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No paint can mask Cubs’ futility

Updated: June 17, 2014 2:23PM



Green is good!

It’s the color of springtime, Oz, money and now the Cubs’ historic Wrigley Field entrance ­marquee.

You know that iconic sign above the main gates, the formerly bright red one at the corner of Addison and Clark? It’s been there for a thousand years. Since 1934, anyway.

And now it’s green!

The color switch occurred Wednesday, and for a spell in the cloudy afternoon I watched with five or six other mute folks, interrupted briefly by a jabbering pod of school kids released from a yellow bus, followed by grim-faced commuters hurrying home, as workmen put the final touches on the art deco façade.

Some slack-jawed minutes into my dim reverie, I realized I was watching paint dry.

Apparently, at the beginning the sign was painted what has been described by Cubs literature as “fern green.’’ A year or so later it was painted dark blue. Then in the 1960s it was painted the familiar red, like the side of a barn or one of the trucks roaring out of the nearby Waveland Avenue fire station.

So the green redo is a tip of the cap to olden times here in the 100th year of the famed ballpark itself. Or something.

Of course, there’s money afoot. Sparkling down at me from the electronic message board on the legendary baseball marquee were the words all Cubs fans have been dying to see: “BENJAMIN MOORE: Official Paint Of The Chicago Cubs.’’

For a moment, I’d like to refresh our collective memories about where the actual Cubs baseball team is — statistically, emotionally, potentially.

See, the baseball team is what the Cubs are all about, in my opinion. It could be that endless chatter about rooftops and infrastructure and triangle buildings and Jumbotrons and boutique hotels and birthday cakes in dumpsters — and yes, paint — are what it’s all about.

But bear with me.

The Cubs, as I type this, reek.

Their record is 13-25. They are in last place in the NL Central, 11 games behind the Brewers. They are the worst team in the National League and trail only the AL’s Houston Astros for the most losses in the majors.

It is not a stretch to say — and I will say it, for those of you who won’t or gag trying to get it out — that they are the worst team in baseball.

They are going to lose about 100 games, maybe more, after losing 96 last year, 101 in 2012, and 91 in 2010. It will be, without challenge, the worst four-year stretch in Cubs’ history, dating to 1876.

These are your Ricketts Years.

And what we have is . . . green paint.

Oh, there are promises and bear-with-us-pleases and crooked smiles. Just wait. Hold on. Give us time. It’s coming soon. Next year. OK, two years from now. Three? Someday?

The Cubs trounced the Cardinals 17-5 on Monday night. Awesome. And then Tuesday night they took a 2-0 lead, let the Cardinals come back, and lost in the 12th inning 4-3. Reliever Justin Grimm hit Greg Garcia with the bases loaded, forcing in the winning run.

They outscored the Cardinals 20-9 in two games and split. Cub-like? Cub-like.

Could they have given maybe 11 of those unneeded runs on Monday to luckless pitcher Jeff Samardzija in earlier games? No, of course not. Could they have taken those 17 runs and combined them with the 12 they scored against the White Sox in a 12-5 victory last Thursday and just spread them around?

They scored those 29 runs, won two games and lost eight before and after. Losers.

What we do have with the Cubs are a lot of ancillary things going on.

There is Pete Ricketts, who just earned the Republican nomination for governor in Nebraska and almost assuredly will win the office in that conservative state.

Then there’s Democrat Laura Ricketts, who just launched a political super-PAC with actress Jane Lynch and Billie Jean King with the goal of giving ­lesbians a voice in mainstream politics.

We’ve got main guy Tom Ricketts getting stuff like new paint. And, of course, leading us through this festive hundredth-year celebration of a park that he must love-hate beyond expression.

Then there is president Theo Epstein reminding us how great his minor-leaguers are — even though Javy Baez is batting .153 in the Pacific Coast League and Albert Almora is batting .250 with one home run and 15 strikeouts at Class A Daytona.

Epstein’s brain is not quite officially fried. But it must be close. Meanwhile, he’s practicing his guitar for a big charity music fest with studs such as Spring-steen guitarist Tom Morello coming up at Metro.

And then Friday it’s Babe Ruth ‘‘Called Shot’’ bobblehead day at Wrigley. A fun time, for sure. No matter that the Cubs lost that game to the Yankees and then the World Series.

Color it Cubs.



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