Monday, December 31, 2007

It Ends, It Begins

As 2007 comes to a close, so does an era of Chicago Cub history. And not a very good one.

If Sam Zell's timeline is correct, then 2007 was the last year under which the Chicago Cubs will take the field under the umbrella of Tribune Corporation ownership.

Now, this page is not insightfull enough to know who the new owner will be or how their stewardship will turn out.

What is known is that change from a negative situation offers something Cub fans live for -- hope.

There is hope that things will be better for the Cubs in 2008 and beyond. And, in reality, isn't that what celebrating the coming of the new year is all about? Aren't we all hoping that things will be better next year than they were this year? That finally seems to be true for the Chicago National League Ball Club.

May your best day of 2007 be the worst day of your 2008.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Devistating Win

I want to thank the academy...See? An eight year old can think smartly.

Thanks to everyone who voted, including a sportswriter who was quoted in the article, just maybe The Eight Year Old can have a lasting effect on how writers and broadcasters mention Devin Hester.

Celebration of the win included the mandatory, "I'm going to Disneyland!" trip which occurred two days prior to the announcement.

This space will soon return to discussing the prospective owners of the Cubs and waste of time that was the Mitchell Report.

But, for today, let's let the kid bask in the glow of victory.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bidding Opens At The Close

The Chicago Tribune is now a private company, saddled with more debt than Roger Clemmens has trac marks on his tush. Sam Zell, new owner of the Trib, has formally announced that he will sell the Cubs within 102 days:

The Chicago Cubs will be in new hands by Opening Day, Tribune Co.’s new CEO Sam Zell said Thursday.

The company also may sell naming rights to Wrigley Field, he told a roomful of journalists at the Tribune Tower, just hours after taking the company private in an $8.2-billion deal.

Based on transactions at other ballparks around the country, such rights could be "extraordinarily valuable," he said.

It's now a question of who.

While John Canning may be the media favorite, don't forget all that debt. Sam is going to sell the team to the group that pays the most. That's going to be the only criterion that matters.

Mark Cuban and Don Levin are by no means out of this. Nor is anyone else on the Wish List.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Still Playing Well in Peoria

Ryne Sandberg re-upped to manage the Chiefs for another year. Now, a new owner could throw this plan right out the window, but Ryno sure seems on track to manage the Cubs in 2009 when Lou retires after this season.

Yes, the guess here is that Lou doesn't finish his contract. Two years in Chicago will be enough for him. Hopefully, the purge of attitude and entitlement that he started will be complete.

Other than Dallas Green, Lou Piniella's 2007 was the greatest hire the Tribune made in their tenure of running the Cubs. Fans felt they had an ally in the two of them. Losing pissed them off as much as it pissed us off.

Sandberg seems to be in that mold, too. Seeing him here in 2009 would not be the worst thing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Devistator Contest Time

Many of us have complained for a long time that Devin Hester needed a better nickname than that which was attempted to be branded upon him. As some of you may recall, The Eight Year Old came up with an outstanding nickname a few months back, Devin "The Devistator" Hester. It works on several levels.

Well, Robert McCoppin at the Daily Herald agreed that Hester needed a better nickname and decided to hold a contest to come up with one. At the suggestion of on T.J. Brown, "The Devistator" was submitted to Mr. McCoppin's contest.

Yesterday, McCoppin made "The Devistator" a finalist for the title of "Better Nickname than Jeff Joniak Could Think Up." McCoppin is going to tally the votes and declare a winner next week.

Looking at the other finalists, none look better than "The Devistator." It's the only one that fits McCoppin’s criteria of memorable, evocative, and fun to say.

We are therefore requesting of you to send an e-mail to McCoppin at and vote for The Eight Year Old's nomination.

Do it if, for no other reason, than to show that an eight year old is more creative than Jeff Joniak.

Ohayou Gozaimasu, Fukudome-san. Dozo Yoroshiku

So now that Kosuke Fukudome is a Cub, what does it mean? It means further vindication for those of us taht called the Cubs cheap and said that Andy McPhail was an anchor on this franchise.

So, the minute MacPhail left the Cubs start dumping cash as if the money was infected with some deadly virus. Coincidence? Hardley.

And with every long term contract effectively a contingent obligation on the future cash flows for the new owners (expected to be here by the 2008 All Star Break), every dollar spent could negatively affect the sale price of the team were it to put a strain on the finances.

Would a cash-strapped company like the Trib lower the value of one of their for-sale assets? Not likely.

The Cubs are oozing with cash. They are finally spending it like they should have for the last 25 years. Another Cub myth, that the Trib wasn't cheap, is put to rest (along with the idea that fans staying away and letting tickets go unused doesn't affect future payroll).

Now, is Fukudome (K Fuk?) a good player? Somewhere between possibly and probably. But, unlike Alfonso Soriano, the guy does have a position other than DH and can play that position well.

It's hard not to like this move on a number of levels.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Game On

Kosuke Fukudome is coming to a ball park nearer you. Nearer than Japan, that is. How near? That is up to Jim Hendry, Sam Zell, and Crane Kenney.

What's so sad about this whole situation is that the Cubs entire offensive plans for 2008 depend on this one guy. We saw that in 2006 when Rafael Furcal decided to go to the Dodgers and break Derrek Lee's wrist.

Let's recall, Hendry's backup plan that year was Jacque Jones.

Here's hoping that those of us who will be watching the Len & Bob Show don't have to see Hendry's 2008 Plan B show up. It's scary to think just what that plan might be.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Not Your Usual Cub-Related Trixie

Brian Roberts a Cub? Kosuke Fukudome a Cub? Getting both of them would benefit the Cubs tremendously. They would solidify two weak spots on the team (second and right), allow Felix Pie to play center and bat eighth, and force Alfonso Soriano down to 5th or sixth. All that would be good.

But, instead of discussing these issues, and how, like in 2006, Jim Hendry has bet his season again on one free agent, let's go to the movies. I'm sure this will be of interest to fans of Racer X everywhere.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Had They Been Free, We'd Have A Hate Crime

Probably not a big seller for this Hanukkah.

Or any other.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Back to the Classroom

Yes, ticket prices are going up for the Cubs in 2008. What do you expect when a team qualifies for the playoffs and, more importantly, is 98% sold out? See, demand for tickets exceeded supply. Basic economics tells us that when demand exceeds supply. prices will rise to the point where demand equals supply.

Some are bitching that 16% increase in one-year is a lot to swallow. Not really when there was no price increase in 2007. Again, because seats were empty in September 2006, more was affected than Andy MacPhail's job. Demand for tickets was below supply. Sure, the tickets were sold before the season started, but that the tickets went unused told John McDonough that a ticket price increase would not be easily passed on to the paying customers.

But what's really sad is supposedly educated writers falling for the company line:

When the Cubs spent $300 million on free agents last winter but didn't raise prices for season ticket-holders, most figured a significant increase would follow in 2008.

The Cubs announced a big one Friday: Prices will rise 12 to 23 percent on most tickets next season, with infield club box seats for prime games going from $65 to $80.

Dear Paul:

Ticket prices and payroll have NOTHING TO DO WITH EACH OTHER. Remember last year? Ticket prices were announced on Tuesday, November 14, 2006. Aramis Ramirez was signed a few days before, Mark DeRosa on the 15th, and Alfonso Soriano was two days after that.

Doesn't it make sense that Jim Hendry knew what his budget for salaries was going to be before ticket prices were announced? If so, then why were ticket prices held flat instead of raised right then?

Because demand was lower than supply.

Maybe next time an econ lesson is given, Paul will sit in the front row where he can see.

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