The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Was it a great year for the Cubs?

The Tribune waxes rhapsodic about the season that was:

Let's take stock of all that before we start with the wait-till-next-year business.

Let's celebrate this year.

It was awesome. It was unexpected. It was thrilling.

It was a gift to the city of Chicago from a team of overachievers, including four standout rookie starters.

Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Cubs all-time postseason home run leader Kyle Schwarber, age 22. Rookie of the year candidate Kris Bryant, 23. Cardinal-killer Jorge Soler, 23. And who knows how this series might have ended if clutch-hitter Addison Russell hadn't been forced to sit out with a pulled hamstring? He's 21.

Sure. Let me put it another way, in October 1918:

Let's take stock of all that before we start with the wait-till-reparations-are-paid business.

Let's celebrate this war.

It was awesome. It was unexpected. It laid waste to Belgium.

It was a gift to the nations of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Russia—sorry, the Soviet Union (a brand-new country!)—from a team of overconfident aristocrats, including four standout emperors.

Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the largest sum ever spent on a war in the history of mankind: $337 billion, which will be $5.3 trillion adjusted for inflation just 97 years from now. Fourteen million dead (equivalent to 56 million in 2015), not including the 20 million who are about to die of influenza. And who knows how this war would have ended had we not attacked American ships in the Atlantic? Maybe we would have held Alscace for another century. And who will ever forget how tanks changed the game entirely? No more endless trench warfare! Huzzah!

No, guys. The Cubs lost. Again. They lost the league for the 70th time in a row. They haven't won the World Series since just after Henry Ford sold his first Model T. They bloodly lost.

So win the damn pennant, and STFU until then.

AC0070107

It's a little like hearing from an abusive partner a year after breaking up. Glad you're doing better, glad you're getting on your feet, but you're still doing the really bad things that led to me leaving, so no, don't call again.

I've been a Cubs fan for most of my life, as were my parents before me, and some of my ancestors before them. My mother lived and died without seeing them in the World Series, as have about two billion other people who were born after October 1945. It's possible I may never see them win the pennant either.

After last season's 89 losses—not a great improvement over 2013's 96 losses—I broke up with them. They kept saying, "I promise to do better, if only you'll give me another $1,800 and buy some $9 hot dogs." And every year, I'd fork over the money. And then I stopped.

This year they won 97 games. Mazel tov. But when it counted, when they really needed to get their shit together and win, they completely fell apart. Tonight's 8-3 loss to the Mets ended what the Tribune unironically called the Cubs' "Magical Season," perhaps forgetting that they've done this repeatedly.

Keep in mind, they were the wild card this year; the Pirates and the Cardinals had 98 and 100 wins, respectively, putting the Cubs in third place at season's end. And the Cubs had 97 wins in 2008, another heartbreaking year. (And 98 wins in 1945, which wasn't so heartbreaking only because no one could foresee, just a few weeks after the end of World War II, and after the Cubs had just played their third World Series in 10 years, that the Cubs would never win another pennant.)

So tonight, I have mixed feelings. I'm happy the Cubs did better this year than in the preceding six. And I think they have some potential to win next season. But after 70 years, I just can't keep expending emotional energy on them anymore.

Someday, probably, they will win the pennant. Someday they might even win the World Series. But after so many chokes, after so many goats, after so many abject failures when it really counted, I'm done. I was done at the beginning of this season, and I'm still done. I wish the team well in 2016. I hope the fans enjoy the games. But until the Cubs actually win the National League Championship, I'm not giving them a dime. You can call me a fair-weather fan, or you can acknowledge that after hoping against reason for more than 40 seasons that this year could be the year, not giving any more shits is a rational response.

Maybe next year...but I won't be there.

Note: The title of this post echoes a sign across Sheffield from the park. The letters "AC" mean "Anno Catuli:" "Year of the Cub." The first two digits (00) count the years from them last winning the division, the second two (70) from the National League championship, and the remainder (107) from the World Series. They had to add another digit after the 2008 season. That should have told you something.

 

Sports game interfering with trivia

Tonight's pub quiz got cancelled because of some sports game.

Long-time Daily Parker readers may remember I used to go to lots of Cubs games. Then I got season tickets, after which they lost 185 games in the following two seasons. So we didn't re-up, and this year, the cubs won 97 and tonight will play game 3 of the NLCS.

This year I've been pretty annoyed with myself, and with the team, so I'm just not into the playoffs. Not to mention, this season feels a lot like 2008 or even 2003, both of which ended in heartbreak. The Cubs' 0-2 hole in this year's series is achingly familiar.

So, we're looking forward to a Halloween-themed pub quiz next Tuesday—unless the Cubs do win the pennant, in which case I will, if only because my mother would have wanted it, watch them play game 1 in Toronto or Kansas City.

Incidentally, has anyone else noticed that all four teams in this years' playoffs have dark blue uniforms? And that this may be the first World Series in 22 years with a team from outside the United States? (That interval might possibly be shorter if there were more than one team in major league baseball from abroad. To the extent Toronto qualifies as "abroad," I guess...)

Long walks and avoiding Opening Day

Parker and I walked about 10½ km yesterday, resulting in plenty of sleep and (probably) sore paws for both of us. We also got caught in a pneumonia front, in which late-afternoon cooling stops driving a land breeze and allows denser, cooler air from the lake to spread outward over the shore. Temperatures dropped from 18°C to 9°C in twenty minutes—unfortunately, the 20 minutes coinciding from our farthest distance from home. This bothered Parker a lot less than it bothered me, owing to his two fur coats, but fortunately I had an extra layer available. And I walk fast.

I also stayed away from Opening Night at Wrigley, the first regular game of the baseball season, in which the Cubs got their asses handed to them by the Cardinals 3-0. (They went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position, too. Great work, guys.) The New York Times called the game "beginning their 107th year of waiting for a World Series title." Sounds about right.

More stuff to read on the plane

With a little more than five days until my next international flight, I'm stocking up my Kindle:

UAT release this afternoon. Back to the galley.

Cubs labor practices may have caused rare game review

The Sun-Times reported last night that the Cubs organization's desire to avoid paying heath-care benefits required by Obamacare led to the tarp-rolling error Tuesday night that, in turn, almost caused a forfeit:

The staffing issues that hamstrung the grounds crew Tuesday during a mad dash with the tarp under a sudden rainstorm were created in part by a wide-ranging reorganization last winter of game-day personnel, job descriptions and work limits designed to keep the seasonal workers – including much of the grounds crew – under 130 hours per month, according to numerous sources with direct knowledge.

Sources say 10 crew members were sent home early by the bosses Tuesday night with little, if any, input from the field-level supervisors.

Tuesday's game was rained out in part because the ground crew couldn't deploy the tarp over the infield correctly. This caused water to pool on the infield dirt and grass, making the field unplayable. Since the game had gone into the 5th inning, and the Cubs were ahead, a rain out would have meant a Cubs win. The Giants successfully protested, the first time since 1986 for a Major League team.

Keep in mind, the Cubs have more revenue than 26 of the 29 other MLB teams. And they don't want to provide basic benefits to their employees?

Why do I keep going to games again?

Wrigley Field's "paid attendance"

The Wall Street Journal explains why the Cubs can sell 38,000 seats and only get 19,000 asses in them:

Since 2009, ticket sales are down almost 6,500 a game. Where have all the Cub fans gone?

The answer may be that they've in effect awakened from a beer-soaked party.

Over the first four years of Ricketts ownership, attendance sank 13.7%. It is flat so far this year versus 2013, but the figures don't include the legions of no-shows. "I have plenty of friends with tickets who can't get rid of them," said Jon Greenberg, executive editor of Team Marketing Report.

Count me in that group. After sitting through six innings of last night's sad 8-3 loss against the Giants (in which the Giants hit and fielded better than any team I've seen this season), we left shaking our heads. We've still got tonight's game available, plus the 4:05 pm back half of Tuesday's game, but we can't sell them. The Cubs will count our tickets as "paid attendance" even though no one will be using them.

It's even odds whether we're going to renew our season tickets next year, especially if the Cubs don't drop the prices. Unfortunately, it's even worse odds that the Cubs will end the season out of last place.

The rain in Ohio lands mainly on the bayou

(Hm. That didn't quite work, did it?)

We're now in our final weekend (for the time being) in Cleveland, and another person from the client has offered to take us to another Indians game. Two things:

1. I hope they play. Tonight's forecast calls for thunderstorms and rain.

2. If they do play, I hope they do better than last week.

The Indians are at .500, dead-center in the league, the division, and in all of baseball. Tonight they're (scheduled) to play the Diamondbacks, who are just one game ahead of the Cubs and so not a particularly threatening opponent.

Come on, rain. Go away.

Photo from the game

From yesterday's game—with its 22,000 paid attendance:

Progressive Field holds 43,500 people (compared with Wrigley's 41,100) and yet has worse attendance this year. The Cubs are averaging 32,000 fans per game, with no game coming in under 25,000 paid; Cleveland is getting 18,600 per game with some early spring games pulling in fewer than 10,000. This, despite the Cubs holding onto last place like they're afraid to fall off the chart, and the Indians actually being the wild card at the moment.

Progressive Field isn't a bad ballpark. The Indians aren't a bad team. I guess Cleveland just isn't a huge baseball town.