The Chicago Cubs are in the process of celebrating the 100th birthday of Wrigley Field, and as part of the festivities, they are adding a couple of wrinkles to the Friendly Confines.
One of those wrinkles was unveiled on Wednesday, as the team painted the iconic red marquee green, in honor of its original color when it was erected in 1934. There’s no word yet on whether they’ll also paint it blue at some point (another color from its history as the face of the ballpark), but apparently the gesture didn’t sit well with some of the Chicago media’s elite.
Take what Chicago Sun-Times scribe and long-time Cubs critic Rick Telander had to say about the sign on Thursday. In a scathing column that hit a grand slam in terms of bombast, intellectual dishonesty, confusing logical leaps, and good old fashioned hatred, Telander tried his best to not only tear down the sign, but also to make sure that the Ricketts family and the Cubs’ front office was standing beneath it as he went to work with his verbal crowbar.
Here are some of the samplings of the wisdom Telander gave to us:
“Of course, there’s money afoot. Sparkling down at me from the electronic message board on the legendary baseball marquee were the words all Cubs fans have been dying to see: “BENJAMIN MOORE: Official Paint of the Chicago Cubs.”
Considering what he ends up going on to say later in the column, it’s hilarious that Telander is criticizing the team for trying to monetize something. I guess there are some money trees hidden under the left field bleachers that we don’t know about, because Telander apparently wants the Cubs to pull a magic trick of being able to spend money without having ways to generate it.
“The Cubs, as I type this, reek.
“Their record is 13-25. They are in last place in the NL Central, 11 games behind the Brewers. They are the worst team in the National League and trail only the AL’s Houston Astros for the most losses in the majors.
“It’s not a stretch to say – and I will say it, for those of you who won’t or gag trying to get it out – that they are the worst team in baseball.”
Naturally, Telander ignores a couple of key factors as he throws the Cubs under the bus as the “worst team in baseball.” The first is that Houston’s run differential is already at negative-55, while the Cubs is a much more pleasing negative-5. Four other teams in the National League have a worse run-differential than the Cubs, and one of those team is the Pittsburgh Pirates, who currently sit at 17-22.
According to Baseball Prospectus, the Cubs have been the victim of some bad luck, and they, not the Pirates, should actually be in fourth place in the NL Central, with their expected winning percentage sitting at .485. They would only be a game behind the Cardinals for third place in the BP projections, but never mind all of that. Telander has some more drum beating to do!
“Oh, there are promises and bear-with-us-pleases and crooked smiles. Just wait. Hold on. Give us time. It’s coming soon. Next year. OK, two years from now. Three? Someday?
“The Cubs trounced the Cardinals 17-5 on Monday night. Awesome. And then Tuesday night they took a 2-0 lead, let the Cardinals come back, and lost in the 12th inning 4-3. Reliever Justin Grimm hit Greg Garcia with the bases loaded, forcing in the winning run.”
Oh noes! A team scored a ton of runs one night and then didn’t score quite as many runs the next night and ended up barely losing a game in 12 innings! Any statistician worth their salt will tell you that winning and losing baseball games is no more than a coin flip proposition, and it just so happened that the Cubs called heads on a night that the quarter landed on tails. Oh well, stuff happens. This is a very weak attempt at pushing the narrative.
“They outscored the Cardinals 20-9 in two games and split. Cub-like? Cub-like.
“Could they have given maybe 11 of those unneeded runs on Monday to luckless pitcher Jeff Samardzija in earlier games? No, of course not. Could they have taken those 17 runs and combined them with the 12 they scored against the White Sox in a 12-5 victory last Thursday and just spread them around?”
No Rick, they can’t. I’m not really sure how these paragraphs bolster your argument, but it’s pretty obvious that you’re ignoring the way that offense works in baseball. You see, some nights pitchers are having a bad night. Some nights, batters are seeing pitches better than others. Asking players to “spread the wealth” when it comes to runs is a really weird request, and not one that even baseball’s best teams are at all capable of doing.
On another note, are you seriously complaining that the Cubs would have the audacity to score a bunch of runs? I thought they were terrible? Do you not want them to score gobs of runs Rick?
“Epstein’s brain is not quite officially fried. But it must be close. Meanwhile, he’s practicing his guitar for a big charity music fest with studs such as Spring-steen guitarist Tom Morello coming up at Metro.”
This is the end of a lengthy screed in which he criticizes Cubs owners and front office personnel for daring to have lives outside of the ballpark while the team is struggling. I’m sure Rick sits in his office all the time pondering ways to boost revenues at the Sun-Times, turning down invitations to hang out with friends or to perform charitable acts in what little spare time he is forced to allow himself.
Get serious, Mr. Telander. Of course the Ricketts family and Theo Epstein are going to have lives outside of the Friendly Confines. They’re human beings, and their lives don’t begin and end with baseball. In fact, just about your entire readership is the same way, in that they have interests other than continuing to beat a dead horse as they crow about how the Cubs aren’t spending money or taking their losing ways seriously enough.
This entire column basically reads as a compendium of every criticism that Telander has levied against the Cubs all season long, and most of it is complete bunk. He criticizes prospects like Javier Baez and Jorge Soler for their slow starts, but completely ignores how great Kris Bryant is playing. The fact that he also ignores this notion that maybe we’re talking about too small of a sample size before throwing guys under the bus, but of course, it wouldn’t make for good copy for him to do that.
Instead, he’s going to continue trotting out these nonsensical arguments and preying upon those Cubs fans who are already impatient for a winner. I’m not one of those fans. I don’t want this team to spend a bunch of money on free agents and win 80 games. I want them to slowly build the foundation for a winner, and frankly, they are doing that. Telander and other members of the media who are harping on the Cubs are nothing better than the guy who shows up at the scene of an accident and snaps pictures of it on his cell phone, chomping on gum and criticizing the EMT’s for taking too long to clean up the debris.