Chicago Cubs Aren’t Being Held to a Different Standard by Chicago Fans & Media – They’re Being Held to No Standard

by Kent Sterling

The microphones all eagerly await the next load of crap from a man who dispenses quite a bit of it.

The microphones all eagerly await the next load of crap from a man who dispenses quite a bit of it.

It’s hard to know who to be more pissed off at – the idiots who continue to pay retail to watch horrible baseball in Wrigley Field, or the morally bankrupt ownership who continues to charge among the highest prices in baseball for a product they know is incapable of a reasonable facsimile of success.

By listening to fans and media in Chicago, you would think that winning is impossible for the Cubs without another three years of losing.

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The media applaud the incredible work done by the Cubs brass to sign four of the top 23 international prospects – including the top two – while the team is an overwhelming failure for the fifth straight season.  They mention quietly that Eloy Jimenez, Erling Moreno, and Gleyber Torres are 16, and top scouts are unsure what their ceilings are or when they might reach the majors (2018 is the most optimistic estimate).  Jen-Ho Tseng is 18, and my guess is that he’s two years closer than the other three.

Comcast Sports Chicago shows home runs hit by prospect Javier Baez in AA as though his runs count at Wrigley Field today.  Jorge Soler is injured, and fans talk about how this will delay the resurgence of a franchise that has played in the postseason in back-to-back seasons only in years ending in 07 and 08 (1907 and 1908; 2007 and 2008) in the last 106 years.

So as we move toward the 10th anniversary of the most disappointing moment on a long list of disappointing moments for a franchise whose brand is the very embodiment of disappointment, the dynamic duo of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are setting a miraculous standard of soft-selling that is designed to extend their contracts rather than to bring championships to a 100 year-old building that has never experienced one.

That seems to be fine with everyone.  Does the acceptance of losing by the team doing the losing absolve them from justifying wildly aggressive ticket prices as they relate to success?

The Cubs are on a pace to lose 92.178 games this season after losing 101 games in 2012.  Never before have the Cubs lost more than 193 games in any two consecutive seasons – ever.  As bad as the Cubs of the College of Coaches were, they never lost like this era of Cubs might.  As horrible a team as the Cubs had in 1999-2000 and 1974-1975, they never lost 194 games.  Only once have the Cubs lost 90+ games for three straight years – 1960-1962.  That appears to be a likelihood in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

The Cubs front office is applauded by fans and the media for trying something radical – like losing – as though losing has never happened before to the Cubs.  No, losing has been tried – in spades.  Maybe this is the first time it has become a strategy that is openly discussed, but there have been decades of losing through incompetence that sustained a routine of heartbreak unrivaled in the history of sport.

The supossed young core around which the Cubs will build – Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Jeff Samardzija, and Edwin Jackson – have been awful.  Shouldn’t someone be held accountable for the current train wreck before we celebrate a 2019 World Championship six years early?

Yet Cubs fans and the media are ready to host a parade for Theo and Jed – the duo who finally made hope impossible to justify to a fanbase whose willingness to hope in the face of all logic is their only redeeming virtue.

If longtime Chicago Ford dealer Bert Weinman sold cars by claiming the highest prices and lowest quality, he could open a showroom where the Cubby Bear is and make millions.

I know exactly where I sat for each of the dozens of Cubs games my Dad took me to.  I know where I sat to watch games with Nick Anson when we were in high school.  The first day our son was allowed to leave our apartment after he was born ill, my wife and I took him to a double header in which – not surprisingly – the Cubs were swept.  I know exactly where I sat with Bill, Larry, and other friends in Chicago on so many great afternoons and nights I can’t count them.  I mention all that to let you know that Wrigley Field is among my favorite places on the planet.

But I can’t in good conscience watch a game at 1060 West Addison because the evil men running the show are frauds.  The owner is a liar who threatened to leave Wrigley Field when he had no interest in doing so.  Wrigley Field is the only asset drawing fans through turnstiles, and without it the Cubs would be the Miami Marlins.  He also guaranteed a championship if updates to Wrigley were approved.  Choose the story that resonates best.

The president and GM are allocating resources to sign school kids whose minor league development will last well into their second contracts.  Over three million per year with no chance of winning until year five at the earliest is a hell of a deal for Theo.

In my lifetime, the Cubs have been woeful, mediocre, five outs away, pathetic, thrilling, and moving.  I’ve laughed, cried, and died just a little bit at Wrigley Field.  As a Cubs fan, I’ve been disappointed, excited, bored, and tortured.  But I never felt cheated until Tom Ricketts bought the team.

I knew that being a Cubs fans was a choice that came with risks – like never knowing what it was like to celebrate – but I never felt duped or stupid until Ricketts spoke of living across the street, guaranteed championships, or abandoning Wrigley Field.

There is no doubt that Ricketts is a smart man, but he has one fatal flaw – he thinks Cubs fans are all idiots.

I wish one person in Chicago would stand up and say so.  Where’s Mike Royko when we need him?

38 Responses to Chicago Cubs Aren’t Being Held to a Different Standard by Chicago Fans & Media – They’re Being Held to No Standard
  1. James
    August 19, 2013 | 5:51 pm

    You literally are an idiot! The cubs are trying something THEY have never done before which is tear down an entire roster plus minor leagues and start over. Yes the losing sucks but its also helpful to their overall plan since the worse the record then then better the draft pick. Let them mold this team the way they want and then comeback and criticize them if it doesn’t work. I for one am strongly in favor of what they are doing!

    • kentsterling
      August 19, 2013 | 8:19 pm

      You are the problem with the Cubs. To not see ticket prices where they are as the roster is dismantled as a problem paints you as a moron – literally.

      • James 2
        August 19, 2013 | 8:25 pm

        Dear Mr. Sterling,

        Nope, you’re the problem with the Cubs.

        Your “win now at all costs” mantra makes it impossible to build a team the right way.

        • kentsterling
          August 19, 2013 | 9:47 pm

          Where did you read, “win now at all costs.” I would settle for “don’t lose now at all costs,” or “during our remodeling of the roster and farm system, we don’t expect you to pay insane price for tickets to watch us flop around like wayward carp on a river shore.”

      • Not Kent Thank God
        August 20, 2013 | 3:01 pm

        The problem is you don’t seem to comprehend how the new CBA has affected baseball teams and the rebuilding process.

        • kentsterling
          August 20, 2013 | 7:32 pm

          Of course I do, and so do the other 29 teams in baseball. Do you think they all had strokes and that only Jed and Theo have the mysteries of the CBA figured out? It’s going to change again when an inter national draft is implemented.

          The Cardinals tendered Kyle Lohse so that when he was signed they would get a compensatory pick at #28. While the Cubs moan about the need to lose to rebuild their farm system, the Cardinals had two picks in the first round in 2013, and five in the top 60 in 2012 – the year after they won a World Championship.

          You don’t seem to comprehend that losing as an aid to winning is an idiocy.

          • Not Kent Thank God
            August 20, 2013 | 11:30 pm

            And who were the Cubs supposed to make a QO to that wouldn’t accept to get that extra pick last year? I’d really love to know how they should have had an offseason more like the Cardinals…

          • kentsterling
            August 21, 2013 | 7:46 am

            There are plenty of ways to find additional draft picks. The previous year, they traded for guys like Jackson and Dotel, whose leaving as free agents caused more compensatory picks. The CBA no longer allows that, but the Cardinals have built their team with idea of winning now and capitalizing on the system to rebuild simultaneously.

            At least this year, the Cubs dealt for additional international cash so they could sign talented children – a crap shoot, but maybe they get lucky.

            The point is that the Cardinals have been clever for a lot longer than the Cubs, and if they Cubs are ever going to catch the Cardinals, they are going to have to be more clever, and I don’t see that happening.

            Edwin Jackson is a good example. The trade for him in 2011, get decent value as he posts decent numbers, then let him walk. The cash in on the draft pick.

            Four years, $52 million was idiocy.

          • Not Kent Thank God
            August 21, 2013 | 8:01 am

            You’re using examples that are no longer relevant to try and prove a point you don’t understand. It’s still apples to oranges.

            The Cubs will eventually work like the cardinals, except with more budget flexibility in the long run. The problem is, you need to go through this in order to set the team up for success as quickly as possible.

            It’s funny you bring up the Torreyes trade as if its a good thing – it wasn’t. It was actually the one really bad move made by Theo and Jed, as they undervalued the price of international cap space. They traded for an extra million on their 5.5 ‘cap’ and then STILL blew past the max penalty. I’m glad they were willing to spend, but they basically gave Torreyes away for $800k cash. It’s not likely a move that will ever bother us, but it was the one error in judgement they’ve shown.

            All your talking points continue to point to the fact that you have knowledge of what is happening, but no clue on the why.

          • kentsterling
            August 21, 2013 | 12:03 pm

            The point is that regardless of the CBA, the Cardinals find way to operate better and smarter than damn near anyone. The language of the CBA doesn’t matter, because the Cardinals find a way to work it.

            You are reading things you do not understand and applying them to what you do understand to draw the wrong conclusion. You should play cards with Jed and Theo.

    • James 2
      August 19, 2013 | 8:22 pm

      All James need to say was the first sentence.

      You don’t understand baseball and have a wrapped view of history. Please feel free to stop talking, you are making everyone around you dumber.

      • kentsterling
        August 19, 2013 | 9:52 pm

        My ‘wrapped’ view of history is that if the Cubs lose 90 this season – as they are on pace to do – it will be the second time in their history that they will have posted back-to-back-to-back 90 loss seasons, and if you can come up with a reason for optimism the streak won’t run to four, I’m all ears.

        You aren’t a Cubs fan. You are a Cubs delusionist. Over two-million of you boobs have purchased tickets at ridiculous prices to watch bad baseball while drinking overpriced beer.

        Keep feeding the monster, and there will be no disincentive for continued misery.

  2. Kevin Lynch
    August 19, 2013 | 9:49 pm

    Hi Kent,
    As a Cards fan, I am not surprised that the Cubs are lousy, again, and the duo you note reminds me of the STL football Cardinals that were loveable losers with George Boone picking the talent. When I lived in Chicago in the early 90′s, and had season “cover charge” (tickets) to the great outdoor bar where the Cubs play, they had great talent, Maddox, Sandberg, Grace, Hawk, etc., and still disappointed their fans. Your recent taste of the winning, local STL ball club has made you watch with eyes more wide open, and I hope that when we have a terrible year in the 20′s, that your Cubs can win one, it would be very cold in hell, but kinda fun to see.

  3. Pauly Balst
    August 19, 2013 | 10:42 pm

    James and James 2, I am a 20+ season ticket holder with a nights and weekends package, 8 seats low in Section 106 behind home plate.

    I’ll sell you the entire 2014 season at face value.

    Kent knows me, contact him if you are interested

    • Tim
      August 20, 2013 | 1:05 pm

      Are you trying to prove a point or just lending some much-needed support to this crybaby column?

    • Rocky
      August 20, 2013 | 4:58 pm

      Yo Pauly – If you have seats in Section 106, you are not behind home plate. You are actually out by the Cubs bullpen. Section 120 is behind home plate.

      But nice try.

      • Pauly Balst
        August 20, 2013 | 10:35 pm

        Sorry, section 219, 8 across in row 6. I also have 4 in 106. Kent will verify. Let him know if you are interested.

        I don’t make anything from them net-net over the course of a year, so selling and going have become an annoyance. Selling the entire year is appealing. Nothing more, nothing less.

  4. Bob Rohrman
    August 19, 2013 | 10:46 pm

    Screw Bert Weinman Sterling. There’s only one, Bob Roooooaaaaarrrrrrrhrman!

  5. Mike
    August 19, 2013 | 11:16 pm

    you fail to mention management was able to get quality cheap young talent for the likes of guys we had in short term contracts such as Garza, Feldman, malholm last year, dempster last year, Soriano (not much talent in return but cubs can move on), soto (last year)… we thought Edwin Jackson would be another one of these stories but it just didn’t pan out oh well that’s why we signed him to a one year deal

    we also got rid of Andrew cashner and got Anthony Rizzo in return who has hit for a tremendous amount of power this year and seems to be a staple at first base being only 23 years old…. what about getting travis wood for sean marshall who was an allstar this year and locked up in a cheap contract for a few years?

    while we do not have the hitting this year the starting pitching has been great.. we knew hitting would be an issue… did you honestly think we would be competitive when looking at maybe the hardest division in baseball?

    come on man.. the only people getting screwed are the season ticket holders who pay full price for their tickets… but realistically when they are over a 500 ball club in 2015 those season ticket holders will make their money back…. I think you are forgetting how much transformation this management has been able to do to a roster which had no upward mobility a year and half ago

    • kentsterling
      August 20, 2013 | 9:40 am

      One factual error in your comment. Edwin Jackson signed a four-year contract at $13M per – a terrible deal by any definition for a guy who went 10-11 for the team with the best record in baseball who signed a one-year/$11M contract the previous offseason.

      There is no doubt that Jim Hendry destroyed the farm system, but the lie that losing causes winning is ridiculous. The Cardinals won the 2011 World Championship and enjoyed five picks in the first 60 of the following June Draft.

      The Cubs don’t want to spend money because they don’t have to. Theo and Jed don’t have to build a winner because they aren’t being asked to.

      Ricketts and Crane Kenney continue to play Cubs fans as saps. Until the fans wake up and embrace the fact that evil profiteers are filling their wallets with cash generated through promises for a brighter 2016 there is no hope.

      • Not Kent Thank God
        August 20, 2013 | 2:57 pm

        Holy shit, did you just use win loss as a reason for why a pitcher was bad?

        Do you actually understand anything about statistics and buildinga baseball team?

        This is painful reading at best – please stop writing about baseball forever.

        And before you try and call me out for not being a ‘true Cubs fan,’ I’m happy to discuss anything you’d like about this rebuild in detail. I could throw facts at you all day, however, but I’m sure you’d rather sit in the corner and cry with all of your baseless assumptions and win loss records.

        • kentsterling
          August 20, 2013 | 7:26 pm

          I could throw Edwin Jackson numbers at you all day, but… oh, what the hell.

          His career WHIP is 1.436. The only time he has led the league in anything is this year – in loss and wild pitches. His career ERA is 4.45. His WAA this year is -2.1, and in the year that prompted this massive upgrade of a contract it was a 0.5.

          And if the record of a pitcher of a team that finished 98-64 is below .500, that’s relevant in appraising his value, you pretentious mope.

          Next time you want to rap stats, bring some with you. Go ahead and try to find numbers that justify 4 years/$52 million.

          • Not Kent Thank God
            August 20, 2013 | 7:51 pm

            Yeah.. How about he hasn’t had a FIP or xFIP over 3.86 since 2009. He’s had between a 2.25 and 2.75 k/bb ratio each year since then as well. Outside of 2012, he has had a WAR of 3.5 or greater since 2009.

            He’s a solid #3/4 pitcher and he’s paid like it. I’m not sure what you were expecting, but that’s on you. I’m also not saying I loved the signing, just that you have no idea what you’re talking about.

          • kentsterling
            August 21, 2013 | 7:39 am

            You’re examination of number is as lacking as your critique. There is very little relevance in K/BB, especially if a pitchers allows hits with the regularity Jackson does. His career WPA is -2.36, and other than the outlier year of 2009, he has never had a WPA over .72.

            You want to invest $13M in Jackson – a guy who gives you no additional probability of winning? Go ahead.

            I wouldn’t have minded the signing so much if the Cubs had done what the Nationals did – sign him for a year. They needed an inning eater, but if they need him in 2016, all this bluster about contending is nonsense.

            The most telling stat is that Jackson has yet to turn 30, and already seven teams have agreed with me – Jackson is better off throwing against us than for us, and only one agrees with you. There the team completing the worst three year run in their history.

          • Not Kent Thank God
            August 21, 2013 | 8:08 am

            What a stupid comment. K/BB is the single most useful stat in determining future success of a pitcher. I’m being scolded on metrics from a guy who’s quoting wins, ERA and hits?

            Some of these things the pitcher controls…some of it is the players around him. As I mentioned, his FIP and xFIP are much more telling than your discussion about hits and WPA. Go read up on valuing pitchers, it will help you in the long run should you continue to write about them.

            Also, I love the argument of ‘no one signed him to the deal the Cubs did, so they all agree with .’ Not only do you not know any more than I do based on the signing (I’m assuming they didn’t invite you to his negotiations), the circumstances surrounding the signing were much different this time. Hell, like I said before, I don’t even love the Jackson signing, but I’m sitting here arguing for him simply because of how wrong you are.

          • kentsterling
            August 21, 2013 | 12:10 pm

            If you believe there is more relevant metric for determining whether a team wins or loses than runs scored or allowed, you gift for numbers belies a brain that prefers calculus to addition when addition is all that’s needed. Baseball is less complex that you make it.

            Here’s what I know about the signing of Jackson. One year before, coming off a reasonably good second half for the Cardinals, the Nationals signed him to a one-year deal for $11 million. That would suggest that no one offered more for longer. After a subpar year for the Nationals, the Cubs got wacky in signing him for more and longer to pitch for a team that by its own admission had no chance to compete until 2015 at the earliest.

    • Ken
      August 20, 2013 | 9:49 am

      Edwin Jackson is going to be pleasantly surprised to find out he signed a $52 million deal to only pitch one year not four. Travis Wood is going to be SHOCKED that he’s “locked up” in a contract and not arb-eligble next year. The no less than 155 major league players with SLG percentages higher than Anthony Rizzo’s .425 are going to DEMAND to be called TREMENDOUSLY POWERFUL. And they can only hope to someday have lifetime .230 batting averages like Rizzo.

      Yep, the Cubs sure made fools out of San Diego by dumping Andrew Cashner on them. Cashner has only won 8 games in 21 starts. What a dud! Oh, wait a minute. The most wins on the great Chicago Cubs staff is 7. (and they rank 9th in ERA)(AND they traded 2/5 of the rotation away) (AND they paid Scott Baker $5.5 million to rehab in the minors for a year instead of using the money to get some decent relief pitching and maybe compete this season because that’s all this team was missing).

      Never mind.

      • Not Kent Thank God
        August 20, 2013 | 3:00 pm

        You realize Slugging is based off of batting average, right? and that there are no where near 155 players with an ISO above .195, right? Didn’t think so.

  6. Dave
    August 20, 2013 | 12:58 pm

    Kent Sterling is throwing his name in the fray as another person hoping to make a quick hit off trolling Cubs fans, even though he is a self-proclaimed one to begin with.

    While I’m sure Kent has experienced far more pain (provided he is a real Cubs fan) than a younger fan like myself, I can’t help but recognize he does not possess the one quality of a Cubs fan that defines our fanbase- a fanatic, unwavering, to the point of illogical sense of optimism. And while I also understand that Kent has made a very good point against Theo and Jed’s rebuilding plan, I would caution going so hard against a plan that hasn’t fully metastasized. It would appear as this is more than baseball- it is business- a new model that will hopefully yield further results that climb into the sports world of Cubs fans.

    Well-written article, Mr. Sterling, but I understand this is probably the result of your frustration with the teams in recent years and your desire to promote your blog by trolling the most fanatical fan base in American sports. BRA-VO

    • kentsterling
      August 20, 2013 | 2:30 pm

      I get the same silly finger pointed at me by Kentucky fans – that I gain some form of affirmation by the number of page views I receive. I don’t. I pay virtually no attention to views as a factor in the subjects about which I write. I’ve written and spoken about the Cubs for decades. First in high school. Every assignment in speech class was distorted into a way for me to opine about Wrigley Field (My Favorite Place), Billy Williams deserves to be in the Hall of Fame (Make a Compelling Argument), and the heartbreak of 1984 (Greatest Disappointment).

      My outrage isn’t with losing. It’s with the false premise being advanced at every turn by Cubs representatives that losing begets winning. Teams do not need to lose to build a farm system properly. The Cardinals have done little but win over the past 13 seasons and have the best farm system in baseball.

      Not only has the plan not fully metastasized, there is no evidence at all to suggest it ever will. Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, and Jeff Samardzija are billed as foundational blocks for future success, and I have yet to see that any possesses the needed skill and/or desire to succeed. The farm system has shown no skill at developing players.

      What aggravates me most is this horrible stretch – could be the worst three-year stretch in team history – is unapologetically accompanied by out-of-whack ticket prices.

      Ricketts also insulted the intelligence of every Cubs fan by guaranteeing a championship if plans to renovate Wrigley were approved and threatening to abandon Wrigley Field if they weren’t. The only redeemable asset in the Cubs portfolio is Wrigley Field, and moving from it would cause irreparable harm to the team’s ability to draw. Fans aren’t showing up to watch this hodge podge of mediocrity.

      My status as a Cubs fan isn’t self-proclaimed – it was issued as part of my DNA from a father just as sure as was the shape of my head and enjoyment of sarcasm.

  7. Paul
    August 20, 2013 | 3:08 pm

    I’m with you Kent. The fan base is basically brainwashed into thinking losing is a must.

    The next team to lose on purpose for draft benefits for multiple years and then have a run of sustained success will be the first.

    • Not Kent Thank God
      August 20, 2013 | 7:53 pm

      Soooo, the Rays did it with their big financial benefits?

  8. Tomas Ricketts
    August 20, 2013 | 4:56 pm

    Al, it saddens me to see you have left my side for this lowly peasant. Come back to me in the Ivory Towers and we can continue out lustful nights as we mock the other season ticket holders.

  9. kentsterling
    August 20, 2013 | 7:33 pm

    What a strange invitation. I’ll decline.

  10. DrunkenSuperman
    August 20, 2013 | 11:52 pm

    So, over the course of less than two years, you expected…what, exactly? Should they have signed a bunch of mediocre free agents, like the old days? Look at the last two free agent classes and tell me what they should have done that would make this a winning team. You keep comparing them to the Cardinals in the comments, who have built upon a foundation that was set years ago, which the Cubs have never had. It really is a horrible failing that in 21 months, the new management team hasn’t turned the Cubs into the best organization in baseball. Obviously they are ‘evil frauds.’

    Every halfwit who complains that they weren’t immediate champions can never give a decent explanation of what the team should have done differently. Without any reasonable alternatives cited, this is just immature blathering nonsense.

    • kentsterling
      August 21, 2013 | 7:55 am

      I expect nothing but what they have provided, but what should make fans angry is the deceitfulness that continues to pour from Ricketts’ mouth, and the ticket prices they are charged to watch a bad baseball team that is disemboweled every time they show signs of edging toward mediocrity.

      The canard of needing to lose before they can win is insulting. The comment threatening to move from Wrigley Field was absurd (and should have immediately been outed as such), and the guarantee of a championship was preposterous.

      The only move I find ill-conceived was the four years for Jackson. Trading Soriano, DeJesus, Soto, Maholm, Marmol, Garza, and on and on, were fine by me. The Rizzo for Cashner trade I might reconsider, but Rizzo might deliver yet.

      I would like to see some evidence of developing players.

      My gripe is with the media (and fans) giving these guys a pass on what might be the worst two year stretch in team history because winning is coming. If winning is coming, charge top five ticket prices when it does.

      • Not Kent Thank God
        August 21, 2013 | 8:13 am

        If you don’t like it, don’t go to games.

        You sound like more of a fan of Wrigley than of the Cubs in your whining. You realize the threats to leave Wrigley were tiny leverage plays the Ricketts needed to utilize in order to deal with the idiot Tunney, right? They never intended to leave.

        You want evidence of developing players? Only Castro has been disappointing this year. Look at the minors. Baez looks like he might be able t help in 2014 as a 21 year old. Almora, Bryant, and Alcantara are all ahead of what was expected. Soler looked great but suffered a freak injury. In 2 years, the Cubs have gone from a bottom 7 system to a top 3 in baseball with 4 top 25 prospects. Shocking you don’t grasp the development happening….

        • kentsterling
          August 21, 2013 | 12:23 pm

          If Ricketts believes that the knuckleheaded comments about leaving Wrigley had any effect on leverage with the City of Chicago, you know as little about Windy City politics as you do relevant metrics in evaluating pitching.

          Rizzo has developed favorably by what measure? Barney has developed offensively (OPS drops from .666, .653, .594 over three full seasons)? Castillo – whose production has dropped across the board?

          Bryant is ahead of expectations because of the Cubs developmental greatness based upon his 27 games in the organization? They must be geniuses. And Baez has played 42 games in AA. Granted, he looks great, but great for the Smokies is different from great in Chicago. Almora wasn’t supposed to be in A ball at Kane County. Where was he supposed to be as the 6th overall pick?

          I hope they all do great, and make us forget what easily could be the worst three-year run in the history of the franchise.

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