Ricketts on NPR
New Cubs owner Tom Ricketts did an appearance on NPR on Saturday morning (here's the related article). This is great news for Cub fans who are hungry to learn about what his plans are, but it's terrible news for people who were hoping for an exciting interview. (NPR, I love ya, but you're a little too serious for my tastes.)
Ricketts apparently has his finger on the vein of Cub Fan Nation (I know, some of you hate that phrase but tough shit, I've been using it for six years) because a lot of what he said is stuff Championship Enthusiasts like me want to hear.
First, he's not 100% right by my take. I doubt any Cub fan will love everything he says. In terms of what he's doing that's wrong, he apparently has no intention of firing anybody in the front office. I get that he doesn't want to immediately shake everything up, but a team can't be run by the same General Manager for seven years now and not have at least one trip to the Series without there being somebody not doing his or her job. It'd just be nice to see at least one new decision maker swoop in and shake things up a bit.
But what's he doing that's right? First he sees Wrigley Field not as a shrine, but as a stadium. According to Ricketts: "First of all, we want this to be the best franchise in baseball, and
you can’t be a world-class franchise and have third-class facilities. . . . There is land that is just adjacent to the
stadium, along Clark Street, that the team owns and we intend to
develop that into a part of the stadium, that will give fans more
options on game day, but as importantly free up space inside of the
stadium to build in some of the clubhouse functionality that other
Apparently, this may cause ticket prices to rise. Ricketts says that fans "should keep in mind is that with family ownership now, we intend
to reinvest all the profits that we can get on the team and put that
back into preserving Wrigley Field and to putting a better team on the
field. So it's not like it's going away to some kind of corporation and
never will be seen again."
If any of this sounds familiar to you, it's because you've read it here before.
Way back in January, I wrote this:
Please do not feel beholden to the people who run the minor league
system. They have developed some pitchers, but the bottom line is that
if you fail to develop successful positional players, then you're
going to spend way more money buying what you need on the market.
Regarding Wrigley Field, I wrote:
Sometime in the near future you're going to have to renovate the
ballpark. Cub fans loathe this idea because it means a year or two in
US Cellular. I don't think that's a big deal, but I think it'd be
cooler if you could move into Soldier Field. Regardless, when the
ballpark gets rebuilt I can only ask that you expand the bleachers and
make the upper deck bigger and better. Also don't forget to improve
the home team's clubhouse ... and leave the visitor's clubhouse as a
hole. Every advantage, Mr. Ricketts. Any edge.
Oh, and I'm betting money that the Cubs win the World Series for the
first time while out of Wrigley. It'd be too funny for it to not
One other thing while I'm thinking about it - if you choose to
capitalize off the fame of the ballpark by selling naming rights you
will face staunch opposition from the vast majority of the fans. They
apparently don't realize that Wrigley Field was the first ballpark to be named after a brand.
Crazy talk, huh? I'm also certain that if I dug through the archives of GROTA, I'd find in various places the expressed opinion that the Cubs should jack up their ticket prices and charge whatever they damn well please, as long as they put the money back into the team.
Does this mean Ricketts has been reading GROTA? More importantly, does this make Tom Ricketts the right owner for the Cubs?
No to both. Time will tell on the lip service he's been paying. Don Baylor, Dusty Baker, Andy MacPhail, Milton Bradley, Todd Hundley, Ed Lynch, Larry Himes, they have all said the right thing at some point to get to where they got. But I feel optimistic about Tom Ricketts. I see good things in our future. And while I doubt that GROTA is a landing place for Mr. Ricketts on his daily web crawl, we were contacted by his publicity agency way back in January about the shape of things to come. But the important thing is not the shape, rather it's the reality. And the reality looks good.