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Wipe off your chin, Bob

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Chi City 81, Nov 11, 2006.

  1. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    This from Bob Verdi, whom I normally respect. Talk about toeing the company line.

    Tribune's Cubs days far from a disaster

    Well, here I go, setting myself up for reader indignation and public ridicule by bucking the popular trend of piling on Tribune Co. for destroying the Cubs.

    Full disclosure: Working in this section for more than four decades—mostly on a full-time basis, currently as a weekend-only warrior—has enabled me to eat, find shelter and learn how to delete stray e-mails. Full disclosure also means I can't alter or skew the facts by suggesting you read the standings upside down.

    I can offer no pennants, and certainly no World Series championships, as a defense for my tunnel vision. The Cubs still haven't won anything since 1908, a remarkable attachment to futility. All I ask is that you indulge my corporate pompoms and consider the possibility we have short memories, because as dreadful as things seem now, I am ancient enough to remember when it was worse. Hard to believe, but it's true. What's that? You want the team sold? Be careful what you wish for.

    Pin me and my weak spine against Tribune Tower and I must admit I expected that 25 seasons under the present ownership would produce more than four playoff appearances. I, like you, also almost drove off the road when Greg Maddux, a future Hall of Famer from within the system, was allowed to escape for nothing in 1992. It might have been the Cubs' most colossal gaffe ever. At least for Lou Brock, they got a body, Ernie Broglio, albeit a body without an arm.

    That said, I will argue Tribune Co. brought the Cubs into the 20th Century, better late than never. The Wrigleys were fine people, the family was a Chicago institution and still is. But three generations treated their baseball team like a library—open and close the doors on schedule. If people wanted in, fine. If not, that was fine too.

    After their 10th and last World Series appearance in 1945, the Cubs rarely offered any vestige of hope under the previous regime. The ballclub was a perennial loser, Wrigley Field became decrepit and marketing the product, such as it was, didn't exist. For the Cubs' second home game in 1981, after the gala opener, paid attendance was 12,114—an unthinkable expression of apathy now.

    The Cubs then didn't compete with anybody, let alone the cross-town White Sox, and unless you consider a college of coaches to constitute thinking outside the box, the Wrigleys made precious few bold moves, save for hiring Leo Durocher to manage. Trading another Hall of Famer, Bruce Sutter, when free agency came into play wasn't bold. It was typical.

    Dallas Green was not. When Tribune Co. tapped him to shake things up, he was ripe for the job, noting he saw defeat in the eyes of the ballpark's ushers. He rattled some cages, bringing to mind the famous quotation from Chicago legend Andy McKenna: "Cub fans like improvement, but they don't like change."

    They got both. Harry Caray, electricity, an upper deck that wasn't closed on weekdays, hygiene. If you ever went to a restroom at Wrigley Field in the '70s, you know what I mean. Dusty Baker didn't pan out, not with 66 victories from a $95 million payroll. But when he came here, it wasn't your grandfather's Cubs. Now they have picked Lou Piniella. More significantly, he picked them.

    Could Tribune Co. spend more? Of course. Could Tribune Co. have spent more wisely? Absolutely. However, since when is it a felony to have a budget or a misdemeanor to seek a profit? Burn this if you must, but the owners you love to hate took the Cubs from spats and put them in a dress shirt and necktie since 1981. Now, about all those soup stains.
  2. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    Talk about setting the bar, low . . . comparing Trib stewardship to Phil Wrigley.

    Phil Wrigley was awful . . . broadly non-competitive, most years . . .

    W's a better leader than Idi Amin.

    There are about five sportswriters I love. Verdi's one of them. Terribly disappointed.
  3. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    Back in '81, there was this thing called work during the day. People weren't going to burn a comp day in mid-April to go see Ivan DeJesus.

    The Cubs' latest master plan has failed because the Tribune has exhibited a newspaper mentality the whole time it's owned the teams. No proactivity, just patching.

    Wait for a hole to open up, then plug it with whatever's available. "Antonio Alfonseca didn't work out? Well, that can't possibly be our fault." Then they simply roll the dice again. It's the way the newsroom works, so why not run the ball club the same way?

    Had this team not been able to bully the Pirates and Marlins into giving up A. Ramirez and D. Lee, it would easily be the worst franchise in all of baseball.

    I hope the Trib sells the team; the current situation cannot possibly get much worse.
  4. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    Of course, Geffen, Burkle, et al, could swallow buy Tribune whole and keep the team.
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