Thursday, March 6, 2008

Spring Fever: Cubs' Owner Seeing Green

The Cubs have been honing their craft in Mesa, Arizona for nearly a month now, and, after winning their division last season, they're poised to have a fairly successful campaign in 2008. It's not because they're so much better than everyone else, it's just that their division is remarkably horrible.

At the same time, the Lovable Losers' lovable new owner has been making a lot of noise about selling the team for an exorbitant sum and then selling the naming rights of historic Wrigley Field for a separate and equally exorbitant sum. Pretty much everyone in the world immediately spoke out against the idea of "Wrigley Field Powered By Google" (including me), so I won't belabor the point. Quite simply, a cold and calculating business decision like this will result in a gruesome homicide at the hands of an angry Cub fan mob. It would be difficult to find an unbiased jury for a fair trial, so the mob would probably be acquitted. Plus, the Cubs would have to find a new owner all over again. But, fear not, Ebenezer Zell! These are simply the shadows of things that may be...

Rather than taking a bath in the overheated hot tub of Cub fan contempt, Zell should realize that his newest "customers" have an undying devotion to his newest "product" and are willing to pony up plenty of cash--as long as he doesn't do anything to make them stage a boycott.

A perfect example of this devotion is the hunt for the elusive Cubs Season Ticket. I currently hold (and I'm not making this up) spot number 55,779 in the online waiting list for Cubs season tickets. Wrigley Field has a capacity of about 40,000 seats and even a number-phobe like me can do the math on this one. By the time I actually acquire a season ticket, the Cubs will have won the World Series at least three more times.

Clearly sensing the demand, the team recently created a new block of season ticket seats along the third base line near the Cubs bullpen. The tickets are being auctioned off by the Chicago Board Options Exchange and there are quite a few seats up for grabs. Several of the seat packages still didn't have any bids, so I cavalierly created an account and logged into the site. Sadly, I think I'm going to have to stick with the waiting list method, as the opening bid is $25,000 for the cheapest set of tickets.

I just hope Zell sells the team to someone who has a better sense of the fact that keeping the fans happy and excited means keeping your pockets lined with fans' money. If the owner cares about the team and cares about the fans, we'll gladly pay through the nose while we root, root, root for the Cubbies. With his actions thus far, Zell has reminded Cubs fans that baseball is a business before it's a game. We don't like hearing that.

Ideally, Zell will sell both the team and the naming rights to Willy Wonka. I mean, I would gladly go see the Cubs play in Oompa Loompa Stadium. And his method of distributing new season tickets would be much more exciting.

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