Despite years of ineptitude, incompetence, and losing, the Chicago Cubs are one of the most popular teams in major league baseball. I’m all for supporting your team through thick and thin but, at some point, if a show is no good, it becomes foolish to watch it. Nobody goes to a Superman movie to watch the Man of Steel robbing little old ladies, nor do most fans go to games year after year to see their team embarrass their city.
After winning the 1908 World Series over the Detroit Tigers, they lost the next 7 World Series that they appeared in from 1910 to 1945. The Cubs failed to make the playoffs again until 1984, a span of 39 years. So make no mistake – the Cubs were at one point in time one of the truly elite franchises in all of baseball. It’s just that the point in time this was true was toward the end of World War II.
Since then, Hitler has been overthrown, man has walked on the moon, and all of the other major Chicago sports teams have won championships.
There are glimmers of hope. By winning two World Series titles as general manager of the Boston Red Sox, current Cubs general manager Theo Epstein has proven to have a brilliant baseball mind capable of turning around the fortunes of a franchise. But it’s difficult for a general manager to change the culture of an entire organization. Especially one so seemingly hell-bent on losing.
In these days of $200 million contracts, it’s hard to believe that one of the most history-rich franchises cannot attract a couple of elite free agents. And no, a winner isn’t built solely by signing big-name, big-money free agents, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few players that strike fear into the opposition. Instead, the Cubs franchise seems content to focus on profitability over productivity. And who could blame them? They haven’t won a championship in over a century, but are annually one of the most, if not the most, profitable Major League franchise.
The Cubs have mastered the art of losing. Or, more accurately, the art of making losing attractive to consumers. So I guess the question is not when or if the Cubs will turn around their fortunes, but rather why they should even care about winning when there is so much to gain from losing.
After every lost season, a Cubs fan’s motto remains the same: There’s always next year.
But is that really a good thing?