Given the past history of dealing with the Cubs, I always kind of figured that if the Cubs reponded at all to me declining to renew my season tickets, they would basically give me the finger and laugh as they went merrily on to taking some other poor soul's money in exchange for sitting in Aisle 424 all season long.
I certainly never expected to have two different members of the Cubs organization respond with thoughtful non-template responses.
But lo and behold, after officially declining to renew last night, I got a response this morning from my ticket rep, Kevin, that almost knocked me over:
Dear Mr. McGinnis,
We are sorry to learn that you will not be returning. I’m not sure what your reason is, but if the upper deck box is too expensive, we can look into trying to move your seat to a less expensive area. Please let me know if you are interested in this option. We would hate to lose you and appreciate your support and loyalty over the years. Thank you.
I'm wondering if other people who declined to renew their tickets also got a similar response from their ticket rep? The Cubs could be more worried about losing their wait list buffer zone than I thought.
I also received a nice e-mail from the Kevin with the Cubs that you may know better as @cubsinsider on Twitter.
Hi, Tim –
I caught your blog post last night and was sad to see you won’t be sitting in Aisle 424 next season. Who am I going to run extra coupons to now?
It sounds like your mind is set on the season ticket decision but I hope we’ll still see you around the ballpark. Obviously there are a few things we should address from your post, but one that stood out to me was your comment about the owners “prioritizing revenue streams and amenities over making any change to how the Cubs' baseball operations actually go about their business.” True, we’ve looked at more ways to increase revenue this season, however there is also a concentrated effort on the baseball side to build a winning team the right way. Fans may see the payroll figure go down some next year but the scouting and player development budgets should increase. The family has emphasized developing talent and supplementing with smart free agent signings. I think it’s an encouraging approach. I don’t know if we’ll have a lot of roster flexibility next year, but I’m hopeful moving forward based on the young talent we have in the system and future roster flexibility.
I’ll share your post with our ticket office so they have the insight as well. Let me know if there is anything else you’d like me to pass along.
Like I said, the Tribune probably wouldn't have bothered to contact me at all under similar circumstances, so already the Cubs under the Ricketts have taken a step forward in addressing fans' concerns. However, I have said before that I would allow the Cubs to punch me in the junk repeatedly if it meant that they won a World Series, so even though I bitch about customer service at Wrigley, that has not been the deciding factor in whether I purchase or not. It's just that if the team is going to suck, the people who work there could be nice about it, and the two Kevins here have done that, so I thank them for reaching out.
I have gotten similar inquiries about my decision on Twitter and Facebook, below is my response to the Kevins that I e-mailed them earlier:
I'll still be around a bit. It looks like I may be able to buy into a package with another group in the area, so I won't be going cold turkey, but I'll be down to about 20 or 25% of the games I have regularly attended in the past.
I guess when it comes down to it, I am tired of footing the bill for the Cubs to "build a team right" and then doing a piss-poor job of it. I originally bought into the plan because I believed in the concept of Andy MacPhail and had faith he could execute a plan to make the Cubs solid contenders on a yearly basis. I also enjoyed baseball and liked the idea of going to just about every Cubs game that occurred outside of my regular work hours.
Now here we are 13 years later and the Cubs have had exactly one post-season series victory in that time. But the tickets prices are on par with the Yankees and Red Sox who are always in contention, and have won the whole thing more than once during that same time period. So the Ricketts get to make money while they are patient and I get to sit there and watch mediocre teams fifty times a year for the next 5 years (at best)?
Meanwhile, baseball decisions get made for marketing reasons so the stupid fans who only want to sit in the sun and drink beer are essentially making the decisions of how to run the team. Anybody with any sense in the world knew, KNEW, that Sammy Sosa would fall of the table, but the Cubs shied away from trading him because they didn't want to piss off the fans. Then he started to suck and the best thing they got in return for a guy with 600 HRs was Mike Fontenot. They could have had Alfonso Soriano in his prime instead they get Mike Fontenot and Jerry Hairston (the worst possible Hairston).
Then when they finally decide they want Soriano they pay the national debt to get him knowing full well that he would be a burden to the team for years. I don't care if McDonough made Hendry do it, or did it without Hendry's knowledge or whatever the story is now. Hendry was willing to take credit for the signing at the time so he is culpable and he still has his job.
They aren't dedicated to rebuilding because if they were, they would be looking around to see what they can get for Carlos Marmol before his arm falls off, they would be looking to trade Marlon Byrd while his stock is the absolute highest it is going to get. They would be checking with Ryan Dempster to see if there is any trade he would accept. They are the guys with actual trade value that could get decent prospects in return instead of just salary relief.
Those guys will not be a part of any future Cubs World Series team because by the time the rest of the team is any good, those guys will be the weak spots, and there will be a scramble to gut the rejuvenated farm system to find a closer, or a centerfielder, or an extra veteran starter and the cycle will start all over again. It is what the Cubs do and this version of the Cubs doesn't seem interested in parting with its failures of the past.
I don't doubt that the Ricketts believe they want to bring a winner to Wrigley on a regular basis, but they aren't going to do it anytime soon by half-assing it. I have personally reached a point where I'm not willing to keep paying increasing amounts of money for a team that is purposefully mediocre that depends so heavily on luck swinging its way when it never has in the past.
At this point, a seriously contending Cubs team would be a miracle and the amount of money I am willing to spend on faith in a miracle is significantly less than any season ticket package that exists, so I have to bow out at this time. Someday, I may regret it, but if my giving up is the cosmic catalyst that propels the Cubs to being a real major-market team that acts like one, then it is a sacrifice that is well worth it.
But be assured, the Wait List will probably still be six figures going into 2012, and I'll still be buying at least some tickets from my summer family in Aisle 424. I may be wising up, but I'm still an addict.