It'll be 101 years of frustration this fall, and on Chicago's North Side, the temptation to win is just getting hotter and hotter. With Thursday's announcement of Tom Ricketts winning the bid to own the Chicago Cubs from the Tribune Company, a happy ending could loom soon.
Ricketts is a man of the people, a successful businessman, and perfect candidate for the role of Cubs owner. If he can pass the test of owner approval, he and the Cubs could have a lasting impression the landscape of baseball in Chicago. New owners have blossomed teams in Boston and Anaheim, giving the Cubs' fan base the hope needed to overcome the fear of losing, and the bandwagon ballclub that dwells in Chicago's South Side.
Since the Cubs were put on the market Opening Day 2007, they have won two division titles under Lou Piniella. However, both seasons and so far into the prelude to 2009, the ownership situation has been an awkward situation for the club, one that has held them back.
Sam Zell's run at CEO of the Tribune Co. cast a dark spell on the future of Wrigley Field's historic name, and the distaste of the millionaire amongst fans and bigwigs alike has caused an ample amount of distraction.
Whether it has been the off and on talks over players like Brian Roberts and most notably and recently Jake Peavy, the club's payroll has been a prime target of the distraction. While GM Jim Hendry(above) has done his best at improving the club in the last two years, his job has not been easy.
Hopefully the addition of Ricketts at the helm will free up funds and allow the Cubs to make business decisions without the shadow of the Tribune's Fitzsimmons, or the aforementioned Sam Zell stalking the club.
#4. A Face in the Drivers Seat
Since the Cubs' ownership swapped hands in 1981 from the Wrigley family, to its current owners, the Tribune Co., the club has lacked an owner that the fans can see.
The Tribune's ownership was done behind a curtain, and ran the team virtually anonymously. They ran the team like a corporation rather than team, looking to cash in on Chicago's favorite team, rather than always trying to win.
To the Tribune, the Cubs were merely an asset, not their crown jewel.
The Cubs, their fans, and the game of baseball, need the team to have a vocal owner who comes with a hands on approach to running the team. The fans buckled at the knees when Mark Cuban(above) was in the running. Why? Because his enthusiasm that he brings is astonishing. He wants to win, and is going to do anything he can to make his players and his fans succeed. But since his demise in the bidding process, it has been clear that Ricketts is the man.
He was born a Cubs fan, met his wife at Wrigley and lived in Wrigleyville. He is a Cub at heart, just exactly what this team needs, an owner who is passionate about the team.
#3. Upgraded Facilities
No, the Cubs aren't leaving the Friendly Confines. But yes, Wrigley is going to get a little friendlier to the players.
For years the club has wished to upgrade facilities like batting cages, modern clubhouses, and the like. But the recent lack of stability in the ownership role as halted the plans.
While they still intend to build facilities to the west of Wrigley for the fans, and the players' new amenities, they need the approval of the new ownership. Should Ricketts approve of the moves, Wrigley Field's modernization will be complete, and the players will be able to focus more on performance.
Why does this really make a difference? Because currently, the run down batting cages at Wrigley reside under the bleachers, making it impossible for in game adjustments, and virtually setting back every player who avoids the giant rats that Ozzie Guillien has claimed to roam the cages.
#2. Money, Money, Money
While Ricketts may not pan out to be the next George Steinbrenner, he will be more inclined to open his wallet to sign players than past owners. Should his approval as owner go through soon, Jake Peavy(above) could likely wind up in the windy city.
Whether he spends to spend, or spends to win, we will we see. But it only makes sense that as a fan of the Cubs, Ricketts will urgently want that elusive ring.
Bringing a title to Chicago would canonize him, and for such an avid businessman who claims to be a former bleacher bum, his ties and commitment to the fans will be higher than any past owner.
Also keep in mind that while money doesn't buy Championships, the Red Sox serve as a great example who benefited from new ownership spending to capitalize on player movement.
#1. Chicago's Century of Losing is Over
We as fans of the Chicago National League Ballclub have served our time, and suffered for 100 years. The century is over, so naturally 2009 will be divine on Chicago's North Side.
With the league's best rotation, and a strong mix of diverse leadership under stars Derrek Lee, Carlos Zambrano and young stud Geovany Soto, the time has come.
Ofcourse they'll have to get over the October choking of '07 and '08, but skipper Lou Piniella has recently been suckered into the Zen world. The last time Zen fever hit Chicago the Bulls won six titles.