Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Orchard

It's about 30 minutes until the puck drops for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Blackhawks crowd is probably getting good and riled up.

If you haven't been to a game in recent years, one of the cool moments from the pre-game is a video shown on the scoreboard celebrating the team's history.

Here it is.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Hawks To The Finals"

Chicago Blackhawks - 2010 Campbell Trophy WinnersWith those words, Mike Emrick closed out Game 4 of the NHL's Western Conference Finals and the Chicago Blackhawks sweep of the San Jose Sharks.

Completely unremarkable that this supreme collection of talent has advanced to play for the Stanley Cup. Unfathomable that they are wearing an Indian head on their red sweaters.

Just 3 seasons ago, you couldn't give tickets away. Four seats, three rows off the glass between the blue line and the goal line were left to be used by two young boys, their father and their uncle.

As the national anthem started, tepid applause and scattered cheering rose from a sparse crowd of maybe 6,000. The father leaned to the uncle and said, "These kids will never know what used to happen here. It's gone and it's never coming back."

Man, was that wrong.

The finer points of hockey is barely known to this writer. For informed opinions on things like center zone traps, please head to Hockee Night, Fifth Feather, or Second City Hockey (just be sure to avoid any BCB bashing at that last site).

But, for the next few weeks, the still-under-.500 Cubs will be ignored (as they still deserve) and the focus will be on Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Antti Niemi, Patrick Sharp, Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg, and the championship trophy that will soon call Chicago home for the first time in nearly 50 years.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tunney's Rooftop Ties

Tom Tunney, Alderman and house cleanerAlderman Tom Tunney has taken a lot of heat in the FanPress the last few weeks. Our good friend CCD (who has done a solid job in filling the gap of reviewing the business side of the Cubs) and Tim at Aisle 424 have been leaders in feeding the flames.

This site was of the opinion that the sign would get done easily, just on a schedule to show the Ricketts who really is the Boss.

As this issue has dragged out, Greg Hintz has exposed the real reason for the delays:

Mr. Tunney says he feels strongly about this issue because he wants to preserve the view from inside of the ballpark into the neighborhood. The view is not only unique but good publicity for the Lake View neighborhood, he says.

But Mr. Tunney doesn't exactly deny that he's also trying to protect the view from outside in -- say, from those rooftop clubs. The owners "have invested millions of dollars" and reached "an understanding" with the Cubs in which the team gets 17% of their revenues.

Would the good alderman hold that view because the rooftoppers have given his political campaign fund at least $80,000 in cash and donated services in just the past three years?

"Both sides have contributed to our campaign," he replies.

That's true. But I didn't see anything in Mr. Tunney's disclosures anywhere near the size of the $27,500 that 3639 (N. Sheffield Ave.) LLC reported donating on April 21, 2009, for "food, drink and rooftop for event" for Mr. Tunney. Or the even bigger $37K Sheffield-Waveland Rooftops reported dropping on June 13, 2008, for "food, drink and baseball event" for Mr. Tunney.
So, Tunney is holding up a good business deal for his billionaire constituents and their multi-million dollar business, constituents who drive the economy in his ward and who make it possible for the Rooftops to even make their donations to Mr. Tunney, all for a measly $26,667 per year?

Tunney has to be a Sox fan. He only seems to know how to play small ball.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What To Watch

With today's game, the season reaches the 25% complete mark. The team continues to founder with a losing record, struggling to score runes, despite above league average starting pitching and hitting statistics.

Empty seats are springing up at Wrigley Field with regularity.

The Carlos Zambrano experiment has worked about as well as anyone with half a brain could have predicted.

(This debacle does have the singular upside of knowing how bad this makes people who supported moving Z to the pen look)

Lou Piniella is answering questions about his own job status and Jim Hendry is giving out votes of confidence.

But the one thing we all need to know about this team, the thing that has the greatest long term effect on the team, hasn't even been broached:

What kind of owners are the Ricketts?

Are they going to do nothing other than sit with Len and Bob in the bleachers?

Or, are they going to get their hands dirty and make some changes to set the team up for the next 20 years according to their vision?

Hell, do they even have a vision!

On the day the family took over control of the franchise, Tom Ricketts said one key thing:

" my business experience, the way I've been successful, is hire the right people, support them, and hold them accountable to the results."


So, Ricketts family, who is being held accountable and when are you going to actually hire some people? Everyone here is holdovers.

In business, when leverage buyouts occur, the acquiring company usually has a set management team in mind and installs those people as soon as the acquisition is complete. History is littered with mergers where new management is announced the same day. How can owners do this? Well, they've usually had months to review the company and decide who stays and who goes.

The Ricketts have had three years to do their due diligence. Time for them to do what they've said: Hold people accountable and hire the right people.

To see if they actually do this will likely be more important than what actually happens on the field.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Un-Repeal the 18th Amendment

Andy Dolan goes to town on Al Yellon again. You generally have compassion for baby seals because they are defenseless. Not so much when the baby seal is in its 50s and puts up with dissent as well as Jake and Elwood put up with Henry Gibson.

In short, Yellon is upset that people drink in the bleachers at Wrigley Field. He then states, with his standard catch-all caveat of "I believe" (which he uses all the time to mean, "Ignoring all factual evidence, I choose to think that..."), the Cubs and the Ricketts really don't want this kind of reputation.

The Cubs don't want to embrace alcohol? Does Al even know where he chooses to sit?
Perhaps Schwepps has a marketing opportunity
Time for Al to protest and leave.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Starlin Castro, Come On Up!

ESPN Deportes is saying that Starlin Castro is on the way to the Cubs.

Another panic move.

How this helps Aramis Ramirez or Derrek Lee play better is still unknown.

Let's hope that Starlin does well and that, despite him doing well, Jim Hendry still loses his job.

Confirmed by a source with inside access. Chad Tracy to the minors.

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