Bernstein: Time For Cubs Fans To Grow Up

By Dan Bernstein- Senior Columnist

(CBS) Fresh faces, and a new day.

Theo Epstein and his lieutenants don’t look like baseball executives – more like luxury-box fans at a Dave Matthews concert – but their presence is about to bring an ironic turn to the north side.

The kids are here to run the Cubs like a big-boy team. Finally.

Youth is being served at Wrigley, and not in the usual sense as we know it, where it’s more like over-served.

A big, complicated business needs to be managed by intelligent, educated businesspeople. Major-league baseball has realized this, as most organizations have similarly modernized and enlightened. There is still a place for the jowly, lumpy “baseball men,” but only as one component of the larger, smarter picture.

Culture change is a good thing, and the new names on the masthead are just a start. The culture, in this sense, is more the collective behaviors and beliefs of the fans – the actual social actions and transmitted, shared pursuits — than it is the increased bandwidth and new algorithms at work in the offices.

So I call on you, Cubs fan, to meet the new regime at least halfway to genuine culture change. Agree to evolve. If the team itself can adapt for the better, so can you. Here’s how.

Stop celebrating history that doesn’t deserve the attention. The 1969 Cubs didn’t win anything – they choked and lost embarrassingly. No season that miserable should be recalled fondly. Only championship baseball should be romanticized.

Stop treating a ballpark like some kind of cathedral, or monument to a simpler, better time. It’s a ballpark. Do to it whatever needs to be done to give the team every dollar it needs to go about the business of winning titles. You want pastoral transcendentalism, go to the Botanic Gardens and sit on the grass. The rest of us are here to watch the team win.

Stop acting like the development of new tradition is some kind of threat to your fond memories. Your special days in the grandstands with Uncle Ed and Grandpa Joe won’t be trampled by change.

Stop pining for every next big-name free agent. Get a look at them – most of them are still here, and are old, bad, declining rapidly, or suspended . If you like what you see, raise your hand. Even Epstein himself fell prey to some of that temptation in Boston, and he had money to burn. The Cubs don’t, yet.

Stop getting over-attached to individual players to the point where you overvalue them. Players are people, but they are property: assets to be cultivated, and promoted or traded as needed. Just because you like a guy, it doesn’t mean anybody really thinks he’s any good, or that your team wouldn’t be better served flipping him for someone better. Your Ryan Theriot jersey-shirt makes you look stupid.

Most importantly, commit to learning how the game is discussed by smart people, like the guys now managing your team. The metric revolution has made a great game richer and more fascinating than ever, identifying facts and eradicating myths. So stop talking about batting average, pitching wins and RBI, and embrace win expectancy, weighted on-base average, OPS+, UZR/150, SIERA and xFIP. You’ll have a much keener understanding of the Cubs’ decisions, now, and a deeper, stronger connection to both your team and the game.

There’s nothing scary about knowing more about baseball. It may take a little work, but a bright fan will find it much more stimulating and rewarding than anything in the current mix of sappy nostalgia, low-rent mysticism, and cheesy songs.

The Cubs, at long last, are moving to the right side of history.

Please, join them.

More from Dan Bernstein
  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Hey, it’s a new century.

  • Smokie Lunk

    …and lose “Cubbies.” You’re not going to win a World Series when you sound like a group that’s going through life waiting to have its tummy tickled. And SHOULD/IF/WHEN you win, don’t overstrut obnoxiously like…who knows better than Theo’s old gang?

  • Satan

    HAhaha, most of the paragraphs that begin with “Stop…” are sentiments Dan’s held for years, but are still funny to see in print. I personally can’t stand fellow Cubs fans who somehow recall with fondness their memories of LOSING BASEBALL…

    It’s a different thing altogether to recall the surging Bulls teams of the Jordan Era, because you can now see the stepping stones and appreciate the “journey” they took to reach the top of the mountain, but why on earth would anyone view the past millenium of Cubs failures the same way?

  • Eric Martell

    Dan, baseball for the fans isn’t just about winning. For the players, owner, GM, coaches – sure. But for the fans? It’s about entertainment. Much, if not all, of that (depending on the person) is connected to watching a good team, but for most fans, there’s a little more. I’m not going to feel bad if I want to sit in a nice park and watch a winning team – frankly, I want both. If your argument is that I either get a nice place to sit and watch a game or a winning team, and they’re mutually exclusive, you’re wrong. And I don’t need the ivy to have logos printed on it either.

    I know plenty about advanced metrics. I’m pretty sure I understand them, and I can talk them pretty well. But if, from time to time, I want to enjoy a game as a fan because baseball’s an enjoyable sport to watch, and I can like watching a game without thinking about the big picture of a season or a championship, then I will. Stop being so frickin’ obsessive.

    • Quade's Nicknames

      If you want to go watch baseball in a nice park, while not caring about winning and losing go watch minor league baseball. Minor League baseball is for entertainment, the major league is about winning.

      Theo said it best in his press conference; baseball is best when you win! I’m sorry, the “Win or Lose, we still booze” motto no longer applies to the Cubs. The Cubs will no longer be the loveable losers, losing will not be tolerated. Not by Ricketts, not by Theo, not by the manager, not by the players, and not by ME. I hope the rest of the fan base feels the same.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Stop being complacent with 103 years of failure. For god’s sake we have a team whose fans are more about the damn ivy, former announcers, and disappointing teams than about successful teams. Granted, part of that is because none of us can actually remember the last WS win, but that should serve even more to make people aware that the culture change Epstein will hopefully bring about is long overdue.

      Theo has one mission. If he wins the WS, he succeeds. If not, he fails.

      • Denver Deadite

        Chris, much like Bernsie will tell you that not buying tickets doesn’t affect how the team operates, nor will the fans singing a song or waving ‘W’ flags affect how the team operates.

        So, in the end, this hand-wringing about the fans is much ado about nothing.

    • Lil' Bycracke

      Agreed, even through there is a parallel between entertainment and winning.

      Good entertainment = winning
      Bad entertainment = losing

  • cutlersjockstrap

    Dan…every team in baseball has fans that fit the description you just painted…get off you White Sox soap box and come back down to real life.

  • Lincoln Park John

    Dan’s excited because it appears as if the north side front office is finally going to step in the 21st century and get a lot smarter. That being said this article is preaching to an empty congregation. Anyone, like Dan, who likes the numbers and the metrics has probably been doing it for years. But telling someone they’re stupid (people like his own partner) because they don’t want to watch a game with a certain mindset is something that should be left to a communist society.
    Sometimes the beauty of baseball is just the simple nature of the game: the bat on the ball, the wonderful athletes gliding in the outfield to catch a fly ball, or the speed of a player going from 1st to 3rd on a single. I love baseball and it’s for those reasons, not because I want to run to a computer to find out how I think about a player. I’ll leave that in depth and detailed analysis to Theo and company.

    And as for his broader point of trying to get the casual “cubbie” fan to embrace being a “smarter” fan, well that’s just a waste of time. Why are dumb fans dumb? Because they don’t want to do research on players, they don’t want to look at a team objectively, they just want to use their emotions and that’s it. And trying to get someone to change their ways in that regard is nothing more than a waste of space in this blog. To each his own Dan.

    • Denver Deadite

      “And trying to get someone to change their ways in that regard is nothing more than a waste of space in this blog.”

      I wholeheartedly agree.

      There are some things Bernstein has been whining about for years, and Cubs fandom in general is one of them. Yet, he acts like things will change.

      On the whole, they will not. They never will.

  • Tyler

    Dan, you’re 100% correct with everything you say in this article. It’s time for Cubs fans to wake up and reach for the only thing that matters….a WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP!! Forget the history, it’s nothing but bad memories anyway. New regime, new way of doing business and hopefully new memories that actually matter.


    Reggie Dunlop tried to convince himself that “olde tyme hockey” was going to make fans happy. It didn’t get them the fame they had or to the finals of their league, but he wanted to try.
    They couldn’t play it straight, and the second someone said “hey, there are scouts in the seats, you may know what happens next.”
    The 2004, 2005, up to the Pinella era made a mountain of money doing it the wrong way. That’s the team that Tom Ricketts bought. Only it cost him a mountain of money. If Ricketts is going to blow up one well, the other one must produce sweet water, soon. First up, I’d say a certain beverage is going to have give way to MEGA-brew (or, pay a boutique “renters” fee)

  • Stevo

    That is one of the most condescending and pompous commentaries on Cub fans I have ever read. I usually appreciate your intelligent commentary on your show, but this crosses the one from being an astute analysis of a fan base to being an unfair and totally inaccurate representation of the Cub fan.

    Making a broad assumption about a fan base is just plain stupid. That’s like pegging an entire race with some undesirable and offensive quality. You couldn’t be more inaccurate.

    Are all sox fans blue collar workers with beer guts? No.

    Are all Bear fans fat middle aged guys who eat Italian sausages? No

    Are all Cub fans party animals that know nothing about baseball and could care less? No

    Are all sports reporters pompous know-it-alls who think they are better than everyone else ? You tell me!

    • Oh What a Giveaway!

      Are all sports fans shameless frontrunning creeps? 99.44%

    • Bronzo

      Bravo Stevo!! Well said… I agree 100%

  • FTC

    May you have another hundred years……..

  • Larry Horse's Arse Horse's Arse

    Somewhere, William Randolph Hearst is smiling.


    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Your handle totally cracked me up!!!

  • Jay

    talk about painting with a broad brush. you could change your title and substitute Cubs for just about any other team’s fan base. Yeah, sure, even as cub fan I am sick of the fans who go to game after game seemingly satisfied with mediocrity or put on “cub” blinders when it comes to each player, regardless of their antics or subpar stats. I also find it ironic that you imply the cubs have been run in a childish manor for 100 years but somehow are surprised that some percentage of the fan base acts like children. Finally, you don’t even give cub fans a chance to get it right. We are one day into the Theo Epstein era and the tone of your article is one that cub fans are going to continue with behavior you consider childish. I couldn’t be more excited about what is taking place and I look forward to the new regime tearing it all down and starting from scratch. So now that I have you told you how one cub fan feels, shouldn’t you write a new article?

  • A Realist

    Cubs are and always will be losers no matter who they hire. Face it and get on with life.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Sounds like something a Yankee fan said in ’03. Now go away.

  • Johnny Drinky

    “Theo Epstein and his lieutenants don’t look like baseball executives – more like luxury-box fans at a Dave Matthews concert…”

    You tellin’ me you don’t like Dave, brah?

  • Murphs Upper-Lip


    • Murphs Upper-Lip

      Hmmm…. that’s the first time this site has allowed me to post in over two months… stay tuned for the return of Murphs Upper-Lip???

      • SPAULDING!

        Join me, Murphs U-L! Along with Neo, Han, Mal, and any other rebel I can think of with a three-named handle from being allowed to return to “polite society.”

        “Johnny only drinks when he’s on the road. Or, before a game.”

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Hey Hey! Will be great to see the return of M U-L.

  • Theo Epstein Loves Starlin Castro and Other Bullets | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    […] team in two or three years. How about you guys? And then there’s Dan Bernstein, making decent points about the attitudes Cubs fans should have in this new era, but doing so in a condescending, smug, […]

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Did anyone else want to punch Tony Kornheiser in the face after he asked Theo about Steve Bartman?

    That’s the kind of idiocy you expect from a local “morning coffee” show in LaSalle/Peru or something. You’d think Kornheiser would have some semblance of question-asking skills after two or three centuries of doing this, but no.

    It’s so strange. I think that most Cub fans have moved on from the whole fiasco, and the E:60 piece was outstanding, but the REST of the world, in particular, the media, gets more JohnnyJollies out of perpetuating some myth that the entire fanbase blames Bartman for ’03… and god forbid they move on.

    “No… THIS is what you think”.

    Between that and the “faux headlines” that Fox’s NFL coverage posted about Cutler earlier in the year, is there ANY national coverage of Chicago that doesn’t amount to yellow journalism?

    • Denver Deadite

      Honest, truthful, and factual journalism is all but dead in this country.

      The only ones doing any of that in sports is Yahoo! and maybe SI.

  • Jim Hinsdale

    The only change I would like to see is to remove your know it all ass from Chicago. Dude, you went to Duke not HARVARD!!! Stop acting like you know everything… You are almost always wrong on every point you make and your this little 5′ nothing twerp that just whines about everything. This is a guy who said that Derek Rose will be an average NBA player and John Wall is a stud that plays above the rim and he is the real deal…. HAHAHAAH….. did you use sabermetrics to determine that…. Get off the airwaves, you are a cancer… P.S. we know why you are riding Epstein’s pole, it’s cause he’s jewish like yourself… By the way…. he isn’t a genius neither is Brian Cashman…. it’s called having a high payroll and the ball bouncing your way dummy…. Let’s see if Epstein could win with the KC Royals payroll…. right…..

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      What are you talking about? Bernstein was ALL about Rose. Learn to spell the MVP’s name while you’re at it, you illiterate, coathanger-scarred, backwater hillbilly, anti-semite troll. Did you get beat up by the roving gangs from the Hebrew school down the street?

      If you’d recall, which obviously you can’t, at that time, while most pundits were vacillating between the 1-1A that was believed to be Rose & Beasley, Bernstein dismissed the idea of Beasley even with a 15 & 10 player attached in the form of Shawn Marion. If ANYTHING, he was higher on Rose than just about anyone.

      Rose and Wall are quite comparable after their mutual year-ones. Rose had a significantly better shooting percentage because, well, he didn’t shoot. It was all penetration. Wall is actually significantly better with his outside shot than Derrick was at that point. John Wall will be the real deal, as is Derrick… and Bernstein denied neither.

      • Jim Hinsdale

        BS… Bernstein was saying that Rose will be a “fine” player, but nothing special in comparison to that John Wall kid because Rose plays below the rim unlike Wall (Nice Bernstein you are an oracle, LOL)… This was while Wall was still a freshmen at Kentucky…. Bernstein wrote about it so you can check it yourself… And as far as being an anti-semite…. how is it anti-semetic to point out the fact that jews stick together and take care of one another?…. i.e. banking, media, hollywood…. Geez, don’t get so bent out of shape because I insulted your boyfriend. By the way…you are really impressive with the Bernsteinesque quality of stringing adjectives together… (You illiterate, coathanger-scarred, backwater hillbilly anti-semite troll) Maybe you should develop your own style and stop being an imitation But with that being said, I’m really impressed and I’m sure this will earn you a Bernstein handjob at worst.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Now I need a roll of Bounty to clean up the coffee I spit when I read CIS’s line about “roving gangs.” That was pure LOL….and so on the mark.

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        Sigh. Should I bring it down to your level? Okay, insert obligatory “your mom” comment here. Go on- I’ll wait.

        The scouting reports/commentariat were touting that Wall was basically a bigger Rose- and I don’t remember ANYONE calling Rose a below-the-rim player… Exactly when was this? Was this when he was dunking on people in high school, or when he was dunking on people in college? He was considered the most explosive 1 to come out of college in ages, if not ever. If anything, his game was considered to be almost TOO explosive, as the one facet he lacked was an NBA jump shot and relied exclusively on his speed to score. It wasn’t a knock on Rose to say that Wall had many of the same traits but was bigger, and potentially faster/stronger.

        Knowing that Bernstein outright laughed off the idea of accepting the #2 overall pick and Shawn Marion for the #1 overall pick, I don’t think that he dismissed Rose as simply a “fine” player. It’s hard to look back and realize, but there was a debate to some as to who should be picked #1. Bernstein wasn’t among those- he had Rose #1 with a bullet from the morning after the lottery moving forward.

        The only comment that could even be construed as such would be when he asked whether he could be the best player on a championship. That wasn’t an indictment of Rose’s talent- moreso whether a PG could be the best player on a championship team, as the last time that argument could be made was when? 1990?

    • clarkwgriswold

      For someone you hate so much you sure seem to listen quite a bit….DUUUUUDE

      • Julio

        Jim, strange commentary but many of us will agree on the wierd fixation that good ole Chris has on Bernsie. I enjoy some of what Dan writes though.

  • Old and in the way

    Dan, I agree with most everything you say but why do you always have to be so arrogant and condescending about it? I am a Cubs fan in my middle 50’s and much to your surprise, I really do have a brain. I have attended games at almost all of the new stadiums and they do offer a lot of entertainment and creature comforts. But I prefer watching baseball at Wrigley Field because I go to a baseball game to watch baseball, pure and simple. Jumbotrons are great, but it drives me crazy to see so-called fans and sometimes players paying more attention to the scoreboard than the game, not to mention that they only cheer when the fan meter exhorts them to. I know you think the troughs are disgusting, but I can always get in and out of the bathroom at Wrigley and not miss a pitch. At the UC, I stand in a lengthy line and always miss a few minutes. Wide concourses and modern ramps are welcome, but not at the expense of making my seat even a foot farther from home plate. I am smart enough to get to the ballpark early and avoid the people crunch in Wrigley’s concourses. I am smart enough to know which seats are behind posts and avoid them. My reward for having a brain is the most intimate view of major league baseball possible in the post Tiger Stadium world. That’s the entertainment value that I care about. Dan, if you want proof of what modern stadiums do to intimacy, check out You will get archectectural proof that my seat in the far reaches of the upper deck at Wrigley is closer to home plate than the so-called good seats at modern stadiums. And I don’t care about parking either because I use public transportation.
    Now what I agree with you about is that it would be great to have all this AND a winning baseball team to root for. So of course I want smart baseball executives who use metrics to prove and utilize the theories that smart baseball fans have always embraced. Some of who spent half a lifetime watching the Cubs didn’t need Bill James to point out the fact that Batting and Home Run championships, Cy Young awards, and MVP’s don’t mean anything towards winning baseball. And if Jumbotrons, skyboxes and increased advertising on the walls can provide revenue streams to help the Cubs win, fine. I will try to ignore them and keep my focus on the field. But please don’t continue telling me that I’m stupid or nostalgic or just go to Wrigley to get drunk and ogle women in halter tops. I go there because with a little foresight and planning, it’s the best place I know of to view a major league baseball game. Yes it sucks that the major league part is always the other team, but I’m confident that Theo will change that part.

  • Larry

    Those of us in New England had this discussion with the New metrics folks that took over the Boston Front Office.. The new folks gave us Mike Cameron because they said UZR stats proved that our CF Jacoby Ellsbury was not very good. OOPs—In Fact Mike Cameron was way too old and broke down: Then the new kids on the block said–“We are Sorry, we misused UZR–Jacoby is actually a very good CF.

    The new kids on the block, THEO, told us for 5 years that J.D. Drew was worth a touch more than the $14MM/year that Theo gave him in a ridiculous contract. He also told us what a great runner J.D. was–He stole around 10 bases in 5 years.

    Watch out for these schmoes who do not value ERA, Wins, BA—There are some old values that need to be retained while bringing in OPS and other statistical values to consider. Do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Certainly wins does not tell you all you need to know about a pitcher, but it is not a completely outdated statistic. Same with BA and ERA!

    The most important idea I can give Cub fans is not to trust Carmine too much–Crawford, Lackey, Lugo, Rent A Wreck (Renteria), Wiily Mo Pena, and about 20 plus othe personnelr goofs made by Theo and the Boston Front Office easily prove that statement.

    Above all the most important quality you have going for you now Cub fans, is not Theo and the new front office, but your new owners deep pockets. Maybe you can BUY 2 World Series like the present Boston owners did (04&07). Counting on Theo as being a MODERN DAY Winner will be impossible without Deep, DEEP pockets. Theo is not a baseball man and would not recognize real baseball talent if he saw it. He proved that in Boston. Good luck Cub fans!

    PS: It didn’t hurt our chances of breaking the curse to have who knows how many players on steroids like Manny! New England (Boston) fans are thrilled that we beat the curse after 86 years, however some of us wish it was won with clean players. The celebration was still wonderful!

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Why are Bostonians so quick to take a dump on Theo? Regardless of budget, here is an undeniable fact:

      Between Babe Ruth and Theo: Zero world championships.
      Boston with Theo: Two world championships.

      Right or wrong, (and tell me a GM that doesn’t misfire at least occasionally), he was where the buck stopped in regards to personnel decisions. It’s easy to list off the misfires… but yeah, why disregard his scouting department’s success in finding players such as Pedroia, Bard, and Lester? Oh, because that would give him CREDIT.

      Heck, you earned the right to go from “Plucky underdog fanbase” to “Obnoxious frontrunner fanbase”. I can only HOPE I get to do so as a Cub fan.

      • Henry in Boston

        Moron! Nice argument, too bad it is illogical. You reject, you are trying to infer causation by correlation…. I didn’t know Scottsdale was a breeding ground for idiots. Cashman and Epstein are geniuses with 200 million dollar payrolls. I guess that makes one a genius GM. When Epstein wins something without the highest or second highest payroll then you can start proclaiming him a genius, but until then buzz off. A monkey with a 200 million dollar payroll could win the world series. Mark my words, if the Cubs don’t spend like the Red Sox did, you can forget a world series on the North Side.

      • Denver Deadite


        I’m sorry, did you say something of consequence? Because I stopped reading after the one unnecessary and uncalled for first word above.

      • Denver Deadite

        I’m sorry, Henry, did you say something of consequence? Because I stopped reading after the 1st word. Might have something to do with you coming across like a New Yorker.

      • Denver Deadite

        Ooh, nice, CBS website muckups for the win!

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        It’s not illogical. I stated a fact and you’re dismissing Theo Epstein as a bystander while the world passed him by. Show me where I called him a genius. I inferred that he was a success. That’s all.

        Oh, and only the last two years has the Boston Opening Day payroll been above $150 million… but carry on with your inaccurate hyperbole while accusing me of faulty post hoc reasoning. A large payroll doesn’t always mean you don’t have to use it effectively… but maybe I guess I missed those classic Mets championships over the last decade. The expectation is that Theo is going to have access to have an upper-tier payroll moving forward. The expectation is that he’s going to win a lot of games with it.

  • Marco Ramos

    Thanks for this…you condescending Sox fan. You will never understand how Cubs fans feel, so “STOP” writing about it. Well, write what ever you want, I wont be reading it.

    GO CUBBIES!!!!!!!!

    • clarkwgriswold

      Bernsy forgot another rule: Stop saying “CUBBIES” ugh

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      But you’ll respond to it. How banal.

  • Larry

    Give a squirrel enough acorns and he is bound to find a few nuggets. As long as Theo has the money to buy more players that the opposition every year (that includes draft picks other team can not afford), eventually he should “lead” you to the promised land. I am rooting for you Cub Fans, just giving you some thoughts from a planet (New England) that has been through this with the good looking, swell talking former Boston GM. I and some others from New England do not believe ALL that Theo says. We heard it for years and he has a great gift for throwing out lots of baloney. We know his good points and we certainly know his blemishes. In the end, John Henry and Company BOUGHT us two World Series Championships. Hopefully Mr. Ricketts will do the same for you.

    PS: The team Theo took over had won 93 games under GM Dangerous DAN the Duke—-The team Theo is leaving won 90 games this year—Is that progress? Guess we should ask Carmine and maybe Danny Bernstein!

  • meesohawnee

    id like to thank derrick rose for his lesson in Keynesian economics today. Nice to hear about trickle down economics from someone who had to cheat to get into college. damn those haters huh?

  • Old Jim

    I guess Mr Bernstein is also expecting the Economic Stimulus to kick into high gear about now. Epstein is enamored with big-name, bis-money free agents? Didn’t we just get told to give that up, yet whose going to tell Epstein that? It isn’t the fans, It isn’t the press, it isn’t even the players, the whole operation depends on whether the people who run it want to build another Studebaker, or whether they would learn from, say, Toyota.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      He’s also enamored with home-grown talent. The Red Sox have had a mixed bag regarding free agents, but they also mined for Dustin Pedroia, Daniel Bard, Clay Buchholz, and Jacoby Ellsbury under Theo’s watch.

      Boston signs big free agents, but that puts them in the 2-5 payroll range, which is where teams like the Cubs and Red Sox should be, isn’t it? The Cubs aren’t going to all of a sudden sink to the bottom third of the league in payroll or anything.

  • Because I Used To Care

    It’s only a movie. An I’ll-wait-for-the-DVD-if-I-see-it-at-all movie. Get older. You’ll see. It really doesn’t matter.

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