Commentary: Why are Cubs acting like a small market team?


by - Staff Writer -
Cubs fans are not huge fans of Tom Ricketts
Cubs fans are not huge fans of Tom Ricketts

We are more than a month into the MLB season, and the Cubs are sitting in fourth place in the NL Central — a division that many around baseball anticipate being the weakest in the sport. Just like last season's midseason collapse and complete teardown, Cubs fans are already fearing who may be leaving the team in July.

Over ten years ago, the Cubs hired Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer to turn their franchise around. An organization once loved for losing was looking to flip the script and become a perennial winner. For Epstein and Hoyer, their sell to fans was patience. Fans then had to suffer through a few seasons of being bad while the team stocked up on talent and saved money, and then when the time was right, they would go for it.

That they did, from 2016 to 2020, the Cubs were one of the top five highest spenders in baseball. Mixed with their young talent, the Cubs also were the winningest team from 2015 to 2018 and stacked together five playoff appearances in six years. The Cubs were finally experiencing the sustained success that Epstein and Hoyer had promised. The other part of that promise was that Cubs fans would never have to experience the pain of losing like that again, with what is essentially intentional losing.

But, here we are in 2022 — after a trade deadline in 2021 that saw the Cubs trade away over ten players, including three who were massive staples of the organization and had immense contributions to their lone World Series title in the last 116 years — in the same spot for fans.

Cubs fans have unfairly heard the ownership cry poor, citing biblical losses in 2020 due to COVID-19, and that had to be the reason the Cubs would not spend more to fix the product on the field. Money constraints were cited as the reason the Cubs did not sign massive free agents like Bryce Harper or Carlos Correa, reunite with former fan favorites Nicholas Castellanos or Kyle Schwarber, or extend all-stars like Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, or Kris Bryant.

The kicker? According to Forbes, the Cubs are the fourth most valuable team in the major leagues — worth 3.8 billion dollars, maintaining an operating income of 68 million. But, the Cubs have payroll below league average AND the sixth-worst record in the entire sport here in early May. The team on the field is below average, and the owners are spending below average money on them — but Cubs fans have to pay for the most expensive ticket and fan experience in all of baseball?

The Ricketts family has gotten fat and happy since the World Series. They use the franchise's prior struggles and its fans’ loyalty against them while refusing to chase after another coveted World Series ring. It is beyond frustrating for Cubs fans, who have to always wonder why their big market team, in the third biggest city in the country, is acting like a small-market team?

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