Marquee Network continues to insult Cubs fans with deceit and stupidity

I’m never sure whether to blame Jon Sciombi and Jim Deshaies for the inane positive blather during Cubs broadcasts – or credit them for surviving such a miserable professional experience.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is the Vladimir Putin of Major League Baseball.

“Control media, control minds!” is the belief that guides both government controlled media in Russia and Cubs controlled media in Chicago.

Of course, reality is different.  No one pays attention to Marquee Networks glad tidings and refusal to allow words like “rebuild” to escape the lips of management or media.  Frank Schwindel and Nico Hoerner are discussed with the same respect as Javier Baez and Kris Bryant as though fans can’t tell the difference.

Insulting customers is a great business model.  Applebee’s doesn’t try to tell those who eat there that the food is remotely similar to a high end steak house because they know human beings are not idiots – at least most aren’t.

The Cubs have a different opinion of their fans.  Marquee hosts behave as though the Cubs 18-25 record doesn’t exist, and that tomorrow’s game could start a 20-game winning streak that gets the Cubs right back in the National League Central race.  As with everything in the World According to Ricketts, all things can be controlled through deceit, will, and an eight-dollar haircut.

Billionaires enjoy getting their way, and Ricketts wants a skinny payroll to produce fat revenue.  So what if the Cubs suck because he didn’t want to pay all-stars!  That doesn’t mean fans need to believe what the record tells them.  “A rebuild is not a rebuild unless we use the word!”

What Ricketts fails to understand is that honesty works.  In sports, media, and life, honesty even pays.

Fans don’t need their misery sugarcoated by team owned and operated networks.

The Cubs have been playing baseball poorly (most seasons) for almost 150 years.  The Marquee Network presentation of Cubs baseball is in its third season, but has wasted no time establishing itself as the media parallel to its on-field product.

If Ricketts wants proof of the power of honesty, he needs look no further than the statue outside Wrigley Field outside the entrance to the bleachers or the enormous big screens as the Cubs get ready to make three quick outs in the bottom of the seventh.

Harry Caray has been dead for 24 years, but Cubs fans still sing along with Harry during the seventh inning stretch and revere his presence as the Cubs play-by-play voice on WGN-TV.  Do the Cubs not understand Harry gained icon-level popularity because he was honest about the Cardinals, A’s, White Sox, and finally the Cubs?  He voiced the fans’ fury with bad baseball, and we loved him for it.  He connected through his honesty.

If Harry worked for Marquee, he would be fired before the end of the third inning in the opener.  “Schwindel dropped it!  Why does he wear a glove if he doesn’t know how to use it!”  Harry, the red phone is ringing, can I have your prox card, please?

Marquee recently stopped a recording of its panel show “The Reporters” because Chicago radio host David Haugh mentioned a lack of transparency from Cubs upper management.  I guess they believe fans won’t understand that last year’s salary dumps of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Joc Pederson ushered in an era of bad baseball if they don’t use the r-word.  Producers claimed the record button was not pressed, so the segment would need to be re-done – and minus any mention of a lack of transparency, please.

Treating fans like lemmings who will accept what they are told is shortsighted and denies a basic understanding of how media works.  Without trust, media offerings will be ignored.  Dishonesty eradicates trust, and a lack of trust destroys consumption.  That kind of easy math should be within the grasp of a guy like Ricketts, who owns an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Tell the truth, consumers listen.  Lie or obfuscate, consumers ignore.

Pretending Rafael Ortega and Alfonso Rivas are Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber because they wear the same clothes and caps is ridiculous – for management and fans, and instructing media to do the same runs counter to sanity and good business.

As Marquee ponders it’s future and ability to leverage eyeballs for the Ricketts profit, they need to put one word at the top of the white board of brainy ideas – honesty!

3 thoughts on “Marquee Network continues to insult Cubs fans with deceit and stupidity

  1. Rick Miller

    Cub fan since 1952 – went to game #4 of World Series and have attended 2-3 Cub games a year – will not return to Wrigley unless Marquee opens up access to Cub games(other than Directv) – for me the present Cubs organization and its policies are dead!!!
    A previously devoted Cub fan

  2. Jim Barbar

    Thought you might be interested in this, Kent, after your article in May:

    Ricketts’ Marquee Network Loses 1/4 Its Audience; Cubs Fans Rejoice
    July 29, 2022 By Paul Banks Leave a Comment


    There are many reasons why the owners of the Chicago Cubs, the Ricketts family, are currently inspiring rage and hatred from their own fan base. The very existence of Marquee Network, and the way that it is has been mismanaged is right up there when it comes to reasons that Cub fans boo the Ricketts. Number one is obviously the ownership’s gutting of the roster at last year’s MLB trade deadline, with a repeat imminent in the next few days.

    Willson Contreras and Ian Happ, a duo that is to this team what K-Ci and Jojo were to Jodeci, are set to leave meaning that this team’s recent six game winning streak will soon be ancient history. It won’t be long until the Cubs go right back to the pace of losing 100+ this season. Another Ricketts entity that’s losing is the Marquee Network.

    According to a Forbes article posted yesterday:

    “The Chicago Cubs moved to their own regional sports network right when the pandemic hit in 2020. The performance on the field in 2022 hasn’t helped it gain traction. Marquee Sports is down -25% by household impressions YOY (6,368,900 compared to 8,475,000 at this point last year)”

    Who knew that launching your own television network, right ahead of imploding your roster and thus making the club not competitive for years to come wasn’t a solid business plan.

    People are turning off from Marquee Network (an enterprise that almost literally made a deal with the devil, as they’re partnered with vile, far-right wing propaganda vehicle Sinclair Broadcasting Group) for several reasons. One, it’s not easily available on an app, so that is can be better consumed via mobile. Two it’s not streaming service friendly, which is a laughably stupid position to be in, considering it launched in 2020.

    While the New York Yankees’ YES Network is no longer available on YouTube.TV, at least it was prior to this season. You don’t go into TV these days without considering first how you’re going to reach cord-cutters.

    The more cable networks we have, the more unwatchable nonsense is going to be produced, and with that more people will get turned off by paying for stuff they don’t want and then cut the cord. It also should be noted that game broadcasts are the only reasons that RSN (Regional Sports Networks) exist. The filler material, the non-live games content is almost always entirely awful, and every sports fan knows that.

    More people watch “this is a test of the emergency broadcast system, this is only a test” than the non-Cubs game programming on Marquee Network.

    I myself would much rather watch “The Boring World of Neils Bohr” than Cubs Countdown, and….uh…..and….I can’t even name another show on Marquee Network…that annoying betting show from Vegas or something? With the world’s most dumb you down promo that they run all the time?

    So it’s easy to why so many Cubs fans have gleeful schadenfreude about Marquee Network going through a very rough patch. We are right to take joy in their misery. Ricketts and company have certainly earned it.

    Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”

    He has regularly appeared in WGN, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and he c


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