Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Last Merry Christmas Game?

Sunday was the last home game of the year, which my summer family in Aisle 424 have dubbed the "Merry Christmas Game."  Generally, there is an excellent chance we will not see one another again until the next April, thus it seems appropriate to wish good tidings for the holiday season while we have the chance.

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.

8 comments:

Seat 106 said...

I'm too sad to say anything witty or even remotely coherent.

mb21 said...

Good stuff, Tim.

I'd add that I'd prefer the man in charge of baseball operations (Kenney) NOT have a background in baseball. Some of the best executives in that role in history have been outsiders. Sandy Alderson is easily the most influential executive in the last 30 or 40 years and he was an attorney with non baseball experience at all before taking over the A's.

I think baseball knowledge gets in the way of performing in that job. It's best to have someone with little knowledge about the sport who is going to hire people around him who do know the game and then let them make the decisions.

I'm fine with Crane Kenney. I always have been. He's the kind of guy you want at the top (no baseball knowledge). No idea if he's as good as some of the other executives in that spot, but he's the kind of person I want there.

Aisle 424 said...

Good point, MB. It's not like Andy MacPhail was a staggering success.

waxpaperbeercup.com said...

tim, nothing to worry about. you will be able to see plenty of games next year at rock bottom prices. this squad is going no where.

waxpaperbeercup.com said...

i walked away from my season tickets in 216 after last season and never looked back. i had a great summer not worrying about these goofs, and if i wanted to go to a game (which i didn't) tickets were as low as $3 on stubhub. lmao.

i'll laugh my ass off when ricketts raises ticket prices this offseason.

anyways, shoot me an email so we can get together to watch a hawks game this winter.

cheers,
ccd

Aisle 424 said...

Thanks for the positive testimony and support, ccd. I'm not so worried about next year (or even the year after), it is knowing that I can't get back in when they finally field a team that is as appropriately talented and successful as what you would expect from the ticket prices.

But the truth is, after 2003, they stopped giving Combo Plan members access to every post-season game anyway, so a large portion of the reason I bought in every year disappeared. I wanted to have access to the post-season.

But seeing as their trips to the post-season have been sporadic and mostly short-lived, the risk I am taking by dumping my package is minimal. It is more of a psychological hurdle of fearing I might miss the coolest thing to ever happen. I working through it. :)

Now the Hawks are a team worth watching! Expect an e-mail.

waxpaperbeercup.com said...

i used to cling to the hope that my season tickets would allow me to be at wrigley field when the cubs played their inevitable(lol) world series games at the park. well as time goes by i realize that the possibility of that happening is just so damn small.

i have now scrapped the idea and now just hope i'm alive to watch those games online or on tv or on whatever media device we are using to watch games when the cubs get there. somewhere the importance of being there went away. i've seen my fair share of playoff games at wrigley and for the most part they all ended poorly.

let the next generation suffer. i'll be on the outside looking in.

Jeff said...

waxpaperbeercup,

Fan Misery!!! You summed it up all so well - nailed it out of the park. As a long-time Cubs fan, and inventor of the fan misery index, I feel your pain.

Jeff.

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