Friday, February 25, 2011

Let's Have a Cubs Attendance Guessing Game

It seems that ticket sales today for the Cubs have not been as brisk as the Cubs would like.  This isn't to say that Wally Hayward or whoever it is that took over for Frank Maloney in the ticket office won't soon make a statement about how the ticket sales were indeed very strong (but some good seats remain if your hurry NOW!).  We'll never really know until after the fact, and even then we can only make logical guesses and extrapolations as to how they actually are doing in the individual ticket sales department.

We don't really know how many tickets are controlled by season ticket holders, so we have no idea what the absolute floor for an announced attendance would be.  Since the major leagues only announce tickets sold, there could theoretically be a game that is witnessed live by only Al Yellon up in the left field bleachers and Ronnie Woo doing his thing about five feet away from Al and the Cubs would still announce the attendance at somewhere between 25,000 to 27,000 (probably) just because of all the season ticket sales.

So, since Ron Santo used to really entertain us with his attendance guesses, I'd like to pay homage to Ronny on what would have been his 71st birthday with a twist on the Attendance Guessing game and have a little contest.

Let's guess the lowest attendance figure of the season for the Cubs at Wrigley Field.  You might think the team is really good, so those September games will be selling all summer long as people try to guess when a clinching game might occur.  You might think that the Cubs will be lucky to not lose 100 games and that nobody will want to use Cubs tickets to wipe themselves by the time August rolls around.  Whatever you think about the team and the season, send me your guess for what would be the lowest attendance figure announced.

It isn't the Price is Right so as long as you are the closest, whether over or under, you win.  If there is a tie, I'll use whoever is closest to guessing Wrigley's total attendance figure for the year as the tie breaker.

So send me your guess for Wrigley low game attendance of the year and your guess of total 2011 attendance at Wrigley to enter.  You don't have to predict the date of the low attendance, just have the closest guess at the lowest announced figure.

It is really easy to enter.  I won't make you enter five other contests you don't care about in order to enter this one or anything.  There are no wristbands or virtual waiting rooms.

You can enter a couple of ways:
I'll stop taking new entries the day before Opening Day, so you have until midnight on Thursday, March 31st, to get me your guesses.

The winner will receive a Collector's Edition Cubs Monopoly Game!

Buy up property and make your friends and family pay to land there so you can get fake rich and pretend you can buy the actual Cubs!  People are buying this in the stores for something like $30 and you can get it for free.  How cool would that be?

Enter now!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Someone From the Cubs Reads My Blog! (and Points Out I'm Full of Crap)

You know you've hit the big time when an official from the Cubs contacts you to debate the validity of the statistics you use in a blog post.  So yesterday was a banner day for me.  I can only assume that they were even aware of my post about season tickets is because my mother has been secretly working for the Cubs all this time I've been living in her basement.

I received an e-mail from a friend of Aisle 424 in the media department, indicating that I was incorrect in some of my assertions about how many season tickets have been turned back into the pool this off-season:

"Several stories online are speculating the Cubs have lost 10 percent of its season ticket holders, however this is not the case. While the final renewal number has not been determined yet, at minimum we know this percentage is already in the 90s (which is the safe number Wally Hayward provided in his talks in Arizona ). As in years past, it looks like the renewal rate will be on the higher end of that scale as renewals have been coming in at a pace just slightly ahead of last season. We will have the largest number of full season ticket holders in team history thanks to a strong renewal rate and new accounts added."

Of course, I can't just let the Cubs make a statement like that without some sort of follow-up question.  I have a reputation with my reader as a pseudo-journalist to uphold, so I immediately pressed him to provide an answer that the Cubs have been ducking consistently: So who owns the Cubs?

Actually, I was confused as to how renewal rates could be "ahead of last season" when the deadline to tell the Cubs you are returning was in November and the deadline for making final payment is usually in the middle of January.  In case it slipped by anyone, it's almost March and the Cubs like to send out letters with a not-so-veiled message that you would be scum if you delayed in handing over your money and that they would, frankly, prefer to give your tickets to the nice people on the waiting list if you don't hand over the money right now.

So how can there still be renewals going on?

There are some accounts that we negotiate with our corporate partners that haven’t been finalized. This isn’t cause for concern, it’s just a matter of us working with our partners. Additionally, we haven’t processed all of the accounts internally with accounting yet, which explains the lack of a hard renewal number.

So there you have it.  The difference between this year and last year is that they are just hashing out some final details with the corporate clients and some accounting paperwork is still ongoing.  Sounds reasonable.  But even through a clarification, there is still spin going on here.

For instance, when he says they have the "largest number of full season ticket holders in team history,"  I have no reason at all to believe that isn't true.  In fact, I would bet my life that it is true.  But it doesn't mean what the Cubs want you to think it means.

They want you to read that and think, "Wow! It sure looks like Cubs tickets are more popular now as they have ever been!  I better get out my wallet and get some single game tickets while I still can!"  What it actually means is that when partial plan accounts like me or the Commenter Known as Seat 106 give up their tickets, the Cubs sell those plans to someone else as a full plan because they don't offer the Nights & Weekends package anymore.

So lets say there are 1,000 accounts. Let's also say that 800 are full plans and 200 of them are grandfathered into the Nights & Weekends plan.  When ten of the partial plan people give up and quit, there will still be 1,000 accounts, but 810 of them will be full plans.  A new record!  Pay no attention to the fact that there are no other options besides buying a full plan!  Your shoe is untied!

It also could be that they may be having trouble selling tickets in blocks of four and now sell the same seats to two people buying two at a time.  That would add the number of accounts without really being a positive reflection on how popular Cubs tickets are.  Again, suppose the 1,000 plans and 10 people with blockes of four give up their seats.  Then suppose they can't find people to buy all four tickets, so they sell them as pairs.  So now they have 20 new accounts for a total of 1,010.  A new record! What's that behind you?!

But what is most important here is not whether the Cubs season ticket holders will renew at a 90% rate versus 91% or 92%.  We can haggle over percentage points all day, but it remains extremely difficult to take anything the Cubs say as transparent or even fully truthful.

Afterall, the Cubs don't release their season ticket numbers.  They can claim just about anything they want about how the renewals are going, how many accounts they have, and what percentage of the park they sell to season ticket holders because nobody has any data to hold them to.  They could claim just about anything and nobody would really be sure what was true.

Plus, it's not like we haven't had past instances where the Cubs seem to have a casual relationship with the truth in a number of areas.

They have never seemed very honest about the severity of some injuries to high-profile players when there were tickets to sell at the beginning of the year.  Let's just say that if Adam Wainwright pitched for the Cubs, I would bet everything I own that we wouldn't already know that he was out for the season about 24 hours after he got hurt.  There would have been strength-building excercises, delayed starts, scheduled simulated games, and shut downs of baseball activity for a week that turns into a month that turns into an appointment with a surgeon (after the single-game tickets went on sale, of course).

They have been selling tickets through the promise of an improving farm system for as long as I can remember.  I'm fairly certain that "Pravda" in English is "Vine Line."  I've been purging old junk in my efforts to move out of my apartment and have been finding old Cubs stuff.  Last night I was flipping through an old Vine Line and found myself looking forward to seeing the major league debut of Earl Cunningham.  He should be coming up soon, right?

Now they push the boundaries of truthiness with their claims about tickets.  There was Wally Hayward going on to anyone who would listen about how you should run out and commit to going to thirteen games to make sure you can see the Yankees play at Wrigley.  If not, we would probably be kicking ourselves for missing out on such a momentous occasion that hasn't happened since 2003.  Not since the days when guys like Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano faced Yankee legends Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter has such an event occurred.

Ok, maybe you only need to buy six games to guarantee Yankee game seats.  But you shouldn't wait any longer because you will miss out!  Unless you wanted to buy them yesterday at their pre-sale, then there were some tickets to those games available.  Pretty good ones too, from what I saw.

So I may have misinterpreted the 90+% renewal statement and made some extrapolations that were incorrect. Hell, as far as I know for sure, only me, Seat 106 and a couple other people I know have declined to renew this year. My mistake.  Cubs ticket sales are awesome.  Couldn't be better.  If season ticket sales were a pitcher, they would be Matt Garza.  He's an ace.  I know this because the Cubs told me he is.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Someone Graphically Told Dusty He's Number Two

It turns out that there are worse things than getting racially charged threats in the mail as manager of the Chicago Cubs.  Someone could take a dump in the space you work everyday.

That is what Dusty Baker is claiming happened sometime at the end of his tenure in 2006.  Via Jon Paul Morosi:

“At the very end, somebody took a dump right where I stood in the dugout every day,” Baker said Monday morning. “That was the low point. The grounds crew guy cleaned it up. He said, ‘Oh, I think it’s dog crap.’ I said, ‘No it ain’t. That’s human crap.’”

This is a new low for an organization that doesn't have a lot of room to get lower.

It is hard to figure who the Phantom Crapper is since Dusty isn't saying who he thinks it was (not that he would know for sure) or even whether it might be a player or other employee of the Cubs.

I looked at the roster of the 2006 team to see if any suspects jumped out at me.  Only one guy made me think, "Yeah, I could totally see him taking a big dump in the dugout just to show the manager what he thinks of him". . . Phil Nevin.

I'm not saying it was Phil Nevin or even that it was any player, but if it WAS a player, then I would put all of my money on Phil Nevin.  That guy was a dick and probably stupid enough to think that dropping a deuce in the dugout was funny.

Or maybe it was Todd Packer.

But what is more interesting is the fact that we are just hearing about this incident now, and it isn't from the Cubs.

Dusty was on the way out, so someone taking a shit in his spot in the dugout wasn't something they wanted to get around, because it might have made him a sympathetic figure in the disgrace that was the 2006 season.  So we never heard a word about it.

On the flipside, the Cubs couldn't wait to tell us fast enough when Carlos Zambrano ate dinner, or Milton Bradley was a psychopath, or when Sammy Sosa left a game early at the end of the season.  They have no problems airing the dirty laundry of the team when it suits their needs to vilify an employee they don't really want anymore.

So we know the Cubs CAN keep a secret when it suits their needs. 

I'm always so proud to be a Cubs fan.


Kevin Kaduk of Yahoo! Sports has the Cubs' side of the story:

Cubs spokesman Peter Chase tells us that GM Jim Hendry has "no recollection" of such an incident happening or Baker mentioning it.

"Didn't see it. Never happened. Nyeah."

Short of finding the crew member that supposedly cleaned up the mess, this will be a game of He Said, She Said with everybody taking a side.  It's a Way of Life.

Monday, February 21, 2011

About 10% of Cubs Season Ticket Holders Had Enough Last Year

I've been pretty pessimistic about the Cubs since it became apparent that the Rickettseses weren't going to instill any major changes from the Tribune's methods in running things.  My willingness to renew my season tickets grew weaker and weaker with every passing day of last season, and they nailed the coffin shut when Tommy sent out his 8-million word letter explaining how we need to be patient and keep paying championship prices for a craptastic team.

Since then, the Cubs have periodically stated that season ticket renewals have been going swimmingly and that they are very pleased with the renewal rate.  The implication was that season tickets were still a hot item and thus single-game tickets would likewise sell extremely fast, so we better run out and buy packs of 13 or 6 ticket bundles to guarantee seeing at least one game that might have some interest.  Of course, the Cubs being the Cubs, they were always nebulous about exactly what rate the season tickets were renewing so we were left to speculate and guess.

Today, Patrick Mooney of got Wally Heyward to at least commit to a percentage range:

#Cubs marketing chief Wally Hayward says season-ticket renewal rate is above 90 percent.

Let me get out my Cubs B.S. Decoder Ring to translate that:


A crummy commercial? Son of a bitch.

Actually, what it means is that somewhere between 2,500 and 2,700 seats went back to the Cubs and became available for the people who have been hanging around patiently on the waiting list.  Last year, the non-renewal rate was something like 2%.  This year, it is closer to 10%.  That is a lot for the Cubs and they can't be very happy about it.

I mean, it is still ridiculously high for a team that is no better now than it was last year and hasn't won anything since before World War I was fought, so they have that to be happy about.  Plus, the cushion of 118,000 people on the wait list to fill up those vacated seats means that they won't lose any revenue on season tickets this year.  But trend arrows pointing down isn't something for which they will be popping champagne corks.

And those trends are now clearly pointing down for the Cubs.  The honeymoon is over and patience is finally starting to show signs of maybe, possibly wearing thin with the fan base that Tom believed (and then convinced his Dad) would buy tickets win or lose.  Good luck turning around those kinds of trends with this team, Tom.

I'm sure Matt Garza will fix everything.


My anonymous friend in the comments reports that he has seen evidence that someone with a wait list number in the 10,000 range was called to purchase season tickets this winter.  That means the Cubs are getting about a 75% decline rate from the folks who have been waiting the longest to get tickets.  That's pretty bad.  Anyone else know of a higher number that got "The Call?"

Again, the Cubs have their buffer, so even though it took a decent hit, I don't expect the Cubs to change their strategy of telling fans to be patient as they pay the highest ticket price in baseball.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ricketts Speaks Positively About Cubs But Doesn't Actually Say Much Positive

Tom Ricketts spoke to the Chicago media earlier Saturday, and as usual, what he said needs some translation for those who may not be familiar with Rickettsese.

"Really, the theme for the team this year is for the last six weeks of 2010, we were one of the best teams in baseball," Ricketts said. "And we have that team back, that manager back, and we've added to it, so I think we build on that momentum."

If he believes even a tiny bit of this statement, my hopes for a Ricketts-owned team ever even winning the division just got beaten to a pulp, lit on fire, and thrown out of an unopened thirtieth-floor window.  Because if he really believes the words coming out of his mouth, he believes the keys to success lie on some semblance of momentum from about 25% of the schedule last year to be carried forward by a rookie manager who has basically been a lifetime minor-leaguer and a merry band of underperforming misfits that are all a year older. So let's hope that this is actually just a bunch of bullshit that is intended to keep the ticket-buying fans interested enough to go out and buy some tickets soon, because they might miss out if they wait too long.

That is the best case scenario.  Otherwise, Tommy is going to give Todd a run for the Most Idiotic Ricketts Award.

"We use the next 40 days to really get ready for the season, to come into the season with a sense of purpose, and a sense of pride and get off to a quick start and have a great year."

This year, they are REALLY going to get ready for the season.  In the past, they have only sort of gotten ready for the season and didn't really have any goals or specific purpose.  Again, this sounds like an unspoken jab at Lou and how he must have just been too tired to run around swatting every player on their bottom every time they managed to catch a ball without falling down as a sign that the players were doing a good job.  Because the players are all five years old and need that kind of constant encouragement.

Or maybe Lou didn't remind the players every day that the goal is to win the World Series, and to reach the World Series, you have to win some games, and to win some games you have to be able to HIT THE FUCKING BALL OUT OF THE INFIELD WHEN A RUNNER IS AT THIRD BASE WITH LESS THAN TWO OUTS FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST, KOYIE!  Lou never mentioned that, but Quade has a purpose.

With Albert Pujols looming as a possible high-priced free-agent target, Ricketts said there would be more "financial flexibility" next offseason, but deferred to Hendry. He said he'd be "open-minded" about handing out such a mega-deal, without being specific.

This part got some people excited on Twitter.  They read that "financial flexibility" paired with being "open-minded" means that the Cubs are actually going to seriously consider signing a certain Cardinals first baseman if and when he becomes available.  This is exactly what Tom wants you think, but notice he didn't make any declarative statements. 

He can't say, "We are going to back up a truck of money to Albert Pujols' house and shovel it into his living room until he decides to become a Cub" because he can't specifically discuss a player under contract with another team.  But he could say something like, "We feel we will be in a financial position to be very agressive on the free agent market next season."  That would have indicated that they have the means AND the desire to improve their team dramatically, whether it would be signing Pujols or other free agents that could help. 

Instead, he goes with some wishy-washy crap about being open-minded.  Promising to be open-minded means nothing.  You know when you were a kid and you wanted to have a contest with your brother to see who could eat the most candy corns without throwing up and your parents said, "We'll think about it" and you knew that meant there was no chance in hell they would allow it?  Well, they might as well have said, "We'll keep an open mind about it."  It means nothing, but it is juuuuuust positive enough to get fans to buy into the idea that Pujols could become a Cub, and when Cubs fans buy into the team, they also buy tickets.

Referring to long-term contracts in general, Ricketts said "any owner would say the length of the deal is often a bigger problem than the amount of dollars, so you're going to have to be very careful if you're going to sign one of those longer deals. If you're going to take on a guy for seven, eight, nine years, you better make sure that's the guy you want."

See?  He is already edging towards no Pujols for the Cubs despite his open mind.  He's talking about how careful you have to be on a long deal like the one Pujols is going to get from someone.  Plus, what is this crap about having to make sure you really want a guy if it's a long-term deal?  Sometimes you sign guys you don't really want for three years?  That certainly explains Hendry's love of signing middle-relievers to three-year deals.

Ricketts said Hendry "did a terrific job" in acquiring Carlos Pena in a $10 million deal with $5 million deferred to January of 2012, and Kerry Wood for only a $1.5 million deal despite the probability he'd make $10 million or so with a two-year offer elsewhere.

Ricketts said those signings, plus the trade for pitcher Matt Garza, will "make us a real contender in 2011."

There really isn't much else Ricketts can say here.  He has to be positive.  He has to at least pretend that those moves that basically bring the Cubs back to where they were at the beginning of last season are good enough to contend.  What is actually more disturbing are the large numbers of Cub fans that take that statement at face value.  Folks, he is selling his team.  Nothing more.  His knowledge of how the Cubs are actually going to perform is no better (and I'd wager worse) than all of the projections coming out that peg the Cubs in the mid-70 win range and fourth in the Central division.

Ricketts said he brought Hendry and assistant general manager Randy Bush "into the loop on what the financial situation is and to make sure they understand what the budget is and why it's there." He reiterated his Year One theme that after expenses, all the incoming revenue goes to baseball operations.

"I think Jim understands that more than he would've a year ago," Ricketts said.

Ricketts has owned the team for over a year and he finally got around to having a meeting with the guys in charge of managing the budget to explain "what the budget is and why it's there?"  That seems like something that probably should have come before all the urinal trough discussions from last year, and definitely before the discussions revolving around whether they should appear on a fucking reality television show! 

Of course, the condescending tone of the last part where Ricketts talks about Jim understanding more now than last year leads me to a second scenario that involves Hendry and Randy Bush just not being terribly bright and not understanding the budget so much that Ricketts had to sit down with them AGAIN to explain it to them.  But if that is the case, you have to wonder why the hell they still have jobs if they are that incompetent.

So either Ricketts spent all of Year One frittering away his time on talking about revenue streams, bathroom renovations, statue dedications, and reality shows instead of having important financial discussions with his baseball operations staff OR his baseball operations staff are not very bright people, yet mysteriously still employed.  Neither one of these scenarios reflect all that well on your ability to lead this team to a World Series, Tom.

"We expect the best out of our baseball department every season," he said. "This season is no different than last season or next season. We're going to expect everyone to do well. I wouldn't read any more into it than that."

Well, of course you don't want anyone to read more into it.  That would jeopardize all of the false hope you are peddling.  Again, how can you expect "the best" out of your baseball department when either don't give them the information they need to do their jobs well, or you have to keep telling them how to do their jobs because they don't get it.

Also, what is your defintion of "do well?"  Beat projections?  Because a .500 season with this roster would technically be "doing well."  Is it winning the division?  Because if that is the case, Tom is laying more groundwork to set Hendry up as the scapegoat for a shitty 2011 season.  Maybe the team's record isn't the measuring stick.  Maybe if Hendry's roster created enough demand to sell out 90+% of available tickets is doing well enough to stick around.

As in most things Tom says, it is almost purposefully vague and means a whole bunch of nothing, but I'm keeping an open mind about it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Viewing Transactions Like a Drunken Gambler

The Cubs fan base (and any fan base, I would imagine) spends a good deal of time talking about the transactions a team can make and then also making judgements about the transactions that actually happen.

Right now, the potential transaction du jour to talk about is Albert Pujols in a Cubs uniform.  He's been one of the best players on the planet pretty much since he came into the league, so it's hard to deny that some team somewhere won't come up with something like $30 million per season to get him.  There are many folks on Twitter who believe the Cubs should be the team that gives it to him.
MB21 at ACB estimated Pujols' projected value assuming a standard value of Wins Above Replacement, inflation and Albert's assumed decline in production:

Using the Fans 7.5 projected WAR in 2011, $4.5 million per win, 7% annual increase, -.5 WAR per season, I get Pujols being worth $223, $250, $275, and $297 million over 7, 8, 9, and 10 seasons beginning in 2012.

So if Pujols actually becomes a free agent, the Cubs actually make a run at him, and actually sign him to something like 10 years and $280 million, there will be all sorts of reactions.

Most people who don't want to be "Negative Nellies" who ruin optimism will take a wait and see approach, as in, "We'll have to see how Pujols ages to determine whether the Cubs paid too much for him." Some will immediately cry about how the Cubs are idiots because they didn't learn from the mistake of signing Soriano to such a long, expensive deal.

Both groups are not viewing a transaction appropriately.  How can fans judge a transaction with the benefit of knowing how things actually turned out, when the person who made the move clearly did not have that same ability.  Why do we expect our general managers to have some sort of crystal ball to foresee circumstances that are completely unknowable?

On the flip side, how can we judge a deal based on an event that has absolutely no impact on the current deal?  How does the failure of one contract make any future contract more or less likely to be succesful?

Let's say you go to Vegas and are playing blackjack. Let's say you get dealt a fourteen and the dealer is showing a five. The smartest, most statistically viable option for the player is to stay on fourteen, thus guaranteeing that you don't bust when the dealer is quite likely to bust and thus making a fourteen good enough to win.  Staying is the right move.  Based on the information available at the time of the decision, any action besides declining a card is a mistake.

Ideally, the dealer will proceed to turn over their down card to show a ten or face card, and then they will draw another large card to bust.  Then everybody at the table exchanges high fives and life is good.  Unfortunately, sometimes a dealer ends up making his hand.  Sometimes the dealer pulls out a bunch of twos and threes to salvage their hand and make you a loser.  That does not make your decision to stay a wrong one.  Sometimes correct strategy fails.

If this player had made the correct decision at the time of the decision, the dealer would have drawn the 6 and gotten 21.  This lucky result doesn't make the decision any more correct than if he had lost.
When Jim Hendry made the deal for Soriano, the projected production put Soriano's value for an eight-year deal at somewhere between $172 and $212 million (thanks again to MB for doing the math).  Hendry got him for $136 million.  So at the time he made the deal, it was actually a pretty decent value, even if you figure in a discount on the per year average to get the security of an eight year contract.  But then injuries precipitated a dramatic decline in Soriano's production that couldn't have been foreseen and the result now is we all hate the contract.  But the results can't change the fact that the decision made at the time were correct.

Basically, Hendry stayed on fourteen like the guy in the photo and the dealer made his hand to make it a losing situation. 

Well, let's say you get pissed off at the blackjack dealer for pulling that 21 out of his ass when he should have busted and you wander over to the roulette table to win your money back.  You look up at the past results that are posted and notice that the last ten spins of the wheel have all landed on a red number.  Surely, you think, it can't possibly land on a red space for an eleventh time in a row!  I should put my money on black!

Now, aside from the fact that gambling is always a poor decision because you can't beat the math, this particular reasoning to make the decision is entirely wrong.  The odds of a black result on a standard American roulette table is 47.6%.  The odds of a black result on that same table after the previous ten results had all been red is 47.6%.  Nothing about the past results makes any sort of difference in how the future result will turn out.

Why would Soriano's injuries and subsequent precipitous decline have any impact on whether Pujols would similarly decline?  There is just as good a chance that Pujols beats the projections as there is that he underperforms his projections.  In fact, given that Pujols' value comes overwhelmingly from his bat, he is probably easier to project than someone like Soriano, whose value was based on his bat and speed.

I know we are fans and we are prone to our emotions.  I am no different.  Deep down, I do truly believe that the Bartman incident occurred because my buddy in Seat 106 yelled to a beer vendor one pitch prior, "Hey Steve! I'll see you at the World Series!"  I'm certain that the Harry Caray commemorative pin was the reason the Cubs went on a 15-0 run when I wore it to the ballpark in 1998.  To this day, I remain convinced that I caused the 1984 NLCS collapse by accepting a $5 bet with a junior high friend that the Cubs still wouldn't make the World Series when they were up two games to none.

But when these kinds of deals get done by whoever is in charge of the team we love, lets at least try to understand the circumstances involved.  Otherwise, we are just the idiot at the table splitting kings all night.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ronnie Woo's Heart Can't Take the Cubs Any Longer Either

So by now, I'm sure you have heard, Albert Pujols has not signed a bajillion dollar extension with the Cardinals, and the pre-conjecture has morphed completely into widespread apeshit speculation about where Albert will eventually sign, and which islands he will purchase with the money he gets in return.

The Cubs finally came out and named Keith Moreland as Ron Santo's successor in the radio booth with Pat Hughes, so I'm pretty happy about that, since I put the support of Aisle 424 back when that speculation first started.  Good to see I have a little pull with the big club.  I'll see what I can do about bringing back some sale prices to the bleacher seats as soon as the Ricketts drop the restraining order against me.

But lost among Albertageddon and Zonkapalooza was some news about the Cubs smelliest and gropingest unofficial mascot, Ronnie Woo.  Thankfully, Elliot Harris was paying attention to what matters:

Elsewhere in Cubs-related matters that touch the heart, Ronnie “Woo Woo” Wickers is recovering from heart surgery at Northwestern Hospital. He had the surgery on Valentine’s Day and plans to be ready by Opening Day. Doctors allowed his Cubs uniform in the operating room. They might be stricter when it comes to any woo-woo-ing.

They let him bring his Cubs uniform into a sterile environment?  Who performed this surgery?  Dr. Nick Riviera?  They might as well have performed the surgery in a Wrigley trough before Todd hosed them down.

"Call 1-800-DOCTORB.  The 'B' is for Bargain!"

Here's hoping that Ronnie gets well soon and that the doctors found the volume switch and turned it down a notch while they were messing around in there.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Marlon Byrd is Already Hustling

This week, Tim Sheridan (AKA @boysofspring on Twitter) tweeted out a few photos of Cubs players that have already started to arrive to Spring Training camp in Mesa.  Of course, the workhorse of the team, Marlon Byrd, was among the first players to arrive:

See Marlon.
See Marlon run.
Run Marlon, run.

I seriously don't know where this guy gets the energy.  Spring training hasn't even started and look at him!  He looks like he is already able to beat out a routine slow-roller to shortstop.

It is even more exhausting to know that this is probably as easygoing as he is going to be until the season ends.  So as the rest of the pitchers and catchers arrive over the weekend, lets just appreciate one of the guys on this team for whom it is easy to cheer.

I have to go lie down and rest.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Who is the Cubs' Executive Chairman?

In case you missed it, there was a riveting conversation between Tom Ricketts and Al Yellon about who owns the Cubs.  I know what you are thinking - that seems like a very simple question with a very simple answer.  How much back and forth could there be?  Well, quite a bit actually:

BCB: The first question is -- on the record -- who really owns the Cubs, and what specifically is your father’s role in the team, if any?
TR: He doesn’t have a defined day to day role currently. He comes to a couple games. The team is owned by the Ricketts family. I’m not sure what the strict definition of owner is. I think that people should look to me as chairman, as the person responsible for directing the family’s investment. I’m the one on the ground who is leading the family ownership.
BCB: And your dad’s role is?
TR: He’s interested, he comes to games. He’s part of the family, it’s a family ownership.
BCB: So the accurate statement would be to say the Chicago Cubs owner is: "the Ricketts family".
TR: Yes. The Ricketts family is owner of the Chicago Cubs. And honestly, when people talk to me I use chairman. I try not to use the word owner because the meaning gets stretched.
BCB: It’s not one individual then.
TR: No, it’s a family asset. I’m the chairman, my siblings are directors.
BCB: On the subject of you being chairman, the last letter than you sent out was signed "executive chairman".
TR: The only distinction there is that in a lot of cases there’s a chairman of the board and all they do is work with the board. An executive chairman is typically a title people use when they’re not only chairman of the board but they’re active in the business. So my card says executive chairman.
BCB: So would you consider yourself CEO or is Crane Kenney considered CEO?
TR: Well, Crane’s team president.
BCB: I want to clarify so people understand.

This conversation actually goes on further, but I'll spare you the details of Tom clearing up Crane Kenney's role as team president and how that further befuddles Al.

The only way the whole conversation could have been more comical would be if Tom Ricketts' actual name was Who:

Al: Look, if you're a Ricketts, you must know all the Cubs' baseball personnel.

Ricketts: I certainly do.

Al: Well you know my readers are a little confused about who owns the Cubs. So you'll have to tell me their names, and then I can clear up who's owning the team.

Ricketts: Oh, I'll tell you their names, but you know they give these baseball personnel now-a-days very peculiar names.

Al: Is that like a funny name?

Ricketts:  Yes. Well, let's see, we have Who's the executive chairman, What's the team president, I Don't Know has an undefined role...

Al: That's what I want to find out.

Ricketts: I say Who's the executive chairman, What's the team president, I Don't Know is undefined...

Al: Are you a member of the family?

Ricketts: Yes.

Al: You represent the team?

Ricketts: Yes.

Al: And you don't know the fellows' names?

Ricketts: Well I should.

Al: Well then who's the executive chairman?

Ricketts: Yes.

Al: I mean the fellow's name.

Ricketts: Who.

Al: The guy in the excutive chairman's office.

Ricketts: Who.

Al: The executive chairman.

Ricketts: Who.

Al: The guy sitting...

Ricketts: Who is the executive chairman!

Al: I'm asking YOU who's the executive chairman.

Ricketts: That's the man's name.

Al: That's who's name?

Ricketts: Yes.

Al: Well go ahead and tell me.

Ricketts: That's it.

Al: That's who?

Ricketts: Yes.


Al: Look, you gotta executive chairman?

Ricketts: Certainly.

Al: Who's the executive chairman?

Ricketts: That's right.

Al: When you pay off the executive chairman every month, who gets the money?

Ricketts: Every dollar of it.

Al: All I'm trying to find out is the fellow's name in the executive chairman's office.

Ricketts: Who.

Al: The guy that gets...

Ricketts: That's it.

Al: Who gets the money...

Ricketts: He does, every dollar. Sometimes his wife comes down and collects it.

Al: Whose wife?

Ricketts: Yes.


Ricketts: What's wrong with that?

Al: Look, all I wanna know is when the executive chairman signs a contract, how does he sign his name?

Ricketts: Who.

Al: The guy.

Ricketts: Who.

Al: How does he sign...

Ricketts: That's how he signs it.

Al: Who?

Ricketts: Yes.


Al: All I'm trying to find out is what's the guy's name in the role of executive chairman?

Ricketts: No. What is the team president.

Al: I'm not asking you who's the team president.

Ricketts: Who is the executive chairman.

Al: One position at a time!

Ricketts: Well, don't change the management around.

Al: I'm not changing nobody!

Ricketts: Take it easy, buddy, or we'll have another 80% off sale in the bleachers.

Al: I'm only asking you, who's the guy in the executive chairman's office?

Ricketts: That's right.

Al: Ok.

Ricketts: All right.


Al: What's the guy's name in the executive chairman's office?

Ricketts: No. What is the team president.

Al: I'm not asking you who's the team president.

Ricketts: Who's the executive chairman.

Al: I don't know.

Ricketts: His role is undefined, we're not talking about him.

Al: Now how did I get on some guy with an undefined role?

Ricketts: Why you mentioned his name.

Al: If I mentioned the guy with an undefined role, who did I say has the undefined role?

Ricketts: No. Who's the executive chairman.

Al: What's the executive chairman?

Ricketts: What's the team president.

Al: I don't know.

Ricketts: He has the undefined role.

Al: There I go, back to the undefined role again!


Al: Would you just stay on the undefined role and don't go off it.

Ricketts: All right, what do you want to know?

Al: Now who has the undefined role?

Ricketts: Why do you insist on putting Who in the undefined role?

Al: What am I putting in the undefined role?

Ricketts: No. What is the team president.

Al: You don't want who as team president?

Ricketts: Who is the executive chairman.

Al: I don't know.

Ricketts & Al Together: Undefined role!


Al: Look, you gotta general manager?

Ricketts: Sure.

Al: The general manager's name?

Ricketts: Why.

Al: I just thought I'd ask you.

Ricketts: Well, I just thought I'd tell ya.

Al: Then tell me who's the general manager.

Ricketts: Who's the executive chairman.

Al: I'm not... stay out of the owner's box! I want to know what's the guy's name in the general manager's office?

Ricketts: No, What is the team president.

Al: I'm not asking you who's the team president.

Ricketts: Who's the executive chairman!

Al: I don't know.

Ricketts & Al Together: Undefined role!


Al: The general manager's name?

Ricketts: Why.

Al: Because!

Ricketts: Oh, he's our director of marketing.


Al: Look, you gotta brother in this family?

Ricketts: Sure.

Al: The brother's name?

Ricketts: Tomorrow.

Al: You don't want to tell me today?

Ricketts: I'm telling you now.

Al: Then go ahead.

Ricketts: Tomorrow!

Al: What time?

Ricketts: What time what?

Al: What time tomorrow are you gonna tell me who's your brother?

Ricketts: Now listen. Who is not my brother.

Al: I'll break your arm, you say who's the executive chairman! I want to know what's the brother's name?

Ricketts: What's the team president.

Al: I don't know.

Ricketts & Al Together: Undefined role!


Al: Gotta a sister?

Ricketts: Certainly.

Al: The sister's name?

Ricketts: Today.

Al: Today, and tomorrow's the brother.

Ricketts: Now you've got it.

Al: All we got is a couple of days owning the team.


Al: You know I can be a good team executive too.

Ricketts: So they tell me.

Al: I go into the office to do some fancy trading and a heavy hitter becomes a free agent. When the agent for the heavy hitter calls, me, being a good baseball man, I'm gonna want to make sure I get the executive chairman's permission to sign the heavy hitter. So I pick up the phone and call who?

Ricketts: Now that's the first thing you've said right.

Al: I don't even know what I'm talking about!


Ricketts: That's all you have to do.

Al: Call the executive chairman?

Ricketts: Yes!

Al: Now who answers?

Ricketts: Naturally.


Al: Look, if I call the executive chairman, somebody's gotta answer it. Now who answers it?

Ricketts: Naturally.

Al: Who?

Ricketts: Naturally.

Al: Naturally?

Ricketts: Naturally.

Al: So I pick up the phone and I make a call to Naturally.

Ricketts: No you don't, you make the call to Who.

Al: Naturally.

Ricketts: That's different.

Al: That's what I said.

Ricketts: You're not saying it...

Al: I make the call to Naturally.

Ricketts: You make it to Who.

Al: Naturally.

Ricketts: That's it.

Al: That's what I said!

Ricketts: You ask me.

Al: I make the call to who?

Ricketts: Naturally.

Al: Now you ask me.

Ricketts: You make the call to Who?

Al: Naturally.

Ricketts: That's it.

Al: Same as you! Same as YOU! I make the call to Who. Whoever it is drops the call and it gets transferred to the team president. What picks up the call and transfers it to I Don't Know. Tomorrow signs the player to a record multi-year deal with a no-trade clause. Why? I don't know! He's got an undefined role and I don't give a darn!

Ricketts: What?

Al: I said I don't give a darn!

Ricketts: Oh, he's on Undercover Brother...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rick Telander Kind of Talks About the Cubs or Something

Rick Telander is the master at filling space.

In a newspaper.


His latest series of single sentence-fragment paragraphs run by the Sun-Times in a spot that is normally reserved for columnists manages to take up a whole page without saying much. 

It is something to behold.

If you are a college student...

...looking for ways to turn those two paragraphs into a five-page paper.

First he talks about the roof blowing off of Wrigley a week ago.  He repeats jokes that have been made a million times before, and then implies that it is part of some cosmic plan by the Cubs to kill him.

I just used three lines, two sentences and one paragraph to sum up something he wrote using sixteen lines of text comprised of twelve sentences (if you include fragments ending in periods) and seven paragraphs.

Then he goes into making jokes about how many statues the Cubs have for players that have never played in a World Series and broadcasters.  For some reason, he includes the statue that is downtown in front of the Trib Tower as a Cubs statue.  Damned if I know why, but it did use a few more words and he's got space to fill.  Why else bring up Ronnie Woo?

So he has added fifteen more sentences (five of which are in the last paragraph) and nine paragraphs to not express a single thought that hasn't already been made by at least two hundred people on Twitter when people were actually talking about the Cubs' statues.  He is really earning the money the Sun-Times is paying him.  It is hard to imagine how they went bankrupt with such efficient use of revenues.

Next he takes a shot about Ryne Sandberg leaving the organization... that happened in November.  Rick likes to stay on top of the breaking news stories and bring you in-depth analysis that totals two sentences and two paragraphs. 

"Pictures take up a lot of space so I don't have to use too many words or original thoughts."

Now we are getting to the real meat of the column.  He uses nineteen sentences (and I am being EXTREMELY generous in my definition of "sentence" here, since one was simply "The Giants." But to be fair, it wasn't its own paragraph) to mock the Cubs and Lou Piniella for him taking a consulting job with the San Francisco Giants.  So he's kind of current since Lou took that position last week, but he's now implying that Lou quit on the Cubs in August of last year, since he seems just fine and dandy now to talk about baseball again.

So if his mother had actually died, it would have been understandable if Lou had felt being with her as she was on her death bed was more important than navigating a terrible Cubs team to a lackluster finish, but since she pulled through, he's a quitter?  There is nothing in the reports I've seen about the Giants' job that requires him to fly to San Francisco to consult on-site.  Chances are excellent that the Giants will just pick up a telephone and give Lou a call whenever they want him to weigh in on something.  But even if he does go out to Scottsdale to see the team train for Spring Training and/or makes a couple of flights out to San Fran for a personal visit, so the hell what?  He has to be chained to his mother's bedside now?  This isn't the 19th century where it's a couple month-long covered wagon trek to go from coast to coast.  If something dire comes up, he can probably up and leave to deal with it without anything crucial being left undone.

Telander goes and calls him Sour Lou and says he isn't showing a lot of love for the Cubs with his actions.  I'm betting he wasn't asked to be a consultant for the Cubs.  I'm betting the subject never came up.  Why?  Because the Cubs have acted like the last four years under Piniella didn't exist in everything they have done since his departure.  There was no acknowledgement of Lou in Ricketts' letter to the season ticket holders, and it's not like he was worried about being too wordy, and there wasn't a peep uttered about Lou at the Cubs Convention.  Not. One. Word. (Hey! Those sentence fragments do come in handy!)  So when the Giants came and offered a job that probably didn't require anything of him other than to occasionally give an opinion about a sport to which he has dedicated the bulk of his life, he said sure.  I don't see what there is to get worked up about, but Rick really needed to




Next Rick made fun of comments that Cubs pitchers and catchers made over two weeks ago at the Cubs Convention in regards to comments Ryan Theriot made about the Cubs over two months ago.  I hate to beat an extremely dead and decomposing horse, but why is this relevant in the slightest now?  Rick used up six more sentences in five paragraphs to talk about a comment that the rest of the world had gotten over before Christmas.

But at least Rick managed to stay on a central theme of the Cubs and their foibles.  He didn't meander completely off target and start talking about plane crashes or anything.  Wait... yes he did.  I know I stretch the truth for the sake of humor around here quite a bit, so allow me to share the full, exciting conclusion to Rick's column:

 I HAD LOTS MORE to say, but I want to leave you with this.

All you players who are afraid to fly — you sweaty-palmed dudes who freak when you step on an airplane — consider there were no fatalities on any U.S. airline in 2010. None. (Well, some experts will dispute this, noting that a UPS cargo plane went down in Dubai in September, killing the pilot and first officer. But there were no deaths on passenger planes.)

There were no deaths on U.S. passenger planes in 2007 or 2008, either. Thus, in three of the last four years, about 2.2 billion people took scheduled airline flights, and no one died.

But at least 30,000 people die in automobile wrecks in America every year.

Message? Fly to the bar, guys. It’s way safer than driving.

For those keeping score, that is eleven more sentences and five more paragraphs about nothing that has anything to do with anything he has talked about earlier in his column.  I get that the Cubs are hard to write about.  Check out the Cubs blogs I have linked to on the left and you'll see a vast majority of them are producing new content at a slower rate than if we were physically carving our words onto stone tablets instead of typing them into the digital interwebs.  I understand completely, but the difference is, those folks with the blogs generally have real jobs they perform during the day and only write about the Cubs when the mood strikes.  You get paid for this shit, Rick, and you come up with a bunch of stuff that happened weeks and months ago to talk about and then tack on some nonsense about plane crashes.

I guess Lou won't be the only person phoning it in this year. (rimshot)

I HAD LOTS MORE to say, but I want to leave you with this.

What the hell is it with bicyclists anyway? 

How come I get the dirty look when they blow a stop sign (or stop light) while I'm jamming on my brakes as I had proceeded with the right of way? 

How come I get the nasty glares when I don't hear them coming on the sidewalk where they aren't legally supposed to be? 

How come they can ride the wrong way down a one way street?

Folks, you're either a vehicle or a pedestrian, but you can't cherry pick the rules of the road to suit your needs in any given situation.

Message?  Don't cut me off when you're on a bike, and Rick Telander should give his paycheck back.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Demand For Good Cubs Tickets Not What Cubs Originally Thought

Either the Cubs are unnecessarily wasting time and money trying to sell partial ticket plans or things aren't going as well in the ticket department as Wally Hayward would have previously led us to believe.  Remember when he stated that Cubs fans should rush out and buy the 13-game plans because they would never be able to otherwise score Yankees tickets? Well, that was bullshit.

The Cubs sent out an e-mail today announcing a new Six Pack ticket plan that offers fans an opportunity to buy tickets to the coveted Yankees, White Sox, or Cardinals games, provided that they also purchase five other tickets to games that aren't nearly as exciting, warm, or at a convenient time.  You know, the ones they won't sell unless they otherwise tie them to the actual tickets that people want.

It is a tried and true method that does work.  I remember working for a small retail bookstore back in the height of the Beanie Baby craze.  We were not selling much because we couldn't sell things as cheaply as Barnes & Noble and Amazon was also just getting started.  So we had a lot of overstock in general, but we also had things that nobody wanted to buy unless maybe they were on a scavenger hunt: Childrens books in the shape of creepy fruit shapes with arms and legs reaching out of the shelves as if to latch onto unsuspecting customers as they walked by ignoring them, university sweatpants in a blindingly yellow and neon blue that appeared to have been designed by an insane person, and all sorts of things with the spiritually inspirational poem, "Footprints" on it.  If you can think of an item, chances are excellent that our store had it in stock with "Footprints" imprinted on it in some way.

So at that time, Beanie Babies were selling for crazy prices on the secondary market, but Ty would only distribute to retailers that sold them at the suggested retail price of $5.  If you got caught marking them up, they stopped selling to you. So we had to be creative.  We would get a shipment of Beanie Babies in, check around to see what the secondary market was selling them for, and then package them with a whole bunch of crap that would never sell on its own for a comparable price.  It worked.  People came in, bought fifty bucks worth of crap with a Beanie Baby attached to it, and promptly tossed the crap away in the garbage can outside our store.  We would go outside, and there would be a  "Footprints" frisbee in the trash laying on top of a pop-up book about the laws in Leviticus, and next to a CD of an obscure Swedish reggae band.  But whatever, we had our money and we weren't technically selling our Beanie Babies on the secondary market.

So now the Cubs are doing the same thing.  They don't especially care that you will never use the tickets for that Tuesday afternoon game in April to see the Astros, but you bought them so you can see the Yankees play.  The unfortunate thing for the Cubs is that they had originally thought we would buy twelve lame tickets in order to see one good game, but it seems there was a slight miscalculation, and thus the Six Pack plans are born.

I'm sure Wally will be all over the radio and television telling us we better snap these up quick, or we won't have a chance to see the Cubs get pummeled by the Yankees when the single-game tickets go on sale.  Hopefully he uses different words this time, or everyone will know he's just reading the same old script.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Harry Caray Has Had a Rough Year

The guys over at The Wrigley Blog reported this morning that the Harry Caray statue outside Wrigley Field has been vandalized by some people with entirely too much time on their hands and not enough functioning brain cells.

It looks like it says: "Sox b (backwards 7) E S"

The statue has been through quite a bit this year.  It got evicted from its original spot on Sheffield and Addison so that the Cubs could put up a Billy Williams statue.  Then it got cracked when it was hit by a worker during the hubbub surrounding the Northwestern/Illinois football game.  Now it gets tagged by someone who could use a remedial trip to kindergarten.

It is hard to tell if the work was done by a Sox fan, a Cubs fan hoping to frame a Sox fan, or a Cubs fan that is trying to say something crass about the White Sox.  It is hard to decipher since the second part of what is written is virtually incomprehensible.  The only thing that is certain is that whoever did it is not terribly bright and probably illiterate.

Anybody know where Todd Ricketts was last night?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Vine Line Finally Succeeds in Cheering Me Up

The crippling Cubs funk I've been experiencing may be coming to an end!  No, it isn't because pitchers and catchers report soon.  Oddly enough, Kris tossed the new February edition of Vine Line to me and I didn't immediately put it in the trash.  I picked it up and started to thumb through it and found myself wonderfully cheered up.

I actually didn't even get much further than the Letters to the Editor.  That page containing the musings of Vine Line readers was pure gold, resulting in a tangible rise in my overall mood. 

The letters are all great and actually represent a nice cross-section of the demographic that the Ricketts are targeting with their "It's a Way of Life" campaign. 

One praised the previous edition's interview of Ken Burns.  I didn't read said article, but I can only assume that it was so great because Vine Line edited Ken Burns' eight-hour responses down to a few sentences, and if so, I'd have to agree that it would have been a job well done.

One letter accompanied a submitted photo of a Cubs hat on a rusted out Japanese Zero airplane from World War II.  Damned if I know why the photographer thought an interesting piece of history needed a Cubs hat on it, but there it was.

Another letter talked about how the Cubs got blown out too many times, but that when the writer of the letter attended five road games the Cubs won two of them and were competitive in the other three.  Again, I didn't really see this guy's point other than vaguely hunting around for someone to say, "Well we should have this guy go to all the games because he seems to be a key to the Cubs... well, not winning exactly... but the key to being pretty darn close to winning... or something! Let's give him free tickets!"

Another letter announced that when former Cubs pitcher, Gene Fodge, passed away, they played "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" as sung by Harry Caray at the funeral.  What a tremendous tribute to a former Cub to play a recording by a man who was in the middle of his St. Louis Cardinals' broadcasting career when Fodge was last a player for the Cubs in 1958. 

But my favorite letter was from Garey of Janesville, Wisconsin:

As a lifelong Cubs fan I was totally shocked to see Ryne Sandberg go to the Phillies.

It was shocking.  I was shocked that the Phillies wanted him too.

This has to be the biggest mistake since the Lou Brock trade -

Let's just gloss over the fact that you don't consider letting Greg Maddux walk away after winning a Cy Young for nothing a bigger mistake than trading a prospect that the Cubs (and fans and media at the time) had given up on for a veteran pitcher and move on, shall we?

- how could the Cubs ever allow such a thing to happen?

So, you don't mind the 102 years of losing, the pimping of a playground for douchebags as "A Way of Life," treatment of their players as children, treatment of the paying fans like they are curly hairs in the shit on their shoes, or the lack of anything that resembles a plan to change any of that, but letting Ryne Sandberg manage a AAA team for another franchise is the worst thing to ever happen to the franchise?

I believe Mike Quade will make a very good manager,

Well then, what is your problem?  The Cubs have, in your opinion, a very good manager at the helm.  What could possibly be the matter with that?

but Sandberg would have been an asset as bench coach for the Cubs.

OK, Garey, I'm going to give you a hypothetical situation.  Suppose you took over the duties of a superior who suddenly left your company and you did that job very well.  Everyone says so.  The people who report to you like you.  Your bosses are happy with the results you have given them in your short time on the job. Everyone who interacts with your company agrees that you are doing a great job.

Now let's say there is another guy that everyone assumed would get the job instead of you.  Everyone really likes this guy too, and he's done everything the company has asked of him while making it well known that he wants the job you currently have.  He even thought that the head boss had made an unspoken pact to promote him when your old boss left the company.

Would you want that guy as your right hand man looking over your shoulder and analyzing every mistake you make because deep down he wants your job?  And would he want to play second fiddle to you since he probably thinks he deserves to be in your position in the first place?  I have a hard time thinking of a scenario where the realistic answer to either of those questions is yes.  The bench coach position was never a realistic option, Garey.  So lets stop acting like the world is going to end because a former player with no actual major league managing experience went to find a position with another team that would more realistically end in his final goal of becoming a manager at the major league level.  No puppies were hurt in this turn of events.  Get over it.

I have every copy of Vine Line.

Well, that actually explains alot.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hey Look! A New Post!

You may have noticed a lack of posts lately.  That has been a combination of being kind of busy with other things going on, but also a complete lack of anything worth writing in regards to the Cubs.

The Cubs have failed completely in their attempts to get me to be even a little optimistic about them.  At this point, I have not regretted my decision to not renew my season tickets even a tiny little bit.  So am I just a hopeless curmudgeon or am I just a realist that is depressed about being at the beginning of a long period of the Cubs consistently looking up in the standings at their Central division rivals on a regular basis?

I don't know, and what is worse, I don't even really care enough to do the research necessary to back up my ill feelings about the team.

When baseball actually starts, I'm sure I'll get re-interested in how things are going, but for now the assurances that Matt Garza is the ace the Cubs have been missing isn't enough for me to care.  I'm not excited to see Matt Garza pitch.  I could give a shit if I ever see Matt Garza pitch at this point.  I'd rather watch Cashner or any of the other young arms the Cubs have been selling us (and then, for some reason, sticking in the bullpen).

I'm glad Kerry Wood is back, but the guy is a middle reliever now.  How in the world do the Cubs realistically expect me to get excited about a middle reliever?  The nostalgia is great, the memories of Wood striking out 20 or mowing down the Braves in the playoffs are wonderful, but that isn't his role now.  He'll be the guy walking in from the bullpen in the 7th or 8th innings before handing the ball over to Marmol to trigger the blaring of "Go Cubs Go" by registering the final out.

This is what they are going to sell for the same price as last year? At least last year, they were supposed to be a contending team.  This year, they aren't contending without a miracle and they aren't rebuilding efficiently, thus requiring a similar miracle to depend on this farm system to replenish the team as veterans are sent on their way.

So that's where I am right now.  Hopefully something interesting will happen soon (a small piece of Wrigley's roof blowing off does not qualify) and I can write about more than why I haven't been writing alot lately.