Chicago Cubs owner and chairman Tom Ricketts spoke to Bob Nightengale of USA Today about the Chicago Cubs’ World Series victory, and all manner of other Cubs stuff of import. Ricketts doesn’t speak publicly too often, and certainly not at length, so, when he does, you want to check it out.
Some notes on the interview below, together with my thoughts and reactions:
- Even for the Cubs’ owner, it takes time for the World Series title to sink in entirely. It really happened, friends. It really happened.
- Ricketts points out that, had the Cubs not come back from a 3-1 deficit in the World Series to beat the Indians, the shadow of that defeat would have been very long, despite what was otherwise a very successful season (including the Cubs’ first World Series appearance in 71 years), and “the Cubs lost again” would be the kind of thing you saw everywhere. I’ll admit: I was dreading it. I knew in my heart that it would be a successful season no matter what, but I also knew I was always going to feel like I was talking around the World Series loss when praising the Cubs for their National League pennant. That doesn’t mean I would have been wrong (and it also doesn’t mean that it would have been wrong for other writers to contextualize the Cubs’ loss as, yes, another Cubs loss), but dang if it’s not so nice, from a meta perspective, not to even have to worry about it.
- The World Series trophy, wherever it ends up, should be on display somewhere prominently. So long as it’s behind 10-inch-thick bullet-proof glass, I hope that baby is completely out in the open for everyone to see and cherish at all times of the year.
- Among the many anecdotes about the Cubs’ victory, apparently an Indians fan reached out and hugged Ricketts after Rajai Davis’s game-tying homer in Game Seven. I can only assume it was one of those spontaneous explosions of excitement, where the fan didn’t really know what he was doing (we all had those), but I also can only assume that Ricketts is a freaking saint for not lighting the guy up. I guess I can’t say I would have, but that’s only because I’m petite. I would have had some strong words, though, consarnit!
- On the financial side of things, it sounds like another ticket price increase is coming (last year’s increase was the Cubs’ first significant increase during the Ricketts ownership era – when a team wins and demand increases, that’s kind of the nature of the game). It also sounds like the baseball operations budget will be up a bit from last year.
- Yes, Ricketts did address Steve Bartman, the Cubs fan inextricably linked to the Cubs’ painful 2003 NLCS loss, when a foul ball into the stands late in Game Six that may or may not have been caught by Moises Alou instead glanced off the hands of a fan who instinctively reached, like so many around him. The Cubs famously went on to blow that game, and then the series, which they’d led 3-1. The outcome was far from Bartman’s fault, but he became a crystalizing figure for all the misery and impotence that had come before. So, then, Ricketts was asked a fair question, in light of everything, and he responded in a reasonable way. I have no beef with his answer, nor with Nightengale’s question. This is just about the one and only time and situation where bringing Steve Bartman back up is fair game. On the subject, Ricketts said, “I’m sure we’ll reach out to him at the right time, and I’m sure we’ll figure something out that provides closure for everybody. Hopefully, we can make it work.” That’s fine. It doesn’t mean it will be a spectacle or that fans will even really ever know about it.
- As for what happens formally and publicly vis a vis the Cubs, Cubs fans, and Steve Bartman, I can say only one thing: it should be entirely up to Steve Bartman, who is a human being, not an ethereal mascot. To be quite clear, in my view, if there is any apologizing owed with respect to Steve Bartman, it certainly shouldn’t be coming *from* him. Moreover, and more importantly in recent years, he doesn’t owe the Cubs or Cubs fans anything at all. He doesn’t owe us the chance to feel really good about ourselves for cheering him on Opening Day. We owe him the opportunity to proceed through this time – this life – in whatever manner he damn well pleases. He has made it clear on numerous past occasions, including after the Cubs won the World Series, that he does not want to be a part of anything formally with the Cubs. Maybe that changes next year, and maybe something happens. If it does, I expect that it will be done with class and dignity by the organization. But if it doesn’t happen, then everyone truly and finally should just leave the guy alone.
- For much more from Ricketts, check out the USA Today article.