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Monday, May 27

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Cubs Sat Mar 31 2012

New Season, New Message For Cubs Fans

Cubs_200.pngThe Cubs have done their part, and the time has come for the fans to do theirs. The statement is simple, but following through with it is a whole different ballgame.

Years of clamoring for new ownership (or maybe it was a bankrupt Tribune Company) resulted in the Ricketts family taking over the franchise. Rage over the mismanagement by the front office culminated in the coup of the century - bringing two-time World Series general manager Theo Epstein on as the president of baseball operations.

Cubs fans rejoiced the headline shaking moves the team has made in the past couple years. Talk radio in Chicago has been flooded with praise from the die-hards sick of the annual "wait 'til next year" motto. At this point, they would settle for a consistent playoff contender, let alone a juggernaut team.

But the consistent message the new brass has preached is one that usually doesn't sit well with the masses over the long haul: patience.

The changes implemented by Boy Wonder take time to come to fruition. The upgrades in basic hardware alone at Wrigley Field tell of a franchise previously living in the 1980s. The results won't come overnight.

Patience also has a price, and it's not cheap. The team still needs people to come to games, which is a tough sell considering that as recently as 2010 the Cubs had the highest ticket prices in baseball (thank the Yankees and Red Sox for taking over that crown).

Despite passing on big ticket free agents this winter, a key component to Epstein's teams in Boston was (wisely) spending large sums of money on the best players that came available. See Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon as examples of money well spent for the 2004 World Series team.

And with massive spending reductions coming in the draft and foreign free agent market via the new collective bargaining agreement, the free agent market is going to play an even larger role in future World Series championship teams.

Lately, the teams spending boatloads of money in free agency have done so based off of multi-billion dollar television rights deals kicking in over the next few years. The Cubs, unfortunately, won't get to dip into that market until their WGN (2014) and Comcast (2019) deals expire a few years down the road. Until then, their primary bank is going to whoever walks through the turnstiles.

Despite manager Dale Sveum claiming he would put his starting rotation up against anyone else's, the team has done a miraculous job of setting the bar low for the next couple years. Now all they need is stadium packed with people, even if they end up tripping over it.

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