The Cubs are a sexy playoff pick, but is it fair to the ever-vigilant fan base to hold back their best on Opening Day?
By Kyle Magin
Let’s talk about Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s cynical, tortuous ‘process’ as it relates to the Chicago Cubs. Also, the team’s general sense of disarray.
The team’s braintrust has systematically dismantled a profoundly dysfunctional franchise and are rebuilding it from the ground up. They jettisoned burdensome contracts, rid themselves of dead weight and essentially hit the ‘do over’ button to re-start things on the North Side with kids. Until this year—when they brought in high-priced pitcher Jon Lester, manager Joe Maddon and veteran outfielder Dexter Fowler—the Cubs weren’t players in the free agent market, instead carefully tending the farm during horrific back-to-back 90-plus loss seasons.
It’s a great strategy and makes for godawful, unwatchable baseball. It’s cruel and unusual punishment for a fan base who’s suffered plenty of it. The deal with the fan base goes like this: Swallow this tripe and you’ll dine on steak for the foreseeable future.
Now that the team is finally close to competing—young players like Addison Russell and Jorge Soler are ready now—Hoyer and Epstein are unfairly asking fans to wait a little longer. Two weeks longer, in fact.
That’s how long they’ll wait to bring up third base uber-prospect Kris Bryant.
Bryant, 23, has been the scourge of the batter’s box in his two years as a minor leaguer and pounded the ball this spring to the tune of a ridiculous .464/.531/1.500 slash line. Yet, he caught the bus to Des Moines instead of Chicago for opening day. That’s because a clause in baseball’s byzantine collective bargaining agreement gives the Cubs another year of Bryant’s services before hitting free agency if he logs two weeks in the minor leagues this spring.
That’s right, Cubs fans, Theo and Jed will nickel and dime you to buy Bryant’s seventh big league season at a cut rate should he turn out to be the stud everyone is predicting him to be.
It’s shrewd manipulation of the system and could be used to job Bryant out of double-digit millions if everything goes according to plan with his development. It’s calculating, probably the correct business decision and definitely cynical.
Cubs fans should be pissed.
On top of that, we found out Sunday night that Wrigley Field is America’s largest outdoor urinal.
With the new bleachers still under construction as part of a three (read: six in Chicago time) year renovation, this franchise found a way to make 10,000 fewer fans wait three times as long for the bathroom (reports say only four were in commission and fans reported waiting up to 45 minutes), ran out of hot dog buns (though, paradoxically, not hot dogs, which everyone knows come in the lesser ratio when purchasing packages of each at the store) and pizza and forced fans to pee against the wall or exploit a loophole allowing smokers to leave for 10 minutes to sprint over to the Cubby Bear for some relief.
And, hey, to top it all off, they dropped a 3-0 stinker to the Cardinals to open the 2015.
Honestly, if the team is going to give up games this spring in a Central Division that looks tight this season because it wants to save on a third baseman, they should at least preserve the one gem fans of this franchise are afforded: Wrigley. How the Cubs didn’t make extra damn sure to spruce up the house before guests came over and plan for obvious eventualities like the need to piss out all that Bud Light is unbelievable.
It’s nearly a hostile act: Hey, a critical mass of you are charmed by our eroding shithole, so put up with a losing team, long lines and offensive customer service because we have an on-field product that’ll probably be valuable to actual baseball fans in the next half-decade.
Cubs third baseman Mike Olt went 0-4 with two strikeouts against the Redbirds.
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