Friday, April 22, 2011

History Repeating

The Dodgers are a mess. So big of a mess that Bud Selig had to have Major League Baseball take over the team's operations. This means that the Dodgers are now in a position similar to what the Montral Expos were in. How did they get here? Debt, divorce and really stupid management:

McCourt fired his wife, Jamie, from her position as the team's chief executive officer. She filed for divorce days later and McCourt responded by saying she had an affair with her bodyguard/driver and hadn't been doing her job.

That set up an ugly fight over money and control of the Dodgers that went on for months.

Bob Daly, the team's managing partner from 2000 to 2004, said baseball executives knew McCourt borrowed heavily to buy the team but they assumed he would pay down that debt once he took over. The divorce proceedings revealed that he and his wife paid themselves huge salaries and bought a handful of Southern California properties.

McCourt gave himself a $5 million salary and his ex-wife $2 million, according to evidence at their divorce hearing.

Among their many incidental expenses was a six-figure fee they paid Vladimir Shpunt, a self-described scientist and healer in Boston, to send positive energy across the country to the team. Each of the McCourts has since said it was the other one's idea.

All the drama has left some fans wondering whether the Dodgers are a second-tier team in a run-down stadium that has become increasingly dangerous — so dangerous that the Los Angeles police are now plentiful at the stadium to provide security since the beating of the Giants fan.
Too much debt, a .500 team, a run-down stadium.

Just terrible that this could happen.

Never again?

Why would it happen in Chicago, Chuck? I'd quit worrying. The Cubs are owned by an aging patriarch, so that when he dies the four children will own equal parts of the team.

And the siblings will get along and play nice and do what's best for the company. It's inconceivable to see any siblings have differences, in particular a set of siblings that includes a conservative Republican politician, a lesbian lawyer and travel agent, a sometime bicycle salesman/Mr. Mom/reality TV star, and a corportate bond underwriter.

It'll go well. I'd only recommend to them that they assign roles based on age and seniority only, take no advice from any outsiders for any reason, and above all, be sure to say hello to every Cubs employee every day. I am sure that you'd see Carlos Pena produce more if Laura Ricketts took time out every day to say "Hello" and "How's your family?" Those little things go a long way.
The salaries that the McCourts took from the Dodgers don't seem all that large considering what many CEOs get these days.

The positive energy thing sounds stupid. I'm sure that Crane Kenney's Greek Orthodox priest would have been much less costly. That makes me curious though as to how much taxpayer money was spent on psychics and astrologers during the Reagan presidency.
The only history being made was OBL getting a first class ticket to the 7th level of hell thanks to SEAL Team Six! :)
Speaking of history repeating, Adolf Hitler died on May 1, 1945. Osama Bin Laden died on May 1, 2011.
Not quite Frank$. Hitler died on April 30th, 1945. It was announced to the world on May 1st, 1945. The annoucnements of their deaths came on the same day of the year but not their acual deats.
actual deaths*. Sorry, I know how sensitive Chucky is. :)
Oh and just so we are clear once again:

2011 Change Per Game
Seattle Mariners -6,829
Los Angeles Dodgers -6,390
Tampa Bay Rays -6,059
New York Mets -4,688
Chicago Cubs -3,738
New York Yankees -3,418

Like it was stated before the season AND last month: Attendence is dropping throughout baseball. It isn't just a Cubs issue as Chuck makes it out to be and if you read the numbers, the Cubs attendence drop as not been as dramatic as some other big market clubs.
Will Hendry be here thru 2012? If this season continues tto be a disaster, I say no.
The season has not been a disaster, not yet at least. This season is all about developing kids and trying to get rid of bad contracts. So far:

The Good: Barney and Castro are both batting over .320, Silva is gone and Samardzija is starting to figure it out. Garza looks to be a dynamic pitcher and could develop into a cheap Ace over the next few seasons.

The Bad: Colvin is totally lost at the plate and is getting outplayed by both Fukudome and Baker. Zambrano and Soriano had shown flashes but not enough for teams to bite on their contracts and Dempster has been so bad, nobody would be interested even if he granted a trade.

The Undecided: Both Cashner and Wells looked good in their opening starts but need to get back on the mound ASAP. The Cubs also caught a break in one of their Mr. DL's, Soto going down early. That opens a roster spot for Wellington Castro. Hopefully he is healthy and get some PT in order to see if he can become a solid MLB catcher, which Soto should be if he can stay on the field.
That is why they went with Quade as a long term rental and didn't give Hendry a extension. They are leaving their options open. The whole point of this year is to continue the development of in-grown talent and shed more fat contracts. So far Castro and Barney are continuing to develop (plus The Shark is having a suprising good year) and they get rid of Silva's fat a$$ but much more needs to be done. Having Wells/Cashner on the DL pretty much the whole season so far and Colvin completely lost at the plate though are real problems.
The author refers to attendance, but MLB doens't release those figures. So is he writing about people in the seats or tickets sold? The article seemed to indicate that a handful of teams were responsible for the decline so it isn't an industry-wide problem.

We know that Cub ticket sales are down, but there have been a lot of empty seats at the park. The secondary market for tickets is in free-fall. There was a time when people could charge more than face value for tickets, but not in today's market.

The bigger problem for the Cubs is that when tickets go unused, they lose parking and concessions revenues. And it seems that the answer to this problem in the short term is turn Wrigley into a more affordable beer garden in the hopes of getting the college kids back in the park.
The writer is looking at the drop in attendence of big market teams since that is where it's most alarming for the MLB. Secondary teams for close to 20 years now have not been able to dry flies but MLB's overall attendence performance has been masked by big clubs making up for it. As the article points out, big clubs are starting to struggle with their attendence as well. There is a number of reasons why this is happened which I have stated repeatly: bad weather, bad economy, high ticket and vendor prices, fatigue from the steriod era, MLB struggling with name recognition with their players (many of the marquee players of the past 10+ years are either old or retired), tough competition from other sports etc.

What I am pointing out is that Chuck's hypothesis of this is a Cubs problem (or really a Ricketts problem) only is GROSSLY inaccurate. Yes, the Cubs are having problems at the ticket booth right now. No question! But guess what, so is everyone else with the exception of perhaps SF and Philly. And if you look at it from a macro position, the Cubs are in better position overall then many of their competitors.
Why are the Cubs in a better position? Better than the Dodgers and Mets, that's a given. But what about other teams?

The Rickettses seem to be under-capitalized. It will be interesting to see what they do when the big contracts start coming off the books. They still have the structural problems with the stadium. They still want to build the Triangle Building. They still have the massive debt to repay. Will they have the means to acquire top players or will the Cubs become the next Pittsburgh Pirates?
The Ricketts have been very consistent in that the ballpark comes first. I see them lowering the budget over the next few years by about $20-30 million unless something drastic like AP decides to be a Cub and is willing to take only a 4-5 year deal. Then once the stadium work is done you will see them put more resources into the roster.

And just think Frank$, if Chuck's guy (Cuban) fantasy became a reality, the Cubs would have been in a MUCH worse shape! Why? Because Cuban's bid was 100 percent financed! That is why Cuban's bid was seen as a joke when he tried to buy the Cubs, Rangers and now Astros. I know Chuck doesn't like to hear reality but it's the truth.

As for MLB as a whole, they have some real issues coming up and they better get a CBA that makes sense (IE some sort of salary cap) before they turn fully into the NBA where retraction is not only wanted but absolutely necessary. Or as I stated about the Bulls before the playoffs started: "They better win it all this year because there might not be a NBA Finals next year".
And of course, we should also note that Chuck's example of the LA Dodgers is a case onto itself because really what sank them is the divorce. Last time I check, I don't see Tom Ricketts making his wife the team's CEO. It's apples ond oranges when you compared the Cubs and Dodgers or really, Chuck once again living in denial the Ricketts got the team over Cuban.
I dunno if Cuban would have been better. And while his bid may have been 100% financed, he seems to have more personal wealth to pay off those debts if the need arose. While the Mavs haven't won an NBA title during his stewardship, they have been consistently competitive. Again this year they are in the Conference Finals.

I look at a record of success like that and I wonder why it can't be the Cubs. Do the Rickettses have a plan in place that will take the Cubs there? I'm uncertain.

First, they kept the wildly inconsistent Jim Hendry in position. Their bid took two years to complete. That didn't give them enough time to evaluate Hendry? I understand some people think that Hendry has done a great job and somehow he gets a pass for the signing of Soriano. Part of his job is convincing his bosses to make smart decisions. He had an obligation to make sure the Cubs didn't overpay for Fonsie and he didn't do that.

Second, they have not been particularly adept at political machinations or public relations. The Toyota sign. The public play for state assistance in the structural repairs for Wrigley while the Rickettses would invest their money into the Triangle Building. The Noodle. The various statues and the move of the Harry Caray statue. The raising of ticket prices in a bad economy.

These things aren't fatal to the ball club or to the Ricketts' ownership. These are merely surface gloss or rust. But one has to wonder that if the surface appears flawed that the foundation may be bad as well. Time will tell.

Unfortunately, the sands of time are running out for a lot of Cub fans. It is difficult to feel patience when our own mortality is staring at our faces.
your curse is worse!
"It is difficult to feel patience when our own mortality is staring at our faces."

Oh God, another "I just want to see the Cubs win a World Series before I die" fan. Geez, get over it.
I want to see the Cubs at least win the Naperville American Legion Softball title

Why don't you get over yourself? I imagine there are millions of Cub fans who have on their bucket lists that they wish to see the Cubs win the World Series. Will our lives be incomplete if that doesn't happen? No. I was merely trying to explain my perspective on the team.
" I imagine there are millions of Cub fans who have on their bucket lists that they wish to see the Cubs win the World Series."

Then they need to get lives...and softball is fat guys and girls. :)
I resemble that statement...
We suck and it is all my fault. i need to find a way to survive again. Big trades on the horizon.
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