Cub Fan Nation
As someone who is deeply entrenched in training to become a professional member of the media, I want to extend kudos to Kurt for his posts about the art of blogging.
I - as well as most other young journalists that I know - have loads of respect for the blogging community and the way in which it is reengaging public participation in the events that happen in our lives. Because of blogs, more people are paying attention and more people are asking questions...and I could not be happier.
Many old school journalists hate blogs. Check that, the despise them. About two weeks ago, one of my professors shouted out in class that "All bloggers are sh*t" after learning that I had spent some time writing on the Interwebs here and there.
I believe journalists treat bloggers like lepers simply because they don't understand them and terms like "links", "posts" and "Wordpress". You should see how my professors scatter to the dark corners behind the printing press when I open up laptop. They are terrified that they will be replaced by machines run by people who are without credentials or formal training that want to take over the world and harvest energy from human bodies in order to fuel their blogging empire.
But really, it's just a lack of understanding.
Us journalists are forced to take an oath where we must destroy all blogs from the face of the earth, but editors love them in reality. Go to any newspaper Web site and you'll see "blogs" for reporters and columnists that they usually update daily with short posts and quick thoughts. Newspapers know blogging is more than just a fad and that it's here to stay. They're just worried the power of blogs are in the wrongs hands - yours.
However, I couldn't disagree more. As I mentioned before, blogs are a great way to get everyone involved. People like to read them, write them and comment on them. It truly has opened up a market place of ideas where everyone can voice there opinion...no matter how ridiculous it is.
Honestly though, we love blogs for the content. We read the stuff the reporters aren't allowed to say. We read for a different point of view. We write because we have something important to say that shouldn't be lost in a comments section on a newspaper Web site.
Plus some of us read because we like it better than the garbage some professionals try to pass by us as "news".
Example A, look at this column from the Bright One by "award-winning" columnist Neil Hayes. Do you honestly like that you couldn't write something better than this? Everyone on this blog (riders and readers alike) have thoughts deeper and than Hayes.
Let me some up in two sentences what he writes in two paragraphs.
1. The Cubs should be good.
2. They might or might not win a championship
Hayes gets paid for this people! Actual American currency! Loud noises!
So I guess to sum this rambling up, keep writing. Journalists may deem you as something less than themselves, but you're right to speak your mind is just as equal and powerful as theirs...unless you're from Canada, where your only right is federal protection from polar bears.
Just a short entry for you this morning: the hook.
All good blogs have a hook - something that grows the community and keeps readers coming back. Here, I'll run down a few for you:
Another Cubs Blog is anything but just another Cubs blog. Maddog is honest, cynical, and his readers are not coddled in any form. If you want to go and hate on the more vanilla Cub blogs - or Cubs news in general - I can't think of a better forum.
Hire Jim Essian is not the first "fire" or "hire" blog out there, but it is perhaps the funniest. Kermit and his colleagues - including retired Goat Rider Mike D. - take sarcasm and funny to a rare level. The blog also has a Shout Box which receives perhaps more attention from the regulars than does the actual content of the writers.
Bleed Cubbie Blue has the largest community and has more reader interaction options than probably any other Cubs blog on the net and is, erm, "edited in chief" by a guy with season tickets and a first-hand take on every home game. Being probably the most-read Cubs blog it also walks the narrowest line and is the biggest, easiest target for hatred by every other Cubs blog out there. Consequently the bannings are frequent, but hey - if Al wasn't so busy trying to keep the shiz disturbers out, he probably wouldn't get nearly as many hits or attention. Oh, irony. (And on a humorous note, we now run the risk of being gently scorned by ACB and HJE for saying something even remotely positive about BCB. So it goes; buy American.)
There is Desipio, Andy Dolan's beercan-and-syringe-laden playground, the presumptive father of Hire Jim Essian, as well as one of my personal influences. Its intent was to be a total Chicago Sports site, minus the damn Sox, but has become mainly Cubs-centric over its 11 years of existence. Snark was not invented there, but it is certainly stretched to its worldly limits. Andy's Daily Dose is nearly always a worthwhile read, because it is damn funny, and over the years he has built a small network of contacts and sometimes he gets the scooperama. However, the Dose has become less frequent now that real life has gotten in the way of blogdom. The most used feature of Desipio lately is its message boards, which handles an impressive level of traffic, but like Deadspin has become a place where the young and tragically self-impressed go to strut their stuff. Most of the BCB hate emenates from its bowels, as well as a healthy disrespect of this here site, too.
Goat Riders of the Apocalypse - bringing you Cubs news, analysis, and humor until the end of the world. 'nuff said. Oh, we also do photoshops, most of which are pretty lame and confusing. But, at least, we don't swill the Blue Kool-Aid.
Finding an angle is tough. Maybe your blog will be Bleacher Preacher - the most optimistic Cubs blog on the net. Or maybe your blog will be dedicated to your broken heart and your hopes that the Cubs will mend it through a magical summer of top notch baseball. (Yes, that fop-a-double-gop-yop blog actually existed, and I shall scorn and mock it forever -- as should you unless you are a certain counter-programming reader who can probably relate all-too-well).
Whatever you do that makes you unique, you better hope that it's not lame. Uh, good luck with that.
So, you've created a blog - cleverly titled Bleacher Preacher or perhaps Continue to Employ Lou Piniella (celp.com) - and have sold advertising. But what next?
Bloggin' ain't easy, my friends. You gotta keep your bloggin' hand strong or you will quickly lose your readers. First of all, you need to have opinions on all the mundane things that happen on a daily basis. The Cubs demoted Angel Guzman again? That's a 200 word post right there even if you care as much for Guzman as you do a pimple on your ass. The Cubs have lost 6 straight? You should be ranting, and raving, and going nuts over this gut-wrenching losing streak. Make sure to declare loudly that there's no way this team could possibly win a World Series. Be sure to ignore that it's happening in April.
Actually the losing streaks are the worst. The Cubs blog graveyard is littered by websites that petered out during losing streaks or the 2006 baseball season. Do you know how hard it is to blog daily about a 95-loss team? Believe you me, that $500 you pocketed for selling advertising won't be worth the agony.
But if you can get past the depressing times, or the times when you have a girlfriend and can think of about twelve better things to do, or the times when you've started a new job - or graduate work at university - and you want to write regularly about your topic of choice, then you will come reach a crossroads.
You'll ask yourself this question: do I want this to be a simple blog/journal/whatever, or is this a credible source of media? (Well, maybe you won't ask that question but if you have ever ranted about how the Man is trying to keep your blog down, then you probably know what I'm referring to.) There have been a handful of occasions - usually whenever I talk to Will Carroll - where simply making my opinion known on a topic isn't enough and I actually feel the urge to call up sources and confirm the things I've been hearing! Usually these urges come in the wake of incidents of credibility like if we break a story or are the story (which has happened about twice ever).
And then there are times when, rather than become credible, I just really want to be behind a really good hoax. However, realistically speaking, a blog is a blog is a blog. I might call up somebody in the Cubs organization tomorrow, but I'm still a blogger who works a regular job for a living. I might talk to a journalist - or even a player - but I remain a guy who is simply working to become a teacher.
Anyway, the point is this: if you start asking yourself those questions - ie: am I credible - then you are taking yourself waaaay too seriously. If you choose to blog, then I hope you enjoy what you're doing but don't make it unnecessarily complicated. Pretentiousness will chase readers away faster than bad gas will clear an elevator. Instead, if you like writing and debating and making your opinion known, then just stick to that simple tip about blogging: write every single day, on any mundane topic you come across, and leave it at that. All things good - and bad - will follow if you're just consistent - including credibility.
I've written on this topic before but it's an interesting and an important one.
Imagine, if you will, that blogging about the Cubs could eventually lead you to make enough money to pay for a trip to Chicago! Imagine that blogging about the Cubs could give you cash in hand to buy your coveted Milton Bradley jersey.
That's the sort of thing that happens when you start advertising for the ticket brokers. What they don't mention in the fine print is that you will also be giving them a tiny piece of your soul. If you look around at your favorite blogs, you might notice that some of them have ticket broker ads. Lots and lots of ticket broker ads. They might have so many ticket broker ads, in fact, that they could be raking in thousands of dollars a year. Seriously.
If you look around GROTA, you'll see that their presence on this blog is minimal. That's because text link ads are The Devil. They detract from the value of your blog, and if you ever have any hopes of selling serious ad space to serious companies, if they take one look at your blog and see text links everywhere they will never drop dollar one on you.
In other words, because of our unconventional stance when it comes to ads, we're very, very poor. Destitute in fact. Can we sleep on your couch for a night or two? We promise we'll be quiet at night.
Anyway, since we don't expect you to take the same hard line as we do when it comes to selling ads, keep a few things in mind. 1. When the broker contacts you with an offer, it doesn't hurt to shoot for the moon. $500 for 5 text links should be your starting offer. Maybe they'll say "no thanks," but at least you'll get a better idea about what your blog is worth. 2. Don't bother talking with other blogs about this sort of thing. I don't know why, but most bloggers really want to make it clear that it's none of your friggin' business. (Seriously. EMail Al Yellon and ask him what kind of coin he makes on his blog. The guy just might challenge you to a fist fight or something.) Consequently, most blogs really come nowhere near being paid their worth. 3. Never sell ads for longer than a year. If you're serious about it, do it by the month. And when Year 2 rolls around, always charge more.
Keep these tips in mind and you'll be traveling to Chicago to buy your Bradley jersey in no time. But all the while, remember one thing: when you whore out your blog to the brokers, just like the redneck with uncut grass and a car in the front lawn, you're driving down the value of all the other blogs around you. Serious companies will never consider us if we constantly short-value ourselves. But don't worry - the blogger capitalist revolution is coming. Mark my words.
We really need to give "blogging" it's own tag.
There are all sorts of blogging communities out there. Sometimes I think they are very incestuous in that the audience is shared and each audience often is comprised of other blog writers. Other times I think that each blog - even those that cover the same topic - tend to carve a niche and do not necessarily share readers with other blogs.
I'm writing this on the assumption that the vast majority of our readers do not have blogs but may one day feel inspired to create one. A few tips:
- Come up with a clever name. Let's be honest, I'm not exactly the champion blogger when it comes to my writing style. I mean, I think I'm a half decent writer, but I don't think that writing about sports is really my specialty. But Goat Riders of the Apocalypse? Brilliant!
- Actually design something, even if it's just a logo. We've all seen the Cubs blogs that are made at blogger and are built from one of the pre-set designs that have three posts before the writer gives up and goes back to reading. If you make the blog look like it's not a clone of every other blog, just maybe you'll stick with it.
- Write even when you don't feel like it just to get into the rhythym of it.
There are plenty of do's and don't's. Don't visit other blogs and message boards in order to promote your blog. Those people don't appreciate that, they will see through your transparency, and they'll rip you to shreds. Once you've got a couple of weeks or a month under your belt, do EMail other bloggers and ask them to link to you on their websites.
Anyway, I think blogging is kind of a weird thing to be honest. We obviously don't do it for the money, although there are some bloggers that would love to do it for a living (we shall call those ones "failed journalists"). We hopefully don't do it for the fame because there is none. Those who do it with the intent of getting a following will never have one if only because of how pretentious and whiney they sound while bitching about how nobody cares about their opinions.
Ultimately, I can say that I started blogging because I came to really enjoy reading them during the 2003 season - from Yarbage to the Cub Reporter and even Yellon.org - and, heart-broken by what happened in October of that year, I wanted a place to vent. And so I started my first blog, Blog from a Cub Fan Nation. I'm pretty sure that my original target audience was mostly just myself and I was honestly shocked to learn that I had readers.
I'd have to say then that if you ever want to have a blog of your own, you should be your target audience. Write about the things you like; do not worry about the wants of an imagined audience. Write about your opinions, no matter how childesh or stupid they may sometimes be in the eyes of witty and cruel people. But most importantly write, because not enough people do it and I believe everybody is better when they do.
Tomorrow morning we'll talk about ... advertising.
Not a whole lot going on today at least on my end. However, because I like to, I thought I'd mention the continuing trend we've had of increased readership.
Although there's almost an entire week remaining in January, GROTA has already surpassed our total hit count for the month of December, which if you remember surpassed our total hit count for the month of November. In fact, it looks as if we will have more total hits this month than we did in October which was when we'd shattered our previous record.
To me that is astonishing. It's January. There's no baseball. There have only been a couple of blips of interest. And yet our readers surpass our previous best. Even better - we've already more than doubled the total hits we had 12 months ago, and if you guys keep coming between now and next Saturday, we've got an outside chance of tripling our readership totals from last year.
As always, I can only thank you all for being loyal and contributing great articles and arguments. I'm not so arrogant as to think that any of this happens because of me. It is all the readers who make this place a growing community, and I am looking forward to what is to come.
Or: A Cub Fan Manifesto for a New Era
Editor's Note: This will be a long article. If you don't think you have the time in one sitting, don't worry - it's going to be broken into chunks. Read 'em one at a time if you have to - but read them nevertheless.
Section 1: Assumptions
This section is the only one which is written directly to our regular readers. It is true that we are simple fans who rarely come closer to our favorite team than Row One. But make no assumptions. If you hear a ballplayer say that he doesn't read the papers or check his stats, you can bet it's malarkey. Likewise, don't believe for a second that players and executives have never stumbled across the blogs - we are a direct connection for them to what the fans are thinking.
If it's true that Tom Ricketts is to be the new owner of the Chicago Cubs, then make no assumption that he is a man who lives in a bubble, or an ivory tower. Chances are that he will stumble across this blog in the coming days in order to find out what the buzz is from the fans. So, I write this to him, and if you have anything to add please make a comment below. In the coming months there will grow a bubble, so this might be our only chance to make ourselves known.
Section 2: Introductions
Mr. Ricketts, my name is Kurtis Evans and I have been a lifelong Cubs fan. I was born shortly before the Chicago Tribune purchased the team, and I have grown knowing nothing but Tribune ownership. I have followed the Cubs in seasons in which they barely manged to escape 100 losses, and I have seen them come almost as close as possible toward reaching the World Series. But if I could impart upon you one piece of advice, sir, it would be this: winning a World Series should not be your immediate goal. Rather, winning should be the culmination of all other things done right.
In other words, you can't just hire the greatest general manager who's ever lived - and "the greatest GM who's ever lived" is so subjective that I wish you luck if you try. You can't just sign the top free agent. You can't just approve the big trade. You need to do all those things at the right time, and so much more. Permit me to explain.
Section 3: It's the Infrastructure, Stupid!
I said something the other day that fits perfectly here. The Chicago Cubs run their farm system like it's still the 80's. I mean no disrespect to your General Manager Jim Hendry - I'm sure he does the best with what he has. But Mr. Ricketts, while the Cubs have had great success with Geovany Soto, he is the only successful hitter the Cubs have had since I began noticing girls. (At this point, Ryan Theriot has had a good year, but he needs to do it once or twice more before I'd say he's a success rather than a fluke). Apart from Soto, the Cubs haven't developed a truly successful hitter since the 1980's. Seriously, sir, that's a ridiculously long time.
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 develope successful positional players, then you're going to spend way more money buying what you need on the market.
In the meantime, there are some very successful teams out there with oustanding track records of developing their youngsters - Tampa, Boston, ... well, actually, just about every other team in baseball does better. It's time for an epic change within the Cubs hierarchy. It's time to shake up the coaches, the managers, the scouts, and every other guy in any front office associated with the team.
I'm not saying fire them all - I'm not even saying to fire any of them. I'm just asking that you analyze your situation with intensity. Maybe some of your guys have the kind of old school mentality that doesn't actually work anymore, and if they do then you need to shake their hands, give them a severance package so nice they could vacation in Greece on it, and improve your organization. And that leads us to...
Section 4: Any Edge, Every Advantage
Do not listen to your General Manager (well, unless he says what I'm about to say). He is well intentioned, but he already has methods. Methods hold you back. You need to go beyond methods. You need to create them at every turn. At every level of the game, I believe the best way to win is to discover the advantages. Give yourself an edge. Since I've been a Cubs fan, I've seen the team draft player after player who can be described as having "five tools" and being "athletic." I've seen every one of those guys fail, so maybe "tools" and "athleticism" aren't what you should be looking for.
Sir, there are highly trained, immensely educated people out there* who are obsessed with understanding baseball. They devote their time, energy, and calculators to figuring out what works. They invent new statistics. They hone nontraditional ones like "win shares" and "wins above replacement player" and all sorts of cool, crazy things that you won't understand unless you're mildly autistic or something. The point is, these guys are on the fringe and you should use them. Do you know why? Because most teams don't - but the ones that do win.
(*I'm not one of them. I mean, I've got three degrees, but not in the field I'm talking about.)
Basically, what I'm saying is this: if I could tell you that according to a number of tools and statistics the player asking for 5 million a year is actually more valuable to your team than the one asking for 15, wouldn't it make sense to go after that guy who makes less and is worth more? If I could tell you that there are a whole bunch of prospects who are underrated, wouldn't you like to know about them and why they might pay off later?
Baseball should not always be about throwing the most money at the shiniest player. Sure, it makes a splash to sign that guy with the name recognition, but you now own a team that would sell 2.5 million seats a year if they were in last place. Your fans aren't looking for the splash - they're looking for the result. Focus on that, please, if not because it will make you more money in the long run then for the sake of every 98 year old Cub fan fighting off cancer because he or she wants to see a World Series Championship before they die.
Section 5: What are you so afraid of?
Okay, so this piece of advice is made from a selfish point of view. But blogs are already a huge source of media. We get readers that the papers don't, and we reach more eyes now than ever before. And we're still growing. In England, they hire us to write for rags and mags because we're in touch (and probably cheaper than other writers).
So don't shut out the blogs. Give us limited access. What would it hurt to let us interview you? Why not hand pick one blog every month, give them a weekend's worth of press passes, let them cover the game and feed from the buffet, and then watch them write glowingly about how great you are and why every Cub fan should love you?
It almost seems as if MLB in general and the Cubs in particular are afraid of us. I don't know why, but I think there would be a mutual benefit from building a relationship with the best blogs out there.
Section 6: Your ballpark
You're going to find Wrigley Field to be less a sacred shrine and more a sacred cow. Particuarly in the sense that no matter how much damage it does to your shop you are forbidden from touching it.
Cub fans love Wrigley Field. It's in our conditioning. When we were growing up we were taught to obey the laws, walk on green, and love beautiful Wrigley Field. Unfortunately for you it's falling to pieces. You won't be able to build a new one so suck it up.
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 happen.
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.
Maybe you could offer Wrigley's chewing gum a sweetheart deal to retain the naming rights or maybe you could rename it Rickett's Field just to mess with people, but if you sell naming rights to the park and put it immediately back into the payroll of the team you will have my full support. I don't care if it's called Trojan Condoms Field so long as the Cubs are winning.
Section 7: Your brand
The Cubs are worth so much to you. Already that lovely Cubs logo is on a ton of merchendise and we're sure that won't change. But there are still more ways to make more money. Actually I'm going to save this topic for another day because I have a laawwwt of ideas. But trust me on this. There are things you are not yet doing.
Section 8: In Conclusion
I said something earlier that might get a lot of heat from some of this blog's readers. I said, "Winning a World Series should not be your immediate goal." That 98-year-old Cub fan wants to throttle me because of it. Basically I mean only one thing: if you do it right, winning will come. We're just not used to that concept because the Cubs haven't done it right since William Wrigley died in 1932. That's a long-ass time to have bad ownership, but unless you really believe in curses then it is absolutely the reason for the drought.
The Chicago Cubs are a powerful organization. You already know that or else you wouldn't be spending close to a billion dollars to own them. Their brand is universal. Their fanbase is international. Only the Yankees have the capacity to make more money and there are only a handful of teams even in the same league: the Angels, the Giants, the Red Sox, the aforementioned Yankees, and the Dodgers.
The thing all these teams share in common is that they are in a position to win every single year. There should never be ten - or even five - year droughts between playoff visits. They have the fanbase and the money to do it right. So do the Cubs.
We know that there will be hard years. We know that the Cubs won't be playoff bound ten times a decade. But compared to the lightweights who the Cubs share their division with, Chicago should be playoff bound a lot more than they have been in my lifetime. We're not saying that you have to spend 200 million a year on payroll* - although we hope you always spend whatever it takes - but instead that you are buying an amazing franchise with a storied history and its fans deserve more than what they've gotten.
(*but we do hope you spend more on developing young players than any other team in baseball because doing so saves you money in the long run)
Put it to you this way. You know a lot about investments. Cubs fans have invested so much into their team. We've invested money, sure - probably tens of thousands of dollars (if not more) in our lifetimes. We've also invested time - perhaps tens of thousands of hours watching, cheering, and talking about the Cubs. But we've also invested our hearts, living and dying with every win and loss. And so far no Cub fan - be he 20, 50, or 100 - has gotten the return they were looking for on that investment.
Sir, it is time to deliver us our returns. If you do it right it shouldn't be hard but I am terrified that you won't. I'm afraid you'll say all the right things and do none of them. And if you're the wrong type of owner it might be another ten, or twenty, or fifty years ... and that's just way too much. Mr. Ricketts, you can do so much if you just work to do it right. That's all I'm asking. Do it right.
Oh, and please pass an edict to get the names off the backs of the home jerseys. The Cubs are classic. They are traditional. The names uglify the jerseys (that's right, I said "uglify"). Please fix it.
Some of this is from a comment I left to one of Kurt's recent posts, but thought I'd include here as my own commentary/noodlings/things I heard.
THING THE FIRST: REED JOHNSON - I think it was him - well, trust me, you just need to see a photo. ZZ Top Impersonator? Saddam's long lost cousin? Noah? Cat Stevens? Bluebeard the Pirate? You tell me. When he walked into the Kathy and Judy (WGN radio) panel, people just HOWLED. The commentary had me laughing so hard the tears came to my eyes.
I wish I had thought to bring a tape recorder. Kaplan absolutely grilled Hendry (Piniella wasn't at the panel otherwise I'm sure the question would have been directed at him) about why, if we're so concerned about winning, there isn't more calls to bunt, even if it's the clean up man. (I think the implication was that these guys are getting paid a hell of a lot and should know the basics like bunting for the team's good.) I really can't recall the exact wording of the question, and don't mean to imply any commentary of my own regarding his question. I hope WGN puts up audio from the convention on their website. If they do, I would really recommend listening to that one. (I guess it's a damned if you do, damned if you don't type of scenario, however. My question would be, why not sub in another player who CAN bunt if the situation demands it. If the game is on the line, do it.)
Lots of questions from the fans in the audience (in ANY panel that had Hendry it seemed like) about the trading of both Kerry and Mark. Just an observation: many people were not happy about it. I got a little bored with the phrasing of the "questions" however: "Do you really think [x] trade was a good idea?" Jaysus, what do you expect Hendry or Lou to say? "No, I think it was a horrible idea, but looks like we're stuck now!" I mean, just say you think the trade blowed if that's what you really want, but don't ask a question to which you already know what the answer will be.
One thing I didn't necessarily like: Hendry saying he was holding off on long-term, big $ deals until ownership is settled. Not that I'm disagreeing with the principle behind that, but I thought the talk was all "we're not worried, we're not worried"? This sounds like worry to me.
Also dislike (now that I'm thinking about it) the implication in the media (see today's Sun-Times for a quote by Hendry) that it was just the women who had their panties in a twist about the DeRo trade. I.e., we're all mopey over him just because the "handsome man" is gone. This is the same type of idiot logic that says women will buy any baseball product as long as it's pink. I've got plenty of eye candy left, thank you very much (Rich Harden, I'm looking at YOUR posterior), *IF* that was all I was worried about. I dislike the DeRosa trade for other, less hormonal reasons. If Hendry really wants a PMS show out of me, I can give it to him no problem.
It was my first convention. The auto lines were stupid long, horribly managed (at least the one for Stage A I was at on Saturday). Assuming I go again, I'll just stick with the panels next time. Was disappointed Ron was only there for the OC, really. Heard he wasn't feeling well. Hope it's not serious.
My picture upload is taking forever today. Here's a link, but it might be a work in progress for a while. http://flickr.com/photos/17986186@N08/sets/72157612676209851/
When exactly did fans of a team, and any team not just the cubs, lose a sense of reality because of loyalty to players. Correct me if I am wrong but don't we cheer for a team and not the players. This has been going on since the beginning of time most likely but our players are almost always better than anyone else.
For starters, Cubs fans all over the place have decided that our weak, injured farm hands are enough to pull in almost any trade target. The day when we can trade Ronny Cedeno for Brian Roberts straight up will be the day that Satan and Suddam have that long awaited snowball fight.
This year has been the worst in recent history, as far as fans crying over lost players.
For starters, I love Kerry Wood, always have and always will. But... losing him does not make the cubs the cellar dweller of the NL Central. He has never been healthy. Even this season, his "Healthy" one, he missed a month with a blister.
Mark Derosa is next up. Sure DeRo played great in the two years he was in Chicago, but at what point exactly did he become Mickey Mantle. I mean we are crying over this guy like the drunk redneck next door just ran over our dog with his monster truck. DeRo is a utility player. He has averaged around 12 HR and 60 RBI throughout his career. We probably have scrubs in AAA that if given 500 at bats could produce those numbers. Yes, I know he was great this year. But, does anyone seriously think he will replicate the numbers he put up in 08? If so the rude awakenings would have been brutal and it would have been DeRo's and not Fukudome's head we were calling for next year.
Multiply Mike Fontenot's stats from last year over a full season and what do you have? a player that is very comparable to Mark Derosa, but at a fraction of the price.
The final point in my 15 year old girl, bitchy tantrum is Henry Blanco. SERIOUSLY! We are talking about a freaking back up catcher. The guy gets 120 at bats a year. Will he really be that missed?
And I don't want to hear any whining about how he is needed to tutor Geovany Soto. Paul Bako is a veteran catcher, who is as good in the field and will not kill us at the plate. He has caught Hall of Fame caliber pitchers. Lets see, how about, oh I don't know, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz. Not to mention Carlos Zambrano.
When are we going to look past our loyalty to players and start seeing the team realistically.
As far as I can tell, hey, as far as I know, there may be a major cover-up conspiracy at hand with the Cubs. For all of Shirt-tail Jim's* denials and statements to the contrary, it appears that certainly, his ability to improve this ballclub is being hampered by the utter clusterfluck the Tribune Corporation finds itself in. Or maybe there is something else going on, something more personal?
*why Shirt-tail Jim? Because like the rest of us fat guys, his shirttail keeps pulling out untucked, due to the massive torque generated around the waistline whenever he gets up out of his chair. There. That's enough of the Joe Posnanski-inspired footnotes. It works for him - I need to find my own schtick
Why else would the start of free-agency pass; the organizational meetings pass; the Winter GM meetings pass; the Winter holidays pass - and the biggest move made thus far to improve our personnel is bringing in the great Joey Gathright. To do what? I take it Henry Blanco wasn't quick enough in returning with the coffee-n-crullers from the Dunkin' Donuts, and Felix Pie kept messing up the orders - not only bringing back decaf, but boxes of them damn dry-ass cake donuts with the dippy sprinkles. Joey not only runs quickly, but presumably has better English language skills than Pie, so when the boss wants custard-filled, he won't come back with creme-filled.
Anyway, the Cubs are making NO news; no Buzz, no improvements. So, I am going to assume that: either Jim was lying about the autonomy he has; or maybe he is, God forbid, laid up somewhere either with chest pains or perhaps, in a sex parlor in Bangkok with an androgynous companion of indeterminate age. Don't know which option is preferable, but even with this utter Lack of Progress being made, we (mostly Kurt) have been out here, day in, day out, doing our best to enlighten and inform about the true State of The Cubs.
And you, our gentle readers, have responded. Our participatory format has allowed all of you, upon registration, to contribute to the site. Pissing matches about former Ivy League quarterbacks aside, you GoatReaders have proven to be very informed about the game itself, and specifically about our favorite team in the game. I have been very gratified that nobody here is advocating straight-up-Cedeno-for-Ethier trades. Nothing is more boring and harmful to a community of sports readers than stupid, unrealistic trade desires. Nobody here has griped that we didn't spend 70 zillion dollars for the globular CC Sabathia - sure, you probably, like me wanted him here, but we all are realistic enough to know that we could never outspend the Yankees, nor should we.
In short, you are all really great Cubs fans and a credit to our site. Goatriders.org is fast becoming THE place on the internet for serious Cubs discussion and debate.
I just have one little-bitty, eentsy-teensy wish, though. I wish we weren't so serious.
Now, not all of us are funny by nature, and I am not asking anyone to force it. God knows I force it pretty much all the time, and for every reference to Clem from Pontoon Beach, I also toss out dozens of clunkers. But that is pretty much who I am, as I live, breathe, and walk. I am just incapable of being serious. So it goes that my wife made a point the other day that, to the casual Cubs fan, that this site isn't very light-hearted anymore, and I completely and utterly agree with her, and not just because I don't like sleeping on couches.
I understand that, if you have a point to make and you are trying to present a persuasive argument, that many believe that interjecting humor into the argument may merely serve to weaken your position. But let's keep in mind the Mission Statement: Bringing you Cubs news, analysis, and humor until the end of the world. Now, Kurt first spelt it "humour", until we pointed out that not only is he not really Canadian, neither is most of our audience, and anyway, it seemed pretentious at the time.
But maybe we should have just let him ride with it; maybe people are more apt to be "humourous" than merely humorous. Anyway, you CAN make your point and also laugh about it, too. I wouldn't even have mentioned it, except for the fact that I KNOW we are all smart people here, and I think we can make something more of this.
A serious Cubs discussion site serves serious Cubs fans; add some more laughs to it, and you reach not only us, but maybe also the ninnies who still miss Gracie and Sosa; maybe also mopes with bad dandruff and mouth crust who root for the Brewers; hell, if we do it right, we can all be appointed members of the BBWAA or whatever the dick that is, and vote every eligible Cub into the Hall of Fame. First ballot.*
* just kidding; if they asked me to be in the BBWAA, I would tell them to blow a penguin**. And this is more of a Jason Reiger-type-footnote.
** good news if you're Ron Cey. Or the dude from "Happy Feet".