Rick Morrissey is the latest media member to jump on the Cubs for having the audacity to do marketing this year to sell tickets.
I know I have been less than kind to the Cubs when they pull bullshit moves like rolling out a cuddly cartoon bear instead of actually making the major league team any better, but I’ve also acknowledged that they don’t really have a choice. You can’t just expect a business to stop trying to convince you to spend money on it just because the product is no good. Hardly anybody gets irate when Taco Bell tries to pass off their newest arrangements of meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and tortillas as some kind of authentic Mexican cuisine.
So why do we get so pissed off when the Cubs do it? I can’t speak for Rick or any of the other people who have gotten angry that the Cubs ARE ONLY SELLING THEIR BALLPARK BECAUSE THEY KNOW THE TEAM SUCKS, but I can explain why it bugs me so much whenever I have the energy to bother paying attention to it…
It’s fucking working.
But the stadium is always empty! Look at all the no-shows! Things can’t continue like this!
Sure they can. Maybe not forever, but the Cubs are doing plenty of business to get by while they wait for the kiddies to be ready for prime time.
This has been one of the coldest, most miserable Springs in my memory in Chicago. It’s been brutal and the few nice days have conveniently often occurred when the Cubs were out of town. There has literally been no reason at all to go to watch the Cubs play a baseball game at Wrigley Field so far this year unless someone handed you a free ticket and you had absolutely nothing else going on. But as of yesterday, the Cubs rank 7th in all of baseball in percentage of the ballpark sold with 77.7%. They are 9th in average attendance with 31,998 per game.
Almost 32,000 people per game have plunked down perfectly good money to watch a team that has managed two wins in a row three times all season, and has never won three in a row.
They are outdrawing Milwaukee, who had the best record in baseball for awhile and still lead the NL Central. They are outdrawing Detroit, who has the current best record in baseball. They are neck and neck with Colorado (and actually have them beat in ballpark percentage sold), who have the best run differential in the National League, and they are kicking the living crap out of Oakland, who have a MLB best +95 run differential.
They are outdrawing four of the six division leaders and two of the four current wildcard leaders. The Cubs record right now is the worst in baseball (yes, even worse than the Astros).
So if you want to get mad that the Cubs are ignoring the major league roster while going through this rebuild, get pissed at your fellow Cubs fans. They are still buying what the Cubs are selling at an amazing rate. If you want to know why Theo doesn’t want to give the fans “cookies” just to make them feel better, they’re not giving him any reason at all to change his mind.
So you can talk about no-shows all you want and how things absolutely must change, but the fact of the matter is the Cubs are on pace to sell almost 2.6 million seats. That would only be about 50,000 off last year’s pace, which wasn’t terrible considering it was the third straight 90+ loss season in a row. I mean, this team could very well lose almost 400 games in four seasons and still draw over 2.5 million at the end of the last year of the streak. That’s fucking ridiculous.
But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and I am speaking to myself here as well, as I understand that I am also part of the problem): As long as the season ticket holders keep renewing, and there is a waiting list to replace them when they do drop out, the attendance numbers aren’t going to drop much lower than they already are. The team can absolutely live with that.
So if you want to call Ricketts cheap, or Theo a snake-oil salesman, or beat the dead Debt Burden horse until it no longer resembles a horse, it isn’t going to change their plan. Cubs fans are providing the financial backing that no other team in any other sport would provide after such a historic streak of futility. So they will keep losing on purpose until some of these prospects start making a difference on the major league level. They have no reason not to.
If you want to get mad at somebody about that, go be pissed off at a season ticket holder (their king sits in the left field bleachers). Or if you are a season ticket holder, go yell at yourself in the mirror if it makes you feel better.
Where is my mirror?