I don’t even know if we have younger readers. I know we have a couple younger writers, but maybe everyone who reads this remembers when “Cheers” was on NBC. Maybe even when Diane was the female lead (not even close to as funny as Rebecca and I’m not even going to entertain an argument about it). But let me take you back anyway to 1996.
The heart and soul of the Blackhawks wanted to be paid what he was worth. He made no bones about it for a few years. The Hawks hung around the fringes of championship contending, though never really looked like they could threaten the Wings or Avalanche. Perhaps with another move or two, and not even major ones, they could have. But the owner was one of the biggest assholes on Earth who thought he was larger than any player, and the Hawks traded pretty much everyone’s favorite player that summer instead of paying him what he was worth. And right after that, they were irrelevant in this town, in that sport, everywhere for 13 years until that shithead owner died. You could fire a cannon through the UC on most game nights and maybe hit one person.
Jeremy Roenick was never the hockey player that Kris Bryant is the baseball player.
And that’s exactly what should happen to the Cubs if they are going to seriously pull the trigger one what increasingly looks like a likely Bryant trade. They should draw 15,000 a game and Hotel Zachary should collapse onto Tom Ricketts’s head. But it won’t, because somehow–and I really have no idea how–enough Cubs fans have convinced themselves this is just the way it has to be or that it might even be good business.
I don’t know how many times I have to scream this until there’s blood fountaining out of my eyes, but a Kris Bryant trade has nothing to do with baseball. The ideas of “extending the window” or “long-term health” are goddamn smokescreens to fool a surprisingly large portion of the fandom who became infatuated with the rebuild and apparently never want it to stop. It is simply about not paying Kris Bryant what he’s worth because the Ricketts family wants to keep a little more for themselves. Because of the way baseball is structured and the way the park is now, they don’t have to actually draw full house to turn a profit. They’re not the only ones skating on this.
The offers rumored for Bryant are utterly ludicrous, and yet I see far too many people trying to justify it after looking up from their Top 100 prospects list that I’m sure they don’t jerk off on daily. Austin Riley and Cristian Pache? The first struck out half the time last year and got replaces by fucking Charlie Culberson and Adam Duvall, and the second is someone you’d have the privilege of waiting two years for to not be as good as Kris Bryant. Oooh, a .,747 OPS in AAA, excuse my while my throbbing erection bursts!
The Dodgers? Here I was under the impression that the Cubs and Dodgers were supposed to be fighting over the NL pennant for near a decade, and now the Cubs are just going to hand them their best player? Well it must be for Walker Buehler, another franchise turning player? Nope. Oh, well then maybe Gavin Lux and Dustin May, two of the higher regarded players around who are ready now? Sure ain’t, fucko! It’s for Alex Verdugo, who couldn’t keep Joc Pederson or Chris Taylor out of the goddamn lineup. How is this not making everyone want to pull out their own esophagus?
There is not a trade for anyone other than a list of about seven that makes any sense for Kris Bryant, Repeat this to yourself until you believe it or until you keel over. I don’t really care which.
I’ll give the Hawks this. As much as can be said about them right now, and I’ve said it all, they are trying to win. They may not know whether it’s now or in two years, and they probably don’t know how to go about either, but they idea is the same. And it has to be, because the NHL is still so gate-dependent. The Cubs have given up on that, and they’ll get away with it because I’m apparently the only one angry about it. This is completely fucked.
And yet so many have convinced themselves it’s the right, or just acceptable move. We’re less than two years removed from Bryant not just being in the discussion of best 3rd baseman in the game. It was fact. You didn’t hear a peep from anyone about it. And then two injury-riddled seasons later and suddenly everyone thinks he’s Keith Goddamn Moreland? “Oh he’s not clutch!” Fucking die. Or did I hallucinate the homer that bailed the Cubs out of only the World Series in Game 5? “He’s not that good.” You’re too stupid to live and you’re taking up my oxygen.
The Rickettses fucked up on their budgeting for all the things that didn’t have to do with baseball, and now they’re going to make you pay for it by punting on the next two years at least to watch a hardly impressive Cardinals team or a suddenly improving Reds one zoom by you. Every time Tom Ricketts leaves the house he should be pelted by rotten vegetables because he has the business sense of a Twinkie but will never pay for it because Papa is godly rich and has all the money anyway.
“Sports is a business,” is always the rationale, and it’s not wrong. But we use that so often it’s lost all of its meaning. At the very end of it, the idea was that the “business” still, however tenuously, balanced on getting people interested and in the park and their eyes on the TV. You could only do that by winning. And now that’s out the window. And no one cares. They’ll win if it comes along to them, but not if it costs that much. And this is Chicago, which at least used to be one of the most pro-labor/union towns anywhere. What the fuck happened?
I hope the White Sox win three consecutive World Series, and I hope they beat the Cardinals to do it so you’ll have what you decided was ok to miss out on because it made sense in your own convoluted Moneyball brain (which you completely missed the point of) right in your face. And I hope the most obnoxious Sox fan in your life (redundant I know) never lets you hear the end of it. Lucky for me, I have about five of them, three of which work for this site. It’s what you and the Cubs deserve.