Chicago Cubs Chairman and Owner Tom Ricketts spoke on a variety of topics at a variety of times this weekend. Among the highlights:

  • On his continued position that he’ll support a decision to eat salary: “First of all, it’s really up to the baseball guys to decide who fits on the team. If there is a player they think doesn’t fit and they think it’s better for the team to move him, then I’ll support it 100 percent, even if that means eating some salary.” Still unknown: does “eating” the salary mean that it doesn’t count against that year’s payroll? If not, the willingness to “eat” salary doesn’t really mean much of anything, nice though it may be.
  • On the related decision to move Carlos Zambrano: “[Zambrano is] really a good human being in many ways …. [but] that kind of behavior like we saw last year, we’re just happy to have that behind us.”
  • On the good vibes ascribed to the new man in charge, Theo Epstein, and on the not-so-secret trip that brought him to Chicago: “Obviously there’s a lot of excitement and a lot of optimism. People are excited about the direction on the baseball side and I think that helped us with season-ticket renewals, which were very, very, very high. I think it helps, but there’s no way to quantify it. The feeling is people seem to want to be a part of this new team that should be headed in the right direction …. “It’s a crazy story [about getting Theo to Chicago]. We were so secret. We flew him in secretly, we picked him up secretly, we did all these things. And then he hops out of the car to get an ice coffee …. If you go to Starbucks, why didn’t you just fly in on United and put up a billboard for God’s sake?”
  • On Epstein and his General Manager, Jed Hoyer: “We have a fresh perspective and they look at things a little differently than maybe Jim [Hendry] would have. They have brought in a handful of guys and they talk openly about decisions and with all those guys putting their collective thoughts together, they’re going to make some good calls. Theo is the ultimate decision maker, but those guys are always talking about players. They work hard. They are here early and they are here late.” All sounds good to me.
  • On increasing night games, Ricketts said the Cubs are hoping to get the city to relax the ban on Friday night games, but added: “In no way right now is [more] night games a focus.” I have long been sold on the idea that the Cubs are at a disadvantage by playing a disproportionate number of day games at home, so an increase in night games is something I wholeheartedly support.
  • On the plan that would use amusement tax increases on Cubs tickets to help fund renovations at Wrigley Field: “What we’d like to do, one of the things we’ve talked about, is just being able to redirect some of the funds you already pay [toward the costs of renovation]. The amusement tax that’s on your ticket goes to the city and county. What we were hoping is that some of the future growth of the amusement tax will just stay and fix up the park. We’ve had some good discussions with elected officials about that.”
  • On the McDonald’s property purchase: “In the short term, the fact that McDonald’s reached out and that land was for sale, we just decided that property in Wrigleyville doesn’t come up for sale that often, and I think one of the things the previous ownership maybe missed out on was making sure they bought some of the land around Wrigley to better control the environment around the park. We also have the rooftops partners, which cause us difficulties at different times. The fact is when the land was offered to us, we saw no reason not to take a look at that. For the season, I think what you can expect is something pretty cool on the south end of that lot, and the McDonald’s will stay …. All of our long term remodeling strategies have to be conditioned on first getting sure we can get Wrigley fixed up.”
  • Ricketts also noted that it was Business President Crane Kenney who first spoke to Red Sox President Larry Lucchino to ask permission for the Cubs to interview Theo Epstein. One hopes that it wasn’t in that initial meeting that the “misunderstanding” arose about the amount of compensation the Cubs would give to the Red Sox if they were to hire Epstein.
  • NL_Cubs

    Looks like the Cubs and Soto have settled without arb.

  • Fishin Phil

    “I have long been sold on the idea that the Cubs are at a disadvantage by playing a disproportionate number of day games at home, so an increase in night games is something I wholeheartedly support.”

    I still disagree with you on this point.  If they play more day games than other teams, they should be more used to it, and turn it into a home field advantage.

    This is one of the few points you and I will probably never agree on.

    • Brett

      Probably not. I thought just as you did until I heard former player after former player – most recently Derrek Lee – admit that it was hard, over the course of the season, to dramatically adjust their routine 50 times a year, while the opponent has to do it just three or six times.

      And then it just made sense to me. I happy to continue to evaluate my position, though.

      • King Jeff

        I agree, I think switching back and forth has to have some kind of effect on their concentration level, even if they are used to it.  The fact that a lot of players have complained about it either means that they are all making excuses, or they feel that it effects their play.  I see no reason that a guy like Derrek Lee would have to make excuses for himself.

        • CubSouth

          I agree that we need more night games. Players are very big on routines. To change it 50+ times a year could and should affect their game.

      • Luke

        I think the Cubs could take much better advantage of the night games they have. Given that absolutely everyone knows that July and August afternoons in Chicago are hideously hot and humid, why on Earth do the Cubs insist on wasting night games in April, when the temperature would suggest a better experience for everyone if they play during the day (when it is warmer)?

        And yet every season, they typically fritter away a number of night games during the cold weather portion of the schedule, and then play a number of consecutive day games during the absolute hottest part of the year, invariably leading to the press complaining that the Cubs don’t have enough night games.

    • scorecardpaul

      I have worked a swing shift job, and you can trust me, it is no fun.   a more balanced or normal schedule is always better.  as humans we like things to have a routine.

      I could compare this to my love for Bleacher Nation…   reading post after post, and having a good time, and then wham a die hard post ( kinda like a day game in July) it just ruins the experience!!!  and kind of makes me look for a different site to get back to normal

  • die hard

    I always suspected Ricketts was delusional and now I am convinced…he throws around millions like Mitt Romney…or hes very calculating like the Mittster…hope his plan for the Cubs is not what has been reported as the SOP of Bain Capital or what Perry calls Vulture Capitalism….how else could you explain Ricketts cavalier attitude towards contracts?…..his dismantling and selling off pieces of the Cubs would never be tolerated by the City…I am sure my fear is irrational based on paying too much attention to the Repub debates (I hope)

    • hansman1982

      Jesus, there is a far cry between Ricketts buying the Cubs and what Romney did at Bain Capital.  the Cubs were a strong business that was making money.  Romney bought up companies that were on the way to closing the doors, fired underperformers, turned the company around and sold it at a profit.

      Actually, it sounds like the same exact thing, just Ricketts is not looking at this as a short-term investment.

      • die hard

        do you have that guarantee in writing and notarized?

        • matt3

          just my thought on ‘vulture capitalism’… i think the problem is government subsidies, not free markets.. who wouldn’t invest in a company if the investment pays out (paid by taxpayers or by devaluing the dollar) even when the investment fails.

          As a fan, I’m happy with the cub’s moves.

          • ferrets_bueller


            And adding one thing, the problem isn’t free markets…its the opposite (but not the opposite that people usually think of when they think of the opposite of free markets).  The single largest driving force in a free market is the fear and threat of failure.  You do everything to avoid it, avoidance of failure drives innovation for fear of competition.  When you remove the consequences of failure, you destroy the efficiency of a free market- hence our current situation.

            • Wilbur

              Milton Friedman, not Bradley, just smiled …

    • Quintz

      After I stopped laughing, I called a few Cub fans into my office and read the “Tom Ricketts is Mitt Romney” post out loud. If I could record and post on YouTube the hilarity of their responses I would have (I’m tech limited). Thanks BN poster. You made my horribly boring day a little brighter.

    • JB88

      He’d lose his shoes if he employed this strategy to increase the value of the Cubs. In baseball, the value of a franchise doesn’t increase by stripping it of assets and usually when a company spends nearly a billion dollars to buy the asset, the tax consequences alone dissuade trying to flip that asset.

  • Mario

    Ummm…day games = day drinking = WRIGLEYVILLE!! anyone with me on this???

    • cubsnivy56

      Yeah buddy!

  • barroof

    I want more day games. Day drinking is my friend. I don’t care what these overpaid players think about day games. Much better to be too hot at a baseball game than too cold.

    • TWC

      Good to know you care about the product on the field.

  • barroof

    TWC must have never played sports before. Day or nite or hot or cold,rain,snow, whatever. You play the game. I’m saying as a FAN that I like day games better. Baseball is already an easier sport than most. Are you saying they don’t try during the day ? Little league , High school, they all grew up playing day ball. Now they have money and can’t hit or catch or pitch because the suns out. Gimme a break.

    • TWC

      I’ll ignore the ad hominem, thanks.

      The point is that the PLAYERS feel that there is a significant disadvantage to the amount of day games.  It’s not because “they have money and can’t hit or catch or pitch because the suns out”; it’s the constant switching between day and night games that’s the issue.  And if the players think it’s an issue, well then it is an issue, whether or not you prefer to be drunk and hot while watching them.  But your disdain for the players is obvious, so I don’t really expect you to consider their perspective.

      • DocWimsey

        I remember Ron Cey and Gary Matthews pointing this out in the 1980’s.  Both players had been on contending teams many times (Cey played in 4 World Series and a couple of more playoffs), so it was tough to say that they were making excuses.  Instead, they stated plainly that their prior teams had competitive advantages over the Cubs because other teams played so many more night games.

        Even now, the Cubs play far more day games than their competitors.  It probably was not a coincidence that the Cubs 2008 September collapse came after a brutal stretch of August games.

        • BetterNews

          The day/night game argument is pure rubbish. That’s not why the Cubs folded in 2008, just like it wasn’t the reason they folded in 2007. It was the team.

          • DrWimsey

            The ’08 Cubs had a negative run-differential in September, which means pretty much automatic elimination in the first round. (The Brewers and ChiSox did the same that Sept., and had the same outcomes.). In contrast, the Dodgers and Phillies both had great months. Indeed, only a couple of teams that had the Dodgers edge over the Cubs have lost first rounds in the last 15 years. (The 06 Padres were the last.)

            The 2007 Cubs didn’t fold in September, actually, which historically is unusual for Cubs teams. There probably were a few factors responsible for that.

            Unfortunately, the 07 DBacks were even better in Sept.: and that predicts about 75% of first round winner. And, of course, the 07 Rox had one of the best Septembers of the last 15 years: none of the other 3 NL teams came close to them that year.

        • RoughRiider

          I’ve never played as a pro but I did play 120 to 130 games a year, for several years, in real heat and it didn’t matter if it was day or night. As a matter of fact I worked 40 plus hours a week too. The fact that the Cubs play mostly day games should be turned into an advantage, especially when a team is coming into town after playing a night game the night before. There have also been players that have said they like day games because they get to spend more time with family in the evenings. It’s more like a 9 -5 job with lots of benefits.

          • DocWimsey

            It’s the other way around.  Visiting teams show very little side-effect of the day-game after a night game: after all, they do it all the time because of Sunday (and some Saturday) day games.

            Historically, he Cubs have played significantly worse on the first night game after a homestand.  This cannot be “turned” into an advantage: instead, it shows us the nature of how humans operate.

  • Adam

    More night games!! I work first shift and miss most games.

  • barroof

    I just checked the 2012 schedule. The Cubs only play 25 games during the day at home from Monday thru Friday. Over 6 months that’s like 1 time a week. These guys get 5 months off a year. Suck it up.

    • Brett

      “Suck it up.”

      Memo from the Commissioner’s Office:

      From this day forward, all Los Angeles Dodgers players shall play each game with two pound weights strapped to their ankles. We believe this is fair because the weight is quite small, and thus should impact the players only a modest amount. To any Dodgers’ players who have a complaint, we can offer only this: suck it up.

      • TWC

        Obviously you’ve never played sports before….

        • Brett

          Former Junior Olympic alternate bowler.

          (Not a joke.)

          • TWC

            Jeez, again with the bowling thing.  Give it a rest, why don’t you!  Some of us take a lot of pride in our participation ribbons.

  • Dave H

    You also have to remember this is 162 games. They play more games in a season than we did our entire high school career.
    I’ve never understood why there wasn’t more night games. Wrigleyville would get all of the drunken faithful out at the bars before the game then “enjoy the Old style traditions inside the park” then continue in the bars again till the sun comes up. Personally a couple of series a month “Old school Wrigley” style would be fine with me.

  • JustSwain

    On the Soriano front, the Tigers just announced that V-Mart is out for the entire 2012 season. What do people think about the possibility of the Cubs eating three fourths of Soriano’s contract and shipping him and Garza to the Tigers for Turner and Castellanos?

    • BetterNews

      Zero to none.

    • North Side Irish

      I think Garza and Byrd might be more reasonable. Detroit isn’t looking for any long term options with Martinez coming back next year and Byrd is in the last year of his deal. Byrd plays LF and Delmon Young can DH.

  • Old school

    All arbs signed but Garza – ask 10+, mid point 9, Cubs 7.9

  • coachhurry

    I love day baseball at Wrigley Field. On a beautiful summer day there really is no other place I’d rather be. However, any reasonable person should not argue the fact that playing MANY more day games than all the other teams does put the Cubs players at a disadvantage. All of us like “routines” and to prepare to play in a major league games takes hours of pre-game preparation on all game days. Thats a real early start for our players compared to the rest of the league.  And another wrinkle to consider is that the guys are in their 20’s and 30’s making ALOT of money in one of the best/fun cities in the world.  How easy do you think it is to find 25 guys that say. “Well it’s 8pm I better stay home and get my rest” to be at the ballpark by 7am.  Those are some tough athletes to find with that kind of make-up. Bottom line is we need to increase our number of night games for a more level playing field. And for what it’s worth I’m really liking the moves the new brass is making.  Go Cubs in 2012 and beyond!! coachhurry sec 202 row 8 1-4.