I'm a Chicago Cubs fan. I grew up in Libertyville, Illinois and attended my first game at Wrigley Field when I was four. My dear Aunt Isabelle, who got me into the Cubs, lived 82 years and never saw a World Series victory. A total of 106 years have gone by without a title and this October won't be any different. Since our last near miss in 2003 we've had to endure our cross-town rival White Sox winning the title, our arch-nemesis St. Louis Cardinals winning it twice, and the formerly other "Cursed Team," the Boston Red Sox, winning it three freakin' times. For 46 of my 50 years I have been cheering and hoping and crying. And I've had enough.
The following is my seven-point program for the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series:
1. The Cubs must have the highest payroll in Major League Baseball until they win the World Series.
A healthy farm system is fantastic, but everybody's got a farm system. Here's the thing, you can't win the World Series if you don't make the playoffs. In the salary-cap-free world of MLB you get what you pay for…but only if you pay the most. The Yankees are, of course, the standard-bearers in this regard. Do they win the World Series every year? Nope. But they've made the playoffs 17 out of the last 19 seasons and have 27 World Series titles. That's pretty good.
OK, you're thinking, "Um, brilliant idea, Tom, but that's just not economically feasible and the Ricketts family will never go for it." Well, here's what they get in return: our beautiful Wrigley Field, to do with as they please. Advertising has been creeping into (and around) our hallowed ground recently anyway, and what have we gotten in return? Three of the worst seasons on record. So go ahead, go hog wild. Pay the bills for our new superstar-laced team. Put a big Pampers ad across the ivy. Drape a neon Cialis display across our ancient scoreboard. Keep the field, but pay for our team with every inch. Winning hurts, but we have to give somewhere.
Plus, when we DO win that World Series, we fans make this solemn pledge: You can sell-off the entire team and their high salaries, put a minimum-wage, junior-high team on the field, and we vow to fill the stands for the next FIVE years. We'll just sit in our seats watching the awesome YouTube highlights of our World Series victory on our phones and cheer wildly. Then after five years of euphoria for us, and record profits for you, we can renegotiate.
2. No petulant superstars.
3. The booing ends now.
The Friendly Confines have been increasingly less friendly over the past decade. Our understandable frustration has manifested itself in a sometimes hostile and unwelcoming environment for players and families in the stands. Upon acceptance of this proposal, we fans promise to boo no more. We are all in this together and the Tenth Man/Woman in the stands will be a key component to our team's success.
4. Zero tolerance for racism.
Friends on the Cubs have told me some of the disgusting, racist B.S. that they have received via mail and that's been shouted at them as they walked to their cars after games. And remember the slant-eyed Fukudome T-shirt idiocy? A century-plus championship drought is no excuse for knuckleheaded bigotry. I want to bring my biracial kids to our ballpark to cheer for our soon-to-be championship team and know that we are all in this together. On the field and in the stands every race, religion, color and creed is gonna NEED to pull together to make this happen. So we vow that if we see or hear racist crap we're gonna shut it down.
5. This is not a job, this is a quest.
Hey guys, I know you're from many different cities and countries. But you're in Chicago now. And winning the World Series here is the Holy Grail of the entire history of organized sports. To that end, we need our team to be the most focused, committed and determined IN THE HISTORY OF SPORTS to get the job done. This is serious business, dudes. The hopes, hearts and fate of a city's soul rest in your hands.
6. The Curse is real.
We talk about it, we joke about it, but until we can wrap our heads around the fact that this Curse, or some form of mass-negative, human-energy vortex which functions in a Curse-like manner, is, in fact, REAL, then it will forever have the better of us. I am not a superstitious person. But I sat 25 seats away from Steve Bartman. I felt it. It was eerie. It was bad. And…it was real. And we haven't seen the last of it. If we try to explain it away, it will return when we least expect it and undo our dreams yet again. But if we acknowledge that we are a uniquely cursed franchise then we can fight back.
How? Let's match our top-paid team of amazing, petulance-free, dedicated, gametime-sober superstars with our non-booing, racially harmonious, wildly cheering, quest-committed fanbase against this Curse. So when the next black cat appears, or the next Bartman makes his move we'll be ready. We'll stare that Curse dead in the eye and say "We are Chicago. We know you, and together we can beat you."
7. Truth and consequences.
The question we have to ask ourselves (ownership, fans, players) is this: does it MATTER if the Cubs win the World Series? Peace in the Middle East matters. Curing disease matters. Stopping global warming matters. But does it really MATTER whether or not or the little Midwestern team dressed in blue wins a World Series in our lifetime? I think it does. And not merely out of some tribal affiliation to the place I grew up. I truly believe that if this seemingly unredeemable team can make it to the Promised Land then, really, ANYTHING is possible.
But how can I, how can WE, make it happen? The previous six points are a guide, but what if nothing changes? Are we looking at another 106 years of agony? What leverage do we as fans really have?
It's the elephant in the room of all Cubs discussion, so let's deal with it head on. Baseball is a business. Sure, we fans are wistful dreamers who fantasize about glory on the diamond, but to the people who hold the purse strings, the Cubs win the economic World Series every year. It's a smashingly profitable franchise because of OUR continued support in the face of a century of sorrow. We fill the stands. We buy the merchandise. We drink the beer. Whether the team wins or loses, whether the fans boo or cheer, there's only one sound that echoes at the end of the day: KA-CHING!
That is unless we boycott.
I propose that unless this plan is adopted by Cub's ownership, we let our voices be heard and next year, we skip Opening Day. Imagine that. Opening Day at Wrigley Field and an empty stadium. Now you have their attention. Maybe we boycott the first home game of each month? Maybe "No Merch Monday's?" I can see team accountants rushing to their calculators now! Scouts scanning the free-agent wires in earnest! Of course we should continue enjoying all Wrigley has to offer the rest of the time, but we will no longer be the passive partner in this abusive relationship. We have needs too, ya know? But we also have power and we won't be silent anymore. Why? Because we love this team. Because we love Chicago. Because we deserve a World Series championship. Because it matters.