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The Cubs: A franchise stuck in the mud

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Updated: September 23, 2014 6:35AM



Why do we always pile on the Cubs with criticism?

I believe it’s because they’re so pile-on-able.

Want a bad team?

Got it. The Cubs are 55-72, 17 games under .500, with a good chance of losing 90 or more games for the fourth season in a row.

Want funny feuds?

Check. The endless Cubs vs. the Rooftops dispute is like Gomer vs. Goober, or Dumberer vs. Dumberest, with barbecue smoke.

Want a rundown stadium?

Yep. Wrigley Field is an oxymoron: a lovely, crumbling, historic, intimate dump.

How about some front-office fun?

Got that, too. The Ricketts family ownership either does or doesn’t have enough money to run the franchise properly.

They have enough coin to likely propel board member Pete Ricketts into the governor’s office in Nebraska, but they are tight enough to have fired a number of low-level workers in the offseason or kept their hours under the 130-hour-per-month cap so ownership doesn’t have to pay dreaded “Obamacare’’ insurance for full-timers.

Oh sure, it’s easy to be profligate with other people’s money, and I believe the Rickettses should open the floodgates and let their wealth gush over all things Cubs. But the only reason I believe that is because the baseball they have served up so far is garbage.

That’s fact. And it’s also a fact that fans have nowhere else to turn.

The Cubs are Chicago’s North Side team, a team, like the White Sox, whose reach and historic pull goes way beyond one owner’s mismanagement or fans’ alleged boycotts and feigned disinterest.

Cubs fans are waiting, angrily, sadly, hopefully — as they always do — for the worm to turn. Put a genuine contender on the field, and those fans will flood Wrigley Field like something from the Old Testament. Again.

Speaking of floods, the great “Tarp Incident’’ of Tuesday night falls under the financial ignorance umbrella for the Cubs. Field workers that were let go, or could have been working that blustery night, but were sent home early (time clock, remember), could have grabbed a couple handles and maybe gotten the big blue sheet over the infield quicker.

As it was, the game was called late at night, in the fifth inning, because of muck, and the Cubs were declared 2-0 winners over the Giants.

The Giants protested, and actually won! First time in 28 years a protest was upheld. And, of course, it would be against the Cubs. For dumbness.

Just be patient, the Cubs tell us over and over. A good team will rise up. Like blue grass through the dandelions.

Ah, patience:

“Had we but world enough, and time/ This coyness, lady, were no crime…”

That’s what Andrew Marvell wrote back in the 1600s, and I’m down with him.

Thing is, Marvell was trying desperately to get laid. Me, I’m trying desperately to see a Cubs World Series title before I die. Before Andy’s “worms’’ come after me in my marble vault and I — like you — disintegrate into the “deserts of vast eternity.’’

Yikes! Don’t do it, Cubs!

Some day Kris Bryant will be old, still in Des Moines, a beard flowing like Abe Lincoln’s from his chin, a thousand or so minor-league home runs to his credit. Starlin Castro will have won a World Series crown with the Yankees and be long retired. His shortstop replacement, Javy Baez, will have followed the Sox’ Gordon Beckham to the Angels and out of baseball, and a new Kerry Wood clone for the Cubs will have turned his 20-year-old arm to mush while pitching 15 consecutive innings of no-hit ball against the Reds, then losing.

Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, makes $3.5 million a year. Senior vice president for scouting Jason McLeod makes around $1 million. Those are two titles the Cubs didn’t have before the Rickettses took over.

They’re getting Obamacare or Cubs Care or whatever is necessary to live well. But what do we get?

The same ticket prices as before this ugly demolition, plus $8 beer.

I remember Greg Maddux sliding on a slick infield tarp at Wrigley during a rain delay during the first night game back in 1988. Baby-faced, he took a full-tilt run and greased across the red Cubs logo in the center of the tarp, arms up like a swan diver, into the waiting hands of teammates who kept him from sailing into the dugout.

A lovely sight.

Of course, Maddux dried off and left the Cubs in 1993.

The mud stayed behind.



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