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How We Can Improve The Cubs

By Zac Schon
On October 12, 2010

I don't remember the first time I made it to the Friendly Confines as I was only concerned with playing videogames as a child and was unappreciative of things given to me, but I do remember going to games in the late 80's and later. Upon reflecting on the past, the Cubs have always been sort of good, which is followed by really good, back to sort of good, and in a few instances, such as this year, just awful. Yet every year since ticket sales have been online, I have been in my room at 9 a.m. ready to buy tickets through both my laptop and my desktop. Despite the two computer method (you cannot have two windows to buy open at the same time), I still wind up with games against the punching bags of the National League instead of seeing Albert Pujols or Johan Santana play on the field known for its ivy.

But as with each year, the team fizzles out. The Cubs lack any sort of consistency. They buy expensive stars who fail to produce, trade away fan favorites for two pitching prospects (the Cubs have one of the richest sets of minor league pitching prospects next to the Yankees), or put out a team of fresh twenty year olds who were bussing tables two months ago and sell them as a major league team. So why are we watching these lovable losers?

Good question. Now before the Sox fans begin to start jumping on their chairs at a Cubs fan admitting his team sucks, remember your teams' fan base was lower than the balance of the average college student's checking before your team won the World Series, and most of your bandwagon fans have come back to Wrigley. Now that my throat is cleared and the table is set, the solution to the Cubs' problems does not come through the death of a goat hung from Harry Caray's statue outside the park, an exorcist, or some other form of mysticism; it relies on forcing the Cubs to be a proper business.

Sports teams are franchises, not services to the community. They have great success at making money by making people identify with the team by attaching a city or a state's name to it. The team essentially becomes part of the identity of the citizens of the area. If you don't think this is true, look up the stories of bar violence between rival college fans who never attended the school. The identity of being from a certain city is enough for someone to get stabbed in the liver or some other mob violence. Within the fibers of these people's very being, fandom is engrained into their mind and identity, though proximity works wonders on those that are looking for it.

Chicago has these concepts very well engrained, as Wrigley is the second oldest major league baseball stadium in America, has years of baseball history, and is a strong identifier with who you are based upon your Northside/Southside alliance. The Cubs represent a form of heritage and something you're supposed to do as a Northsider. By becoming a piece of the cultural landscape of Chicago, the Cubs have evaded the responsibilities of having to perform quality service as most businesses must do to stay in business. Essentially, they can put out an inferior product season after season because regardless of the product quality, the customer is still buying. The seats still sell out, the merchandise still gets bought in large amounts, and the television stations still obtain rights to televise the team.

So how does one combat the lack of quality and commitment of the franchise? The same way you combat a regular business's lack of quality: you don't spend your money there. You're likely  wondering if I'm calling for the boycott of the Cubs, and in a way I am. I stopped buying box office tickets this season. Why would I pay $75 to watch a storied franchise like the Cubs put out a couple of jokers on the field and charge $7.50 for an Old Style? Why would I buy another Cubs licensed MLB shirt for $35 that goes to a business owner or branch of owners who benefit off of concessions and broken dreams of Cubs fans? The answer is I shouldn't have to and neither should you. Force the Cubs to be a good team if you're such a fan instead of shelling out money in blind faith that they will be of some quality before my hair goes completely gray.

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