Monday, June 26, 2006

call in the airstrike

the cubs return to wrigley today having capped the eighth sweep of the year -- this time at the hands of al central also-rans the minnesota twins -- and for the third time in their last four series.

as the 2006 chicago cubs have gone from suspicious to baffling to trainwreck to insiduous and growing vortex of all-consuming sin and blackness, this writer has been rendered powerless with the verbiage at his command to describe the completeness of the disaster and futility. there simply are no words. everything from the completely bungled draft to the useless trades to the flailing rookies to the waiver wire acquisitions -- whom this page has learned by force of endless repetition to spit upon first and ask questions of later -- have been a near-total or total fiasco.

is there a single redeeming aspect to any part of this year that isn't a theoretical having to do with 2009 or later? this page can't find it.

local writers bruce miles and barry rozner have done what they can to drive the point home. dayn perry of fox sports gives a noble try today -- managing finally to include the fanbase, which is of course the final repository of responsibility for the entire mess.

Hobbled franchise cornerstones Prior and Kerry Wood are mere etchings of their former selves; the recent drafts have been awful; the farm system is badly thinned out; the big league club is among the worst in the game; and the city's loyalties may be evolving. All of this is symptomatic of one thing: a rudderless organization in need of sweeping changes. Of course, the Cubs rank second only to the Red Sox in percentage of seats sold this season. So if you're CEO Andy MacPhail or some even loftier honcho, why reinvest in the product if the fans will show up no matter what?

That's mostly why changes are hard-won in Wrigleyville. The Cubs' lemming-like faithful continue to flock to the ballyard in robust numbers, regardless of the product on the field. As a result, the stewards at the Tribune Company generally take an "oh, whatever" approach to improving the team. You'll hear rumblings from time to time, but the Cubs have long been more "charming destination" than "sports franchise," and as long as the tickets sell as they do that's probably not going to change.

In another two seasons, it could be an even century since the Cubs have won a World Series. You can talk about curses and cosmic blights all you want, but in the last two years both flavors of Sox have laid waste to the cold comforts of superstition. It's not the mythologized goat; it's the organization. And the fans are part of that organization.

At some point, loyalty becomes enabling, and the Cubs' fans have long since passed that threshold. Until they use the language of dollars, those who hold the power aren't going to hear them. If they keep showing up blissfully unconcerned with wins and losses and opening their wallets for the cherished ambience and the $6.50 Old Style, then Cubs fans have only themselves to blame.

Change, after all, begins at home.

this writer has no better idea of how to rectify problems of this depth than this: get the whole crowd in the old park today, with all the lemmings in attendance, with andy macfail and jim hendry and dusty baker on hand, with the team on the field anxiously awaiting the first pitch -- and call in the proud forces of the strategic air command and make a glass sheet of wrigleyville.

the more this writer observes the failure -- and we speak here not of 2006 alone but all the years since this writer was but a tot turning the dial to channel 9 and adjusting the rabbit ears -- the more he is convinced that the cubs are a disaster because they can be nothing else as they are. the owners, the park, the neighborhood and the fans are all part and parcel to the problem, all working eagerly if ironically and ignorantly to ensure that the cubs never win a god damned thing. such a conclusion is perhaps blindingly obvious -- it would be frankly all but impossible to lose for a century if they were not so, would it not? -- but may nonetheless come as a shock to those millions of us who have lavished upon this team an attention and affection which not only has not been rewarded but will never be rewarded precisely because it is the engine by which all reward is perfectly mitigated and destroyed.

and it might be noted that this page is clearly no exception, for even critical attention is still attention and it is attention in the end upon which the monster feeds. there's a certain dimness in being a sports fan of any kind, really, in a world so full of better things that go neglected -- magnified a thousand fold in being a cubs fan, where dimness inhabits the ground between high art and religion -- and then to be a cub blogger... well, it is obviously tantamount to being an artist/high priest in the service of completely wasted time. so lest you think we do not practice as we preach, you may find this writer -- should you do your duty as a cub fan as well, find a place under the bomb and spend your final moments looking about carefully -- acting as the forward spotter. i'll be on the roof of the mcdonalds, gps beacon at hand blaring its silent prayer of destruction, statistical abstract in one hand and mint julep in the other. if you can't see me, just listen for the shrieking cacophany echoing down clark street -- that would be wagner's "gotterdammerung", painfully twisted though my vintage boombox and cranked up to eleven.

is the whole lot so permanently irredeemable as to merit final annihilation? one likes to hope not. but there are so many necessary -- not preferable, but absolutely necessary -- preconditions to anything like consistent success. they include but are not limited to the firing of every senior executive in the cub organization, a change in the ownership of the club, a new stadium (wrigley, after all, is nothing but the local office of loserdom, inc.), the destruction of any memorial to an announcer who never played a day in his life for the club and a very, very different fanbase. some of those things are closer than others if left to their own devices -- but they are all equally close when viewed through major kong's bombsight.

so enough patience, then -- enough diplomacy, enough argument, enough protests, enough sanctions, enough effort, enough trying to bring the light of debate and reason to idiots who prefer the quiet dark of a sunny day in the bleachers. if we have learned anything in the postmodern world it is that patience is anything but virtuous -- and that 98 years of patience is in any case simply ridiculous. therefore, in the current of the times, this page now says that you're with us or against us (at least until tomorrow, when we might find you useful enough to ignore that you're against us) and either one means a quick and easy death from above. it's just so much easier.

if anyone reading this has the telephone number to either norad or paul wolfowitz at the world bank, please do your duty and drop us a line at -- your help is kindly appreciated.

but don't forget to be within ten kilometers of the park today. this page dislikes loose ends.

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