First, if you think I am exaggerating for the sake of humor about how inept Todd was in performing his duties, then you clearly did not watch the show. There was almost nothing he didn't mess up in some way shape or form. He did somehow manage to not accidentally kill anyone.
It wasn't even just the actual duties like "cleaning" the bathrooms with a fire hose and a squeegie (remind me to never, ever use Wrigley bathrooms again), making correct change while selling hot dogs (poorly), knowing what a straight line is while parking cars, or pulling a tarp and spreading drying agent on the field.
He was bad at picking a pseudonym for himself. He went with Mark Dawson. I'm guess that one just made the cut over Ernie Maddux and Harry Brickhouse.
He was bad at lying about what a crap job he was doing. Twice. First he tossed out the last four hot dogs in his bin because he couldn't sell them (he paid for them with his own $20) and then proceeded to stammer, sweat, and blush his way through an interrogation by his hot dog vendor mentor when confronted.
Then, after getting fired from practically every position he tried in five days, he went to a little round-up meeting with the other Ricketts siblings (whom the camera never caught laughing their asses off, but you know they were). They asked him, "How'd it go?" He responded that he thought it went "really well." if getting fired from four out of five positions in five days is going "really well" then here are some other things that have also gone "really well":
- JFK's trip to Dallas
- Maiden voyage of the Titanic
- Wile E. Coyote's use of any Acme product
- Bay of Pigs Invasion
- The 2010 Dallas Cowboys
- Hawley-Smoot Tariff
- Lindsay Lohan's rehab
- 8th inning of Game Six in the 2003 NLCS
- Invading Russia, ever
The only thing at which he didn't fail miserably was his time sitting in the scoreboard and looking out at the game. As far as I could tell, he didn't seem to make any glaring mistakes in there, but I seem to remember a game where the scoreboard showed the Cubs winning over the Pirates % to G, so who knows? That was also the job where his actual Cub employee partner appeared to have just done all the work for him (he had already fired Todd once in the show).
So after all of the comedy and hijinx that made me realize even more that the franchise is run "really well," it was time to get to the heart-warming stuff. Todd revealed himself to the guys who had been burdened with his fucking everything up and they all got some sort of reward.
The dude who showed him how to turn the fire hose on all the crusted urine and vomit gets swimming lessons for his daughter from (hopefully) someone other than Todd.
The hot dog vendor got the First Annual Wrigley Field Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence plaque, tickets to the last Cubs game of the year, and he got to throw out one of the 800 ceremonial first pitches before the game. I probably would have given it to the guy who has to clean the bathrooms, but whatever. Good for him.
The parking guy got a promise from Todd that he would write him a recommendation on Cubs letterhead to anywhere he applied for a new job and capped it by saying, "I'm trying to help you not come back." I'm sure he meant well, but when the Cubs said that to Ryne Sandberg, he kept coming back. He also gets a trailer to sit in if he returns in 2011.
The grounds crew guy now works in the Cubs marketing department, hopefully diligently telling anyone who will listen that "It's a Way of Life" is a sad joke. His interview seemed to entail having a hot dog with Todd Ricketts, telling him he just finished his business degree, and he wants to work his way up with the Cubs, ideally. Completely unrelated side note: I just finished my MBA, I love hot dogs, and I would also be glad to work my way up from the bottom.
(h/t The Wrigley Blog)
Todd capped the show by gathering a bunch of Wrigley employees on the field and talking about how important families are and relating it to his own family, and realizing that the Wrigley workers were already a family before the Ricketts era.
The Ricketts have talked a lot about families since taking over the Cubs. At the Convention, they talked about how owning the Cubs would be a long-term family undertaking and they had plans to keep it in the family for years to come. Tom Ricketts talked about the importance of families in his letter to the season ticket holders where he outlined plans to keep seating in the 500 level and deep in the corners under the upper deck at price points that families could afford (if they don't mind seeing games against the Nationals on Tuesday afternoons).
Now there was Todd crying on national TV because his eyes had been opened to the family of Wrigley Field workers. It's a shame he didn't get a chance to work security in the bleachers or try to settle arguments between people who insist they are in the right seats when they aren't. That would have been excellent television and I doubt it would have reinforces the "family" theme that the Ricketts have going and that can't have been an accident.
While it is no secret that "reality television" is noweher close to reality in any way, this particular episode seemed even more contrived than most. I wonder why?
Check out Duk's post on Yahoo's Big League Ste!: The Cubs are one big family (except for the people they're firing).
It mentions that in the days following the big group hug scene at Wrigley, four people in the marketing department were relieved of their jobs (Grounds Crew Joe has already moved up four spots!). Then recently, the Cubs outsourced their Vineline publication and sent another few veteran Cubs' employees into the current wonderful job market.
I think Duk nails it at the end of his post:
Look, I understand the realities of an ownership change in any business. The new guys are always going to want "their" guys and that seems apparent in the front office moves that Hayward is making right now. It's their business, it's their right.
That said, don't make the hypocritical move of going on TV to glom more manufactured attention for your family — after initially pledging you were going to be simple, behind-the-scenes owners — when you're going to just turn around and send a bunch of people out into this economy in the days and weeks after.
Meanwhile, Todd should be glad he is actually related to the Ricketts. His "job" is pretty safe and he seems to be doing "really well."
For more takes on the Undercover Boss episode from the Cubs blogosphere: