Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Have Seen the Problem and the Problem Is Us

I'm part of the problem.  I know it and I own it.

I sit here and type away my little snarky comments about how the Cubs are run and the dumbass decisions they have made throughout not only my lifetime, but my father's and grandfather's, but when it comes right down to it, the problem with the Cubs looks back at me every morning in the mirror.  I (and millions of people just like me) am the reason the Cubs suck at winning championships.

The Washington Nationals are reducing ticket prices for 3,300 of their seats this year.  Why?  Because the Nationals suck, everyone knows they suck, and the people who live in the Beltway have better things to do with their lives than to go and watch sucky baseball.  They certainly aren't going to spend a large chunk of their children's future tuition money to do so.  The Nationals know it and are basically having a sale to try to get people into the ballpark to buy their $7 beers.

Here, the Cubs are going to suck too.  Yeah, I said it.  Think about what has to happen for the Cubs to do well this year. 

They need Alfonso Soriano to recover from his knee injury and hit again.  They need some balance of hitting and defense in the middle infield that hasn't yet been exhibited in the combination of middle infielders we currently have, or that are available on the market.  They need Ramirez to stay healthy for the whole year.  They need Derrek Lee to continue to hit like he's 28 years old.

They need to either figure out a way to make either Bradley or whatever piece of garbage replaces him to be useful.  They need Soto to hit like that one great year he had in 2008 instead of like every other year in his entire minor and major league career.  They need Fukudome to be more than an OK platoon level player. 

They need Ted Lilly to rebound from shoulder surgery faster than anyone probably really believes is realistic.  They need Dempster to pitch more like the 2008 version of himself.  They need Marmol to be able to throw strikes with some regularity.  They need Randy Wells to not take a Soto-esque step backwards in his sophomore year.  They need someone from the pile of Samardzija, Gorzelanny, Marshall, and assorted mishmash of minor league prospects to step into the fifth starters spot and not completely suck.  They need Zambrano to pitch well, not stage nutties on the field every other start, and stay healthy.

Granted most of those things are possible, if not plausible, but ALL of it happening?  Even MOST of it happening is unlikely.  When you have to discuss a team's chances of success with more than five or six "if" statements, the team is probably not going to do very well.

The Cubs, probably knowing as well as I do that 2010 is not going to be great year, have raised ticket prices (again).

But here is the problem and why the Cubs can get away with behavior in the market place that is completely contrary to common sense and reason: I will be renewing my season ticket package for my 12th year in Aisle 424.  And I will not be alone.  Not by a long shot.

After all of that which I know is wrong with the team, I'll eventually hand a check to the fat guy in the ticket office, he will not say thank you, and I will get to watch about fifty games where the Cubs will most likely make me wish someone would just hurry up and gouge out my eyes already.

So why do I do it?  Because I'm the guy the Cubs count on when they do dumb shit.  If there was a poster of the Cubs' dream dipshit fan hanging in their office, it would be a picture of me. I'm the guy they know is too scared that he'll never get his tickets back when the Cubs are actually poised to make a run at the World Series.  There is a reason they always update us on the number of people on the waiting list. They know stupid morons like me will just keep ponying up the dough to watch bad baseball for fear that one of those 120,000 other people will instead pay to watch bad baseball and I won't be able to.

I'm the guy who wouldn't be able to forgive himself if the Cubs somehow went to the World Series and couldn't get a ticket into the park to watch it.  I'm the guy who still thinks in the deep recesses of his brain that eventually the farm system will start churning out good young players that will be fun to watch as they develop, despite an endless parade of Sam Fuld and Jake Fox clones.

So here I sit with my renewal form as the Cubs prepare to trade away a player that they once thought was worth $30 million for the equivalent of what my cat coughs up when he eats an occasional dropped McDonald's french fry.  I stare at tomorrow's due date as the Cubs try to decide between Larry, Moe and Curly to play centerfield.  I ponder on that which the money could be better spent as the Phillies lock up a Cy Young pitcher for three more years that will be supported by home grown talent like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jayson Werth while the Cubs have Carlos Zambrano backed up by Geovany Soto, Ryan Theriot, and Micah Hoffpauir. 

A sane person would tell the Cubs to take their boosted ticket prices, crappy customer service, and 102 years of constant losing and shove them up their ass.  A sane person would have given up on the Cubs long ago.  But alas, here I am about to renew again.

My only solace is that I will be surrounded by my similarly insane summer family in Aisle 424 and roughly 40,000 other deranged people at every Cubs game I attend. This summer, as you dance around to Go Cubs Go after a game that will pull us within 11 games of the division lead in June, make no mistake:  We are the problem.


Kris said...

Unfortunately, many of the fans are not there to see the Cubs, they are there to see Wrigley field and be part of the "experience". If the Cubs could somehow be seperated from Wrigley Field for a time, I think we'd see some reality, and ticket prices would have to reflect that.

Laura Hawk said...


Aisle 424 said...

Kris, that is true and will always be true as long as they are at Wrigley. It is also why Crane could send us a letter justifying the ticket increase by saying that they know that many of the season ticket holders turn around and sell their tickets on StubHub, so they will be able to get some of their money back.

Unfortunately for the fans like me and most of the rest of us in Aisle 424 who like to actually use our tickets and don't WANT to sell them, we have two choices, dump the tickets or keep bending over.

I keep bending over.

Duey23 said...

I faxed in my committment to the insanity earlier this week. This post is so true it hurts to read it. I'm third generation ticket holder (this is year 8 for my current crew of buddies and I) and yes, we're going to do it all over again.

I do occasionally let myself dream of what it would be like to stand in my seat in October to witness history. I ALWAYS tear up and look like an emotional boob but its because I remember standing outside the gates in 1972 with my grandfather waiting to get inside to get the autographs of the two features players for the day (Bill Bonham & Carmen Fanzone for example)

This isn't about being a casual fan, it's a link to my family and a man who passed away much too early in life. I think about his rediculous daily devotion to head home and watch the game on tv. I think of how he got us up into the press booth to meet Lou Boudreau and Vince Lloyd. My Grandfather PITCHED to Lou at Thornton High School when they were young growing up in Harvey, IL.

So for me, there's some etherial moral justification if they can finally win it that all that my Grandpa rooted for wasn't in vein.

I reflect back on 1984 sitting in my dorm room crushed to near death because of Steve Garvey, 1989 when my DAD had lower mezz tickets (continually feeding the addictive habit) and we got to see the Giants kick our asses, 1998's embarrassment, 2003 gut punch reminding me ONCE AGAIN that this is a nasty habit and then 2007 & 2008's colossal flops.

For the 7th year in a row, no matter the product on the field, 2010 will once again see 3 million PLUS crank through the non-existent turnstyles (damn scan code things) and that, as you said, is why we keep coming back. We're surrounded by the same sort of crazy that we embody.

We ARE the problem, I'm not sure if we can be the cure. As a fellow Aisle 424'er, see you in April.

Aisle 424 said...

Duey, we truly are addicts. I don't mean to minimize the suffering of people who have had to deal with addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc., but the NEED we have to chase the dream of a Cubs World Series is an addictive behavior that is not entirely dissimilar to the cravings of a smoker.

In much the same way, the first step to recovery is to realize that we have a problem, so we're on our way.

Of course, I also e-mailed my renewal today, though I included this in my e-mail:

"I would also like to put on record that this decision is in spite of and not because of the trade made today."

I doubt they give a shit though.

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