By Matt Spiegel-
CHICAGO (WSCR) What Tom Ricketts told his papa to convince him of the viability of the business model at Clark & Addison is being proven true, yet again. The people are indeed coming to support his company, his team, regardless of the NL Central standings. I think we can now safely assume that the brutally low attendance in April and May was primarily due to inclement weather, not overall disdain. Now that it’s nice out, here they are, in droves. The changing tides of expectations in Cubs nation have not bumped the turnstile numbers as low as predicted.
There were 38,000 on a Wednesday night for two lowly teams, Cubs and Nats. Rodrigo Lopez and Ross Detwiler gathered the masses. Yes, it was Ron Santo statue unveiling night, but how do we explain the 37,000 the night before? The Cubs are 8th in MLB attendance, on pace for 3 million fans yet again. The summer is beautiful, Wrigley is charming, and people like baseball.
So do I. Baseball is life. I’ve never been a guy to chide people for going to a game; this isn’t a column doing that. It’s more an observance of the remarkable ability of Cubs fans to disassociate from the realities of a given year, this year, and let themselves have a good time.
I can’t do it right now. Perhaps I’ll make it out one more time to sit in the seats and bask in a gorgeous evening or afternoon, but right now that’s pretty hard to visualize. Maybe it’s a product of age and experience. Maybe it’s the growing knowledge that comes from dissecting the organizational happenings as best I can on a daily basis.
Wednesday was one of those nights when I felt like a snarky, cynical bastard….unable in fact to bring myself to watch much of it on television. I can’t stop thinking about the incredibly frustrating short-view approach from Jim Hendry and Mike Quade on the big league level. When Mike Quade is in your newspaper, YESTERDAY, saying that he’s going to “take it four days at a time,” how does that not infuriate a thinking fan? “I probably haven’t thought much past this series” was another gem. He has been instructed to win now, which fits nicely into a couple big picture incentives. 1) His desire to prove his worth and get a chance to fulfill that 2nd year of the contract. 2) Win a game, please a fan, and have them come back; draw as many as possible over the season’s last 20 home dates.
I just can’t find the dis-associative pleasure right now. What point is there to a Reed Johnson home run? How important is he going to be on this team next time you’re actually competitive? It was a decent start for Lopez in what is probably the best season he’s had in years. Where’s the long term benefit in that, while Casey Coleman toils in Iowa? These remaining games ought to be about finding out what you have from as many young players as possible, targeting 2013 and beyond as the next winning window. If that was happening, I really believe they wouldn’t draw one fan fewer, and we’d all be paying attention in a different, more productive way.
Thousands of people were out there at Wrigley enjoying a home run barrage, feeling like it was a special night, achieving baseball happiness on a gorgeous summer evening. Others watched at home…and felt some ethereal Santo love..a magical heavenly presence.
A Cubs fan tweeted the following at me last night (@mattspiegel670) “10 hits, a win on the 10th of the month, on the night they honor #10. Despite the season, this one feels pretty good.”
There’s nothing wrong with joy; I live as often as possible though the mantra of “fun is king.”
The truth is, I envy that fan. Have a good time the rest of the way, and let me know if the long view kicks in, okay? Then maybe I can share that good time with you.