This year was a little different from past years. In past years, there really was no debate about whether we were renewing or not. Of course we were. We didn't even have to ask one another. It was just assumed.
This year things are different. Priorities have changed. Economic situations have changed. Life situations have changed. And the Cubs have changed.
Of course, some things don't change.
(Photo by Kristin Peterson)
When I bought in to the nights and weekends plan in 1998, I was buying in because I thought the Cubs were heading in the right direction. Kerry Wood was about to break into the league. They had just acquired Henry Rodriguez and extended Sammy Sosa to go along with Mark Grace in the middle of the lineup. They had essentially traded Jaime Navarro for Kevin Tapani. They brought back rubber-armed Terry Mulholland and signed the new shut-down closer, Rod Beck. Their farm system was finally starting to bear some fruit (remember this is what I thought when I purchased in February of 1998).
It was an affordable extravagance and I wanted to get in before the rest of the world figured out that the Cubs were good again. I don't have many money-sucking indulgences, so the Cubs were going to be it for me.
Most of the other season ticket holders around me are fairly similar. Their years of purchase differed, but we all bought in at one point or another because we thought the Cubs might finally be nearing the time when they might win a World Series.
Now, I don't think any of us believe it is going to happen anytime soon and we are merely trying to determine our ability to ride out the crappiness on both an emotional and financial level.
Afterall, when I bought the plan in 1998, the package went for about $750 per seat. I believe the total for 2010 was $3,300 and I would bet everything I own that it isn't coming down in 2011.
So this Merry Christmas Game was a bit more somber than others in the past and the performance on the field didn't do much to increase optimism going forward. When Bobby Scales is the center of your offense, you have major problems.
We don't know what 2011 will bring. Some of us may be back, others may not. Then again, we are all deluded, slightly insane people, so there is a decent chance nothing will change in Aisle 424 when push comes to shove. But for myself, I'm looking at about a 90% probability that I won't renew. I have until some time in November to figure it out.
I can't say what would make me renew. I don't think any of the managers that are available (or even any of the managers that are not available) would be the magic pill for all that ails the Cubs. There is no singular free agent that will suddenly fix anything. I don't even think Jim Hendry can have a theme this off-season like "left-handedness" or "team chemistry." I think the only theme he will have is "pray that these cheap kids from the minors are halfway decent so I can keep my job."
Maybe if Crane Kenney suddenly was fired and a real baseball man was brought in as the head of baseball operations, I might rethink things. I could see myself rationalizing changes from the top that would eventually fix everything and make the Cubs a real organization that not only expects to win every year, but occasionally actually does so. Unfortunately, there is just as much chance of that happening as Jim Hendry hiring me as the next Cubs manager (Note to Jim Hendry: I would not make a good Cubs manager and I would like to remove myself from consideration.)
So the game came and went. The Cubs lost, it was frickin' freezing out, and the game took something like eight million hours to actually end, but when it finally ended, I was sad since I knew it might very well have been my last game in my favorite seat.
With 115,000+ on the wait list, this seat won't be empty for long.
(Photo by Kristin Peterson)
There is still the possibility that I will have some sort of partial ownership of a plan, and I may even still be in Aisle 424, so this isn't like someone died or anything. Still, it feels like a chapter is closing so I wish the game hadn't been started by Jeff Samardzija and ended by three grounders to Aaron Miles.