TELANDER: Even baby steps from Cubs would be nice

Written By BY RICK TELANDER Sports Columnist Posted: 04/06/2014, 02:34am
Array Mascot ‘‘Clark the Cub’’ makes his debut at the home opener Friday at Wrigley Field. | Peter Holderness/Sun-Times Media

Coming back to Wrigley Field after a half-year away is always special.

How dormant are the vines? (Pretty dormant.)

How much does the beer cost? (Eight dollars.)

How low is the wind chill? (Twenty-eight degrees.)

What is the new motto? (‘‘It’s the Party of the Century!’’)

How long has it been since, um, you know? (One hundred five years, five months, three weeks, one day.)

Then there’s the always-fun question: How long till next year?

The royal-blue flag with the white ‘‘L’’ rippled in the sturdy breeze above center field after the Cubs lost 7-2 to the Phillies on Friday at Wrigley Field, then again after they lost 2-0 on Saturday.

Yes, ‘‘L’’ still stands for losers. Some things remain the same in Cubdom.

Other things do change with the Cubs, if only because each year they don’t change makes the pain of no change sharper.

I truly thought I had heard it all from these Ricketts folks. After foisting an average of 94 losses on us the last four seasons, I didn’t think there was any more nonsense that could spew from chairman Tom Ricketts’ mouth about delaying, ‘‘starting over,’’ ‘‘rebuilding,’’ ‘‘trying to do it the right way,’’ splitting the atom and beating Rosie O’Donnell in a leg-wrestling contest.

But then I heard this as I drove to the home opener, as it was replayed from a morning interview on WSCR-AM (670).

First, some setup. One of the hosts had asked, as a rational person will, why the Cubs couldn’t put a decent team on the field as they meticulously build their golden beanstalk to the baseball gods above. How about, like, just an average team to tide us over for however many decades this might take? A tiny gift from president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer?

I can’t say for sure that Ricketts sneered, can’t say that he scoffed like a fop being handed a bottle of Boone’s Farm Country Kwencher for inspection at a fancy wine bar. But it sounded like he did.

‘‘Eighty-three games?’’ he said. ‘‘Theo and Jed could do that in their sleep!’’

Strike me dead, he said that.

And I say: For the love of God, take a nap, guys, and give us 83 wins! Just do it.

Eighty-three wins are nothing? Sleepwalking garbage?

May I refer you to 2006, when the Cardinals won the World Series with 83 victories. The Mets won the National League pennant with 82 victories in 1973. The Twins won the World Series with 85 victories in 1987.

How long must we wait, Cubs? Forever? Why, the Florida Marlins won the World Series in 1997 — in their fifth season of existence!

Ho-ho! So we dis 83 victories and four-plus years like they’re moron’s work?

I will ask this again, as I have asked so many times in the 4½ years the Ricketts family has owned the Cubs: What other service business gets to stay open while it serves its clientele botulism-tainted meat, delivers termite-laden lumber, provides worm-infested seed corn?

The Cubs are 1-4 and have scored eight runs in five games. Think that hints at a problem on offense? Pitcher Edwin Jackson gets a jillion dollars a year, and he finished 8-18 last season and has a no-decision this season. Slugger Anthony Rizzo can’t slug with men on base.

We hear that billionaire Warren Buffett might jump in as a minority owner, as the Rickettses extend their proverbial hat for funds to help redo Wrigley. Who’s next? Jimmy Buffett? Little Miss Muffet?

Why do we spend all our time talking about business, money, rooftops and bricks and never about winning baseball? Sorry to keep asking questions, but this was the home opener, and people already were booing.

Tom Ricketts said fans will be really excited ‘‘when they see the plan in action.’’

Whatever that plan is. Whoever’s still alive.

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