CHICAGO – With one month to go before pitchers and catchers report to spring training and no real movement this offseason, the Cubs have a lot of questions to answer at this weekend’s annual fan convention, the unofficial kick-off to the new season.
And since a new year provides everyone with a chance to make some changes, here are 12 resolutions we’d like to see the Cubs make in 2020:
1. Stop saying ‘we don’t have any money.’
There’s a difference between not having any money and not intending to spend more money than necessary to avoid the luxury tax threshold. No one believes Chairman Tom Ricketts when he says the Cubs don’t have any money. It’s a ludicrous claim.
2. End the elaborate bullpen dances after home runs.
It was fun while it lasted and it served its purpose, but this tradition needs to die a quick death. The Cubs bullpen had a combined 28 blown saves in 2019, tied for fourth-worst in the majors. Many of the dancing relievers are gone, and the new bullpen needs to focus on pitching instead of dancing.
3. Cancel the weekly radio show with Cubs management.
If they can’t be totally candid, what purpose does it serve? Team President Theo Epstein threatened a “ton” of changes in an interview in early July but only made a few. GM Jed Hoyer took umbrage last year with a question from WSCR-AM 670’s Dan Bernstein about a Twitter rumor stating the Cubs likely would let Joe Maddon go after the season and hire David Ross in his place. Of course, that’s exactly what happened. More pregame briefings with the entire media would be welcome, too.
4. Explain the payroll issue to fans.
Most fans really don’t understand why the Cubs haven’t made any moves and why the team feels the need to trade Kris Bryant or other stars to get under the luxury tax. If the Cubs don’t feel they can sign them to long-term deals to remain within their budget, be transparent about it and say so.
5. Fix the Wrigley Field sound system.
When you can’t hear the person standing right next to you, it’s time to turn down the volume, at least during the game. Pregame music is fine, but no one came to listen to the DJ.
6. Bring back batting practice for home games and let fans in early to watch.
The Cubs famously had optional batting practice for much of the Joe Maddon era. But even when they did hold it, it usually was too early for most kids to get to the park in time to watch. B.P. is part of the Wrigley tradition, especially on summer days with the wind blowing out. The players should also sign more autographs before games, though that may be a lost cause in this era.
7. Provide a product worth the high ticket prices.
This is a no-brainer. When you have some of the highest ticket and concession prices in baseball, you need to do everything possible to provide fans with a championship caliber team.
8. Stop inviting seventh inning stretch singers to talk about themselves during games.
The new Marquee Sports Network gives the Cubs a chance to rethink their broadcasts. While inviting celebrities to perform the seventh inning stretch is a tradition that’s too entrenched to ditch, we really don’t need to hear from every one of them in the booth with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Many have nothing of interest to say and are only promoting themselves.
9. Re-paint the Grace Street parking lot to allow cars bigger than a 1980 Yugo.
The Cubs crammed as many parking spaces as possible into their main lot north of Wrigley Field, so fans have little room to get in and out of their cars while also risking having the doors dinged by the adjacent cars. Every space should be able to fit an SUV-sized vehicle with enough space to open the doors. This is an easy fix.
10. Upgrade the Wrigley Field press box for the 21st century.
It amuses many Cubs executives when media members complain about the poor conditions of the Wrigley Field press box. Last year one exec cracked they’d slap a coat of paint on it after being asked asked about potential renovation plans. The Cubs need to treat the press box as though their own employees work there every day – which, in fact, they do. It also might help get the Cubs an All-Star Game down the road.
11. Make Yu Darvish stop clapping back at Twitter trolls.
Yu Darvish responded to TV/radio host David Kaplan’s criticism on Twitter during the summer and later said he’s done likewise with the media since he started his career in Japan. It’s silly for a major leaguer to act so thin-skinned. Forget about what others say and focus on pitching.
12. Raise a Joe Maddon flag on the Wrigley Field roof.
Joe Maddon’s contribution to the only Cubs championship since 1908 needs to be acknowledged, even if they unceremoniously let him go after at the end of last season. A flag is the least they can do.