The onset of Cubs season is a good time to warn Chelsea supporters about a few things
For example: When a Ricketts cites “biblical losses,” it’s not about being bested on the pitch by age-old rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
If you’re like me, you’re unable, maybe even unwilling, to follow all the sports going on at any one time, even locally, with earnestness. It’s just too much to juggle. There are too many profoundly important things happening that have nothing to do with sports, such as war in Europe, the deepening divide within our own nation and Wordle.
Generally speaking, I go all-in on one or two sports at a time and fake it on the rest. It’s just the truth. Do me a favor and don’t tell my bosses.
Some of us might be accustomed to spinning out of college basketball season and straight into baseball. Or, recently in Chicago, perhaps, throwing in the towel on the Bulls and/or the Blackhawks and turning to baseball. I always appreciate baseball for being there — ready and waiting — not only with spring-training games and storylines as soothing background noise throughout March Madness, but also with the first days of the regular season nestled into that sweet spot between the Elite Eight and the Final Four.
Make that almost always. The lockout has pushed Opening Day back a little over a week, not a huge deal but still disappointing and rather unromantic.
And speaking of unromantic: Hello again, Cubs.
These days, the Cubs are as lovable as an extended cold front and as promising as a blown-out shoe. They don’t tickle our fancy as much as they test it. Do they really have to come back from Arizona? Why bother? Wouldn’t it be more fan-friendly of them to just stay out there until they’re ready to behave like a major-market contender again?
You can’t spell “Schwindel” without the W-I-N, but still it’s awfully hard to get fired up about this Cubs roster. They signed Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki, which would be a more exciting development if the writing weren’t on the wall that All-Star catcher Willson Contreras could soon be headed in the general direction of Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber, which is to say somewhere — anywhere — else. They signed starting pitcher Marcus Stroman, which is not the same, at least on the surface, as bringing in a Jon Lester or a Yu Darvish.
Outfielders Ian Happ and Jason Heyward are still around, but is that a good thing? The new rotation features a Miley, a Smyly and possibly a Wiley, though that final name might be a figment of my imagination.
It doesn’t seem to add up to a whole heck of a lot beyond one of the richest franchises in American sports attempting to have its cake and eat it, too, as it turns its home ballpark and environs into a gigantic piggy bank while inhabiting the same payroll neighborhood as the Rockies, Brewers and Tigers, just to name a few.
And then there’s the whole Chelsea thing.
Goodness gracious, talk about appalling.
It’s difficult to conceive of a set of optics worse than kicking all your star players to the curb and tanking the 2021 season — after laying off scores of paycheck-to-paycheck employees — only to then make an offer on a Premier League club reportedly worth between $3 billion and $4 billion, same as the Cubs.
How are the Ricketts family to explain this one? They can’t. But we can do our friends in London a favor and offer a little explanation — translation, more like — of what a Ricketts ownership would mean for Chelsea supporters.
For example, when a Ricketts says, “I deeply regret and apologize for some of the exchanges,” it’s almost certainly not a reference to salary-dumping trades of fans’ championship heroes. It might simply be about some horribly awkward leaked emails.
When a Ricketts cites “biblical losses,” it’s not about being bested on the pitch by age-old rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. It’s merely your cue to kindly forget about being anywhere near the top of the table for a while.
“We’re focusing on building our next great team” essentially means, “What do you think we can fetch for that bag of gently used soccer balls?”
How about, “Take a deep breath”? That’s what Tom Ricketts encouraged fans to do after being booed at the 2020 Cubs Convention. Londoners, this is a diversionary tactic along the lines of, “Hey, look, your shoes are untied!” Or as one footballer might put it together, “Hey, look, your boots are untied!” Either way, you’re going to want to keep your eyes on the prize.
And this, just the other day: “Our family rejects any form of hate in the strongest terms possible.” It’s more than a statement to ease Chelsea players’ and rooters’ concerns about the bigoted ramblings of patriarch Joe Ricketts. It also means: We’re here for gold, not goals, and we don’t care how much you can’t stand it.
No, it’s not very romantic at all. It’s just how it is.