You’re being lied to, Chicago Cubs fans. Don’t buy into this.
The talk about the Cubs is the dreaded “R word.’’ Rebuilding. And the idea is that the Cubs’ offseason moves show that they’re going into rebuilding mode rather than adding the last pieces to their division-winning team to get back to the World Series. The Cubs trading ace pitcher Yu Darvish to San Diego Tuesday is supposedly final proof.
Dreaded R word? Are you kidding? There is no such rebuilding going on with the Cubs. Reality is much worse, Chicago:
What’s happening is the dreaded “T word.’’ Teardown. The Cubs have been dumping salary and now — to the best I can figure — have cut roughly $65 million of annual payroll since 2019. And just because something is being torn down doesn’t mean there are plans to build it back up.
It’s time for the soft, fuzzy, compliant media in town to stop pushing the tale of financial woe of the hard-luck billionaire Ricketts family, which bought the Cubs 11 years ago. They modernized the Cubs, brought in Theo Epstein, broke all the curses and finally won the World Series after more than 100 years. The Ricketts were heroes four years ago. Their goodwill is gone now. Or it should be.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred needs to block this Darvish-for-a-bag-of-peanuts trade. It is not in good faith with Cubs fans. It’s a punch to the gut of the most loyal fans on earth.
With tens of millions of people out of work, it’s a little hard to stomach hearing a family of billionaires cry poor. Maybe we should start a GoFundMe for the Ricketts family?
Tom Ricketts has been warning about this for months, saying that baseball’s losses from the pandemic are “Biblical.’’
“To cover the losses, all teams have gone out and borrowed,’’ he told ESPN in June. “There’s no other way to do it in the short run. . .
“There is a perception that we hoard cash and we take money out, and it’s all sitting in a pile we’ve collected over the years. Well, it isn’t. Because no one anticipated a pandemic. No one expects to have to draw down on the reserves from the past. Every team has to figure out a way to plug the hole.’’
Oh, boo hoo. I get it that there is suddenly no ticket revenue temporarily. But yes, Chicago should expect the Ricketts to draw down on the reserves of the past. Those hoarded piles came from fans’ pockets in the first place.
Meanwhile, according to Forbes, the Ricketts paid $700 million for the Cubs in 2009, and the team is now worth $3.2 billion. How “Biblical’’ can these loans and losses be when the value of the team keeps doubling?
The Ricketts family has refurbished Wrigley Field and the Wrigleyville neighborhood. I’m sure there are loans involved. The charm around the place is all gone — the little carwash and things — but that was OK, because Cubs fans were finally getting a winner, going bigtime.
The Ricketts also pumped up the payroll and created their own Cubs TV network, the Marquee Sports Network. These are all things that will pay off huge in the long run.
Tickets prices were jacked up, and the fans paid for it while being asked for patience. Can you imagine? You wait 100 years for a winner, and the owners ask for patience.
Epstein, the architect, then came in and got rid of every decent player in a trade or sale, and replaced him with real prospects. And the Cubs did build. You could see it with all the young players. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Javy Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Kyle Hendricks.
In the past few weeks, the Cubs have dumped Schwarber. And pitcher Jon Lester. And Jose Quintana. And Albert Almora. And plenty of others. Now Darvish. More will go, too. Oh yeah, the Cubs threw catcher Victor Caratini into the Darvish deal. And USA Today’s Bob Nightengale says they are now shopping Contreras, the star starting catcher.
Come on, this is a major market team, not a neighborhood garage sale. Other baseball owners will follow suit, but Chicago isn’t Pittsburgh or Tampa Bay.
So the Cubs dumped the final $60 million of Darvish’s contract. In return for the best pitcher in the National League, the Cubs got a middle-of-the rotation starting pitcher and a handful of teenage “prospects.’’
I put quotation marks around the word “prospects” because calling players prospects usually suggests that they are expected to grow into something good. These guys are just a bunch of kids. Their future is not part of the consideration.
Earlier this year at the popular Cubs convention, Ricketts was surprised when fans started booing him. “Our promise for the next 10 years is to continue to have the best relationship with our fans of any professional sports team in the world. And that starts with the Marquee Network.’’
The Cubs also dumped 100 employees during the season, claiming pandemic necessities. Short-term reduction in gains — Biblical in the billionaire world — equals long-term pain to the Average Joe.
All part of the rebuilding, I guess.