tempcubsLabor Day weekend. For some it’s a sad time: the end of summer, back to school, back to the routine, the days grow shorter. For others it’s a new start: off to college, football season with all it’s hopes and fun, the change-of-seasons. For me, a Chicago Cubs fan, it’s another look to next year. How many ways can a franchise lose? There are too many (all of them well-documented) examples of bad decisions and poor play to go through in this short blog. But this year, in watching the debacle of the 2014 season, I came to realize 2 things:
  • My dad used to tell me the Cubs had franchised the concept of losing. For those of you in finance, they took the term “loss-leader” to new heights. Literally, The Chicago Cubs have made  “LOSER” a brand, and they have cornered the market.
  • What is a Cubs fan? Someone who spends a lifetime fantasizing, so much so that the fantasy feeds the brand, and the brand regurgitates the same behavior feeding the fantasy in a never-ending circle of love, hate and fantasy: “Maybe next year!”
By far the best example of Cubs-style insanity is Budweiser Beer. Who is the Cubs arch rival? The St. Louis Cardinals. Where is Bud headquartered? St. Louis. The Cards and Budweiser have a decades-old business relationship that has prospered and flowered in so many ways it boggles the minds of wannabe-winners like me and all the other Cub fans. A media icon named Harry Caray moved from St. Louis to Chicago many years ago, having worn out his welcome as the Cardinals play-by-play man. (There are personal reasons for Mr. Cary having to leave St. Louis. I’ll leave those hanging in the air for now.) Cary first went to the south side of the windy city, to the White Sox, when that franchise was teetering on the verge of collapse. He quickly moved to WGN and The Chicago Cubs radio/TV programming, with it’s built-in fan base and national coverage (before cable TV, WGN could be picked up across the country!) and brought the close relationship he had with Budweiser Beer, having promoted the beverage for years on St. Louis baseball radio broadcasts. So the Cubs biggest sponsor became Bud. The same sponsor for their most-hated foe, the St. Louis Cardinals. Just the idea that the Cubs would be in bed with the same company that had helped the Cards to so much success - not to mention championships - should have been a warning: the Cubs are not about winning baseball games. The Cubs are about making money. The team is 15 games under .500 as I write. They’re bad. They can’t hit. They have trouble pitching. The stadium is dilapidated and they’re more concerned with fining people around the stadium for watching games than winning games. They’re also highly profitable.