Sammy’s Skin

I thought this wasn’t supposed to matter. Sammy Sosa hit 545 home runs in a Cubs uniform. Some people hate him because of his boom box. Some people hate him for cheating with a corked bat and a chemically altered physique. Some people hate him for caring more about putting on a show than being a good teammate. Some people hate him because it’s fashionable.

Now Sammy Sosa‘s skin is lighter than it used to be. I understand neither why that’s funny nor why anyone cares. But apparently people do.

Never mind the fact he was really good at baseball. Never mind the fact that he restored enthusiasm in baseball not only in Chicago but also in North America. Never mind that while he played with the Cubs he paid very little effort into anything other than being prepared to play baseball well and to entertain the fans who watched him.

But his skin is lighter now. So . . . LMFAO.

Rays in the Forest: Popular vs. Good

Take it from a Cubs fan, David: even 40,000 fans can’t drown out embarrassment.

If Evan Longoria hits a 3-run homer in a forest, but no one is around to see it, did it really happen? Somewhere else in Florida there’s a guy named Steve who would answer in the absolute affirmative, but Longoria himself and his teammate David Price aren’t so sure.

Longoria told reporters that the sparse crowd of 12,446 at Tropicana Field, on a night when the Rays had a chance to clinch a spot in the postseason, was embarrassing and disheartening. As shown above, Price shared the sentiment on Twitter, where it has been publicized to exponentially more people than the number who witnessed the best team in baseball getting shutout by the Orioles.

The embarrassment of the Rays seems like some strange Prince and the Pauper allusion when compared to that of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs have the fans, the fame, and the Fortune 500 owner*, but the Rays have something the Cubs wouldn’t mind trading places to experience: 93 wins and a magic number of 1** . . . and a little less pressure from the media and fans.

So which is more desirable: being popular or being good?
Cubs fans have made strong loud cases on both sides of that debate, even if they didn’t realize they were doing so. I’ve heard some argue that any Cubs fan who doesn’t value winning above any other priority such as the preservation of Wrigley Field is not a true fan at all. In essence, if a decision that leads to winning turns away fans, so be it. But others take pride in the ever-spinning turnstiles at Wrigley no matter the result. They’d rather cram the bleachers to watch the Cubs spiral down the drain of the trough that is the NL Central than suffer the indignity of drawing sub-20,000 crowds the way first-place pennant-chasing Reds and Rays have.

It’s an easy question, though, right? If you had the choice of the Cubs being popular and good, you’d pick good every time, and you really wouldn’t have to think about it very long. But think about it some more.

Given this fan base, it’s an impossible hypothetical to imagine the Cubs attracting such a minuscule audience for a postseason-clinching home game. Say what you want about the economy and the Trop, unemployed Cubs fans would flock to Tampa by the thousands if it meant they could see their beloved Cubbies clinch the postseason, even if all the stadium seats were replaced with inverted railroad spikes and the seventh inning stretch was conducted by Hurricane Wilma.

But let’s just imagine a Bizarro world in which the Cubs are awesome and their fans couldn’t care less. Would you trade the current situation for that one? The Cubs win the World Series, and when you show up to work the next day with a hangover, no one in your office has any idea what you’re so happy about. The victory parade on a Friday afternoon on the Dan Ryan to create the illusion of public interest. Remember in 1998 when the Chicago Fire won the MLS Cup and the US Open Cup? Yeah, me neither. Imagine the Cubs’ next championship garnering that kind of fanfare and carrying that kind of legacy.

I’m not saying the Rays have it that bad, but winning isn’t all that great when no one cares. Look at those comments. David Price and Evan freaking Longoria, two of the best players on the best team in all the land, were embarrassed to play a baseball game in front of his home crowd because it barely constituted a crowd. The line at a Wrigley ladies’ room reaches 12,000 on a bad day, so don’t tell me there’s a reasonable excuse for a team that good on a night of that importance having attendance that bad.

This isn’t an indictment of Rays fans. I don’t really care if they go to the game or not. My point is that the players do care. Maybe it has little effect on the outcome of the game or the overall direction of the season, but attendance and fan support obviously mean a great deal to gifted, good-looking athletes with several million other reasons to be happy. So it’s a mistake to disregard the significance of attendance.

I also don’t want to just assume last night’s attendance was representative of the drawing power of the Rays in general, so here’s a look at MLB teams sorted by attendance per game with payrolls thrown in there to illustrate the impact of attendance a bit further.

So the Rays draw an average of almost 23,000 fans. That sucks. Blame marketing, pricing, or whatever you want, that sucks. They’re the best team in baseball. For business it’s probably not a big deal at all, because the Rays probably break even on payroll just from revenue sharing. But for the players, and for the image of MLB in general, it is, as Longoria put it, disheartening.
All I have to say is, welcome to life. We live in a world where Taylor Swift wins Grammys, Shania Twain is the top-selling female recording artist of all time, and no one knows who Patty Griffin (unless they hear her mentioned when an American Idol contestant or a Dixie Chick covers her songs). 

We live in a world where a post filled with pictures of Erin Andrews will draw more clicks from sports fans than a post about . . . sports. Teases, scandals, baseless accusations, blog wars, cliches, speculation, and controversy—far more than content—generate the real traffic. In our culture, Leno gets a promotion while Conan packs his bags to cable. The intersection of good and popular is a slim sliver on the Venn diagram of American consumption. Whether you’re a snob or you’re slumming it, you know this is true. Some of the finest people you know are single and some of the most irritating are married and procreating. You know this.

It’s true in life, and it’s true in baseball. It will always be true. But I hope David Price and Evan Longoria also understand: if your happiness depends on what people think, you’re on the wrong planet. Focus on doing your best, appreciate the people who value that most, and don’t ever be embarrassed by empty seats. It’s an insult to truly embarrassing baseball.

*TD Ameritrade is ranked 746, but I’m an alliteration junkie, so cut me some slack.
**For the wildcard. For the division, they’re magic number is 6 heading into play today.

Being a Cubs Fan Is Depressing

Ron Santo is a pretty joyful guy, but not even he can deny the depressing nature of Cub fandom.

I’m doing everything I can to make this post depressing. Photo of a glum Ron Santo: check. Ironic photo-manipulation isolating a single splash of Cubby Blue: zing. Sad song from Garden State: posted. Discussion of being a Cubs fan: would have gone without saying had it not been for my blatant disregard for the rule of threes.

If I’m discussing the Cubs, all the other stuff is just Spielbergesque manipulative emotional overkill. The depression is happening. If you’re a Cubs fan, that is. Non-Cubs fans often derive great pleasure from discussing the Cubs and their fans. For White Sox fans it’s cathartic. For people who just don’t like baseball in general it vindicates their choice of pastime. For genuinely, clinically depressed people it might even be humorous that a self-chosen preference for the Chicago National League ball club could take the place of a chemical imbalance in immersing someone in melancholy. But for Cubs fans it’s just a sad reality.

Cheering for the Cubs isn’t agony. It isn’t painful. It isn’t even a real problem. But being a Cubs fan is depressing. To support this theory law, let’s conduct a little experiment. Think about the Cubs. Now try to think about something happy. You’re still thinking about the Cubs, aren’t you? Of course you are, because your happy thought was being five outs away, Kerry striking out 20, Sammy hitting homers 61 and 62, or any number of great moments from 2008, which only led to thoughts of Bartman, Tommy John surgery, leaving early with a duffel bag of PEDs, or getting swept by the Dodgers.

The good news is that the depression isn’t overpowering or all-consuming, at least it doesn’t have to be. You can remain a Cubs fan and still alleviate your depression by turning your attention to other things. When your thoughts turn back to the Cubs, cue the Cubbie blues, but you can cross that mopey little Charlie Brown bridge when you come to it. All you need is a sitcom or a brownie, not a support group.

It’s a good thing, too, because there really is no such thing as a Cubs fan support group, because none of us really have any intentions of abandoning our depressing pursuit. Take a look at the Kübler-Ross model of the stages of grief:

This is the year! followed shortly by Wait till next year.

You suck, Zambrano! Fire Hendry! Tag him, Castro!

If we sign Cliff Lee or Adam Dunn or Joe Girardi or trade Soriano for Mr. Met, we can contend in 2011.

This, of course, encompasses either directly or indirectly everything every Cub fan in the last century has ever said.

Cubbie acceptance is a flat-out myth. It doesn’t exist. The people who say they accept the ramifications of being a Cubs fan without ceasing to be Cubs fans are just adding on another thick coat of denial. Maybe the same is true of those who claim to have quit the Cubs for good are in the same boat floating down the metaphorical Egyptian river. I don’t know. I just know acceptance is a lie for Cubs fans. Allow me to illustrate with a Venn diagram:

What do the World Series and acceptance have in common? Cubs fans don’t know what either one feels like.

I’m starting to realize this post has no logical conclusion. We are Cubs fans. That is depressing. That is all. Hooray! When does Lost come back on?

Quaalude Quade

Is Quade the stress-relief drug the Cubs have been looking for?

The Cubs just concluded their best road trip of 9 games or more in team history. They won in blowout fashion with a lineup in which Sam Fuld was the seasoned veteran, a lineup that consisted exclusively of rookies and minor-league call-ups. The team has gone 17-7 since Quade took over for Lou Piniella, scoring 5.1 runs per game and yielding just 4 per contest over that stretch.

His tenure hasn’t been without adversity. I (among many others) questioned the way he handled the Castro benching. And not that it had anything to do with Quade, but just yesterday the Cubs lost Geovany Soto to surgery and Tyler Colvin to a life-threatening bat shard to the chest (something that would never happen to anyone if MLB cared to fix the problem). But the Quade win train keeps on rolling.

A lot of people attribute the Cubs’ good fortune to the absence of Lou or Quade’s superiority to Lou, which I find preposterous. Lou’s time at the helm ended against a string of five teams with winning records. Quade has had it much easier. The Quade-led Cubs (heretofore known as the Qubs) have faced just two +.500 teams. Qub opponents have a combined season winning percentage of .472, and the six series they have won have been against opponents with a collective .455 win rate. The only good team the Qubs have dominated has been the St. Louis Cardinals, who have had just one day off since August 23 (and won’t have another before season’s end)—they are 10-17 in that stretch. Quade hasn’t exactly been a giant-killer.

But under Lou, the Cubs weren’t anything-killers. Overall, the Cubs have a 41-43 record against sub-500 teams in 2010. So while I don’t think it’s at all fair to compare Quade’s two-dozen games managed to Lou’s 3,548, I am curious to know if Quade has had a relaxing effect on the Qubs. A lot of people are saying they’re thriving in September’s low-pressure environment, but there hasn’t been any realistic pressure on this team since July. And, with the exception of the Cards, none of the teams the Qubs have won series against are feeling much pressure either. So I don’t think we can dismiss the entire positive swing exclusively to low-pressure situations and low-talent opponents.

Maybe the Qubs are feeling less pressure, less stress, and less performance-hampering anxiety because of Mike Quade.

I have often argued that a manager isn’t likely to add or detract much to a team’s ability to play, but I will add that the Cubs’ Achilles heel has often been their penchant for buckling in critical situations. I won’t blame any manager for that. I have, mostly in jest, blamed the fans for that. But Milton Bradley said it. Lou Piniella said it. Ozzie Guillen said it. Derrek Lee said it. All of them agree that there is a negative pressure on the Cubs that requires them to compete against 29 other teams and 100+ years of history. If there is one quality that could put one candidate ahead of the rest in my eyes, it would be the ability to shield the team from that pressure or to use it productively.

I don’t know if Mike Quade really has that skill, but it seems like he very well might. And the simple fact of the matter is that if Quade is the manager in 2011, there will almost certainly be less pressure simply because of the fact that his name carries no expectations with it. I’d be willing to take that low-risk gamble.

The Shocking Truth: The Cubs Are Us

The Cubs are people! They’re made out of PEOPLE!!!!  

The Cubs are people, and I don’t mean they are a team comprised of human beings. They are that, but . . . no to the duh. I’m saying the Cubs consist of a litany of metaphors for people just like you or me or that guy who keeps sniffing his fingers on the train. It’s like the Cubs assembled a motley cast of unremarkable human beings and, instead of putting them all in a house for a reality show, they processed, amalgamated, and packaged them into a baseball team.

The Cubs are people. The Cubs are you. If any of these statements don’t apply to you, just look over your shoulder. Somewhere lurking behind you is the statement’s intended recipient.

You don’t like your job, and you dream of finding a better one. But you know tomorrow you’ll be right back in that cubicle. You’re the Cubs. The Cubs are  you.

You’d like a bigger house, but at the end of the day you know what’s really important is the people that make life special. Achieving your wildest dreams would be nice, but enjoying life wherever you are is what counts. You’re the Cubs. The Cubs are you.

You know that sometimes the only way to address your problems is to self-medicate, be the prescription alcohol, narcotics, or donuts. You’re the Cubs. The Cubs are you.

You want to lose weight. But if losing weight means sacrificing the things you enjoy most, you’d rather be fat. You’re the Cubs. The Cubs are you.

You want to get rich. The best way to make that happen, by your judgment, is to play the lottery. Somebody’s gotta win it all, right? Might as well be you! And by you, I mean the Cubs.

You see that person. You’re attracted to him or her. You’d like to go out, get married, grow old together. You imagine it all happening, but it never does. I now pronounce you the Cubs.

You want to learn to play the guitar. You get really good at Rock Band. You’re the Cubs. The Cubs are you.

You have tons of work to do. You spend your time talking about baseball. You’re the Cubs. The Cubs are you. You are me.

You don’t like that person. You’d like to tell him or her off. You think of an excellent rant in your head. You post it anonymously on a message board after telling the true object of your ire to have a nice day. You are the Cubs. The Cubs are you.

You don’t like the current regime that governs over you. You complain about it. You vow to vote for the other person. You’d never in a million years get involved in politics. You expect that eventually things will go your way. You’re the Cubs. The Cubs are you.

You have bad luck, so what’s the point? You’re the Cubs. The Cubs are you.

You are charming. Almost everyone likes you. Too much success would probably just spoil that. I recognize you from somewhere. I think I saw you play at Wrigley yesterday.

Every time the UPS truck drives by your house, you look out eagerly, hoping it will stop at your door. You didn’t order anything. In the event a package does arrive, go ahead and sign as “The Cubs.”

You watch romantic comedies and wonder if your life will ever be that romantic or that funny. Maybe if you’re Jennifer Aniston it will. But you’re not Jennifer Aniston. You’re the Cubs.

You believe in something. Anything. And you know that deep down, that’s enough. And let me tell you . . . you’re right. Especially if what you believe is that you are the Cubs and the Cubs are you.

You never stop hoping, and you never start trying. YTC. TCAY.

You realize this post is overly cynical.
You realize this post is on the money.
You realize this post only begins to scratch the surface.
You’re angry.
You’re laughing.
You’re rolling your eyes.
You. Are. The. Cubs. TheCubsareyou.

You don’t care how stupid it is. It’s a game. It would be nice if they won. It won’t kill you if they don’t. Or maybe it will. Whatever. You know who you are.

Wrigley: the Worst Home-Field Advantage in Baseball

I love Wrigley Field. I do. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. I say that to inform you that nothing in this post is out of spite for the venue I revere as a mecca of the baseball world. And as much as I give Cubs fans a hard time, I don’t really think they’re worse than the fans of any other team. There are some great Cubs fans and some abominable ones just as any fan base is prone to including members from both ends of the spectrum of tolerability.

But the home-field advantage at Wrigley, for the last several decades, has been the worst in all of baseball, and I’ve got the numbers to prove it.

I started out investigating home-field advantage in general in the hopes of proving something about the significance of psychology in baseball. The first wave of research showed that as far back as I could look (1901) there always has been a home-field advantage league-wide. In every season of Major League Baseball, the home teams have, collectively, registered a winning record. There have been 4 seasons in which the teams of either the National League or the American League had a collective losing record at home, but it has never happened across baseball.

Then I came across this study of the 2004 Major League Baseball season that went to great lengths to isolate the effect of both home-field advantage and travel on the probability of winning. I was happy to learn that travel was ruled to have no significant effect on win probability for either team and that home-field advantage is very real. However, the study also concluded that home-field advantage was statistically significant only in games decided by one run—but in those one-run games, it’s pretty significant.

I checked using the play index tool to see if those conclusions held true throughout history. They did . . . kind of. In the nearly 88,000 games played since 1970, home teams have a .540 winning percentage. Obviously that’s significant. But in all the games decided by just one run over the past 40 years, the home team’s winning percentage is even higher: .608. I still think there’s an advantage in the other games, too, because a .511 winning percentage in games decided by 2 or more runs is nothing to sneeze at (and .518 in games decided by 3 or more runs), but I can’t ignore the huge difference home-field makes in one-run games.

So I decided to compare the winning percentages of all the teams across baseball over that time period. (I chose 1970 because I wanted to keep things fairly modern but include a large enough sample to make it significant.) I limited the results just to one-run games, since that’s the condition in which home-field advantage is supposed to be at its most pronounced. What I found is that the Friendly Confines are a little too friendly to the visiting teams.

I don’t really have a reaction other than . . . Crap. Is it Wrigley? Is it us? I don’t know. But it’s not working.

UPDATE: Okay, now I do have a reaction. Could the problem be day baseball?

The Cubsmos is Trapped in High School

2010: A Fail Odyssey

I never know what to call the group of all people associated with but not necessarily a part of the Cubs organization: the fans, the media, the bloggers, the whoever. Cubdom. The Cubosphere. The Cubbieverse. Cub Nation. The Fail and Losing Community. We. They. The Empty Set. For the moment, I have decided on the Cubsmos. Instead of the Cosmos, not to be confused with the magazine or the drink or the Kramer. But I digress.

The Cubsmos, or at least large factions within it, seems to be trapped in the past. Not a specific date or era like 1908 or ’69 or the Bartman game. We’re trapped in high school, maybe junior high. As I did then, I’d love to escape the embittered, disenfranchising subculture of vindictive cliques, the suppressed insecure rage, the bizarre false sense of entitlement and melodramatic mock tragedy. But here we are in Cubsmos High. I was going to give ten reasons, and maybe I will at some point, but here are my two favorites.

The Crotchety Old Coach/Gym Teacher thinks ridicule and public punishments are the best motivators. Athletes aren’t professionals, they’re slimy, cocksure ingrates who need to be put in their place. Lack of hustle? Benched! Brain lapse? Benched and insulted! Don’t run out a pop up? You’ll do push-ups until I get tired! I’m sorry . . . but didn’t we hate that guy? Didn’t high school, in a roundabout way, teach us  it might be a better idea to treat people with respect and handle matters in a civilized, private, non-roid-rage manner?

When someone does something stupid, it ignites an occasion to talk about every other dumb thing that person has done ever. I don’t think the Cubsmos is alone in this, so I’ll use an example from the Mets’ recent unpleasantness involving K-Rod. When the story broke, I tried to find details of the event that took place, but there were few. What I did find, in almost every article I came across, was a litany of Francisco Rodriguez’s past transgressions that had nothing whatsoever to do with his arrest other than to portray him as someone from whom you would expect this kind of thing:

Last year, Rodriguez signed a three-year, $37-million deal, complete with a $17.5 option for 2012. He is both talented and tempestuous, prone to squabbles. His on-mound celebrations invite occasional scorn. But he still holds the single-season save record.

Yet Rodriguez has been involved in a series of physical altercations in the past. He created a ruckus with former Yankee reliever Brian Bruney last year. There was a reported incident with former Met executive Tony Bernazard. Earlier this year, he engaged in an [sic] dispute with bullpen coach Randy Niemann during the Subway Series.

That’s high school, baby. Not far from that in the greater sporting universe is a very different reporting angle on a very similar story. Jay Mariotti, who also wishes he could unring the domestic violence bell, received a much fairer treatment, at least from most of the news stories I read about the matter. The opinion pieces rip Mariotti to well deserved shreds, but the stories that purport to be news know when to draw the line between facts and personal attacks. For example, the story I linked to earlier ended like this:

When police arrived at the apartment, Mariotti’s girlfriend had reportedly suffered cuts and bruises.

Mariotti is a panelist on the ESPN show “Around the Horn” and regularly writes for, a website owned by AOL.

No comments about his quarrelsome nature. No references to the fights he has picked with everyone in the history of sports. It’s almost as though they are intentionally respecting the ideal that the press should avoid sullying the entire potential jury pool. But when it comes to athletes, and especially the Cubs, we take the juvenile approach to journalism.

But it isn’t just the journalists, though I think it’s fair to expect better from them. Before Zambrano was suspended, I couldn’t hear a story from anyone talking about Big Z that didn’t involve an epic retelling of every past angry eruption from Mount Zambrano. Same thing happened with Milton Bradley. Why? I wish just a few more of the fans, the media, and the Cubs themselves just say, “Hey, he messed up. Whether he’s done other things before, so what? It doesn’t make the incident worse, it just makes us less patient.”

I guess this post has been robbed of its rhyme and reason. Well, not the rhyme; I rhymed facts with attacks. But it has gotten a tad sloppy, just like my high school English papers. So I’ll just cut to the point: is it too much to ask to be grown ups, at least for those of us who aren’t still in high school?

How the Cubs Became My Fountain of Youth

Forget Next Year. I’m holding on to 30 years ago.  

The cliché tells us to dance like no one’s watching. As someone who dances only when no one is watching, I can only guess that the intended conclusion of this mantra is that we should disregard everyone else’s judgments and do what makes us happy. Nobody understands that concept better than little kids. Some might say our ability to retain that shameless, childlike appreciation for the moment is what keeps us young at heart.

As Cubs fans, that’s also what keeps us sane.

I can’t speak for all of us, but I started cheering for the Cubs when I was too young to know better and too wrapped up in the joy of youth to care if it was a wise decision. I loved the Cubs, and I cheered like no one was watching. It wasn’t the only foolish road I ever ventured down, but it’s the one I’ve been on the longest.

When I think about my childish mistakes, I’m happy to leave almost all of them in the past. The crush on Morgan Dingwall. My inability to pronounce the letter R sound. The skater haircut. The hunter green and fuchsia plaid overalls or the pastel Easter-egg Skidz. Telling the photographer on Picture Day sophomore year that I didn’t need to consult a mirror before he took the shot. I have no problem leaving all these foibles in the past never to be revisited again. Repeating them wouldn’t make me feel young, it would make me feel stupid.

I regret the hair, not the hat.

For some reason, cheering for the Cubs is different. Although I’m reminded on a semi-daily basis that being a Cubs fan betrays any sense of intelligence I may have been able to establish over the course of my life, I can’t help but remember how happy I was the first time I saw with my own naive eyes the lush green blanket of grass that covered Wrigley Field. I can still tap into the wonder that washed over me as I was baptized into the aroma of beer and cigarettes and hot dogs when I first stepped through the turnstiles at the Friendly Confines. I can still taste the Pepsi that was so sweet, sharp, and chock full of ice that it burned my upper lip as I happily drank it in. I still feel the same pride I felt the first time someone explained to me the meaning of die-hard and I decided that was exactly the kind of fan I wanted to be.

There are plenty of times when allowing these feelings of unbridled juvenile rapture (brought on by a generally bad baseball team) to resurface in my grownup consciousness makes me feel like an unequivocal fool. If someone were to know how swept away with glee I become when the Cubs win a game, they’d be required by the unwritten rules of society to call me a moron to my face and in front of my children.

I don’t care. I’m putting it out there: I’m an idiot Cubs fan.

But I don’t cheer for this team because I believe all the thoughts I entertained as a kid. I don’t think the Cubs are good and everyone else is evil . . . not really. I don’t think they’re the best team no matter what and that other teams happen to win every year only because they cheat. So I don’t have a ton of patience with adults who praise or berate this team with all the logic of a six year old.

I also have no love for the people in the organization who would exploit my desire to retain the carefree passions of my youth. When I was a kid I may have had no respect whatsoever for the value of a dollar, but those days are gone. There’s only so much I’m willing to spend to be a fool for a terrible team. I’ll watch and cheer and blog like no one’s reading (which isn’t all too difficult to imagine), but I do expect something before I flatter this team by imitating their propensity for taking on debt in the name of losing.

On the other side of the spectrum of childlike wonder, though, are the people who continue to love this team simply to enjoy the action no matter how dismal, the people who cheer like no one’s watching and then continue with their lives unperturbed by the outcome. I applaud you. I hope to join you.

History and my life insurance actuary tell me there’s a not-too-small chance I’ll die without seeing the Cubs win the World Series. I’d rather not entertain the thought. Instead I’ll continue to let my inner nine year old call the shots during Cubs games without regard for how stupid I may look or sound. It’s how I stay young. It’s how I stay sane. It’s why I remain a Cubs fan. It’s why, inside at least, I will do this dance when the Cubs win while outwardly I laugh with all the mocking force I can muster. (h/t to Cubs Fan Report for the link to this video in today’s report)

Reserve Your Cubs World Series Tickets Now!

This is the year! Seriously. Kind of.

Major League Baseball has a brand new innovation this year that makes it possible for even us lowly Cubs fans to reserve our place in line for World Series tickets . . . in 2010! I wish I was kidding. Well, I wish I wasn’t being sarcastic about not kidding.

For the low, low price of $20 ($10 for NLDS and $15 for NLCS) any fan can reserve the opportunity to buy World Series tickets at the home ballpark of his or her choosing (plus a $1 per order transaction fee, because it wouldn’t be MLB if they didn’t charge you for the convenience of buying the right to buy something).  So you can go right now and be assured that if the Cubs make the World Series, you’ll have a chance to buy a ticket at face value. No strings attached. No chance in hell attached, either, but that’s your gamble.

As Cubs fans, this is a joke. I mean, this year, this is an absolute waste of money. Had the playoffs not been a (crack) pipe dream since mid-June, it would be a nice opportunity to avoid the scalpers and get a real shot at playoff tickets with an additional surcharge as small as $10 per ticket.

But if you’re an enterprising mind, and you don’t mind going piecemeal at 2 tickets per household, nothing’s stopping you from buying the right to postseason tickets to any other team. Might as well buy reservations for White Sox World Series tickets. Or Cardinals, Reds, or any other rival whose fans you’d like to skewer with delicious price gauging.

This is all in theory, of course. I’m not advising anyone of doing anything unethical. But hypothetically, I know some good victims. Actually, there are probably Cubs fans who, as you read, are getting swindled into reserving seats for their place in history. Might as well make your money, too.

UPDATE: Be sure to check out Tim McGinnis’s take as a season-ticket holder over at Tales from Aisle 424.

Article | First Things: The Perfect Game

Article | First Things: The Perfect Game:

“These—and I shall close on this thought—are the great moral lessons that only a game with baseball’s long season and long history and dramatic intensity can impress on the soul: humility, long-suffering, dauntless love, and inexhaustible faith in the face of invincible misfortune. I could no more abandon my Orioles than I could repudiate my family, or my native heath, or my own childhood—even though I know it is a devotion that can now bring only grief. I know, I know: Orioles fans have not yet suffered what Boston fans suffered for more than twice the term of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness, or what Cubs fans have suffered for more than a century; but we have every reason to expect that we will. And yet we go on. The time of tribulation is upon us, and we now must make our way through its darkness, guided only by the waning lights of memory and the flickering flame of hope, not knowing when the night will end but sustained by the sacred assurance that whosoever perseveres to the end shall be saved.”

If you thought I took baseball seriously (I do) or that the fans kind enough to comment here feel strongly about the Cubs (they do) you should read this description of baseball as the perfect game. (h/t to my Russian friend, Elena, to whom I taught everything I could about baseball and who taught me everything I know about the Russian language)