Chicago, IL - Anyone who has spent more than a cursory fifteen minutes examining the state of Chicago baseball understands how divided the city is. For a century plus, Chicago has watched the boys in blue and the men in black, more often than not whilst yanking out tufts of hair and grinding teeth in frustration. That all changed a few years ago when the Chicago White Sox managed to win the World Series in the kind of convincing fashion that raises eyebrows. On the north side of Chicago, those eyebrows were lifted in the direction of the Tribune company.
Since then the scenery on the field has changed, though the results on the diamond arguably have not. The Tribune Company has been sold, Sammy Sosa has been banished to the American League, and the payroll has skyrocketed with additions like Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly, and Mark DeRosa. So why are fans still shaking our heads in worry?
Because this all seems depressingly familiar to Cubs fans. Soriano's contract looks an awful lot like the one Sosa signed, except longer and more expensive. What's worse, his numbers on the field are strikingly congruent: the high number of strikeouts, the injuries, the inability to perform in the clutch. Add to that a periodically lazy Ramirez, an aging Derek Lee's depleted power levels, and a Jaque Jones contract that makes even less fiscal sense today than it did a couple of years ago when it was announced, and things begin to seem positively dire. True, the Cubs have a plethora of youngsters that look like potential stars in the National League. Kids like Theriot, Pie, Soto, and Hill might make Cubs fans think the future is bright. Unfortunately, the window is closing on the aging veterans and soon the youngsters will be all grown up and left without key players in key positions. Confounding matters further is the uncertainty over who will own the franchise in the coming years. Those who follow the NBA find themselves torn over front-runner Mark Cuban, who has simultaneously brought the Dallas Mavericks back from oblivion while embarrassing the franchise, and the NBA's front office, on a semi-regular basis.
All in all, fans have seen this script before. Make sure you Cubs fans make a big bowl of popcorn and bring the tissues. Old Yeller wouldn't make you cry like the habitual ending of this rerunning movie.
Timothy R. Geigner
Photo Courtesy of http://notesfromatransitionalfossil.blogspot.com/