Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Winning at any cost

Winning At Any Cost
Why We're Here

As mentioned on Friday - and expounded upon later by Rob - Wayne Drehs recently wrote a response column to a Bill Simmons article which itself was lamenting the devaluation of a Red Sox championship through the cheating ways of Manny Ramirez.  (Phew, that was a long sentence.)  In other words, this article is a continuation of Rob's response to Wayne's take on Bill's opinion about the Red Sox's title as impacted by Manny's cheating.  Lots of effect, single cause.

I wrote a brief response in the comments section of Wayne's article which I will expand upon now. 

What would I sacrifice for a Cubs championship?  For starters...

Wrigley Field

Years ago a very standard opinion was that Wrigley Field was holding the Cubs back.  The park was too small to hold enough people to spend enough money to build a winner.  The day games took too much of a toll for the players to remain at a level necessary to win in the playoffs. 

Since I first heard that argument, the Cubs have slowly begun to increase the number of night games at Wrigley while jacking up ticket prices and selling more than three million seats on a yearly basis - all things nobody anticipated.  So when this debate appears nowadays I take it to be more of a commentary about how Cub fans were conditioned to love Wrigley Field more than the team itself.  Anybody who would actually choose Wrigley over winning isn't a Cub fan but instead is a fan of a beautiful ballpark.  These people should buy and wear Wrigley Field jerseys, not Cub jerseys.  But I'm in it for the team.  I don't care what happens to Wrigley; they can rename it, they can spray paint Sears ads into the ivy, it doesn't matter to me.

Not to mention that if I knew with absolute certainty that a Wrigleyless Cubs would win the World Series I'd volunteer to blow it up myself.  But since we can never be certain of anything, then the question of Wrigley becomes one of income and that feeds into the second part of this article.

How much money?
One reason to keep Wrigley Field around is this simple truth: Wrigley without a competitive Cubs team is still worth two million seats a year.  Wrigley with a competitive Cubs team is worth more than three million, regardless of the cost of the tickets.  Based on the rabid fanbase and the relative unavailability of seats, the Chicago Cubs could -- and should! -- sell the most expensive tickets in baseball.  As a relatively poor Cub fan who has to spend hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to go to just one game a year, the actual physical cost of a ticket means nothing to me.

With that in mind, so long as they consistently put the majority of that money into the team -- giving the Cubs one of the most expensive payrolls in the game -- then I don't care what they charge for tickets.  $50 for bleachers?  No problem.  $1,000 for behind home plate?  Sounds like a party!  So while I wouldn't care if the Cubs bulldozed Wrigley Field for a new ballpark with all the modern conveniences, I have come to believe that they are more likely to win in Wrigley than anywhere else because -- for good or bad -- the ballpark is part of the attraction and that makes it a valuable tool in getting money to build a winner.

And anybody who argues that the organization has less incentive to build a winner because the ballpark is the attraction is nuts.  I wouldn't need complex flow charts and statistical analysis to tell you that a Cubs World Championship would be hugely, immensely profitable for the team owner.  As much cash as the Cubs generate now, it'll be even bigger and better once they win.  Guaranteed.

Cheat to win?  Isn't that sort of the point?
Poor Bill Simmons.  He's not sure how he'll be able to look his son in the eye someday.  A perfect season has been soiled for him.  His heroes are apparently the first team to ever win a World Championship by cheating!  Gasp!

I am extremely fond of pointing out that probably the vast majority of baseball players have been consuming greenies since the time of the Korean War.  There are legends enshrined in Cooperstown who got there because they threw nasty spit balls and were exceptionally good at hiding nails and sandpaper in their gloves.  Managers and players have actually spent real money on hiring people to put jinxes on their opponents.  In baseball they actually have a statistic to measure a person's success at stealing - and if you're a really good base thief you'll probably get into the Hall of Fame! 

I will not only be totally unsurprised if the Cubs cheat to win, I actually expect it.  If they don't have a guy in the scoreboard with binoculars and a transmitter along with another guy in the dugout with an ear piece then I will be shocked and disappointed.  You will never be able to show me with absolute certainty a team that won without cheating, it doesn't matter the sport or the level. 

But let's take it a step further.  What if, the day after the Cubs win the World Series, the FBI catches half the team in an alleyway buying steroids and HGH from a dealer?

Well, I'd be pissed off at their stupidity for getting caught, but I'd be relieved that it didn't happen until after they won.  And cheat or not they'd still be winners.

Erasing history
Obviously it's not possible to erase the Jordan years, or to remove from history the '85 Bears.  Obviously we can't change history.  But if the Cubs actually win a World Series then Cub fans would be losing connection to a huge part of our shared history and a very big part of our identities.

After all, we are known far-and-wide for our pain, heartbreak, and suffering.  The Cubs are well known for their history of being lovable losers.  It's as much a part of their identity as is Wrigley Field -- and one of the most annoying phrases in my vernacular.  But if the Cubs won, all of that would change.

It'd be like you looking back on when you were 12 and remembering how exactly it felt to be tortured by an older brother, teased by a girl in school, and forced into pointless labor by a distant father.  No matter how hard you try you probably won't be able to capture that exact feeling of righteous frustration.  Once the Cubs are winners -- and especially as the years go by -- we will lose connection with how it felt when they were hard-luck losers.

So yes.  It is possible to sacrifice history in the name of winning.  And since I am not exactly proud of the Cubs' history of losing I am perfectly content with that.  I can't wait for it to happen.

Of course it would be entirely fitting for the Cubs to follow this course -- keep Wrigley, charge an arm and a leg, and win at all costs -- only to win in unusual and unexpected circumstances. 

In other words, once the Ricketts Family steps in and begins to direct this team, watch what will happen.  The year Wrigley is shut down to be renovated -- in other words, the year the Cubs play in US Cellular -- that will be when they win it all. 

And even that would be perfectly okay with me.  Anything for a title.

This article should be labled satire

If all you care about is winning then you have picked the wrong team to be a fan of my friends.

I don't think an elaborate response is necessary here:

I do love Wrigley. I say if you want to slap advertising all over the field and make ticket prices unaffordable to fans than you have been completely blinded by your lust for a ring. Wrigley is part of what makes going to a Cubs game fun. If you trek to Wrigley expecting a win every time you will live your life a very disappointed person.

Cheating is not OK. Yes people take greeenies (is redbull any different?). A little wake up juice is not the same as injecting yourself full of steroids. Jinxing is not cheating- its just superstition.

I am not willing to sacrifice the Cubs Soul for a victory- the ends do not justify the means. If we followed your advice we would be the over-involved little league dad yelling at his kid to hustle, some person doing the wave at Wrigley, the fan booing the Cubs... in short: we will become the enemy.

I urge you to reconsider your stance, to consider the children- the future, our legacy.

Will we be the generation to watch the Cubs win it all and do it clean? Or will we be the ones who lost perspective, made a deal with the devil and ruined the purest thing baseball has today?

So you're saying that if I'm

So you're saying that if I'm a Cubs fan ...
1. I shouldn't expect the team to win, ever
2. I should value the look of the ballpark over the performance of the team
3. I should expect the Cubs to win without cheating, making them the only team in history to ever do so
4. I should apparently hold idiotic beliefs because the Cubs are better defined as "lovable losers."

Andrea, I see that you've been signed up for this blog for roughly an hour. I can tell you now that this place isn't for you. Do yourself a favor and find another website that supports your ridiculous opinions.

Me, I will continue to support a sports franchise that plays a game with the expectation of winning. And until "winning" happens, I will not be satisfied.

win at all costs

Kurt the only thing I have to take issue with is the comment about Steroids/HGH. Let's keep it clean. If they had won with Sammy some of the pride/bragging rights would have been lost. Not that I would give it back, because other than a corked bat there is no smoking gun. Since we don't have a long history of winning lets hope our first one in a century is clean.

An exerpt from a post I'll be

An exerpt from a post I'll be running later today...

"I'm not saying you have to be pro-steroids to read GROTA, on the contrary we'd lose pretty much everybody if that was a drawing line, but I'm asking that you not be so stupid as to think that there's a team out there that doesn't cheat somehow, someway."

It comes as a whole

Don't get me wrong, I want the team to win too... I want to be there, I want to celebrate.

I just don't think it is worth tossing out the other things that make the Cubs (and being a cubs fan) fun in order to 'win at all costs'. I don't want Wrigley to be a place with ads everywhere, Yankee style prices, and a bunch of p-o'd people booing at everything. I want it to be the friendly confines- with ivy on the walls, the historic manual scoreboard, and surrounded by the greatest fans in the world.

Maybe you are willing to sacrifice everything for a WS championship. If my opinions such as 'Cheating is bad' and 'Wrigley is a special place' are ridiculous to you then, well there really is little ground for discussion.

I am sure there are plenty of WS champs who didn't cheat- I don't see a spit-ball or sandpaper on par with HGH.

I want the ring too, I want the Cubs to do it for all those fans who passed before they could see them win a WS. But I don't want to sacrifice what's great about the franchise in order to do so.

I'm not saying 'If you are a Cubs fan you should act like...". I am simply asking you to reconsider your stance. Think about how you became a Cubs fan, how your fandom was formed. It is not too late to realize this is a horrible road to victory.

I won't tell you how to be a fan, but if the Cubs of your youth were dirty win at all costs cheaters, with a park and scoreboard like every other advertising laced park would you have been so enamored in the first place?

I only signed up so I could comment on your post. Don't take my comment personally. I am sure you are a real hard core fan, I just think Cubs fans in general should appreciate the good thing we have going and not ruin it. We can win and have Wrigley, we can win without steroids, we can win and still have reasonable ticket prices.

Winning

I love Wrigley Field for what it lacks (i.e. the sign telling you when to clap, the jumbotron, the sushi vendor, etc.), but I would push the destructo button myself if the park itself were somehow keeping us from victory.

That being said, yes, I am fine with ticket prices skyrocketing. Its what we call a free market. Supply: Demand = price. Of course I don't want the Cubs to cheat, at least beyond the standard degree of cheating in baseball (or any sport). Cornerbacks shove WR's when nobody is looking. Basketball players grab all kinds of body parts, hoping to 'get away with it', etc.

The fact is, Cubs fans do a disservice by being satisfied with all the nice accoutrements. The park, the lack of 'bad guys', etc., all should be considered icing on the cake of victory. We don't need to leave behind everything else, but we do need to realize what is most important: winning.

Well-put, and without

Well-put, and without expressing the ANGER I felt earlier.

Agree, or Disagree...

I'm of the school who loves Wrigley and the Cubbies. I agree with you in regards to the team coming first in almost every way, but I must say I would feel dirty if we could only win it all because of spray painting SEARS across the Ivy and having an ACE hardware logo tattooed to my forehead. I'd like to think the current cost and revenue is enough to get us there (oh, and that long forgotten thing called talent. Ain't it a lil sucker?) without raping the game of baseball with advertisement anymore than it currently is *coughU.S.cellularcough* But if I was guaranteed that if we tore down Wrigley this season and rebuilt it better, faster, stronger, and with a world series winning team the next season, I would be hacking at the place with a screw driver until it collapsed.

I think there just needs to be a balance. One can love the team and expect them to win while still wanting to maintain some dignity in the park.

Oh, and screw jacked up ticket prices. More importantly, screw stub hub. That should be done away with. If people don't want their tickets, sell them back to the cubs and then maybe I can buy them for their original ticket price, as opposed to double or even triple the cost. It's hard enough to find $50.00 for bleachers, it should be illegal for people to pay $300, which is an actual going price on stub hub.

Waited

Waited to reply to this because it was rather touchy. I think it's a sad enough commentary in and of itself to "expect" that we'll win by cheating.

I'm not naive. I'm sure there are Cubs who were/are on the 'roids. (Sammy in particular. He used to be SCRAWNY.) That said, I would be HUGELY angry and upset if this is the "only" way we could win. I would rather lose. But I'm just an insane person who thinks integrity and honor are supposed to mean something.

Steroids, and Selig and the players' union complete %^34^*(&&*(!$!@ in refusing to implement a hardcore testing policy and repercussions is a gigantic stain on the MLB as far as I'm concerned. Most other major sports all have testing. Sure, Manny had consequences, but these guys are still rarely caught and what happened to him is, so far, the exception, not the rule.

I have no respect for Bonds. I have no respect for Manny, Clemens or the other idiots involved. I don't care to think about Sammy since he was just a [insert word] when he left, let alone his probable steroid use.

As far as money, I understand the supply and demand of ticket prices, but I am REALLY irked at how the Cubs manipulate that by shoving people off directly into Stubhub. You can't convince me that's not rigged.

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