Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, I am giving thanks for a day where I won't be thinking about the Cubs at all.  So instead, I present highlights from the various Thanksgiving episodes of The West Wing that were among the best episodes of one of the best series of all time.









Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ricketts Wants to Vaguely Help Some Indeterminate Number of Black People

Tom Ricketts has not given up on his fight to get state funding to renovate Wrigley Field.  His first angle of announcing his intentions in a letter to season ticket holders without looping in the governor shockingly didn't work, so he is now trying to sell his scheme to the Black community.

According to the Chicago Defender:

Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Chicago Cubs, addressed the Black business community and elected officials Tuesday about the sports organization’s plans to allocate a portion of the construction contracts and other workforce needs to Black contractors in the Cubs refurbishing efforts of its North Side ball park, Wrigley Field.

An overall plan or legislative proposal, hasn’t been finalized, but Ricketts said a “fair” number of business contracts, mainly infrastructure, will go to Black contractors.

This is an aspect that Tom has never mentioned before, so one has to wonder what he means by a "fair" number of business contracts.  Luckily, the Defender was also wondering:

While Ricketts couldn’t give specifics on what percentage of the pie Black contractors would receive, he declined to define what a fair percentage range would be.

“I’d rather give specifics instead of speculating. I don’t have any specifics available at this time,” Ricketts told the Defender.


"Trust me."

Well, I'm sure the African-American community will jump to support the rich white guy who makes a vague, non-binding promise to help their community when they help him get the means to get even wealthier.  That's usually how it works, right?

Somehow, I have a feeling that Tom might have to work a little bit harder to get the support he wants:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Joe Ricketts Implies Tom is OK with Losing

Joe and Tom Ricketts obviously had no idea what they were getting themselves into based on this little video of Joe talking about Tom and the new toy that Dad bought him. (h/t Cubs Fan Report)



First off, at about the 1:46 mark, Joe poses the question to his son, "Why would I want to buy the Cubs?"  Tom reportedly answered, "I'll tell you Dad, they sell every ticket, every game, win or lose."

Now, let's put aside the fact that Tom was salivating over the idea of selling every ticket in a 41,000 seat stadium no matter what kind of team is put on the field, and focus on the fact that he was just plain wrong.

Let's look at the Attendance and Win Pct. data for the years since Tom Ricketts became such a big fan of the team that he just had to own them:

(Attendance data from Another Cubs Blog, Win pct. from Baseball-Reference.com)

Notice that in almost every year, the attendance figure moves in the same direction as the teams' record that year.  I've highlighted the years where that rule didn't apply.  In 1983, major league baseball was recovering from the strike year of 1981 and attendance was generally up across the league, thus the jump in attendance was due to league factors and had nothing to do with Cubs fans turning out "win or lose."

1995 was the year following the strike where fans were boycotting games.  Again, this was true pretty much across baseball, so even though the Cubs would normally have had fans coming out of the woodworks for a .500 team, attendance was down.  Similarly, after Cal Ripken "saved baseball," the fans started coming back so even though the Cubs sucked again, they sw a small increase in attendance.

1999 and 2001 are the two instances where Cubs fans were turning out no matter the situation and that was the Sammy Sosa Effect.

2006 was the first year of the bleacher expansion, so raw numbers went up slightly that year, despite the season being a death march from beginning to end.

I think we can agree, that in all of the instances, there was something peculiar going on to throw the numbers off a bit, but as a general rule, when the team does well, attendance goes up.  When the Cubs suck, attendance goes down.  This took me about 20 minutes to research and put together and I don't have an $850 million investment riding on my decisions about the Cubs and their propensity to sell tickets.

So, Tom either didn't know jack-squat about the true nature of Cubs tickets and how well they sell, or he was selling his dad (who admittedly is not a sports fan at all) on the fantasy of a fool-proof product so that his dad would buy him his favorite team.

The second part of the video that worries me is around the 2:33 mark where Joe and Pete came to the conclusion that they were done messing around with Zell and his wanting to squeeze every last nickel out of the transaction, so they told Tom to tell the Trib to take it or leave it because they were done.  The Trib took it and they moved forward. 

I'm not a financial genius, but given the economy, how the current revenues in the park were pretty much maxed out, and how the minimum maintenance required to keep Wrigley viable was going nowhere but up, I thought at the time that the Ricketts paid too much for the team.  Now it seems like Tom was negotiating away and Zell knew he had a buyer that wasn't going to easily walk away, so he played hardball.  It sounds like this purchase was made more with the heart than by solid business decision making.

That makes no difference to me, but now the Ricketts are getting hammered with falling revenues, crappy facilities, and a horribly under-performing team and they are scrambling to find solutions so that they don't have to put the team right back on the market again.  Those solutions all involve getting more money from the fans and the State of Illinois and not by making the Cubs a winning team.  Imagine how badly the Ricketts would be jacking prices for a crap team if Joe hadn't slammed his foot on the brakes during the negotiations.  Would Tom have ended up paying $1 billion for the team?  It is scary to think about.

Finally, the part that is really eye-opening is around the 4:33 mark where Joe lauds his son's PR moves: "He's doing a wonderful job. He's making everybody love him and love being a fan... win or lose."  There's that win or lose mentality again. 

Can't anyone involved with the Cubs just decide that losing is for losers and approach it that way?  Why is losing even an option?  The Cubs are the only major market team in the NL Central and they act like they play in Kansas City.  There is absolutely no excuse for not dominating this division on a regular basis.  The Cubs losing the NL Central should be what is news-worthy, not when they happen to win it.

Holy crap, I just want to punch someone.  It makes me think the "It's a Way of Life" campaign was actually Tom's idea.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Yikes and Away! (WHOOMPF!)

Nothing is going right for the Cubs or the Rickettseses lately.  The whole off-season has made me think of this:



Yikes and away! We hired Mike Quade!

(WHOOMPF!) Everybody is pissed Sandberg left the organization.

Yikes and away! Todd Ricketts will be featured on Undercover Boss!

(WHOOMPF!) Todd can't do anything right and days after the happy-clappy ending is filmed, they fire members of their marketing staff and outsource the Wrigley publications.

Yikes and away! We're going fix up Wrigley!

(WHOOMPF!) Everybody is pissed that they want state money to do it.

Yikes and away! We're going to host a Northwestern/Illinois football game at Wrigley!

(WHOOMPF!) Everybody is pissed that they put up some signs and painted stuff purple.

Yikes and away! ESPN is sending the Game Day crew to Wrigley to give national attention to the special game!

(WHOOMPF!) After months of analysis and a walk-thru by officials that did not raise one speck of concern about the field layout, the Big Ten decides that the endzone near the bleacher wall is too dangerous, so all offensive possessions will face the west endzone in a bizarre NCAA version of "losers walk."

Yikes and away! The GM meetings have started and Jim Hendry will get to work on improving the team for next year!

(WHOOMPF!) Larry Rothschild gets hired away by the Yankees.

"What would it be like to win something?"

I'm expecting Tom Ricketts to have his beak blown backwards by a stick of dynamite at any moment.

--------------------
UPDATE
--------------------

Yikes and away! At least there is an opening for Greg Maddux to be the next pitching coach!

(WHOOMPF!) Carrie Muskat saysAmong the candidates for #Cubs pitching coach: Mark Riggins & Iowa coach Mike Mason. Greg Maddux is not in the mix

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cubs to Suck Money As Much As They Suck on the Field


The Cubs aren't giving up their fight to get public money to help with their fixer-upper project at Wrigley, which was news to House Speaker, Michael Madigan, who apparently didn't get the memo.  But there was Tom Ricketts at a press conference yesterday surrounded by a bunch of Grabowskis, or rather, unionized Grabowskis, who are in favor of the Ricketts' plan because it means they will put about 1,000 of their brethren to work for a few years.

Tom may have made a misstep by bringing up his scheme right after an election when everyone is probably most aware of how fucked the economy and the budget are because of all the attack ads that assaulted us for the last two months, but he went right to work to spin things back in his favor.  He wanted to show us how the "regular" people of Chicago and Illinois will benefit from his plan, and not just how much money he and his siblings will make without any risk.

At this point, I think anyone reading this knows how I feel about using government money to fund this project at this time, so I'm not going to get into it again here, but let's see what that $200-$300 million would buy ($400-$500 million if you include what the Ricketts will chip in).

Chad Yoder at the Tribune put together a nice summation that I'll break down a bit.  First let's look at the pretty pictures:

The grand plan. Notice lack of room for another noodle.
I'm not a landmark expert, but considering the trouble they had putting in a damn sign, it will be all kinds of fun changing the facade of almost half of the existing ballpark. So, even if they get funding, this is still nowhere close to happening.

Cubs Alley commemorating the 1942 and 1949 seasons when they finished a combined 50 games under .500


Notice the sign above the Concourse that talks about the playoffs beginning. 
This must represent the future MLB when every team makes the playoffs.


Yoder also breaks down the components of the plan:

Triangle building development

The triangle parcel would be developed to include retail, concessions, parking, outdoor dining and team offices.  A hotel and Cubs museum are also being considered.  The corner of Addison and Sheffield would be slated for expansion, possibly including the Captain Morgan Club.

I'm going to start referring to it as the Bermuda Triangle Building since that is where our money will be disappearing.  We don't see much in the renderings about the Bermuda Triangle because they haven't fully figured out what amenities would separate us from our money most efficiently.  The nice thing is that a trophy case won't take up very much room at all.

The Cubs are talking about how much all of this will help increase the revenues of the neighborhood, but since the seating capacity of Wrigley isn't going to increase in this overhaul, there won't actually be any additional fans in the neighborhood spending money.  The Cubs are actually building competition for Sluggers, Casey Moran's, Bernie's, etc. and selling it as something that will be beneficial to those places.

There is a finite number of people that come in to the neighborhood on game days and they all have places they like to be, and when those fill up, they go to Yak-zies.  If everyone is flocking to the Bermuda Triangle as much as the Rickettseses are claiming they will, it won't just be Yak-zies that can feature easy seating.

Cubs Alley

Between the triangle lot and ballpark would be a pedestrian walkway including shops, restaurants and a Cubs merchandise store under a retractable roof. No tickets would be required and no cars would be allowed.

I like that they are calling it an alley because people get robbed in alleys all the time and after a stroll through Cubs Alley, you'll probably feel like you had your pockets picked.  Still, the picture looks nice and it is a bit of an homage to the Red Sox closing down Yawkey Way on game days.  A nice gesture would be to allow homeless people to sleep there since there will probably be a few state employees added to their ranks by the time this thing is completed.

Underground clubhouses

Expanded home and visitors clubhouses would be built under left and right field. The team will soon start testing how deep it can dig.  Plans include new batting cages, weight rooms and an expanded training room.

So, the Cubs have this grand plan, they are already asking for money from the state to help fund it, and they don't know if the plan is even plausible?  What if they can't dig very deep?  Then what?  A whole team of Sam Fulds?  Also, how about saving a bit of money and just slapping some new paint on the visitor's side and call it rehabbed.  Why do they have to get such a nice expanded space?

Improved concourse

Ramps inside Wrigley would be removed to make a more spacious concourse, including new floors, ceiling and lighting.  Above the concourse, facing Clark and Addison streets, outdoor rooftop patios with concessions would be added.

Now that I think about it, the ramps do take up a good amount of space within the ballpark.  They really could open it up by getting rid of them.  But have you already gotten to where I'm going with this?  How do we get to our seats from the nice expanded concourse that has no ramps?  At some point, a few thousand people will escape from the Bermuda Triangle, Cubs Alley and the wide open spaces of the concourse and will attempt to watch the game (especially considering the Upper Deck seats will probably break the three digit mark in price by then).  How are they getting up there?

All in all, the pictures look really nice and I'm sure the actual result would be significantly better than what Wrigley currently offers.  But at a cost of up to $500 million to make the renovations, Wrigley will officially become a money pit. 

All of the renovations that they are talking about are basically changes to the structure of the park.  I remember when I was in college the Tribune ran a story about testing that had been done on the foundations and key structural areas of Wrigley and found that the core of the park's structural integrity was good for another 50 years or so.  Well, that was 20 years ago and we've already seen concrete falling from the superstructure of the upper deck.  This plan doesn't mention anything about that.

This plan also doesn't address the cramped situations in the seats or the fact that a good number of the seats out in the corners aren't angled towards homeplate.  Believe me, if ticket prices get boosted the way the Ricketts are planning, people are going to want to watch the game without getting a strained neck.  So then what?  More renovations?  More borrowed money?  How many more hundreds of millions?

If Wikipedia can be believed, there is a proposal for a new Marlins stadium that will cost $515 million.  A proposed new stadium for the A's would cost $400 million.  I found a story from 2007 that put the estimate for a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark at $450 million.

The Cubs are looking to spend about those amounts of money just to boost the parts of the ballpark that don't involve watching the games.  Probably because they know the games won't be worth watching for awhile.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rich, Pat and Joe Vote No on Tom's Plan

It's looking less likely that I'll need to move out of the State of Illinois under protest.  It seems that not just bloggers in their mothers' basements are against Tom Ricketts' plan to get money from a state that is $15 billion in debt.  Some guys with some actual clout aren't big fans of the scheme either.

Mayor Daley has come out against the plan in typical Daleyesque eloquence:

“That would deny the next mayor — if I sign the agreement and say, ‘Go ahead’ — of the revenue they need to balance the budget,” Daley said. “And government needs money in order to balance budgets.

“We have to really talk about how you finance this without jeopardizing — whether it’s $5 million, $7 million or $8 million of — future growth….It’s a good concept. They’re well-intentioned….but that would really burden the next mayor. You wouldn’t want to do that.”


Don't hold your breath for Daley to support this plan.

The governor isn't out whipping votes for the Rickettseses either:
 
“We have top priorities in Illinois right now that must be dealt with,” Quinn said, adding that the Ricketts family’s proposal “would not be a top priority for me.”
 
He's not a little miffed that Michael Madigan, John Cullerton, and all 27,000 Cubs' season ticket holders knew about the plan before he did, is he?
 
“Apparently, they don’t think I’m as important as some others,” Quinn said. “I am important in this matter because I’m goalie for the people of Illinois to make sure they get their top priorities addressed.”
 
The governor added: “These are private owners of a baseball team. They spent almost $1 billion buying it. They knew what they were buying. To be coming to the people of Illinois for assistance now after an election isn’t a top priority… If they wanted this to happen, they should have talked about it before the election — not after.”
 
Oh, snap!  But the Ricketts will not be easily deterred.  They will continue to try to convince their representatives that the government would be wise to invest the money in the Cubs:
 
[Spokesman, Dennis] Culloton said team officials "respect our elected officials and will continue meeting with them and their staffs" to explain how the team's proposal "will create $200 million in additional private-sector investment, create 1,000 construction jobs" and hundreds of permanent jobs.
 
They are going to stick with it because if they learned anything from their father, it's that government spending is their friend.  Or something.  They weren't really listening to dad ramble on, but luckily there is a video of Dad Ricketts on YouTube:
 
 


So Papa Joe isn't on board either.  You have to start wondering whether anyone except the Ricketts siblings and possibly a solitary bleacher season ticket holder is still in favor of the plan anymore.

Wrigley Gets a Makeover (Without Using Government Funds)

Wrigley Field is getting all gussied up in preparation for the football game between Northwestern and Illinois this Saturday, and people aren't too happy about it.

First, let's take a look at the preparations, courtesy of @CubsInsider's twitpics:


Before: Red Marquee

God forbid anything happen that doesn't put a member of the Ricketts family front and center.

After: Purple Marquee!

Wayne, over at The Wrigley Blog, probably sums up the disapproving folks' attitudes best:

Not only are they temporarily defacing the landmark, they are also making sure they do it loudly; promoting and sponsoring it, complete with MasterCard billboards and Valspar paint cans. Because, you see - Wrigley Field isn't just a dandy place to watch a game, she is also a money making machine.


Exactly.  Which is why I am very much behind this little endeavor.  I am in favor of anything that adds money to the Cubs' pockets that doesn't come from me (whether directly or through the State of Illinois).  I am especially behind anything like what the Cubs are doing here, which is completely temporary.  This isn't adding luxury boxes or a jumbotron, it is all going to go away after this weekend and if the Cubs get some extra cash from Valspar and MasterCard in the process?  Fan-freakin'-tastic.

Besides, the exterior of Wrigley is nothing special anyway.  It's bland and ugly.  It is covered in crappy chain link fence where wrought-iron and open air used to be:
 

I think a few blown up photos of football players and helmets actually makes the exterior look better.
 
See?  I don't hate everything the Ricketts do.

------------
UPDATE
------------

Podcast buddy, Adam, has put his own unique spin on Wrigley's new look over on his site.  I guarantee you won't feel the purple marquee is nearly as offensive after checking it out.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Master of the House

Tom really needs to learn when to just shut the hell up.  With the state of the economy the way it is, any explanation that Tom throws out there in justification of his asking the state for up to $300 million is never going to play.  It just isn't and if he and his siblings had ever lived with worries about being able to pay bills and be able to put food on the table at the same time, they would know that.

So far, Tom has not come off looking great.  He's kind of reminded me of this guy:



But, in an effort to help improve his public image, Tom went on WGN radio yesterday to clear up a few things:

"The dollars are only coming from people who buy Cubs tickets, and only the increase over what they pay today."


Cubs fans (AKA: Fools)

Yes, the money comes from the money that is already being paid into the budget by the Cubs, but Tom leaves out the next question: Where does the money come from to replace that money in the budget? 

If I've been paying for a friend's lunch every day for years and I suddenly decide to use that money to spiff up my wardrobe, it isn't directly costing anybody anything.  But now my friend doesn't get lunch and he has two options: he can go hungry or he has to find someone else to buy his lunch.

Whatever money the Ricketts decide to keep out of the state budget will have to be replaced from somewhere or something is going to get unpaid.  Either Tom doesn't understand that (which I doubt), or he thinks we are too stupid to realize that (which is entirely more likely).

"It's easy to get upset about headlines or editorials, but you just got to dig a little deeper and understand what's really going on here. I think as people understand what the real facts are, they'll come to the conclusion that this is a good thing for everybody."

Yeah, we're probably overreacting to a state that is $15 billion in debt, state employees are going to get laid off, and people who contract with the state just plain won't get paid.  Unless Tom has some hidden "real facts" somewhere that we don't know about, there is nobody with a shred of ethics or morality that can suggest the Cubs ability to keep an aging stadium is a priority for the state.
 
I understand the Ricketts are in trouble.  They were suckered by Zell into paying more than this team should have been valued.  I'm sure their worst case scenario financial models came nowhere close to the shitstorm they now face.  At the time they were negotiating, no one thought both the team and the economy would crumble as quickly and as vastly as they did.  But exactly how is that the State of Illinois' problem?
 
The Cubs aren't going anywhere.  Even if the Ricketts have to cut their losses and bail, whoever the next owner will be won't be moving the team.  If the team ever wins a World Series and becomes a viable team on its own merits, then there is a risk that they will move.  But the Al Yellons of the world aren't going to follow this loser team to a ballpark that isn't Wrigley.
 
So, Tom, you should probably break out those secret "real facts" you have hidden behind your back because the ones we are aware of make you look like a giant douche who could give a shit about the people who live in this state.
 
"The increases (in the amusement tax) won't exist unless we fix up the park."
 
You won't be able to raise ticket prices until you fix the park?  HOW ABOUT FIXING THE MOTHERFUCKING TEAM!  You say you have $200 million to put towards this project?  PUT IT TOWARDS THE FUCKING TEAM! 
 
Instead of crying about not having payroll flexibility to do what you would like to do, just do it.  You obviously have the money if you really wanted to do that.  But instead, you preach patience to the fanbase that continues to support you in mind-boggling numbers so that you can speed up the timetable in which you will take even more money from the same fans... WITHOUT WINNING A GOD DAMN THING!
 
If Tom dedicated the kind of resources to making the Cubs a winner that he does to fixing the bathrooms, the fans would find the money and gladly give it to the Ricketts.  It wouldn't even be a question in most fans' minds.  But Tom wants all of the money without any of the effort or risk.  And then gets indignant when people call him on it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

If Illinois Gives the Cubs $200 Million, I'm Moving

Tom Ricketts wants $200 million from the State of Illinois to help pay for the spackle and urinal troughs at Wrigley Field.  This would be like if I asked one of the homeless people begging at the exit ramps of the Kennedy Expressway for a few thousand bucks to help pay for my Cubs tickets.

I guess Tom has no choice but to see if his elected officials can actually fuck the state budget's corpse a little more since there is no evidence to suggest that they won't.  I can't really blame him for trying to get the money that he could very well receive.  If he doesn't ask, the Cubs would have to pay the whole $400 million in renovations themselves.  If you had a stupid drunken rich uncle who is always pissing his money away on bad investments, wouldn't you ask him for money when you need it?

Perhaps I'm overstating things for the sake of humor.  Can it really be that bad?  Let's ask Dan Hynes, the State Comptroller who has never uttered a single humorous thing over the course of his entire life as far as I can tell.  According to his website on October 10th:

Illinois had $5.1 billion in unpaid bills at the end of December. Add to that $2.25 billion in short-term loans the state must repay soon, and another $1.4 billion in unpaid health care bills that have not yet been sent to the Comptroller's Office, and the state's effective bill backlog climbs to more than $8.75 billion.

That doesn't sound too good, but deficit spending is the way things work, right?  Aren't all those billions in debt just business as usual for a government that is in total control of it's cash flow?

"This ongoing fiscal disaster is threatening to permanently harm programs and services serving children, seniors and the disabled and if that is allowed to happen, this state will have failed our most vulnerable citizens," Hynes said.

Oh.  Well maybe we've hit rock bottom and things are getting better?

Suppliers of goods and services to the state, including health care providers and other critical social services are waiting 92 business days to be reimbursed – or more than 4 ½ months. That delay is almost double the 48 business-day delay at this time last year.

So... it's getting worse.

But talking about "critical social services" sounds so abstract.  Who is really being hurt by the state not being able to pay its bills? 

As a speech pathologist specializing in Early Intervention, Kris works with hundreds of little kids under three years old who require help to eat, walk, use their hands, speak, or learn problem-solving skills.  This includes kids who function high on the autism spectrum like kids with Asperger's Disorder.  It also involves the kids who have chromosomal abnormalities like Down's Syndrome or DiGeorge Syndrome like Ryan Dempster's little girl. 


She helps these little kids who have been dealt a bad hand at birth by contracting with the State of Illinois through their Early Intervention program that provides funding for evaluation and therapy.  The problem is, the State doesn't pay her very often.  Those estimates by Dan Hynes I quoted were pretty much dead on with how far the State gets behind with Kris' billing.

And it isn't just Kris.  All of her colleagues are experiencing the same thing.  Those who work for themselves better hope they had money set aside to meet their monthly bills, because you never really know when Illinois will cut them a check.  Those who run small businesses of therapists often have to resort to taking out loans to make payroll.  Many are nearing or at the end of their lines of credit since the state has been pulling this crap for at least two years now.

People just can't afford to stay in a profession where one might not get paid for the work one does.  That is a looming tragedy for thousands of children in Illinois who may soon face a shortage of trained therapists to provide the services that they don't get paid for.  And it will eventually hit us all in the pocketbooks.

Kids need these services before they are three years old.  Kris, who is incidentally way smarter than me, said that children have what is called neural plasticity. She further explained to me in small words and a few drawings that neural plasticity is the ability of the brain to make new neural connections. Essentially, if the brain has bad connections, before the age of three it is much easier to redirect the connections and correct the issue. After the age of three, the neural connections slow significantly, making correction of issues much more difficult and costly.

Yes, State of Illinois, I said it would be more costly.  How much more costly?  Well, lets ask Louis Rosetti, who developed the essential tool used to assess kids' language skills that is named after him and knows a thing or two about treating children who are delayed:

Louis Rossetti reports that cost analyses of early intervention programs in terms of both program costs and savings in the long-term indicate that one dollar spent on an early intervention program can save anywhere from three to seven dollars. He provides an excellent summary of this data:



At the least, measurable savings can be realized if parents are better able to meet the needs of their child at home, thus avoiding the need for institutional or more involved care. There are considerable savings in educational costs, as early intervention increases the likelihood of regular education placement. A saving is also realized for children who need long-term special education services if intervention begins early. In addition, parents of children with special needs are enabled to become more self-sufficient.

I don't know what the hell he is talking about either, but I do understand that it could cost anywhere from three to seven times more in the future to ignore little kids therapeutic needs before the age of three.

Maybe Tom Ricketts or any of the politicians that will almost assuredly give Tom the $200 million he's asking for would like to explain how better concessions at a baseball game are more important than kids with developmental delays.  Maybe they can guarantee that anywhere from $600 million to $1.4 billion will be added back into the state's treasury as a result of wider aisles and a Hall of Fame of Epic Failure at Wrigley.


I'm obviously particularly close to this situation, but when someone talks about "critical social services," this is the sort of stuff they are talking about.  The painful reality is that the people who get hurt most by things like this don't contribute millions to the campaigns of the people who make the decisions, nor are children able to vote, so they get screwed over and over again.

And it pisses me off.  I only hear about a small percentage of the kids that Kris sees, but when she talks about her day, it is usually heart-breaking to hear about all the children who did nothing wrong who struggle just to get through each day and realizing that the State of Illinois obviously could give a shit, because if they did, they would pay the people who are trying to help.

Giving the Cubs the money they want while the state is in this kind of financial crisis is just plain wrong.

----------------
UPDATE
----------------

Lots of people don't like the plan and/or think the plan has no chance in hell of passing:
Few people are gung-ho about it, but some believe the plan has some merits:
Finally, Tom went on the Score with Mully and Hanley to further rationalize his plan:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Those Cubs Convention Passes Aren't Going to Sell Themselves

The Cubs are having a surprising amount of difficulty selling passes to the Cubs Convention this year, which might not sound all that shocking, but it is.

Cubs fans love the Cubs Convention.  They love it more than Ryan Dempster loves doing his Harry Caray impression.  The Cubs Convention passes rarely last longer than a day, and in some years they have been known to sell out in less than half an hour after going on sale.

By comparison, hotcakes take forever to sell.  My point is, they usually sell pretty damn fast.

So it is practically unheard of that convention passes would still be available 10 days after they went on sale, but here we are 10 days after they went on sale and, what do you know? Convention passes are still available.  So I had a couple of minutes in the shower this morning and decided I would help the Cubs strategize on how to unload the remaining passes and came up with a few plans.


The Jim Hendry Plan

They can try closing their eyes and hoping that the current passes will perform as well as they have in the past even though we know deep down that they won't.

The Undercover Boss Plan

Just have Todd Ricketts buy the remaining passes and throw them in a garbage can.  If it works for hot dogs that no human should have to consume, it can work for passes allowing you access to an autograph from Tim Stoddard.

The Piss Off Yellon Plan

They could sell the remaining passes for $10 each as another tribute to Ron Santo, thereby pissing off Al to no end, because you know he already bought his for $60 in the first five minutes they were on sale.  He's already in the virtual waiting room for the 2012 convention passes.

The Dunking Plan

The Cubs can put Crane Kenney in a dunking booth and charge fans to try to knock him into the tank.  This would theoretically raise demand, and they could further incentivize purchases by doing a Buy One, Get One Dunk Tank Attempt Free promotion.  Ideally, the tank would be filled with sharks, electric eels, or ill-tempered mutated sea bass with laser beams attached to their heads.


You're welcome, Wally.

Ted Lilly's House Selling As Well as Koyie Hill Hits

Ted Lilly parlayed his time with the Cubs into a new $33 million deal plus a $3.5 million signing bonus with the Dodgers, so even though he isn't immune to the crappy selling conditions of the current housing market, he has a nice little cushion to get him by.

According to Bob Goldsborough (h/t Rice Cube), Ted has dropped the price of his Wrigleyville house to $2.1 million, which at this point is slightly less than the $2.15 million he paid for it in 2007.  Of course, the listing price is rarely what the owner will eventually get, so he's going to lose a few hundred thousand on the transaction at best.

Even when being a Cub is good for your career, it comes with a price.

The house looks pretty nice from the outside and it has plenty of amenities:

Built in 2006, Lilly’s brick and limestone house sits on a corner lot and has six bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths, a wine cellar, a wide limestone center entrance, a large gourmet kitchen, two roof decks, an attached 2.5-car heated garage and a private rear yard.

So if you know anybody with an extra $2 million or so lying around who is in the market for a house near Wrigley Field, Ted is ready to make a deal.  Just don't lowball him.  You don't want to make Ted angry.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Good Thing Todd is Actual Family and Not Figurative Family

Last night, Undercover Boss provided some obvious comedy of watching Todd Ricketts suck at everything he attempted and then wrapped it all up by trying to induce tears.  It was typical reality television.  We all laugh at someone's misfortune or being in over their head and then we get some touching, well-edited moments that make us think.  At least, that is usually the goal.  Personally, I think Undercover Boss failed at the heart-warming moments as much as Todd failed at being competent in the slightest.

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
You get my point.  Did he not think they would eventually see the footage of him failing at everything?

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.


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:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bye, Ryne


Ryne Sandberg has left the Cubs' organization and there have been some huge disparities in people's reactions. Actually, it seems that a lot of people are mad about it, but for different reasons. For simplicity, I've boiled them down to three general reactions that all end by changing to anger:

Reaction 1 - Disbelief:

I can't believe the Cubs have dissed Ryne Sandberg in favor of Mike Quade.  As a Hall of Famer he deserves better.  Hendry can go die.

These people are mad because it is assumed that the Cubs led Sandberg on in sending him to the minors and made some sort of de facto promise that he would be next in line when Lou left.  That's a pretty big assumption considering we don't know what was said at any given time between the parties.

If that is how it happened, then, yes, Sandberg got screwed, but I doubt anybody actually promised Sandberg anything.  He was told he didn't have enough experience and they offered him positions within the organization to gain some experience.  Given that nobody was banging down Sandberg's door at the time to have him manage in their systems, the Cubs weren't under any obligation to do that for him, but they did.  Any assumptions that Sandberg, the fans, or the press made based on that are just that without having access to the conversations that Hendry and any other members of the Cubs had with Sandberg.

But even if Hendry came right out and said, "you'll be the front-runner for the managing position when Lou leaves if you show us some success in the minor leagues," that was four years ago.  Stuff changes in four years.  I once got a job where my boss in Tennessee told me he was building up an office in Chicago, so I went about the business of working on his accounts and setting us up to get additional accounts to grow the office.  Then my boss resigned less than a year later and took his accounts with him to his own company in Tennessee.  Suddenly, I had no clients and thus no job at that company in Chicago.  I don't think my boss had intentions of lying to me when he hired me, but circumstances changed and I got the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

Maybe Hendry had every intention of hiring Ryne.  Maybe Quade threw a monkey wrench into the whole thing by doing so well with the team while it was in freefall and Hendry suddenly had a viable candidate that he liked better.  That isn't Ryne's fault, but things changed.  That's life and it isn't always fair.

Reaction 2 - Pity:

Poor Ryne, I hope he gets a great job with another team and he shows the Cubs what a HUGE FUCKING MISTAKE THEY MADE!!

The people who pity Ryne seem to think he would be a better manager than Mike Quade.  Again, we have no idea how good a manager he is.  He had some success, but so did Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella (at the major league level) before coming to the Cubs and everyone was ready to tar and feather both of them by the end.  Sandberg was PCL Manager of the year in 2010.  Quade was in 2008.

Sandberg was a better player than Quade ever hoped to be, but I don't ever remember people talking about Ryne Sandberg as a player who would someday make a great manager.  People used to talk about Joe Girardi's knowledge of the game or Greg Maddux being a great student of the game.  Sandberg was a hard worker and a leader by example.  Ryan Theriot is reportedly a hard worker and I definitely don't want Theriot managing any team of mine.  Derrek Lee led by example, but is he ever mentioned as a future manager?  I just don't know why it is suddenly so offensive that Sandberg simply wasn't qualified (or more qualified than Quade) for the managerial position.

Don Mattingly isn't managing the Yankees.  He had to go to the Dodgers to get a managing gig.  Kirk Gibson is in Arizona instead of Los Angeles or Detroit.  Cecil Cooper had to go to Houston to get a managing gig instead of getting a spot with the Brewers.  The last player of note that I've seen get a job with the team he is associated with as a player is Ozzie Guillen with the White Sox in 2004.

The last time a Hall of Fame player got a job as a manager was when Tony Perez had a 44 game stint with the Reds in 1993.  He didn't manage again until 2001 (and that was with the Marlins).  Larry Doby was a Hall of Fame player who got a gig with the White Sox in 1978, but he was better known as a Cleveland Indian, and he lasted 87 games.  There isn't much historical success by Hall of Fame players in a managerial capacity.

Major League baseball teams just don't even seem to hire their renowned players (and especially their Hall of Fame players) for managing jobs, so I don't know why the Cubs would suddenly owe Sandberg that chance when so few other teams give their former stars the big office.  They usually get jobs as team ambassadors or Vice Presidents of Showing Up to Events and Waving to Fans.  They don't fill out lineup cards every day and determine how to use the bullpen.

Further evidence that other teams outside of the Cubs share the opinion that Sandberg may not be ready can be found in his lack of interviews for any of the other managing jobs with other teams.  I haven't even seen his name mentioned as a bench coach anywhere else except from Ozzie Guillen and you can't take anything he says at 100% face value, especially when irritating the Cubs and their fans is involved.

None of this means that Sandberg couldn't be a great manager.  He very well could be, but there is nothing in his make-up as a player nor his experience that makes that as much of a slam dunk as a lot of people seem to think.  If the Cubs had made such a gigantic mistake, Sandberg wold have been snatched up by someone else by now, or at least given an interview.

Reaction 3 - Offended:

So Ryne didn't get the job and he just quits?  Again?  I'm GLAD he didn't get the job.  Good luck finding a another job now, asshole.

I've seen unverified reports that he was offered the bench coach position and turned it down.  The Cubs indicated that he could have returned to Iowa to keep building his resume and he declined.  I don't know if any of that is true, but even if it is, should it matter to us that Sandberg turned those jobs down?

I understand his being disappointed in not getting the managing job, but I don't understand why he would take his ball and go home at the first obstacle that has come his way in achieving his new goal of managing in the majors.  That can't look good to other teams looking at filling their major league coaching staffs, plus he isn't going to get any more qualified sitting at home and stewing about how the Cubs screwed him.  But that doesn't make any difference to my life.

Maybe there have been conversations with other clubs that haven't been made public.  I hope so for his sake, because just walking away isn't going to do him any good, but I'm not going to hold a grudge against him because he decided, rightly or wrongly, that this was his best next move.

Good luck, Ryne.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Aramis Ramirez Decides Not to Play For Way Less Money

In a move that is less shocking than the news that ice is cold, Aramis Ramirez has decided to play with the Cubs in 2011.

According to Bruce Levine:

Ramirez, who will be playing in the final year of a five-year, $75 million contract, had to inform the Cubs within five days of the end of the World Series whether he would become a free agent.

 If Ramirez, 32, would have accepted the option to become a free agent, it would have voided his $14.6 million contract for 2011.

There is almost no way that Ramirez would have ended up coming out ahead if he had declined the option and become a free-agent. His first half of 2010 made Koyie Hill look like a batting champion. I can think of only one general manager who may have given Ramirez a lucrative payday as a free-agent and that one already works for the Cubs, so he was smart to not test the market.
The Cubs also have a $15 million dollar option on 2012 or a $2 million buyout if they choose to decline the option.

Also, his 2012 contract can become guaranteed under a few conditions. According to Bruce Miles:
  • He wins one MVP in 2007-11 (still possible)
  • He places 2nd or 3rd in MVP vote twice in 2007-11 (not possible - he has never finished in top 3 in voting)
  • He wins LCS MVP once in 2007-11 (still possible)
  • He is an All Star 3 times in 2007-11 (not possible - he was an All-Star only in 2008 in that range)
  • He gets traded after exercising 2011 option (still possible)
So the Cubs are pretty much on the hook to him for $16.6 million, but if they trade him, the team that gets him would get a contract worth $29.6 million over the next two years.  The Cubs would have to probably pay more than the $16.6 million to get rid of him via trade, especially if they wanted anything in return for him, so they won't.

So we can all look forward to some nice "Aramis Ramirez is a lazy, washed-up jerk" musings from the media and fans if he doesn't play well, and "Aramis Ramirez is only playing for a new contract because he's so lazy and selfish" narratives if he does well.

Glad you're back, Ramirez!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Top Ten Potential New Names For This Blog

Given that I have renounced my possession of a season ticket package in Aisle 424, and because the ticket package I would share with others is technically in Aisle 423, the current title isn't necessarily the most logical.  So I've been thinking about it and I've come up with some alternatives:

Top Ten Potential New Names For This Blog

10. Tales from Adjacent to Aisle 424
9. Bitching About the Cubs
8. Tim, Your Blog Smells Terrific!
7. Fire Jim Hendry
6. Cubs Blog Picnic Without Cole Slaw
5. Jefferson Starship
4. I Can Haz Cubz Blogg?
3. Tales from My Mother's Basement
2. Lindsay Lohan Naked
1. Tales from Aisle 424 Even Though I Don't Sit There Anymore, But Who Cares Because Nobody Reads This Shit Anyway: A Cubs Blog

Catchy, right?

Cubs React to My Not Renewing

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:

Hi Kevin(s),

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.

Best regards,
Tim

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cubs Season Ticket Wait List Just Decreased By One

Dear Cubs,

Over the past 13 seasons, I have seen about 600 games at Wrigley from Aisle 424.  Some of them have been great, like the tie-breaker against the Giants in 1998 or when the Cubs came back from a 6-2 deficit with 2 outs and nobody on in the ninth against Milwaukee in 2008.  Many were ice cold slaps in the face like the game against Houston shortly after the 1998 trade deadline when Randy Johnson started for the Astros against either Don Wengert or someone who is even more unmemorable than him.  A few were gut-wrenching torture that we don't need to rehash again here since we all talk about those games too much anyway.

So you would think that I would be able to muster more emotion in saying good-bye to the package I have held since the day before Harry Caray collapsed while dancing with Dutchie on Valentine's Day in 1998.

But I'm strangely at peace with the decision.

Maybe it is because the Cubs had a horrible season, have no plans to realistically make it any better, and still managed to raise my ticket package cost from last year.

Maybe it is the new owner's prioritizing revenue streams and amenities over making any change to how the Cubs' baseball operations actually go about their business.

Maybe I've just gotten to the point where spending over 50 days at the ballpark per season is not the best allocation of my time, especially considering there is nothing special to watch at Wrigley these days.

Maybe I am tired of all the Trixies and Chads that have taken over the neighborhood and ballpark.

Maybe I have grown weary of the crap customer service and surly demeanor of stadium personnel.

Maybe my brain has finally won the battle with my heart when thinking about the Cubs and potential post-season glory.

Maybe it is a combination of all of the above.

So today I say goodbye to my status as a Cubs season ticket holder.  Aside from what to do about the name of this blog, it really hasn't been as hard a decision as I thought it would be.