Rob Manfred and the owners may finally turn off enough fans to kill baseball – a formerly rabid Cubs fan’s lament

This greedy nitwit may be the face of baseball’s demise.

Greed is not good, and so I will have nothing more to do with Major League Baseball.

Dissatisfaction bordering up abject indifference has been brewing within me for several years, but the current work stoppage orchestrated by owners who don’t want to share our money with the players has pushed me over the edge.

My principle baseball allegiance is with the Chicago Cubs.  Growing up in north suburban Chicago, my dad used to pull me out of school one afternoon each spring for a visit to Wrigley Field.  I did the same with my son despite the three-hour drive from Indianapolis.  When my wife, son, and I lived six blocks south of Wrigley, I would throw my toddler Ryan on my shoulders and walk to Wrigley for afternoon games.

The point is, Wrigley Field is not just a ballpark to me, but a shrine filled with generational memories.  My displeasure is so acute, it has launched me headlong into Cubs indifference.  I would be as likely to throw $75 from my car window as use it to buy a ticket to watch the Cubs play in person.

There is no anger in me for Cubs ownership or MLB commissioner Rob Manfred – a pragmatic stooge hired by the owners only to bludgeon the Players Association into a bad deal that will squeeze as much of the fans’ cash as possible into the owners’ already fat wallets.  I ignore them, as well as the manifest unpleasantness their greed authors

On a micro level, the Ricketts family has shown what we always knew their foundational goal to be.  It has never been about winning for Tom and his siblings.  It’s always been about the money.  The Cubs were a poorly leveraged property that presented a unique real estate opportunity, and while Ricketts may know nothing about building a baseball roster, he knows about real estate.

So the Cubs under Ricketts are now in a position to wrangle obscene profits from a fanbase that doesn’t care one way or another about winning now that the dream of a World Championship was realized in 2016.  Ricketts and the Cubs staged the garage sale of garage sales last July and sold any valuable and well paid players to contenders for teenage prospects earning less than minimum wage who might grow into winners 10 years from know.

Out went Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez.  Kids all over Chicago wondered where their championship heroes went.  Disenchanted parents confused their kids with the terse reply, “Sold for parts.”  Why pay stars tens of millions when saps from all over America will pay to sit in the Friendly Confines to watch Nico Hoerner, Frank Schwindel, and Ian Happ?  Ricketts is a money grubbing louse, but he’s not stupid.

(This is a warning I am about to get pious as I spend other people’s money!)

If I were advising the Players Association and its leader Tony Clark, the message would be clear – as Manfred tries to break you, focus your energy on breaking the owners.  Get the players out in the media and into bars and schools to clearly explain the overt greed of the owners – and the pragmatic single-mindedness of Manfred.  Commissioners have always at least pretended to be good stewards of the game.  Now, the office is just a shill for the owners manned by a law degreed shark whose only meaningful responsibility is the put the union’s head in a vice during this negotiation.

Being party to the loss of the 2022 season might just save the game from ownership’s Jabba the Hutt level hunger for cash and higher franchise valuations.  Destroying baseball as we know it might be the only way to save it.

As for me, I will continue to avoid the property located at 1060 West Addison as I have for the last five years.  I will also cancel my subscription to the sports package that includes the Marquee Network.  How many times can I be amused by Ryan Dempster‘s Harry Caray impression or Billy Williams stories about Bob Gibson (the answer to that is actually somewhere between 70-80 time as I love Williams and still fear the late Gibson).

At some point, a major league is going to take for granted the fans whose love they leverage into billions of dollars.  The most likely candidate is baseball, and it could be happening as we speak.

It already has for me.

9 thoughts on “Rob Manfred and the owners may finally turn off enough fans to kill baseball – a formerly rabid Cubs fan’s lament

  1. joe

    It also seems that player’s salaries are cartoonish now. Hundreds of millions of dollars spread over the years for players we know will be too old and too decrepit to play? Just seems like everyone is using monopoly money. With no hard cap guess that’s going to happen.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      And meanwhile, minor leaguers are eating ramen noodles and Velveeta. But make no mistake, the owners are the villains here. Sure, we can all loathe Scott Boras and all he stands for, but the owners are the profiteering mopes who have so little respect for fans they employ Rob Manfred as the commissioner.

  2. Doug Hay

    Kent- I am almost there with you but I do love the game your dad helped coach me to play. There is a lot of nostalgia in my love for baseball but it is also, history aside, a great game that can provide thrills everyday. So the big question is how can we the fans put the screws to the owners without having to stop watching the game and players we love?

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      Leave it to Lake Bluff All-Star Doug Hay to clear away the weeds so we can get at the real question – and action that can rescue the game from the Ricketts. Turn off the Ricketts’ Spigots! Separating us from our cash is what drives them, so stop rewarding their quenchless lust for our money.

      In the negotiation between the MLBPA and the owners, one very important constituency is not at the table – fans. If you are dissatisfied with the pace of play, cost of tickets and concessions, and upcharge to watch what used to be free – stop spending.

  3. David

    Ricketts does not understand that the Cubs fan base was built by WGN superstation broadcasts and basic cable. Now there are blackouts and unless you pay extra to watch on TV, no more games. I feel like a sap that I got DIRECTV just to watch the Cubs. Then the players all got traded to save money instead of trying to re-tool and avoid a Pirate tear down. My kids don’t even care about baseball. I am a dinosaur and when my generation dies, baseball will continue to die as well. Baseball only knows how to cultivate money and not fans.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      Baseball is withering, and the owners behave as though the fans are saps who enjoy going into their pockets to watch it. At some point, people will just turn the channel and spend cash on something else. The Ricketts aren’t bad people – they are just in the wrong business, and I hope the value of the Cubs plummets so they feel the need to sell.

  4. John

    When so many people are suffering from the pandemic and all the violence in the world today, and people who have lost their jobs and are struggling to put food on the table Major League Baseball is worried how they can share the millions of dollars with the players! Disgraceful!!!

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      It’s ridiculous – no matter what suffering exists. That’s what billionaires do – figure out how to make more.

  5. Terry Johnson

    I agree 100% . Lifetime CUBs fan ! It is all about the money .Owners only care about themselves. Not the fans who are paying bills . And players who bring in the fans . Owners are on a dead end and too greedy to figure it out !


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