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)


Bracelets always help make decisions easier.

Derrek Lee exercised his no-trade clause to void a deal that would have sent him to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California Past the Second Hot-Dog Stand. He told reporters that he agonized over the decision, but ultimately decided to stay with the Cubs for the remainder of the year because it’s better for his family to do so.

Doug Glanville recently posted his thoughts on just how hard it is on a ballplayer to change teams midyear, and I’m sure there’s a lot of truth to that. But what if there wasn’t? What if it were simply a change of wardrobe and an increased chance of winning? If you were in Derrek Lee’s place, and changing teams had absolutely no effect on you outside the world of baseball, would you do it?

Because that’s exactly the scenario facing every Cubs fan in the world. Switching teams would be painless. I could become an Angels fan right now, and the only thing it would cost me would be the price of a new hat, some t-shirts, and the pro-rated deal to watch the remaining Angels games on Seriously, I could turn this into an Angels blog overnight or whatever team I choose.

You could do it, too. If you want to trade yourself to the Yankees, here’s the Replacement Level Yankees Weblog to get you started. Become a fan, enjoy the wins, and put the mock-agony that is being a Cubs fan in your rearview mirror. You’re welcome.

Don’t bother telling me how different it is, because I’ve already established that it’s a lot different. It’s harder on a baseball player to switch teams. It would be easy for you. That’s how it’s different. Yet you still don’t want to do it. Actually, if you have, I won’t hold the decision against you any more than I blame Derrek Lee for not switching teams.

I’d like to know, now that the Astros have tossed yet another shovelful of dirt onto the Cubs’ coffin, will you switch teams for a shot at cheering for a winner? Put on the bracelet and decide, and then get back to me with your thoughts on Derrek Lee’s much tougher choice.

What the Past Year Has Told Us About the Ricketts(es)

Pete, Todd, Laura, and Tom Ricketts discuss plans to launch a Fat Albert cover band.

I’ve heard from a lot of Cubs fans who believe the Jim Hendry not-yet firing (and the fire sale that still lacks the spark The Boss told us was essential for such matters) tells you all you really need to know about the Ricketts family. There isn’t consensus on what that is, but people’s opinions on the matter have galvanized considerably. Here’s the gist of some of the varied views:

The Ricketts are typical fans who plan on catering to their own kind. They don’t know what they’re doing, they’re fueled by emotions and dreams and rainbows and latent racism, and deep down they probably have no desire to win as long as everyone enjoys their time at the ballpark.

We knew the Ricketts were fans when their names emerged as candidates to buy the team, but I don’t know what they’ve done that reflects the mob mentality of fans in general. Some say the Ricketts were behind Milton Bradley’s suspension. Others point to the decision to stay in Mesa. In my mind, both of those were no-brainers although the former seemed more like a vitriolic response straight from Hendry while the latter resembled shrewd business and political manipulation, not blind adherence to tradition. And keeping Hendry hardly represents the typical fan sentiment.

I just don’t see how a fan mentality has reared its irrational head in any significant way just yet.

The Ricketts are slimy suits who care only about money. I try to make it clear whether by illustration or direct statement that I know nothing about business (the lack of ads on this site says that quite loudly), but my gut tells me that the net return on the Ricketts family’s investment in the Cubs is somewhere along the lines of -$800 million. People like to point to George Steinbrenner’s windfall from increasing the value of the Yankees franchise 100 fold, but The non-Springsteen Boss bought low on the Bronx Bombers. The Cubs are never going to be a $2 billion franchise, let alone a $100 billion franchise.

Yes, they have implemented a number of revenue gimmicks: the ticket pre-sale, the noodle, and the Who Wants to Be A Middle Reliever? game show. But keeping Hendry and endorsing his “we’re not rebuilding, we’re competing” mentality is not the move of someone who prizes revenue over winning. Hendry doesn’t exactly follow the Andy McPhail Guide to Winning on the Cheap. If the Ricketts just want revenue, their going about it all wrong, and I don’t think they got rich by being that stupid.

The Ricketts don’t know baseball and are too stubborn to listen to reason. The first part may be completely true, but they haven’t done anything to show that; they certainly haven’t done anything to indicate they aren’t open to change. Hiring Ari Kaplan as a stats guy was, I guarantee, not done to appease the lustful longings of Jim Hendry. Maybe Crane Kenney had something to do with it, but who cares? What does Crane Kenney do anyway? Granted, maybe the fact that there’s no impressive answer to that question is part of the problem, but I don’t think that’s the reason the Cubs’ record is what it is. It would be nice if the Cubs had a baseball genius as president of the organization, but Kenney isn’t standing in the way of progress. He’s probably more there for his business acumen than anything, and the Cubs franchise is a rather big business.

The bottom line, though, is that Tom Ricketts really hasn’t made a single baseball move to this point. Lou’s retiring on his own. Kenney and Hendry still have jobs. They play walk-up music now. The only thing Ricketts has really shown is some semblance of patience. I thought that was a virtue.

I don’t think we’ll get an accurate read on Tom Ricketts as owner until 2011. We’ll see, over a year removed from the ownership transition, how much Jim Hendry is allowed to spend and how many prospects he’s allowed to ship out. We’ll see what happens to ticket prices. We’ll see a new manager hired, but not by Tom Ricketts. He said he’ll let the baseball people make the baseball decisions, and I don’t think he would keep Jim Hendry as GM if he didn’t intend to do that. If the owner doesn’t agree with what Hendry wants to do, he has little incentive to continue to employ him.

And if Hendry fails to deliver with a gun* to his head, that’s when Tom Ricketts’ ownership style will truly come to light. When he begins the interview process for new GMs, he’ll run into a few people who tell him the Cubs can’t win until they clean house. He’ll hear from people who believe the GM should have more control over on-field decisions and policies than the manager. He’ll interview a person or two who think day baseball is killing the Cubs, that sabermetrics wed to scouting can end the curse, or that putting Cashner in the bullpen has retarded his career as a starter beyond repair. What he does when he has to make that choice, or if he allows someone as baseball-illiterate as Crane Kenney to make that choice for him, then we’ll know something significant about this family whose name defies pluralization.

But right now we know very little. At least I do, and I stand behind that.

Second-Half Survival Strategies for Cubs Fans

The goal is to capture the flag. When that fails, try to avoid looking like a total idiot (unless idiocy is your strategy).

The Cubs begin play today 10 games under .500 and 10 games behind the Central Division’s new leaders, the St. Louis Cardinals. They’re 4th in the Central and 9th (9.5 GB) in the Wild Card standings. None of those circumstances fill me with joy, but the state of the 2010 Cubs season makes me feel a lot like Miracle Max overlooking the Man in Black’s mostly dead body: I’ve seen worse.

Aside from going through the team’s pockets to look for loose change, the prevailing opinion among pessimists, realists, and guarded optimists has been that the Cubs should hold a fire sale. Toss the bulky expiring contracts overboard like so much ballast from the sinking ship and try to sail again next year (or the year after that {or the year after that}). Other more delightedly delusional fans think it’s not too late for the Cubs (yes, the Chicago Cubs) to make a run at the postseason. These fans seem open to a trade or two, but the only white flags they want to see waving at Wrigley are the ones of the rarely used W variety.

I don’t know what the Cubs should (or even can) do, but I want to help you, my fellow Cubs fan, understand what your options are as our team finishes out the remaining 70 games in this seemingly interminable season. Is it too late to hope, and what should we be hoping for? Let’s survey the landscape and see what mindset will result in the fewest headaches and/or heartbreaks.

The division-leading Cardinals have a .554 winning percentage, which puts them on pace for a 90-win season. For the Cubs to win 90 games, they need to go 49-21 the rest of the way. That’s a .700 winning percentage. A lot of people reference the resurgent White Sox as the standard of improbable turnarounds, but even before their three-game skid against the Twins, the White Sox previous 70-game stretch was an impressive 43-27, a .614 win percentage.

The Cards and Reds may both fall short of 90 wins, but not by much. I highly doubt the Cubs could win the division with 84 wins, and that’s exactly what a Sox-esque turnaround would leave them with. The Wild Card race is on almost the same track, so there’s no need for further exploration. The Cubs need about three miracles to reach the postseason. So here are your options:

Keep Hope Alive
This is the big risk/big reward tactic. There’s almost no chance you’ll be right, and everyone will label you the village idiot for as long as you hold the opinion and a turncoat the moment you give up. If you wind up being right, you can brag and rejoice in the integrity of your faith, but . . . yeah, it ain’t happening.

Keep Quiet
This approach requires you to become the cliché. Take it one game at a time. Stay within yourself. Don’t try to do more than you can do. As a fan, it’s not a bad place to be, especially if the Cubs play half decent and the front office does nothing especially inspiring. You don’t get carried away in positive or negative emotion and you don’t get burned. People might call you a bandwagon rider or fair-weather fan, but it’s better than idiot.

Burn Hope Alive
You want the fire sale. You want the number 1 pick in the 2011 draft. You want every player gone and every staff member fired. Except Larry Rothschild. He’s a lifer now like Yosh Kawano. But everyone else can go. Your target for victory is 2013 at the earliest because the entire Cubs organization will consist of rookies and prospects by the time the fire sale is over. The emotional benefit is that Cubs wins are still nice and Cubs losses are even better. On the downside, though, your dependence shifts from the product on the field to the quality of the off-the-field decisions. If you thought Ryan Theriot swinging at the first pitch was infuriating, good luck putting up with Jim Hendry’s inactivity. You’ll also be labeled “not a real fan,” which, I’m guessing, you’ve learned to live with.

Wait for Heaven to Come in 2011
If you’re in this group, Jim Hendry will welcome you with open arms. When Lou says the team is more seller than buyer, he’s not speaking on a hunch. But Hendry has tempered any fan dreams of a fire sale by saying that any move the Cubs make will be to help the team for next year. It could happen, I guess. The upside is, you can enjoy making fun of how bad the team is now while still reveling in the occasional win. The rub is that the offseason becomes a hot stove headache. You probably won’t agree with a single move Jim Hendry (or his possible replacement) makes the entire time even though you approve of his general approach to stay competitive. You’ll still be regarded as a fan, but you probably won’t enjoy yourself.

Cheer for a Good Team
Sorry, but none of these options smell like survival to me. If you’re looking to enjoy baseball, you might be better off picking a team with a better prognosis. You’ll be branded a traitor, but, like LeBron James, your chances at celebrating a championship will go way up.

I wish the outlook was cheerier, folks, but being a Cub fan and winning don’t exactly go hand in hand. If you enjoy this Way of [L]ife (which I do, for whatever reason) just bear it. Grinning is optional.

What Cubs Fans Can Learn from LeBron

I’ve heard wanting to win at all costs is a way of life, too, but I’ll have to take LeBron’s word for it. Maybe it has something to do with being a Yankees fan.

Opinions about LeBron James’s decision are like pirated versions of the summer blockbuster Inception; if you’re an absolute Google expert, I’m sure you can find at least one online. Alright, maybe I’ve understated the ubiquity of Lebronology on the Interweb, but this topic is experiencing a dearth of understatement, so I thought I’d do my best to help out.

The Decision, for its depraved lack of subtlety, is not without its valuable lessons. LeBron made a rather sick display, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert responded in kind, and every sports journalist in America (along with some ESPN employees) overreacted to both of them. All of the overreactions can teach us Cubs fans a thing or three about the dangers inherent in caring about sports.

Sport is, by definition, an exercise in amusement, so the waves of reactionary rage rippling through the sports world betray the concept of entertainment just a tad. For LeBron, basketball is his profession (as is inflating his image, and I don’t mean that sarcastically; his image is his livelihood). I understand why this is important to him. Dan Gilbert stands to lose a lot of games and a lot of money, so I understand why he’s angry along with the citizens of Cleveland who suffer the economic ramifications of LBJ’s departure. The rest of the outrage feeds off moral indignation and jilted fanaticism. I ride on both bandwagons as much as the next guy, so I can’t criticize too heavily except to say we should all probably just move on to the learning stage of this saga.

The first lesson, taught by Professor James, is that people who win don’t befriend too many losers along the way. The New York Yankees and their fans don’t care that you don’t like them. Their goal is not to win friends but to win championships. If the public were to arrive at a consensus that the Yankees are fair, modest, and considerate of the desires of their small-market competitors, someone by the name of Steinbrenner would start firing people until that perception met it its untimely doom. Anyone who really wants to win at all costs will suffer a considerable amount of hatred and dismiss it happily as collateral damage.

An insatiable desire to win will make people do unpopular things. For those with power, talent, and foresight, acts of desperation usually correspond to strides of great progress (and the occasional embarrassing LeBronesque largesse). For the Cubs and their fans, desperation usually just leads to stupidity. We want the Cubs to win so badly, we’re willing to believe it’s possible. We’ll offer up suggestions that, if followed, are sure to make it happen. We’ll buy tickets and merchandise and electronic delivery systems that allow us to feed the Cubs’ coffers in the hopes that our financial and emotional investments will lead to a championship that is all the more honorable and valuable because of its overwhelming unlikelihood.

When the miracle doesn’t happen, we have a chance to learn the lesson taught in glorious Comic Sans by Dan Gilbert. He was angry. Langston Hughes told us what to expect when a dream is deferred, and in Gilbert’s case, it exploded. It’s not cause for intense analysis anymore than Z’s dugout tirade was. He was angry. Angry people say and do stupid things sometimes. Whoa! Shocker! The lesson: don’t put a whole lot of stock in what angry people say. And maybe try not to get so angry about a game.

When the Cubs lose, we tend to respond by saying ridiculously stupid things. Sometimes in defiance of the team, sometimes in their defense, but more often than not in stupidity. I don’t want to begrudge people their murderous Cubs rants. They are what they are. I just want to make sure we understand that what they are is generally stupid. It’s a way of life, not a way of genius.

The third and final lesson comes from all the fans and media members who feel the need to spout off about these events as though it’s Churchill and Roosevelt in whose hands the state of the world rests. I don’t expect people to stop discussing it, but do we have to take it all so seriously? The same goes for the Cubs. Obviously, I’m a Cubs blogger so I’m devoting an unnatural allotment of time and effort to this baseball team. It’s a sickness, and I understand that. Save yourselves! But seriously, if I may be so bold, I suggest we enjoy this team for the amusement they provide and to walk away when it starts feeling like suffering. Maybe not a total break up, but a break nonetheless. Hey, look, it’s three days off, right on time!

To sum up the LeBron thoughts, we have ambitious guy, angry guy, and analyst people, all of whom are primarily concerned with a bouncy ball and guys in shorts. I’m as guilty as anyone of caring too much about any of that. And all I’ve got to say is . . .

Swing Away, Ryan

TOKYO - MAY 28:  Singer Mariah Carey throws the ceremonial first pitch before Japanese professional baseball match between Yomiuri Giants and Rakuten Golden Eagles at Tokyo Dome on May 28, 2008 in Tokyo, Japan.(Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)
Yes, Ryan Theriot swung at this pitch.

If I were to rank the complaints of Cubs fans this year on a scale of frequency and intensity of the rants, Ryan Theriot’s approach at the plate would probably rank somewhere around the 4th spot in between Zambrano’s tumult and John Grabow’s existence. Honestly, the objections of this fan base are so voluminous and varied, ranking them would be almost as difficult as addressing them.

Ordered lists of grievances aside, we can all agree that Ryan Theriot’s concept of patience has forced Cub fans to lose theirs. He swings at the ceremonial first pitch. He swings at bean balls. When the visiting team hits a home run, his biggest regret is not having a bat to swing when the bleacher bums throw the ball back. There’s no question what the perception is: Theriot loves to swing at the first pitch. I guess my only remaining questions are, Does he? and Should he?

Does Ryan Theriot love to swing at the first pitch?
First of all, I think what really bothers everyone (justifiably or not) isn’t that Theriot swings at the first pitch so much as that he puts the first pitch in play. You can see from Theriot’s plate discipline numbers that he swings at a smaller percentage of pitches out of the strike zone than the rest of the league, so it’s not a matter of Theriot swinging at bad pitches. So if he swings at a strike on the first pitch without putting it in play, the act of swinging really has no effect whatsoever other than maybe giving Theriot a better sense of timing. When Theriot swings, though, he makes contact 90.3% of the time (the 13th highest contact rate in the majors), so I really don’t think people are complaining about his first-pitch whiffs so much as his short at-bats.

So let’s just look at the plate appearances in which Theriot puts the first pitch into play, a pretty frequent occurrence. In 2010, just over 18% of Theriot’s PAs have lasted exactly one pitch. League average is about 11%. For his career, almost 16% of Riot’s plate appearances are one-pitch affairs, so he has definitely earned the reputation for hitting the first pitch more than the average player (and definitely more than the prototypical leadoff hitter). This year he’s been even more slap-happy than normal, but not much. A 2% increase represents about 14 PAs per season, and I highly doubt anyone has noticed that Theriot is hitting the first pitch an additional eight one-hundredths of a plate appearance per game.

That being said, yes, Ryan Theriot does seem to love that first pitch. Is that so wrong?

Should Ryan Theriot love to swing at the first pitch?
There are those who would say no regardless of evidence to the contrary. Since Theriot has been semi-regularly batting in the leadoff position, the unwritten (but oft spoken) rule dictates that he should take as many pitches as possible. It’s his job, I’m told, to work the count and get on base as often as possible. And in those cases when the pitcher just made the second out, he is required by law to take at least two strikes and foul off at least three pitches if necessary to give the pitcher at least a five-pitch time span in which to rest.

Forgive me for challenging the conventional wisdom, but I do think his main job is to reach base as frequently as possible and to advance as far along the basepaths as he can. I’d prefer to use wOBA, but without the split information for that particular stat I’ll look at OPS first. If Theriot’s on-base plus slugging numbers are better when swinging at the first pitch than in other situations, wouldn’t it be advisable (or at the very least forgivable) for him to continue in his relative impatience?

Well guess what: they are. For his career, Theriot’s AVG/OBP/SLG line is .349/.351/.453 when he hits (or gets hit by) the first pitch he sees, putting his 1st-pitch OPS at .803 (it’s .807 this year, so let’s just stick with the career numbers for better sample size). Now let’s look at those numbers in plate appearances he allows to go more than one pitch. After the count reaches 1-0, Theriot’s line is .287/.406/.387. Yes, his OBP goes up significantly, but his slugging plummets as well, yielding an OPS of .793. Keep in mind, that’s throughout Theriot’s career on all PAs that start with him taking a pitch and getting ahead in the count.

The difference is extremely slight, but Theriot’s ability to inflict damage on the opposition has been better when he hits the first pitch than when he gains the 1-0 advantage. What about after a first pitch strike? .266/.306/.309 with a .615 OPS. If  you’d rather see Theriot take that first pitch for a strike, you must really put a lot of stock into the benefit of “showing his teammates what the pitcher has to offer,” because the difference between hitting and taking that first strike is pretty damaging to Theriot’s chances.

All told, here’s Theriot’s career line in plate appearances that last longer than one pitch: .275/.352/.343 (.695 OPS). Here’s the net difference in his line when a Ryan Theriot PA goes beyond the one-pitch mark: -.074/+.001/-.110. So, yeah, when Theriot lets an at-bat go any longer than the minimum, he actually decreases his OPS by .109.

Complain about Theriot leading off and I’ll agree with you. Demand his trade and I won’t bat an eye. But to those clamoring for longer Theriot at-bats, I beg of you to find a new tree up which to bark. Theriot’s love affair with pitch 1 is well founded. Don’t try to get in between those two. They will very likely both hit you.

Ode to Milton

The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.

Milton Bradley and Chicago were the thorns in each other’s sides in 2009. No one disagrees that things didn’t work out, but there remains wide disagreement as to why.

Was the fault Milton’s? Did the media intentionally provoke him? Did the racist and/or temperamental fans uncork his rage? Was it just the perfect storm of blame, like BP’s greedy recklessness meeting America’s insatiable oil dependence?

Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace

And rest can never dwell, hope never comes

That comes at all.

I don’t know, and I don’t really care to discuss Milton’s time in Chicago. But I do want to take a retrospective look at the decision to bring him to Chicago and the animosity people continue to have toward him. I’m not so interested in what went wrong as much as I’m wondering how I should feel about signing a guy like Bradley or toward Bradley himself now that he’s gone.

First the decision to take on Bradley’s baggage. Julie at LOHO wrote a fantastic post awhile back including a timeline of Bradley’s personal misadventures on and off the field. Jim Hendry knew about all of that, but was convinced by Milton himself that a new leaf had been turned. Was he an idiot to take that $30 million gamble?

I know the obvious answer to that question, so I want to ignore the financial aspect and the baseball statistics.  On a matter of basic human relations, is it dumb to trust someone with a checkered past and believe he or she can change for the better? I regret to confess my natural inclination: yeah, it’s incredibly stupid. But I also think you can’t afford to go through this life without extending a little bit of stupid trust to people who ask for and depend on it.

Now conscience wakes despair

That slumber’d,—wakes the bitter memory

Of what he was, what is, and what must be


The cost of being burned by someone like Milton who disappoints your hopes and makes you look like a fool is smaller, I believe, than the price of quarantining yourself from anyone who has ever made more than their fair share of mistakes.

Obviously factors such as $30 million do make a difference in that philosophy. An ex-con wants to park my car? No problem. He wants to date my daughter? Not so trusting there, pal. But Milton’s not an ex-con, he’s just a troubled individual who wants to play baseball. In hindsight, I don’t mind that Hendry gave Bradley a shot. I wish it had gone better, but I hope it hasn’t destroyed his faith in humanity . . . or mercurial outfielders.

But now that our relationship as Cubs fans with Milton Bradley is over (or at least I thought it was), I don’t feel the need to close the book on my opinion of him as a person. Just as I would be willing to overlook the past transgressions of a player on his way to the Cubs, I don’t think it’s fair to define Milton Bradley by the things he did and said as a Cub—much less by the small sliver of his existence that the media reports.

A dismal universal hiss, the sound

Of public scorn.

Some people are waiting for an apology. That’s fair, I guess. Others just want nothing to do with him, and I can understand that, too. A lot of people, like certain fans in attendance at Seattle and Cubs color analysts, seem to have an active disdain for the guy. They feel how they feel. I feel better letting it go and wishing him well. That doesn’t make me a better person, but it does cut down on my stress level.

In some sense, I think Milton’s struggle is my struggle. There are things I’d like to change about myself, and I hope it’s not a waste of time. If I judge Milton as a lost cause, I don’t know what hope I can have for myself. I certainly don’t think my hatred or anyone’s will help Milton improve. And shouldn’t I want that for him? Or do the people booing Milton want him to stay who he is, or who they think he is, the vile enemy of all that is good and the rightful bearer of all blame?

I think a lot of people speak so loudly about Milton’s shortcomings so they can feel better about their own. In the grand configuration, I just think that kind of approach brings us all down. With all apologies to John Donne . . .

Any man’s downfall diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the crowd boos; it boos for me.

Curse of Cubs Fans pt. 5: We Don’t Want to Win

“Now look-a-here, fella. You got that eye wide open. An’ ya dirty, ya stink. Ya jus’ askin’ for it. Ya like it. Lets ya feel sorry for yaself. ‘Course ya can’t get no woman with that empty eye flappin’ aroun’. Put somepin over it an’ wash ya face.” Tom Joad, The Grapes of Wrath

Admit it, Cubs fans, we don’t really want this team to win. Cheering for a team that hasn’t won in over a century is a Cubbie-blue badge of courage that each and every one of us wears with pride . . . or abject humiliation of which we are proud. Deep down, we hope a World Series win will never force us to lose the emblem of our misery.

If the Cubs were to win it all, it would destroy our brand. That stupid, pennant-laden trophy would rob us of our most valuable and most pathetic commodity: our wounded puppy look. As long as we have donned the ubs-encircling C, we have known that nothing is expected of us. Some feel sorry for us. Others despise us. But whatever the reaction to our miserable appearance, no one ever thinks, “There’s a person just trying to be happy.”

That has to change, Cubs fans. We have to stop the whining, moaning, and woe-is-me-ing. We also have to stop the tidal wave of unwarranted optimism otherwise known as denial. The loyalty. They true-blue die-hardism. The foulweather fandom. It’s all a mask for our subconscious need to self-destruct. If we really want to be happy, we’ve gotta clean up and embrace real hope and genuine opportunity.

We’ve gotta cheer for someone with a chance. Yankees. Red Sox. Rays. Cardinals.

Wait, wait, wait. I’m kidding. I’m obviously kidding. I can’t take it any longer. This has been the worst week of my Cub blogging life. I mean, I’m used to writing crap, but it’s usually not this intentional. I know Cubs fans aren’t to blame for the team losing (though we do plenty that simply doesn’t help matters). I just wondered how fans would feel to be the butt of ridiculous criticism.

We call perennial All-Stars bums. We call future Hall-of-Fame managers idiots. We demand the firing of the most successful general manager in the team’s history on a daily basis. We wonder why the new owners haven’t won a World Series three month’s into their first season at the helm. I get it, the Cubs are losing, and not all their decisions have worked out or even made any sense. I just don’t comprehend the hubris.

I don’t care what the Disney movies taught you about dreaming big and believing in yourself, you would not do better at third than Aramis Ramirez. You wouldn’t be a better manager than Lou Piniella. You probably couldn’t hire a better GM than Jim Hendry let alone do a better job at it than he has.

Meh. Everyone’s entitled to their opinions, but most of them are better kept private, especially when they have very little basis in fact, logic, and at least a tiny sliver of compassion.

Curse of Cubs Fans pt. 4: We’re Morans

Whoever made this picture should have explained what upside-down-U means.

I’ll try to keep this simple for all of us who are as dumb as I am. My paragraphs will be short.

I have already made it perfectly clear that Cubs baseball makes me stupid. I wish I was kidding. Or I wish I were kidding. I don’t know, whatever. Watching the Cubs makes me dumb, and I think it attracts dumb people or people who wish to be as dumb as me. Or I. My head hurts.
The point is, the Cubs stink because it is the destiny of people dumb enough to cheer for them to never be rewarded for our foolishness. Stick your fingers under a running lawnmower, and you’ll never in a hundred years be glad you did. Same goes for being a Cubs fan. 
There probably are some smart people who like the Cubs, but I think they’re just put in place by Yankee fans to keep us from endangering the rest of the population. Without proper supervision, we might just go around rooting for car wrecks or proving we can fly off of buildings. Sure, we could prove Darwin right, but we might take out some intelligent bystanders along with us, and that just isn’t fair.
You know what is fair? The Cubs never winning. We deserve it. We’re dumb. Actually, the Cubs could probably win the World Series this year, and we just may be too stupid to realize what’s going on. We’re that dumb. I think we are. I don’t know. 
All I do know is that being too stupid is the criticism usually levied against management and players when they don’t succeed, so it’s only fair for to subject ourselves to the same argument. I only know that because I tattooed it on my arm during an off day. 
I don’t know what it means, though. If any fans of other teams would like to explain it to me, I’d really appreciate it.