Spiegel: Cubs Fans, Wish I Could Join You

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.

More from Matt Spiegel
  • Bob in Rockford. @wordsmattr

    I am also struggling to find any joy. Worse yet, I spent the last 3 games of the useless winning streak worrying that Ricketts might use this as evidence to save Hendry and Quade’s job. Talk about a bizarre situation. I’ve gone from indifference to anger at the possibility that Tom Ricketts has no idea what to do next.

    • Danial Ramirez

      I’m with you Spiegs. This team is not getting a dime of my money or any of my time watching them on television until they start functioning like a big boy frnachise again. Walk away Cub nation, walk away. You’re just empowering Tom Ricketts to feed you the same false sense of hope that the Tribune Company always did. This win streak and this team is merely fools good and by giving Ricketts your time or your ticket money, you’re just encouraging him to extend the contracts of an over matched field boss and a spend happy GM who is lost unless he’s given a checkbook to work with. Fools good Cub nation, fools good; you’re smarter than this.

  • Murphs Upper-Lip

    I certainly hope Tommy Boy hasn’t absolutely bamboozled his aging father. (If David Spade is out there to “babysit” maybe the Cubs have a snowballs chance in he!l.)

    As a Cub fan, I think that patience is one of my finer attributes; however, if Quade and Hendry survive this offseason, I may be in uncharted territories. I can never turn off my “fan” switch for the Northsiders, but may have to reevaluate my precious time following said club. I’ve already stopped going to 5-15 games a year, as I avoided Wrigley completely in 2009 and, so far, in 2011. The only way I step foot in the friendly confines this year would be with my daughter, but I wonder if my pressure of making her a Cubs fan could be looked at as some type of abuse???

  • Murphs Upper-Lip

    C’mon, Tommy, don’t become THIS guy…

    Richard Hayden: You’re right! You’re not your dad! He could sell a ketchup Popsicle to a woman in white gloves!
    Tommy: Ketchup Popsicle?
    Richard Hayden: Yeah. I learned everything I know from him. I didn’t have a real father, but you, he was your real dad and yo just took him for granted.
    [mocking Tommy]
    Richard Hayden: “Hey I’m big Toms’ son, I (mess) things up, but it’s ok my dad will fix everything, so I’m allowed to be a (MESS-UP)!”

    Tommy: Did you hear I finally graduated?
    Richard Hayden: Yeah, and just a shade under a decade too. All right.
    Tommy: You know a lot of people go to college for seven years.
    Richard Hayden: I know, they’re called doctors.

  • Blagojevich

    I don’t like Spiegel on the radio, but this article encapsulates my thoughts as a Cubs fan right now perfectly. Well done.

  • Larry

    1. Tickets are available dirt cheap on the secondary sites.

    2. School is still out.

    Wait another three weeks, and you’ll see 25,000 or less in the stands for games. Plus, announced attendance isn’t indicative of how many butts are in the seats.


    “shut up, Richard.”

    HEY! The Cubs magic number is. . . 45?
    Every team they’ve beaten in this “HOT!” streak has thought they were good, and were trying to win.
    It’s baffling. Why didn’t this happen in June? Did Fukudome drag down the entire lineup?
    oh, the vapors!

  • Billb

    What a bunh of crybabies. Poor guys, you’re summers are lost because the Cubs aren’t contending. Baseball’s not enjoyable unless your team wins 70% of their games! Threre’s no pleasure in watching the pitcher batter battles if your team’s not in 1st place. No fun watching a kenee buckling overhand curve. Seeing a runner being gunned down trying for a triple by a great cutoff man’s throw is absolutely worthless unless your team is 8 runs ahead. A hitter going to right with an low outside pitch and executing a successful hit and run has no value unless the Cubs are on their way to the World Series.

    I feel sorry for you guys – you can’t enjoynuances of the game unless your team is stomping their opponents. Maybe you should watch basketball instead.

    • Jason S

      Amen brother.

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