Dr. Strangelove — Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cubs Way

Hello? Uh, hello Dmitri? Listen, I can’t hear too well. Do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little?

Well, you asked for it, and I will now deliver. A diatribe melding together one of the great films of all time, Dr. Strangelove, with the Cubs Way. Oh, you didn’t ask for it? Huh.

Fine, then humor me and enjoy the series of words I placed together in a side-by-side pattern to form these sentence dealies, drawing connections between some of the great lines from that film and the Cubs as I see them now and the days that lay ahead.

Why Dr. Strangelove? When the Kubrick film was released in 1964, it was during the height of the Cold War. It poked around under the skirts of an uncertain nation. It took risks. It scratched at wounds. And in the end it delivered as one of the most talked about films of all time.

As the Cubs go through their own changes, poking, scratching and risk taking, this film just popped into my mind yesterday. I really don’t understand my brain.

That’s enough of a preamble. Off to the War Room now. Won’t you join me?

Well, I’ve been to one world fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard.  

For me this year, it’s simple. The stupidest thing I heard this season was someone comparing the Samardzija/Hammel trade to Brock for Broglio. Now, I won’t go on record (bitcoins) and call out (bitcoins) the person who gave us (bitcoins) this little gem (bitcoins), but you can probably track him down on Twitter (bitcoins).

pickensIf I have to explain why it was the stupidest thing I heard this season, my condolences to you and yours. I have said it before and I will say it again. The best way to describe that trade would be a political cartoon with Theo and Jed speeding away in a car, Addison Russell’s legs dangling out the window and thousand-dollar bills churning in the breeze.

The trade made me giddy not only in its sheer value to the team, but also in the way it prodded the angry fan base. I’m sorry, but as the guy in the back of the classroom, I always dig it when angry people get angrier. Call it a fetish, if you will.

Fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face.  

Ah, the Cubbie Kool-Aid. As a certified mouthpiece for the organization, total homer and someone who went to the Dark Side, I have been accused of sipping from the Theo cup. Perhaps you have as well.

fluidsFor some reason, if you are a fan of this team through thick and thin and see and believe in a process that is completely native to other fans, you are an anti-bitcoin Cubs apologist. My advice to you other Kool-Aid-ers: Get used to it.

No matter how well this team does. No matter if they pick up 20-plus games in the standings next year. No matter if they make the Wild Card or win the division. Until such time as a World Series trophy is brought home to Wrigley Field, you will be frowned upon and chided for every error, loss, blown save and sweep this team or any of its players will face in the years ahead.

Keep this in mind. These are the same people who compared the Samardzija/Hammel to Brock for Broglio. They may not be current on their medication.

I don’t think it’s quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up. 

OK, fine, more than one slip-up. Theo came in to the job preaching about accountability. Even he would be held accountable for his actions. Sounds good to me, so let’s hold him accountable for two major gaffes: Edwin Jackson and Ian Stewart.

On paper, and in the way it was presented to us, Ian Stewart was a guy with a lot of potential, especially in power numbers. Fans were quick to embrace him until the cracks started to show in the façade, through his subpar play, extended time off for injuries and late-night Twitter rants against fans and, as his swan song, the organization. Hell, he even topped Milton Bradley on my list of most-hated Cubs. That took some work.

Following pretty strong pursuit of Tigers righty Anibal Sanchez, Theo had possibly the closest thing to Tourette’s in the form of free agent signing when he inked Edwin Jackson to a four-year, $52 million contract. Ejax, who had been somewhat of a hired hand for the five years preceding, suddenly had long-term job security and, as we have found, the inability to pitch anymore, finishing his first two seasons with a .300 winning percentage. Yikes.

I will admit that these two moves give me a little trepidation as the team moves forward with the chance to sign more big names.

Mr. President, we must not allow a mineshaft gap!  

When the Ricketts family took over the Cubs, I’m sure they were aware of some of the uphill battles they would face, in terms of 100 years of strife, a tired fan base, an eroding ballpark and trying to find the means to better fund the baseball operations in order to be on competitive turf with the rest of the major leagues.

buckDuring the Cold War, the mineshaft gap was the difference in the number of nukes between the US and the USSR. In baseball, the mineshaft gap is money, and the Cubs are at a competitive disadvantage compared to other teams in baseball. There is a literal treasure trove of possible dollars to be made through ballpark advertising and lucrative/better television and radio deals, and the front office has done what it can to address those changes—with less than sexy fanfare.

Fighting with the rooftops has stalled millions of dollars in revenue from sponsorship agreements, but the team made a very provocative decision in moving the radio broadcasts from longtime home WGN Radio to WBBM. It was too bad to see them break up, but you have to go where the money is. I know this is not easily digestible to traditionalist fans, but tradition is far outweighed by dollars these days. It’s just a fact of business life. I think it’s even in a textbook somewhere.

On deck is WGN-TV, which could also lose the Cubs as the team tries to figure out a way to land an overpriced TV contract similar to those of the Dodgers and Angels. The clock is ticking on the television contract or starting their own network, and there are existing barriers in the way–such as the existing deal with Comcast SportsNet Chicago which doesn’t expire until 2019–so it will be interesting to see how this one pans out.

With the amount of success—and viewers gained—the Cubs could have during this upcoming stretch of years, my approach is to not lock yourself in a closet like the Dodgers did, but to make yourself as available as possible. WGN still has superstation prominence, so twist their arms a bit to convince them that teenage girls will have as much glee watching the blindingly white smile of Kris Bryant as they would whatever new vampire show comes spitting out of the corporate office bathroom.

Colonel… that Coca-Cola machine. I want you to shoot the lock off it. There may be some change in there.  

While the Cubs wait for those profit centers to open, and with bad contacts coming off the table at the end of this season, the time has come for the organization to start spending. They will probably be the most watched team during the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

coca colaWe’ve read the rumors involving the likes of Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, Cole Hammels and even (before his face became a twice-baked potato) Giancarlo Stanton. Each of these is what you would definitely consider a tier-one player, who will bring with them tier-one salaries and long-term obligations.

By going out and getting one or more of them, which I firmly expect Jed and Theo to do, you not only fire the shot across the bow of your division that you are ready, but you put yourself at a high risk of repeating the Edwin Jackson mistake. What if you land Lester and, as is often the case with the Cubs, he slips and falls down his mansion stairs, shattering his elbow and relegating himself to three years of bullpen towel exercises? That’s a lot of moolah just hanging out there.

The flipside would be dealing with a fidgety fan base that will call for the heads of the front office staff if the Cubs don’t win the World Series in 2015. “You signed your ace, where’s my World Series parade? More proof that Ricketts is only in it for the money!” (Bitcoin!)

I, for one, am excited to see what the Cubs do this offseason and which move they make first. Is it a trade of Russell or Castro, or is it nailing down a deal to land Lester? When the last out is recorded on September 28 in Milwaukee, expect Twitter to be ablaze with rumors and speculation.

One-hundred dollars in gold, 9 packs of chewin’ gum, 1 issue of prophylactics, 3 lipsticks, 3 pair of nylon stockings. Shoot, a feller could have a pretty good time in Vegas with all that stuff! 

Here come the big-money players, but will adding high-dollar players to a locker room of mid-level salaries cause any friction and tamper with the chemistry that is growing between these young players?

survival kitIt’s a valid concern, but I don’t think it will carry much weight. The younger players who signed long-term, team-friendly deals understand that once their contracts are up, they too will join the likes of the bloated-contract world. Just take a look into the crystal ball to imagine what, if predictions hold, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Starlin Castro, et al will command in free agency. Methinks me smells the smoke of a future fire sale.

So when it comes to the big-money guys roaming the clubhouse, I think the issue will be less about how many bags of Big League Chew the guys can buy and more about personality, understanding their roles on the team and being a part of the chemistry we see building with the core players.

You mean people could actually stay down there for a hundred years?  

Oh, we can way outlast that. We do 100 years in our sleep. But we won’t be down here much longer.

Here comes the Cubs Kool-Aid again. If this team stays healthy and the majority of their top prospects work out either on the team or in trade value, I believe it will be in serious World Series talks by 2017. It could be a year earlier, but that would come late in the season, if they are on some sort of tear.

A solid indicator of when Theo and Jed think this thing will actually bear fruit will come in the moves they make this offseason.

Tell you what you do: you just start your countdown, and old Bucky’ll be back here before you can say “Blast off!”  

bucky bedYeah, I know I said 2017. Believe you me, I want this sooner than that more than anyone I know, but I think that is the most realistic time for this team to be in that place. So now comes the countdown, and with it the villagers charging with pitchforks and torches to run me out of town.

Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn’t that necessitate the abandonment of the so-called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned? 

At the very least, win or lose, there is always beer and plenty of non-field-of-play viewing in the bleachers. It’s where Ricketts met his wife and where many of you began the process of a next-morning walk of shame. Don’t act like you haven’t.

No matter how bad this team is, people will always want to go to a game. Well, most people. Others will take the White Sox fans’ MO, which is not to pay for a product while the team stinks. For the rest of us, enjoy one of the best possible views in the world while holding a cup of beer.

bombNow why don’t you just take it easy, Group Captain, and please make me a drink of grain alcohol and rainwater, and help yourself to whatever you’d like.

It is Friday, after all. This Bud’s for you, Cubs fans.

15 Comments

  1. Tour de Force. What a great movie. And it’s 50 years old!

    What happened to that guy who used to post on the old Chicago Now blog about EJax? Like he was obsessed with that signing and how it meant the Cubs would never succeed under Theo because he signed EJax. That guy was a trip.

  2. Good read, but I’m not sure the reference to Stanton was necessary. That was a real tragedy which may have cost him the MVP and may have cost him the rest of his career.

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