One of the beauties of the internet is that people from all walks of life can have a voice on various issues concerning their lives, and the world of sports is no exception.
Whether it’s Bleacher Report, SB Nation, or even MLBlogs, services exist so that fans can get their opinions out there and engage in discussions with other people from across the world. These tools are beautiful, and it’s really opened up a lot of avenues for people to not only espouse their opinions, but also to learn about the opinions of others.
The Yahoo Contributor Network is one such place, and on that network today, there was an interesting article by Evan Altman entitled “What Can the Chicago Cubs Do to Make Baseball Fun Again?” It’s a pertinent question, considering that the team lost over 100 games in 2012 and came perilously close to doing it again in 2013. Now, the team is heading into Year Three of their rebuilding process, and even though guys like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant could make their way to the Big Leagues this season, the 2014 campaign figures to be another rough one for Cubs fans.
All snark about “fung is winning and winning is fung” aside (thank you Ozzie Guillen), Altman’s argument basically breaks down to this: the Cubs need more swagger, better PR, and an updated ballpark.
All of those arguments have a degree of validity to them, but each one also has some inherent flaws. For instance, swagger is a term that is all well and good, as Altman cites Bryce Harper and Yasiel Puig, but confidence can’t necessarily be taught, and the Cubs aren’t loaded with guys who are trying to be the center of attention. Swagger looks stupid if someone is putting on a façade, and guys like Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo likely can’t pull off the look.
As for concerns about better PR and an updated ballpark, the Cubs are already making steps toward that goal. Yes, the rollout for Clark the Cub wasn’t the best way to go about it, but the fact that the team is wanting to reach out to younger fans is definitely a step in the right direction. The ongoing legal battle with rooftop owners is also stalling their renovation plan for the park, but once that gets sorted out (and it will), the park will be a much better place not only to play for players, but also for fans to watch the game.
Ultimately, there is only one thing that is going to restore the “fun” to Wrigley Field, and that’s a winning product on the field. The vast majority of Cubs fans are showing remarkable patience with the team’s rebuilding process, and no amount of PR savvy is going to distract them from that.