Today it was officially confirmed that Chairman Tom Ricketts will be speaking at the opening ceremonies of the 2023 Cubs Convention. Ricketts will be there to face the fans despite major backlash against him being at an all-time high. A lot of his policies and changes have been very controversial, to say the least.
However, it is an utter lack of spending on substantive free agents, once again, this hot stove season that has fans truly incensed. It is easy to see why Theo Epstein left the ballclub a couple years ago- he saw this disaster coming and wanted to make sure his fingerprints were nowhere near it. As some of us hypothesized, back when the fire sale of July occurred– there is no rebuilding plan. It is simply a non-rebuilding plan.
This offseason is certainly validating that hypothesis. (I told you so people! About 16 months ago) What are they actually doing? Does anyone even know? They have the money to spend, as was verified by their pursuit of Chelsea FC.
Everything Ricketts said about “biblical losses” in the financial ledger is total BS. They have the money to be big market, they’re just acting small market. Carlos Correa did indeed fill a need, but they really weren’t serious bidders on him, or at least they weren’t finalists for him. That’s because the Cubs maybe offered him the money he wanted, or could have, but they didn’t offer him the contract length.
Therein lies the rub- the Cubs are not signing guys to long term deals right now, and that means they are probably not offering those extended deals either.
You know what that means? You’re simply not going to get any elite free agents. You can blame it on Jed Hoyer, maybe, but perhaps his hands are tied by those above him on the org chart.
You can talk about wanting to dismiss Hoyer, but does that actually do anything, as long as Ricketts is there? The Cubs are among the top 40 most valuable sports franchises in the entire world. They are the fourth most valuable in baseball. Yet their payroll for 2023 will be bottom half, trending towards bottom third.
Cody Bellinger, who hasn’t done a lot since 2019 is not the answer. Even if they do sign Dansby Swanson, who sounds like a character created by F. Scott Fitzgerald, it won’t be the answer either. What is the plan? There is no plan. I couldn’t agree more with the Tweet below:
~2015: Promote prospects, sign FAs, crack the window open
~2016-2018: ALL IN
~2019-2020: Ride it out … hope for the best
~2021-2022: (We’re totally not) Rebuilding
For a decade, I’ve understood what the Cubs are doing. I don’t anymore.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) December 14, 2022
2012-2014: Theo takes over, tears it down, builds it back up.
2015-2018: Playing with the big boys, at the highest level (honestly, given how loyal and rabid the Cubs fan base is, this SHOULD be the expectation)
2019: decline begins, as Ricketts and company begin stagnation and complacency in the offseason.
2020: covid year, a weird quasi-season that didn’t mean that much
2021: epic, overt fire sale.
2022-23: who the hell knows
Honestly, this video below is the last time the Cubs ever did anything fun or exciting off the field:
The Chicago Cubs put together a drone tour of Wrigley Field, and it’s guaranteed to be the most incredible thing you watch today ?
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) September 30, 2022
And when Ricketts appears at that Cubs Convention next month, the boo birds will be stronger and louder than ever. His infamous “you won’t be booing a year” about Marquee Network (we already covered that grift and sham enough already) will pale in comparison to what he’s about to hear in January. Cubs Con is all about over-the-top positivity, loving the team, no matter what. This is also the first once since covid began. But positivity, in regards to the Cubs, is tone deaf right now.
Lots of people feel that way.
the season ticket exodus continues at wrigley field today pic.twitter.com/R6dXspg8il
— DOM (@DOM_Frederic) December 15, 2022
As the Tweet above states, it is all about the lack of transparency from ownership. Not just lack of transparency, but outright lies. Attendance was significantly down last year, to a level that hasn’t been seen in some time. It’s going to get worse in 2023, and it will be well-deserved.
Ricketts knows this, but it is doubtful he really cares.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now. Follow the website on Twitter and Instagram.