Love Letters From Pronk: Tom Ricketts
10 years ago: if i told you that the Cubs would get new owners who would fix the team: player evaluations, team spending, rehab Wrigley, and most importantly oversee a World Championship and the best era of Cubs baseball in our lifetimes.... would you expect that owner to be booed in 2020?
That happened at Cubs Convention 2020.
In 2010, the Ricketts purchased the Cubs. New rich owners. Was this going to be a here we go again a la Sam Zell? Were they purchasing the team to just profit? Or did they actually care? We are very fortunate to know that they did care and rebuilt the team the right way. So today I give thanks with an awkward love letter.
Dear Mr. Ricketts,
You have been a wonderful owner and chairman of the Chicago Cubs. Nobody is perfect, but you've kept the mistakes to a minimum and had best interests at heart.
I'm very thankful that you spent over a billion dollars saving and rehabbing a crumbling Wrigley. When you took over, concrete was crumbling, the team was getting sued by unsavory rooftop owners, and the City of Chicago was pushing every move the Cubs could make. Since then, you've not only repaired, but renovated Wrigley and improved it in major ways that I didn't think were possible. The ongoing saga with rooftop owners is basically done, after you took it all the way to Supreme Court. The City still is pushy, but rather than bow, you've taken a stand for what's right and have won many battles.
With all the problems the Cubs had at Wrigley, you easily could have moved them to Rosemont, or wherever else. You could have taken the team to whatever city would have offered a new taxpayer funded stadium. You could have left the rotting Wrigley behind. I would have been disappointed, but I would have understood. Wrigley was historical, but there comes a point where you can't keep it up. I thought Wrigley was at the point of no return. You proved me wrong. When the City of Chicago gave nothing but roadblocks and red tape when it came to Wrigley, You put a billion into it into it, double what you were expecting, and made Wrigley better than ever before.
You've also spent on the on field product. Millions were dropped building one of the best front offices in baseball. When it's come to the Cubs player payroll, you've spent more than most other teams. Throughout the rebuild years, payroll only went below $100M once, in 2014. Throughout that time, you paid for albatross contracts handed out by the Tribune era. Then once the team turned the corner, they've been inside the top 5 for spending, and have dropped more money on free agent contracts than the Yankees, Dodgers, and Red Sox.
You also trust the front office to make the right moves. When they've had a need, the answer's always been "yes, spend it." Kimbrel, Heyward, Lester, Darvish. Lots of huge dollars, nearly one per offseason for the entire competitive era.
I'm happy to say that you've earned it. In 2009, the team was purchased for 700 million. A bit low, but considering the Wrigley saga to come and the bloated contracts, you purchased a mess at a discount. Since then, the franchise's value has quadrupled to $3.1B. You've earned it. You've invested in the team, the City, and the fans, and turned it into the top 5 franchise it should be.
Tom Ricketts, you are the best owner Cubs fans could have asked for. You've paid respect to the traditions of old, while still pushing for modernization. You've walked the hard road on a lot of issues, because it was the right choice. You've led the team well, better than any other owner in team history. Thank you.
Thank you for taking impromptu time on Sunday to sign autographs with fans! This was the best part of the convention for me: