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The space between these updates is growing uncomfortably long. The renovation of Wrigley Field remains among the most serious issues facing the Chicago Cubs – directly impacting their future competitiveness – and I’d like to feel like there was a greater sense of urgency.

At last check, back on August 2, the Cubs and the city of Chicago were still negotiating, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel was still generally on board with providing some financial assistance for the renovation, despite the whole Joe Ricketts political flap thing. And then we heard more nothing. Le sigh.

Today’s update is, at best, tangentially related to the renovation plans, but it’s what we got.

The Ricketts family, led by Tom and Laura, are building a couple high school baseball fields in Chicago so that, for example, the kids who would otherwise be playing there don’t have to head all the way out to the suburbs to host playoff games. It’s part of the Cubs’ greater philanthropic effort, which, because of what it is, necessarily relates to the organization’s efforts to get money from the city to help renovate Wrigley Field.

From Crain’s:

The projects, at Lane Tech College Prep High School on the North Side and at Harrison Park in the Pilsen neighborhood, are part of the Rickettses’ growing philanthropic efforts under the Cubs Charities umbrella.

Since buying the Cubs three years ago, the family has put nearly $4 million into the program, which touches nearly every ward in the city, Ms. Ricketts says ….

“We want to win a World Series, preserve Wrigley Field for another 100 years and be a good neighbor,” she says, noting that achieving all three will take time but that they’re a patient family. “Obviously, you want the team to be doing well, but we all know what the future holds. There’s an atmosphere here of not ‘if’ but ‘when’ we get there.”

They’re banking on the slow and steady approach to lead to an agreement that has the city helping preserve Wrigley Field, considered one of Chicago’s biggest tourist destinations.

“Whatever we do, it’s going to be fair,” Ms. Ricketts says. “It’s going to be good for the city, the county, the state and Cubs fans.”

Tom Ricketts spoke further about the donations on a radio appearance earlier this week, essentially saying that it’s about being a good member of the community, and also about helping the long-term MLB pipeline (if you don’t have the most talented kids playing your sport because they don’t have the facilities, they don’t play it in high school or college, and they don’t join your league). I think there are genuinely altruistic reasons for doing what the Ricketts family is doing, but it can’t hurt to continue to get the community on your side, as well as MLB.

Bruce Levine mentioned in his chat yesterday that the disconnect between the Ricketts family and the Mayor’s Office earlier this year has already pushed the renovation back a year. Now, Levine could have just been speaking off-the-cuff (it was a chat, after all), but I don’t doubt him. We heard some time ago that if the plans weren’t put in place by the end of the last legislative session (which was months ago), serious construction could not begin after the end of this season, which was the timeline that could have had construction done (during the offseason and during road trips) before the 2015 season, at the optimistic end. Now, it looks like the 2016 season is a best case scenario, which coincidentally marks the 100 year anniversary of the Cubs playing at Wrigley Field (then Weeghman Park).

  • fortyonenorth

    Are you aware of any other city/club arrangement whereby investment is based on fielding a winning team? City contribution could be calibrated with incentives achieving a certain winning percentage, winning the division, league and series, etc.

  • Jim

    It is time to finally do something about Wrigley Field and stop going around tooting your horn about your charities that are just basically tax deductions!

    • TWC

      It’s just incredibly easy for some of you people to look at everything the Cubs do through a lens of deep, dark pessimism, isn’t it? Is that how you go through life? Or just as it relates to the Cubs?

      • hansman1982

        I used to be cynical/pessimistic like this about these kinds of things. That stopped when I realized I was just being jealous.

      • King Jeff

        I don’t really want to start a political debate, and in no way am I implying that I disagree or look down on Jim’s point. That said, a lot of the recent negativity on here reminds me of watching the RNC. All they do is bitch and complain. There is never an offer of a solution, or a better alternative, just that whoever is responsible right now (ie Ricketts/Epstein) is doing everything wrong, and nothing that happened before they got here is having any impact on the Cubs. There are some who make well thought out posts, and give alternative ideas to the things that they complain about, but a lot of it is the hit and run kind, where they post the same negative thoughts over and over again without offering up any kind of productive thoughts on how things could be better. Jim, I’m not saying you are one way or the other, just that TWC’s response, and some of the other posts that I’ve read today, sparked that train of thought from me.

        • Boogens

          Glad that you don’t want to start a political debate because it’s not as if Obama ran a campaign and was elected on a platform of change philosophy four years ago… ;-)

        • Scotti

          Jeff, it’s really best to keep politics out of here.

        • Tommy

          Yeah, I can totally see how you’d get the RNC out of TWC’s comment.

          • TWC

            Fact: if you rearrange the letters in TWC you get RNC.

            Wait…

  • JR

    So the Giants are still really seeking an outfield bat.. I know Soriano earned his rights, but his rights are frustrating as hell to me.. I don’t get why he would want to play with a bunch of 22 yr olds, when it’s obvious winning won’t be a priority for several years. I don’t care what a Saint he is in the locker room. I am over that dude..

    • Greyfury

      Kinda random for this post isnt it?

      • J R

        Yes, it was very random. Sorry off topic, but I just saw the Giants are still really wanting to aquire and became instantly pissed about the Sori situation. I know I know there his rights… At least it was a Cubs related post though!

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I know Soriano earned his rights, but his rights are frustrating as hell to me..

      Most people’s rights are frustrating to someone: they tend to hinder the free throwing of fists, after all. However, those are Sori’s rights. As someone who has had to choose between things that would be good for my career/bad for my family vs. bad for my career/good for my family, I can tell you that it’s not a great situation in which to be!

      • J R

        I hear ya. It’s not an easy thing for the family. But there are a lot of creative things he could do with his family with the dough he makes. To me, if my life and job was dedicated to a sport like baseball and only had a couple of good yrs left I would welcome a chance to compete for a championship even if the weather wasn’t ideal. Thats just me though..

        • Hee Seop Chode

          Based upon the facebook pictures that came out a few years ago (http://deadspin.com/5053163/getting-to-know-alfonso-sorianos-alleged-road-beef), Soriano isn’t all that concerned with family life. Nor is he all that concerned with winning. That’s cool.

          But SF has a lot of hot hoes, and I’d think that alone would get him out there. Why does he care if it’s a hitter friendly park? He gets his $$$ anyway…

        • mudge

          Maybe Soriano likes the Cubs the same way you as a fan likes the Cubs; maybe he’d rather play for them even if they’re losing, the same way you still follow them rather than the Nationals or Yankees this year.

  • stillmisskennyhubbs

    I see that the Rickettses are paying for a baseball facility at Lane Tech.
    History question: What’s one famous connection between Lane Tech and the Cubs?
    (Other than I would have gone there if we hadn’t moved to Mt. Prospect.)

    A: Phil Cavaretta starred at Lane Tech. He signed the day he graduated, and later that year was on the big team, at age 18, for his entire career.

    • MoneyBoy

      No reason to talk about a player none of these kids even know played for the Cubs Still … too damn bad. Phil probably went to Riverview too!! I know I did!!

    • Crazyhorse West

      Thanks> DId not know that – it is an accomplishmen was worth the post, its kewl.

  • ptbnl

    Maybe he just doesn’t like San Francisco. It isn’t like he would be moving for a month. Take the fandom out of the situation and think if you were told tomorrow that you were going to be sent somewhere you don’t like for the next three years. Of course there are things you can do to make it more palatable but you would probably decline it too.

    • J R

      He doesn’t like San Fran. He’s already said that.. To windy for him or something. He says he wants to go to an East Coast team that has a chance to win. Not many options that would need him.. Sorry, I am frustrated with the situation because it sucks. Just like everyone else I will comment about what a great locker room guy he is.

      • TWC

        To windy for him or something

        It’s probably just too awesome for him and, being a modest guy, doesn’t feel that he deserves to live in paradisiacal location.

        • J R

          Hillarious, I think the FO should have you talk to Soriano about going there TWC.

    • King Jeff

      Tell me that the move will take me from one of the worst companies, with some of the worst facilities, in an old building that smells a little like urine, in a city where the temperature drops to the single digits, to a company that’s in a city with beautiful weather almost year round, a new building with state of the art facilities, and is one of the best companies out there, that will put you on national tv and give you bonus opportunities? I think I might be singing a different tune about that move. I think he really just doesn’t want to go to SanFran because they might make the playoffs, and he doesn’t want to have to work overtime.

  • ptbnl

    I’m not saying I don’t wish he would go, I’m just saying that I can see his point of view as well.

  • Fastball

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he changes his mind at the 11th hour. He loses his no trade rights as soon as he traded. He won’t 10 and 5 anymore. So he could demand a trade after the season if he wanted too. I mean if he got a ring out of it and said okay. Got my ring now I’m outta here. LOL… There are needles in the training room left over from Melky and Barry. I can’t work in these conditions.

  • ptbnl

    Doesn’t he have a NTC in the contract in addition to the 10/5?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Fairly certain he does.

  • Kevin

    This is a perfect example why you don’t sign anyone to a contract that takes total control away from the organization and gives the player full control. Im sure Theo has learned from the situation he created in Boston. It’s possible to field a winning team without having any “No Trade Clause” contracts while avoiding getting into 5/10 situations too. These players should be greatfull for the money they’re paid and stop being impossible to move, Yes, these players have earned these rights, but, these rights, and the player holding the team hostage, should prevent any future Cubs player to receive these “very unpopular” rights.

    • Scotti

      Name a large market team that doesn’t offer NTCs to good free agents. It would be really, really short-sighted to handcuff your org like that.

      • Flashfire

        The Boston Red Sox, up until this year. And they really struggled signing free agents.

        • Scotti

          That just isn’t true. Dice-K has a full NTC. There were several other NTC handed out when Theo was there as well. The “Theo does give NTC” mantra is a myth.

          • Flashfire

            Yes, he handed them out in his early years, and got burned by them, and changed his rules. That’s why Gonzalez and Crawford could be traded (the former has to be furious with himself for not insisting) and Beckett only had one because of 10-5 rights.

            • Scotti

              If by “got burned” you mean “added talent that helped win a Series or two” then we are in agreement.

              • Flashfire

                You realize you’ve just conceded the important part of the argument, right? For the second part of Theo’s tenure in Boston, he didn’t use NTCs, which was the original claim.

                • Scotti

                  The original claim was that a team could SUCCEED not offering NTCs. What “second half” success did Theo have? He won the two Series with the NTC crowd.

                  • Flashfire

                    If you define success as winning the World Series, none. If you define it as a team that plays well:

                    2008: 95 wins
                    2009: 95 wins
                    2010: 89 wins
                    2011: 90 wins

                    That would be the best 4-year stretch in living memory for Cubs fans.

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      What? That’s nonsense. I’m too lazy too look up actual numbers, but given many posts here, I am quite certain that the Cubs were routinely winning WS before Jim Hendry took over…

                      ;-)

                    • Bric

                      Flash, I can’t speak for the rest of the nation but to me getting to the World Series is the definition of success. For all teams. Even moreso for the Cubs, who haven’t done it in almost 70 years, let alone win it, which hasn’t happened in over 100.

                      I guess that’s why I don’t post much on this web site anymore. Why would you watch a team that you don’t care to win it all? So you can say “Sure, we suck, but we don’t suck that bad?” Seriously, man, I’m not good with that.

                      Maybe Doc can provide some statistics on the odds of a team not winning over 29 other teams (many less a few years ago) in over a hundred years. That’s a stat I’d consider useful. Otherwise it’s just a bunch noise. Sorry, Brett, but this place has kinda headed into crazytown.

                    • Scotti

                      I thought the objective was to win the Series (numerous times) and not to be “merely” competitive (after all, Hendry was competitive–more competitive that any GM in Cub history–why get rid of him and go through seasonS of INTENTIONAL LOSING to be marginally better? Screw that!

                  • Flashfire

                    The objective is to win the World Series. That starts by getting to the playoffs lots, since the playoffs are a crapshoot. 90-win seasons tend to do that for you. Hendry had exactly 2 90-win seasons. (’98 and 2008) And mixed in with some godawful seasons — where they had a zero percent chance of winning the World Series. If you define success as having winning seasons, eventually you’ll win the World Series.

                    And on intentional losing — that has nothing to do with this conversation.

                    • Drew7

                      Spot on. The objective should be to get in the playoffs and enter October playing really good ball; the ’08 Cubs saw first-hand what “going in hot” can mean for a team!

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Both sides are ignoring a huge reality that alters both arguments. NTC are not “given away.” They are an unstated equivalent of money. You can offer a guy $XM / year + NTC OR $(X+Y)M / year. That NTC is equal to some stated or unstated $YM.

              So, you can make the contract more difficult to move but give the team the ability to trade a player at their whim for the first 5 years, or you can make the contract easier to move if the player will consent to waive the clause at a later point in time.

              What people here want is to have it both ways: $XM and full trading. That’s not an option without collusion.

              • Flashfire

                I agree with this and nothing i said conflicts with it in any way.

              • Scotti

                Doc, some players will “sell” their NTC (in advance of ever actually geting one) while some won’t (for anything even approaching a reasonable price).

                Regardless, down the road the Cubs shouldn’t be worried about NTCs. Good, massive-budget teams can afford to eat their mistakes. Moving forward the Cubs should rival the Yankees in ability to outspend not only their competition but Contracts Gone Bad (age, injury, poor decisions and the occasional NTC who refuses to move).

  • SoCal Cubs Fan

    I have an idea. I would like to see them place a giant message board over Kenmore Ave. prior to where it intersects with Waveland. It could be made so the traffic could pass underneath it. It would not block any of the rooftops. It would be visible approximately right next to the Toyota sign and be able to be viewed by the majority of the stadium. Since its outside the stadium it would violate any of the laws on remodeling. I know it’s a bit far fetched but just thinking outside the box.

  • cubsin

    If the Yankees can move out of Yankee Stadium, the Cubs can move out of Wrigley Field. If the Cubs can’t get the improvements they want and more night games, they should say goodbye to the city and move to the suburbs.

    • Chris

      The Yankees moved across the street, not several miles away to the suburbs. If that was a feasible option, the Cubs would certainly entertain it.

      • BeyondFukudome

        There you go. Instead of altruistically trying to support the neighborhood, the Ricketts should be trying to transform it into an apocalyptic hellscape like the Bronx. Then the Cubs can level the entire area and build whatever they please. Sometimes, you gotta think outside the box. ;-)

  • Ash

    Any BN’ers heading to Geneva this weekend to see Jorge Soler?

    • Njriv

      I might be.

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