Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Cub Fan Nation

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Jim Haley can choke on a bag of poinswatters

Preface (disclaimer)
We aren't bad guys here.  If you ever met us in person, you'd probably be surprised by how polite we are.  I think any one of us -- not just myself -- would be high on a list of people least likely to incite a riot.  Even if you think our internet personas are those of raging dicks and enormous assholes (a perfect match for each other, I'm sure you'd agree), I'd argue that we are mostly misunderstood and, in that mythical place known as "Real Life," we have many friends and few-if-any enemies.  And that's pretty ironic, since I tend to say outrageous things in person that I would never say on the internets.

Still, I have about a zero tolerance level when it comes to people who attack one of my own.  Ironically, if you attacked me, I would try to buddy up with you and would be generally polite, no matter how dickish you get, but if you attack one of mine, it's Game On.  Which brings us to this article's topic.

Recently, Rob, myself, and others have been expressing Cubbie Cynicism with very little reluctance.  What's the point of writing something if you aren't going to be truthful, after all?  I know that some of you do not want to be reminded of what a ridiculously crappy season the Cubs are having, and nobody likes to read about how the obvious moves of firing Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella are not likely to occur, but does that mean we shouldn't write about it? 

If you think about how you feel when you watch a game, and the way you express yourself after a particularly awful, disappointing play, is it fair to deny us the same emotions and the same responses?  Would we be Cub fans if their play didn't piss us off?

And yet, after a recent post, Rob received the following EMail from Jim Haley:

"Clean up your language using 4 letter words in your posts.  Please stay away from the Cubs...We don't need you.  Better yet, move to Alaska so we don't have to read your comments."

I have to ask Mr. Haley: who gives you the authority to tell anybody on this blog -- or anywhere else, for that matter -- what they can or cannot say?  Who gives you the authority to speak on behalf of the Cubs?  "We don't need you?"  Huh?!?  And please, sir, I'm dying to know... what makes you think that Alaska doesn't have the internet?

In another exchange with Rob, this arrogant douchebag wrote, "I figured it out after reading the website comments from others... u are far from being the Cubs.  The other posters have some smarts&common courtesy with what they write to all ages.  Cubs nation is young&old.  Go out & have a Bud with Ricketts when you can afford a bleacher seat.  I'm sure he will listen to 'MR. CUB"/ (sic) give me a break.

"Oh, watch who you call names too (sic)....paybacks could be hell"

Jim Haley, I'm not sure where you think you were given authority over the internets, but I would like you to know that I hereby quit you as a reader on GROTA.  This blog is written by -- and for -- passionate, dedicated, intelligent Cub fans.  The people who come to this website understand what it means to put one's heart behind a sport, no matter how often it's broken, and we know what it's like to feel sometimes cynical and always disappointed. 

But we don't have a spot for you here.  You don't belong.  But as far as name calling goes ...

You are a throbbing galoot, sir, whose fingers are better served to be wrapped around an army of poinswatters rather than to type comments on the internet.  Your baseball acumen is equitable to that of a child, and your time would be better spent learning how to tolerate those with a more sophisticated lifeview than your own, rather than to dictate how the rest of us should express ourselves in public.

In other words, rude people like you are the reason why couples should take parenting tests before being permitted to reproduce.  Because if you were raised right, you wouldn't be quite so ridiculously rude, nor full of yourself.

But in the name of tolerance, I'll just say this much more to you ... you are absolutely, completely, 100% welcome to disagree.  You are well within your rights as a human being to believe that Jim Hendry poops gold and the Cubs are only two lucky breaks away from World Series Domination.  You can think that we're vulgar, you can believe that we're idiots, you can badmouth us to every Cub fan with half an interest in blogs, but when you start telling us what to do and think you are crossing a line.  And when you begin making subtle threats about how we better watch ourselves, then you are more than just crossing a line -- you're hurdling it in a full sprint.  My advice to you: don't do that, you might not like where you land.

So keep on crossing it, Jim Haley, and never look back.  We'll both be happier without you.

A brief message to Facebook users who insist on commenting on every Cubs story

Two things:

1) It is NOT "Cubbies".  It is "Cubs".  The Chicago Cubs.  Cubbies are small spaces where kindergartners put their shoes during naptimes, and after naptimes, they roll up their towels or blankies and stick them in the cubbies.

It is the Chicago Cubs National League Baseball Team.  Got it?  All anyone EVER has to do to piss me off and to lose me as a comrade is to use the term Cubbies to refer to the team that once employed Andre Dawson, a bad bad man who rubbed bone against bone every day while patrolling the sun field in right.

If you can't refrain from using "cubbies", then go root for the "soxies" or "brewsies".

2) On Facebook, there is a "Like" button.  This is meant to be clicked if you approve of the item.

For example, today I wrote that "Guns don't kill people, 16 ounce pan-fried ribeyes, double baked potatoes drenched in butter, and cherry cobbler ala mode kills people".  Six people decided this was true, so they clicked "Like".

When the Chicago Cubs Facebook group puts out something that says "Aramis Ramirez has been hitting .154 this year, and has a sore right thumb", the intent is to inform us of what is happening.  It is not put there for our APPROVAL.  Do you LIKE the fact that ARam can't hit dick and has a debilitating injury?  I don't like that, not one bit.  I would LIKE it if he were hitting .354, and opposing pitchers had sore right thumbs because they are so insecure that they've reverted to sucking their thumbs as a coping mechanism.

I assume you don't LIKE it, either.  So, why click on the LIKE button?
Just because the gatdam Cubs logo is on there, don't mean you gotta LIKE it. 

2A) And don't compound your gatdam ignorance after clicking LIKE on #2 and then saying "Go Cubbiez" in the comments.

This is why fans of other teams hate us, because some of us are so damn stupid.  Grow the hell up!

For better or worse, minus the "or worse" part

Rob wrote a fine piece the other day, skirting the issue of Cub bloggers who manage to walk the precarious tight rope between a ridiculously inflated sense of self-importance and a throbbing, pulsing insecurity complex.  Kind of harkens back to the old saying, "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself."  Who knew that Cubs bloggers could turn it into such a finely honed art?  They've managed to feel both vain and bitter at the same time when comparing themselves to the same person!

At GROTA, we've thought often about being more of an insult blog.  It's a winning concept - identify a stupidly written article (and there are so many out there), rip it to shreds, call the writer names that I'd never use in a face-to-face scenario because it would get me punched (or sued), and profit.  Epic win for everybody.  The problem is that it requires a tremendous amount of energy that I simply do not have.  You would have to strap me to a chair and force open my eyes with toothpicks to get me to regularly read any of the blogs involved in this fiasco. 

Maybe it's a winning concept, but then again tabloid journalism often is.  And in this case, Cubs blogs are the equivalent of British tabloid op-ed pieces (often featuring writers with scowling pictures above their articles, looking angry and absurd), which feature ridiculous, contrived opinions expressed solely with the intent of evoking a titillating response from the reader.  The only problem is that I get the feeling that these idiot bloggers actually mean most of what they say.  They actually don't see a problem with the way they act, and they seem to feel a legitimate sense of surprise -- and uproarious anger -- if anybody does to them what they do to others (see an article I wrote this past year in which I merely quoted the things people were saying about me and responded to them -- you'd've thought I unapologetically ran over their children on live TV).

In this case, as you probably know, the target of the bloggers was at first Paul Sullivan.  These dopes ask: "how dare he call an idiotic ex Cub an "idiot" (when I've called Sully and others names far worse) and actually get paid a good living for it, while I work in a cubical and stay up past midnight every evening just to blog!?!"  And later the target became Julie, who is associated with Chicago Now.  The dopes ask in her case: "how dare she latch her fat ass onto a multi-million dollar organization and get wide-spread traction for her work while I slave my fat ass off for maybe a thousand hits a day?!?!"

Well, folks, Paul Sullivan had the right to call Milton Bradley an idiot on his Twitter stream.  It wasn't a big deal.  He's also not obligated to let you shit-disturb on his page.  Why should he?  Does he owe you anything?  Did you save his life back in 'Nam, only to be betrayed now by his ruthless Twit-Block?  The bloggers who objected to Sully's name-calling also had the right to act -- that's right, "act" -- pissed and write a thousand word flaming diatribe against him.  But shame on us (even me) for drawing attention to their ridiculous reaction.  In making such a big deal out of this, we've given them all the reinforcement they'll ever need to keep acting cantankerous. 

Meanwhile, if bloggers have the right to call Sullivan an idiot, then they also have the right to call each other -- and Julie -- names.  She obviously doesn't like it, no matter how loudly she protests that she doesn't care, but that's probably part of why they do it.  (I think they also like to call her "fat" because it's an easy misdirection of their raging jealousy.  Remember, every Cubs blogger arrogantly thinks he or she is the best, and therefore is insanely jealous of any Cubs blogger who is widely recognized as being better.  And Julie is better.  Deal with it, champ.)

Sullivan has quietly ignored them.  That was probably the right response.  Not only is this shit way, way below his level, but there's nothing more infuriating than a calm response to an emotional attack.  Julie, meanwhile, has made a pretty big deal out of the way she is treated by those dopes, which will just stoke their fire.  That was probably not the smartest move on Julie's part.

I write this from my own experiences, of course.  This blog has had a handful of run-ins with the sites responsible for this current round of drama.  I swore off reading one of the blogs in particular after its head writer failed to wrap his mind around Rob, who follows the Cubs from an emotional stance, not a clinical one (I sort of think he -- the blogger, not Rob -- has Asberger's or something equally debilitating).  Said blogger voiced an apparently sincere desire for Rob to drop a toaster while standing in a filled bathtub.  I therefore assume he doesn't actually feel offended by Sullivan's use of the word "idiot," but I wouldn't know for sure.  I am continuing in my sincere effort to never again read another of his written words.  I think that's a lot easier than butting heads with he and his site repeatedly.  I don't deny their right to exist and to spout fascist-level hatred at every opportunity, I just choose not to actively participate.

As for the guys on the other end of this debate, I personally believe that, like their debating rivals, they are sincerely unpleasant, petty people.  Fortunately for them, a few are also actually pretty funny, hence their dips into the mainstream, which I'm sure has evoked all kinds of jealousy from the bloggers who think they're more deserving.  (Sorry, champ, if you were more deserving you'd be on Kap's show, too.)  Their problems are many, mostly surrounding their total lack of a sense of the appropriate.  Sadly for the blogs they are associated with, sooner or later the ridiculous, flaming insults they launch will overshadow the content of the actual writers... assuming that hasn't already happened.

So, on one end we've got a group of Cubs bloggers who have no sense of the appropriate and, if given enough rope and time, will someday hang themselves with their words.  On the other end we've got a group of Cubs bloggers who have no sense of the appropriate, mixed in with an overwhelming fight response to any criticism levied their way. 

Sounds like the kind of match that the dating websites could only dream of.  May their entanglement last forever, but GROTA and all sensible blogs will likely bow out. 

Have at it, boys and girls.  We'll be here, talking about the Cubs, for better or worse.

This blog, for better or for worse, will always be about the Cubs team

Cub Blogger Nation has evolved, or devolved over the years, depending on your point of view.  It appears that some of our best and brightest, and I sincerely mean it when I say it, have done their best to close the gap between themselves and what we'd call the 'legitimate media', which means the Sun-Times, Tribune and Herald, WGN radio, and the collection of TV outlets.  They've met, befriended and betrayed, variously, Len Kasper, David Kaplan, Paul Sullivan, Bruce Miles, and others. 

I mean, I see it.  I'm not going to name names today, but I have met, broke bread with, sat at games with, and have followed the exploits of nearly all of the principals in last week's Cub Blogger Catfight.  They are closer to the media action than we are here.  They are closer to Chicago in proximity, they know people who know people, and if I had the combination of a) proximity, b) time, c) connections, I would do exactly the same thing. 

I was jealous when a few of them got to be on Kaplan's show last month, I won't kid you.  In fact, once upon I time, I considered myself to be equal to those guys in terms of notoriety, but due to the reasons cited above, plus some notable and unfortunate lack of focus in my personal life, I have fallen off the grid a bit.  Yes, when I started writing about the Cubs starting in 1998, it was initially a journaling exercise, but after a few initial successes, I saw perhaps a future in the media surrounding the Cubs for myself. 

And it may still happen, to a certain extent, someday, but there have been some decisions I have made, which many of the principals know about, that have caused me to separate from the inner circle of Cub blogdom that seems to have some connection to the "legit media".

What that means, for me, is that I don't get to do fun stuff like go on "Sports Central".  But what that means, for you, that we don't have any affiliations with anyone that may serve to color our viewpoint of what we REALLY feel is important; simply, the chances that this God-forsaken franchise will ever win a Pennant and/or World Championship in our lifetimes.

I come out here to express my views on how close, or far away, the Chicago Cubs are from winning it all in any given year.  So does Kurt and AJ, and whomever else comes along in the future.  Now, sometimes, we'll hear something said or written by another blogger, or a member of the media, that is so contrary to the real picture that we may comment on it.  That concept seems to be the core concept that is driving many of the most well-known Cubs blogs. 

They've gotten too close, in my humble opinion.  We here are unbeholden, and our only bias is to the success of the Cubs baseball team.  Whether the announcers say dumb stuff or the game recaps and trade rumors in the paper are dumb, really doesn't matter much to us.  This is all about the Blue W on the White Flag, nothing more or less.

This is where you can always go to find out what a small group of rabidly observant Cub fans notice about the team.  End of story.  Go Cubs!!

Lest We Forget, Rome Wasn’t Built In a Day

I’ve actually been thinking about this topic for about two weeks, and to be honest it would have probably been slightly more appropriate before the recent stretch of divine intervention, but I digress…

The 2008 Cubs were the best Cubs team I’ve ever seen. (Considering the amount of bickering that has been going on recently I’m sure this will be debated, but statistically speaking and seemingly intangibly speaking, they were one of the best.) They could beat any team and no matter the defecit, they were in every game. Almost straight through from April to September, the 2008 Cubs ran in to few glaring issues that ever threatened their chances of winning the division and they ended up clinching a week before the end of the season. That’s when the fun ended.

From one of the greatest offenses in club history to one of the biggest eggs laid in playoff history, that team took a nose dive. But that didn’t even seem to be the worst part. Nor was the worst part that they were so dominant all year and were being discussed as the easy National League representative in the World Series. The worst part wasn’t that pretty much the entire team, with a few notable exceptions, was expected to come back in 2009. The worst part wasn’t even the fact that I had accepted that we sh*t our pants in the playoffs, not even that mattered.

No, the worst part was that I was convinced that no matter how good the 2009 Cubs were, the entire season would just be one giant pressure cooker set to implode in October. I was sure that from April through September it wouldn’t matter how big our lead was, or how dominant our run differential was. The only thing that would matter would be 3 games in October.

Think about it this way: on June 22, 2008 the Cubs were 20 games over .500, had a 4.5 game lead and a +112 run differential! That team was unstoppable. I truly felt in my heart that last year was going to be the year. As we all know, it wasn’t.

Exactly 1 year later we are 3 games over .500 and only 2.5 out of first place. Oh, and our run differential? +12. Exactly 100 runs less than where we were last year at this time. That’s not going to last. This team is virtually the same lineup. They will hit. And the playoffs? No one’s talking about the playoffs; no one is saying this is a lost season unless we get out of the first round. All of the pressure right now is on having a successful season and making the first round. You could even almost make the argument that stumbling and sputtering through the first 2/5ths of the season could be the best thing to happen to this year's team. Now the pressure isn't about “Yeah, you’re winning, but what about in October? What you’re doing now doesn’t matter until you win a game in October.” The pressure is about now. It’s about a division race in the middle of the summer. Something the 0-for-October team from last year didn’t have to deal with.

I'm not being naive, either. This team is by no means perfect and currently has plenty of holes. They’ve frustrated and infuriated me all season, but this division is still there for the taking. They are the best team in the division, and I don’t think many would disagree that even in third place it is still theirs to lose. The two teams ahead of us whom we beat by 7.5 and 11 games last year? They got worse.

Look, (imagine Uncle Lou here) the point is there’s nothing wrong with a little adversity as long as you learn something from it. At this exact point last year The World Champion Phillies were coming off a 5 game losing streak (in the midst of a 1-7 stretch), only 7 games over .500 and a 1 game lead in the division. I bet anything they’d say the adversity and challenges they fought through the entire season are what propelled them to be the last team standing at the finish line. Let’s keep this in perspective.  It couldn’t hurt. Go Cubs.

Hello... Is it me you're looking for?

It has been a while since I have had the audacity to post a blog entry.  I apologize to my loyal blog followers for the absence(... I don't actually think I had any, but it makes me feel special).

To be honest, this Cubs season has been the type of vanilla that doesn't really inspire a worthwhile entry.  Sure, I could write an entry about any and every issue plaguing the Cubs over the season, but that is basically what every blog/sportswriter/analyst has been doing since the third week of the season.  However, something happened today during the course of the 6-5 victory over the White Sox that compelled me to jump online and write about it.

Over the course of this season the Cubs seemed to be stuck with a 2008 postseason hangover.  Instead of coming out of the gate inspired and with fire/revenge, they came out defeated, slumping and uninspired.  Something was just lacking; perhaps the "cubby swagger" that Lou always talks about.  Back in 2008, you felt like the Cubs could come back from any deficit at any time (see, e.g. Colorado comeback game, the ATL Edmonds/Reed HBP walkoff game, etc.).  I have never been labeled "cynical" when it comes to Cubs baseball: I'm always the guy in June that has to bring people down from the edge, I've never booed a Cubs player (that is another rant altogether), but at the same time I'm not a blind "kool aid" drinker.  Regardless, it just felt like that belief and swagger was lost somewhere along the way by the current Cubs roster.

Today felt like a page had been turned.  The Cubs were once again down by a reasonably large deficit late in the game.  However, something strange happened when the 8th inning came around: the guys that were supposed to step up did. 

I know that this game is just one of 162.  But I came away from this game with the hope that perhaps this team may have found a bit of that swagger that seemed to be lacking earlier.  Let's hope it continues. 

GROTA News and Notes

Just a few things this morning to occupy your thoughts...

As some of you may have noticed, we've been touching up the looks of the blog the past few weeks. Kevin and I are presently working on one or three additional skins, all of which very well may give this blog one of the most unique looks on the net. So, if you haven't looked yet here's how you'd check them out: once you log in go into "my account," click on the "edit" tab, scroll down and pick your favorite. Feedback is of course welcome.

Not to mention that if you happen to have a blog yourself and would like a new logo, you are more than welcome to contact me. My prices are ridiculously fair. Apart from GROTA you can see examples of what I've done recently at Another Cubs Blog and the Bush League Times, and I've recently taken to designing a few logos for Hockee Night although Fork hasn't changed them yet.

Speaking of Fork, like the Uncouth Sloth he is another old time Cub fan with a strong writing style and a long memory. He has graciously volunteered to join us in contributing his perspective on Cubs 101. And while I haven't directly asked him to contribute to the more mundain articles on the 2009 Cubs, nothing is stopping him -- so let's welcome Forklift to the team.

Speaking of additions to the team, GROTA has a long-standing tradition of absorbing writers the way the Blob would absorb the flesh of its victims. I've always tried to tentitively keep the number fairly low -- generally we have had a minimum of four contributors at one time but that number has balooned to six (and more) as the original writers have gone on to get jobs, wives, children, offers from other, better blogs and other deals that directly correlate to lower post production. So, since we're not exactly drowning you in content -- despite having myself, Byron, Jason, Rob, Colin, Kyle, Chris, AJ, and at large Tonker, Huey, and Chuck -- I've decided to take an open approach to adding on part-time contributors like Forklift.

Not that we're exactly screening for auditions or anything -- although any reader who's interested in writing for the site has the option to "audition" through a regular production of reader blogs, which aren't being used often enough -- but don't be surprised to see some old-time familiar faces posting sporadically on this blog.

Lastly, feedback is welcome.  Is there anything you'd like to see more of on this blog?  What do you think we're missing?  Please note that none of these two questions are invitations to hate on something we presently have that you DON'T like, be it a writer or regular topic.  If you can't resist the urge to tell me how much you despise something that I have no intention of changing then I promise I will make all efforts to double the amount of the content you dislike.  Why would I do something like that?  Because I'm a bastard, obviously.

Let's make it immortal

In case you've missed it, I've been engaged in a heated debate with a Cubs "fan" in the Shout Box who has made repeated statements the past few days about:

1. how the Cubs "SUCK ASS" - direct quote
2. how Jim Hendry dismantled a winning team this off season
3. how this team will "break your heart"

And so on.

You know me.  I have a problem with this.  My problem isn't that he's worried -- can't blame him, the Cubs have lost 8 straight, are under .500, and look absolutely horrible right now.

No, my problem is that this Cubs "fan" is so short sighted that he can't see things clearly.  He's quit on the team.  IN MAY.  Anyway, since the Shout Box has locked up for 30 more minutes, I'm creating this thread to invite the anonymous guest to Man Up and talk with me about it in a place where he has to wear a handle ... the actual content section of the site.

So.  Guest.  Let's recap... first, you have given no indication to having "temporary" concerns about the Cubs.  You think they're done for.  You believe they have no chance of reaching the playoffs. 

Second, you got hot with me when I directly said the following...

if at the end of May you're taking THAT stance about the Cubs... what's the point?  why - or how - are you a fan?  if you give up on a team - any team - at the first sign of mediocrity
(and every team looks mediocre for long stretches in a 6 month season) then why follow the team to begin with?

Notice the first part of the question is "if."  The short answer would be "oh, well I don't think the season is lost, I just think they need to do something right now."

Instead you took the "you feel the same way as I do, you are a trite hack, how can you attack people for feeling differently than you do" and eventually hours later "I never said anything about giving up on the season," once you realized how horribly stupid your words looked.

So.  Here's another chance to clarify. I can't wait for your response.

A Goat Riders of the Apocalypse Mission Statement

This blog is not a public service.

It is - at times - a source of news. Usually it's a source of commentary. We have a ShoutBox that allows you to engage your fellow Cub fans in conversation. We expect to get all kinds of dissenting views on all sorts of topics. For example, Mark DeRosa or Mike Fontenot? Milton Bradley or Adam Dunn? Neal Cotts or a bucket of spit? I don't expect anybody to agree with my opinions on any of these topics - and numerous others - and I don't even mind it if you tell me that my views are absolutely idiotic. (You probably won't change my mind but it has actually been known to happen.)

But there are a few important things that you have to understand about GROTA. I'll outline them as follows:

We are fans of the Chicago Cubs, not of Wrigley Field. We understand that people will have conflicting views about the fate of Wrigley -- should they knock it down, load it with ads, sell the naming rights, etc. -- but if you think it's more important to have cheap tickets at an unspoiled ballpark than to have the chance to watch the Cubs win a pennant, then GROTA is not for you.

We follow the Chicago Cubs because we want them to win, not because we identify with them as losers. We understand, again, that some people would be just as happy to go to a game at Beautiful Wrigley Field whether the Cubs are 62-100 or 100-62, but baseball is a game, the purpose of which is to win. I will never tell a reader that they shouldn't go to a game if the Cubs are a bad baseball team. However if you tell me that if I cheer on the Cubs with the expectation that they win the World Series, then I'm "following the wrong team," then GROTA is not for you.

We also support the Cubs optimistically, but we're realistic about the nature of the world and of a billion-dollar sport. And no, "greenies" are not "like Red Bull." They are amphetamines that are an explicitly banned substance that absolutely serve as performance enhancers, by the way. While we at GROTA dread the day that a Cubs star is caught with a needle, or fails a test, we are not so unrealistic as to believe that it will never happen. And at this stage, we know better than to think that such "cheating" is done by a minority of players. But we understand that some people want their game to be pure and would like to "think of the children" when taking a hard stance against steroids. But if you tell me that "cheating" is not a part of baseball - ignoring more than a century and a half of stealing signs, loading bats, doctoring balls, and doing any little thing to gain an advantage - then GROTA is not for you. (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, every single game.)

And most importantly, this blog exists because we genuinely believe that the Chicago Cubs are not only capable of winning the World Series, but will in fact win it soon! We're here because we believe that this organization is not defined by its history of losing, but instead by its potential to win! Above all other things, THAT IS WHAT THIS BLOG IS ABOUT!!!!  WE'RE THE GOAT RIDERS OF THE BLEEDIN' APOCALYPSE!!!  DOES THAT NAME MEAN NOTHING TO YOU?

Ahem.  Like I said. This blog is not a public service. I welcome debate, I love being proved wrong, but I really have zero tolerence for the blue-koolaid swilling "I love Beautiful Wrigley Field and their lovable loser Cubs" mentality. I can't force the internets to block that kind of person from reading GROTA but I wish I could because the person with that kind of idiotic, unrealistic, frustrating attitude brings nothing to the table and flat out embarrasses me as a Cub fan.

For those of you who disagree with me or feel that I have overstepped my boundaries, then I QUIT YOU TOO!!! (Just kidding, actually I apologize. I know that not everybody sees it my way and I accept that. But there's seeing it differently and seeing it wrongly, and the kind of Cub fan I've been writing about here is just. Plain. WRONG. Like the mulleted Cardinals fan, the Koolaid-Swilling Cubs Fan is a blight on our kind and make me feel ashamed of us. I wouldn't even send that kind of person over to BCB ... instead, the forums on Cubs.com would be most appropriate. So go there instead and enjoy it, because GROTA ain't for you.)

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.

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