrigley with cardboard boxes filled with stuff from their desks.
Finally you have to cut ties with Wood and Prior. This is not a revelation on my part. Everyone knows this. Continuing to hang on to those two is something I cannot possibly explain. They are a disaster. They looked like the Johnson/Schilling team-up the Cubs were hoping for and they have been a disaster of epic proportions. With all apologies to the young ladies I see wearing Wood jerseys, he had one really good game as a rookie. Prior is a walking injury.
The entire belief system of the Cubs fans need to change. Settling for losing and believing there is such a thing as “lovable losers” needs to change. I am starting to see that happen this season. I think that’s a good thing. Maybe if the boos get loud enough from the fan base and a few games finally start not selling out then maybe the board of trustees who run the team will finally take notice. That is, if they aren’t too busy scalping their own fans, of course.