08.04.10

Cubs No Longer Lovable Losers – Just F’n Losers

Posted in Baseball at 12:30 am by

Lou Piniella spent 40 years in Major League Baseball as a player and manager.

[The only people who don’t know he’s retiring are Cub fans, who quit watching mid-May.]

My hat’s off to Wax Paper Beer Cup (@wpbc on twitter) for pointing out the most significant Cub news story of the year.  It’s not World War Z, Lily and Theriot going to the Dodgers, Blue Lou’s last miserable year, or anything else.  It’s that, in this sad sub-.500 season, the TV ratings have taken a 40% nose dive and attendance is way down.  There are lots of common sense reasons for this if it were anybody but the Cubs.  Cub fans show up for standing room only games in September when Pittsburgh is in town.  Cub fans demand statues to Harry Caray before they do Hall of Famers.  Not this year. If WPBC is right, and I hope so, the Philip K. Wrigley fiscal theory (sadly proven now for decades) that the experience of family fun at Wrigley outweighs a winning team, may finally be over.  The Cubs have not had a financial motive for winning since, what, WW2?  Now they might.  Writes WPBC:

Although it is a big slide the teams rating compared to others still ranks ninth in all of baseball.

from chicagobusiness.com: An average of 94,877 households tuned in to each of Comcast™s 33 Cubs games in the first three months of the season. Although that™s the ninth-highest rating in the league, it™s still 39% lower than the same period last season, according to the publication, which relied on data from Nielsen Media Research.

Still, this slide is dramatic and it begins to point more and more that the days of the Cubs being the lovable losers are over. Tom Ricketts, Wally Hayward and everyone associated with this team are now looking at a reality that they may have never considered.

It was thought that fans would follow the Cubs no matter what, spend whatever price they put on a ticket, buy the beer, sing the songs and enjoy ˜the Wrigley life™. The reality is clearer and clearer, the Chicago Cubs are not recession proof. The Chicago Cubs are not immune to the normal fluctuations that come with winning and losing.

The job ahead for Tom Ricketts is not going to be easy. The teams popularity is sinking, while he has massive debt to pay. The team needs to be rebuilt and the ballpark is need of major upgrades. Owning the Cubs just got alot harder. How Ricketts and Company respond will be interesting.

07.27.10

World War Z: Jim Hendry Just Doesn’t Know How to Break Up Nice

Posted in Baseball at 10:51 am by

[Carlos Zambrano in happier days, hobnobbing with Broadway’s Carol Channing.]

Last December in this space, I predicted two things.  Carlos Silva would be in good hands with the Cubs‘ Larry Rothschild and Carlos Zambrano would replace Milton Bradley as Jim Hendry’s Player To Be Hated Later. Silva was a bigger bet than the Z. I wrote then:

The question in my mind isn’t who will replace Bradley in CF, but who will replace him as Hendry’s next problem player.  I’m guessing another mediocre year from Zambrano will mean Big Z v Hendry in 2010.  Z fits the pattern right now:  expensive, once great, an ego problem, and possible trade bait.  He’s also not white, which is another unfortunate pattern here.

Zambrano’s shouting match yesterday with Derrek Lee, the need to separate them, and Z’s instant suspension (not to mention his mercurial 2010 overall) means I should have put some money down last December.  Zambrano and Bradley are obviously head cases, but so are other players around the league who don’t end up exploding on the field.  Hendry has a history of miserable management of personalities back to Dusty Baker’s 2nd year (when he fired Dusty’s unhappy SF holdovers), the Steve Stone v Dusty incident that caused Stone to leave the WGN booth, dealing with Sosa in decline, then Bradley.  It’s typical of what we’re seeing now with Z.  It’s not Hendry’s fault that Z is what he is.  But whatever Hendry is as a General Manager, he’s not built for keeping difficult personalities productive and has cost the Cubs a lot in pure drag.  Think of the temperaments, egos, haters, heels, and negative creeps who have played all over the league for different teams over the years — they rarely pull in public what the divas on the Cubs do year in and year out.  Sports is a celebrity-obsessed world like every other kind of entertainment, so we know Bradley and Sosa and Z’s names first.  Still, they all leave.  Not Hendry, year in and year out, he and the meltdowns remain.

I’ve skipped commenting on most of the season because I can’t watch much of it, but right now I wish I’d been following the Chicago brain trust of reporters covering the Cubs to see if they treat Z much different than Milton.  Since Milton had no problem calling reporters on their bullshit, I’m guessing they just view Z as a spectacle and not a threat to the White Man’s Burden of Chicago sports writing.

07.04.10

Happy Birthday America from CSTB

Posted in USA! USA! at 12:02 am by

You know, last year in this space, CSTB wished America a happy birthday via a touching poem by Jack Buck. For our efforts, we received negative comments from a basketball “fan,” Tommy Hoops.  Those of us who lived through the Laker riots of 2010 know what negativistic basketball fans are like, so I’m posting this clip in hopes of moving in a less controversial (and provocative, apparently) direction to celebrate Independence Day.  Happy Birthday to you, America.

06.08.10

Bud Selig’s Office has the Stink of Sulphur! Hugo Chavez Awards Galarraga Perfect Game

Posted in Baseball at 12:09 am by

[Chavez, the People’s Baseball Commissioner, seen here with Broadway star Carol Channing.]

It wasn’t so long ago that Hugo Chavez stood in the United Nations calling President Bush “the devil” and noting the sulphury stink W left in the UN’s General Assembly room.  This summer, Chavez is content to watch Venezuelan oil futures skyrocket as BP ends the USA’s off-shore oil industry for good “ or at least until the November mid-terms.   He has also expanded his Presidential powers to make himself the final authority on Major League Baseball.®  His first official act as the People’s Baseball Commissioner is to overturn umpire Jim Joyce’s ruling in the Perfect Game America Will Not Recognize.  As the AP wire (via a link sent by Rob Wamowski) reports:

Chavez called for a round of applause for the Venezuelan pitcher during his weekly TV and radio program, saying “everyone knows he pitched a perfect game.”

“From here we salute Armando,” Chavez said.

The Detroit Tigers pitcher has won wide praise for his grace following the botched call Wednesday with two outs in the ninth inning against Cleveland.

Chavez added that first-base umpire Jim Joyce was “noble” for having apologized to the pitcher in tears.

“The umpire was wrong … but, well, the umpire is the umpire,” the president said.

Galarraga, in Venezuela’s professional league, plays for the Leones de Caracas, the bitter rival of Chavez’s favorite team, the Navegantes del Magallanes. Chavez joked that Galarraga should switch teams and concluded: “No one is perfect.”

Chavez is a die-hard baseball fan who grew up dreaming of pitching in the major leagues. He recalled that years ago he was pitching to his mentor, Fidel Castro of Cuba. The umpire awarded Castro a walk when Chavez was sure he struck him out.

Chavez also recalled striking out Dominican slugger Sammy Sosa once in a 1999 exhibition game in Caracas. Sosa, it should be noted, also hit multiple home runs.

05.26.10

My Nephew Jake Outclasses Dan Patrick, Won’t Punk His Friends for ESPN

Posted in Basketball at 11:49 am by

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My 9-yr-old nephew made a triumphant return to ESPN’s Dan Patrick Show on Monday to analyze the Suns victory over the Lakers Sunday night (and he was on again this AM,  which I’ll post as soon as I can).  Unlike his debut, where he sullenly reported their 0-2 standing in the series, he could finally report a Suns’ win. Jake not only ignored Patrick’s invitation to call out his Lakers-fan friend at school a “punk,” but charmingly worked his way toward a credentialled spot at the ESPN press box at the Staples Center.  A few days ago I apologized to GC that Jake wasn’t first sent to the CSTB intern program before ESPN.  After hearing him refuse to make a low-blow comment about a schoolfriend, tho, I realize now this was probably for the best.  Apparently, he’ll sink to my level of name-calling when it comes to the Cubs and Cards, but not in a professional setting.  Good on you, Jake!

05.20.10

My Nephew Jake Breaks Down Los Suns-Lakers Game 2 … for Dan Patrick?

Posted in Basketball at 7:05 pm by

Regular readers of this space may recall my on-going battle with my 9-yr.-old nephew Jake over the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry, which usually devolves into his referring to  Cub manager Lou Piniella as “Poo Piniella” and my always effective retort of “Albert Pooballs.”  Jake has gone professional, it seems, having finally gotten through to ESPN’s Dan Patrick after countless morning calls.  Jake broke down Game 1 yesterday on the air.  Today, Patrick had him on again and posted this morning‘s call, with Jake upset that his team, Los Suns, is getting pwned by Kobe and Co.  Even Jake was speechless when asked to advise Nash or the Suns defense against Pau Gasol “ and on the topic of sports, this rarely happens. Patrick’s been reminding the Danettes that they are all replaceable by a 9-yr-old, which I guess i am, too.  GC, sorry to let this junior genius escape the CSTB intern program.

05.06.10

Dan Wetzel Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges …

Posted in Football, Mob Behavior, The Law at 7:55 pm by

In the last few weeks we’ve witnessed Arizona race-profiling passed into laws that allow US citizens tossed into jail for looking Mexican.  Then we got the spectacle of a United States Senator, Connecticut’s Joe Lieberman, proposing that US citizens accused of terrorism be stripped of their citizenship and rights before a trial.  This sort of 2010 insta-jury thinking is a bit much for me.  I’m more used to what Dan Wetzel pulled today filling up column space about Lawrence Taylor’s arrest on charges he raped a kid. This is trial by news hack. Wetzel manages to utterly destroy Taylor in a mere six paragraphs before righteously declaring:  “Taylor™s side of the story remains to be heard.”  Wetzel then quickly corrects this with: “His defense better be a strong one. If this isn™t some incredible case of mistaken identity, it™s difficult to envision an innocent scenario here.” And we all know it’s the job of reporters to envision the end of their story, rather than report it.

I have no more sympathy with Taylor than I do in Wetzel’s demanding his head before judge and jury hear him out.  This isn’t a case like Ben “Big Rape” Roethlisberger, where the cops on the scene also took fan boy pictures with him and destroyed the crime scene.  The way it looks, Taylor is answering to authorities who are making serious charges.  In this case, both sides will be heard — which is, sadly, an improvement over recent Roethlisberger news. Wetzel’s emotional attack is made up of understandable outrage at the charges (which are sickening) but he should post this stuff to message boards.