It me, a really long time ago.
You might've heard I'm a native Californian. I've mentioned it a time or two on this very website, and also chatted about how I became a California Cubs fan, among other things, with Sean Holland on his Holy Cow! podcast right here:
Like many of you, I'm sure, I'm a person of limited resources. I have a family. Bills. I like to be responsible. Debt is my enemy. My opportunities to see the Cubs are on the west coast--San Francisco (also expensive), Oakland, Los Angeles (I will never go to Dodger Stadium again, but that's for another conversation), Seattle, San Diego, Anaheim. Jetting off to Chicago on the regular just isn't an option. I've been to Wrigley Field exactly once, and it was nearly 20 years ago. The Harry Caray statue was only a year old.
Mark Grace was in his last year with the team, moving on the next year to Arizona and winning the World Series with the Diamondbacks. There was no fancy Schwarboard, no Nuveen sign, and no fancy restaurants around the ballpark. For good measure, the game I went to happened to be the one where the Dodgers got in a fight with a bunch of drunk Cubs fans who stole one of the relievers' caps.
The Cubs finished dead last that year with a 65-97 record. Beyond Sammy Sosa, there wasn't much worth getting excited about. The Cubs lost that game just like they lost so many others that year, but I hardly cared--I was at Wrigley for once instead of Candlestick or the Coliseum. I was in the Mother Ship with my people, and it felt good. I wasn't being cursed or yelled at, no one was trying to pull my hair or mansplain anything to me--I was simply enjoying my team with my fellow Cubs fans.
In 2020, I'm finally going back to Wrigley for the first time in 20 years. The stars are aligning just right for a family trip to see both the Cubs and the Minnesota Timberwolves during the same week in their home venues. My husband and kiddo have never been to Wrigley and none of us have ever been to Minneapolis, and regardless of what team is on the field or what the payroll looks like, I will be thrilled to be at Wrigley.
This isn't to marginalize the frustration of everyone who wants to boycott the team--trust me, I get it. We all know that #CheapRicketts can afford to go over the luxury tax thresholds every year if he wants, yet here we are with another Budget and rumblings that the team is trying to stay under the first rung. The sobering news is that every large market team either has recently done this, or is doing this, under the current collective bargaining agreement, so if you think the Cubs are operating in a vacuum, you're probably gonna be disappointed. The Yankees? 2018. The Giants? 2019. The Dodgers have done it the past two years and still aren't looking like big spenders. This season, it appears to be the Cubs and Red Sox giving it a go, and our friend Brett Taylor over at Bleacher Nation did a very deep analysis of why it might be more complicated than we all originally thought. It's not excusing owners, but it's also... complex. And rich people do things that keep them rich. It's science or something.
The disappointment is also present if you're a fan of a smaller market team, especially if you get attached to
Or maybe you like your problems with some Gatorade. I don't judge.
players easily. I also might've mentioned that my family are A's fans, and in the last several years they've watched them trade away players like Josh Donaldson, Carlos Gonzalez, Sonny Gray and Yoenis Cespedes. If I was them, I'd probably not getting too attached to Matt Chapman, is all I'm saying, because the likelihood of the A's signing him to a long-term deal is about as likely as the Cubs inking Kris Bryant at this point. So the problems are system-wide in MLB, it just depends on which problems you like better with your team loyalty and nachos.
By the time I make my trip to Chicago, I plan to have left the frustration of this offseason behind and I'll be fully focused on enjoying the experience with my family and my people in the Mother Ship. I won't be thinking about the Budget, or Thed, or #CheapRicketts, or any of those things except for maybe missing a player or two if some trades are made. But enjoy I will, regardless of the men behind the curtain.