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Cubs Failure


Typical that the Chicago Cubs, with their century of pathetic failure and fans who revel in it combined with their Koch Brothers-esque owners, would provide one of the great, if minor failures in baseball history so the billionaires wouldn’t have employees become eligible under Obamacare.

Earlier this week, the Chicago Cubs grounds crew experienced a disaster. As rain poured onto Wrigley Field, they were unable to cover the playing surface with a tarp in time. They were booed. The game was called. Because of the mismanagement, their opponents, the San Francisco Giants, protested the game after it had been called as a win for the Cubs. They succeeded. It was the first successful protest in Major League Baseball in 28 years, according to Deadspin.

But the whole bizarre episode was cast in a new light Thursday when the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Cubs had slashed worker hours to keep them under 30 hours a week to avoid paying health benefits under Obamacare.

Citing “numerous sources with direct knowledge,” the Sun-Times reported that the Cubs had sent home 10 grounds crew workers early the night of the Tuesday game that ended in disaster. And at least part of the reason, per the newspaper’s sources, is that the team has been trying to keep seasonal workers under 30 hours per week as the Affordable Care Act takes effect.

The law requires large employers to offer health insurance to full-time employees (defined as those who work more than 30 hours a week) or pay a fine. The rule goes into effect in 2015.

A spokesman for the Cubs, which are reportedly worth $1 billion and were the most profitable team in baseball in 2013, didn’t refute the claims when asked by the Sun-Times, but he denied personnel changes were responsible for the field tarp incident.

The only problem with the Cubs enduring another 100+ years of failure is that it gives their fans a meme to organize around. Would another deserved 100 years help or make the franchise and its fans even more annoying, if that’s possible?

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  • Jhoosier

    Wow, labor, health care, and sports, all in one. Nice hat trick!

    • If only there was a dead horse connection.

      • joejoejoe

        Does Edwin Jackson count?

        • Jewish Steel

          + 6.09

        • I love Edwin Jackson. Because the Tigers signed him as a FA and in his one year with them he was an AS, and because they drafted Curtis Granderson and Drew Smyly, they now have Max Scherzer and David Price.

          • Actually, scratch that, they didn’t sign him, they traded Matt Joyce for him. Like Austin Jackson, he’s an intermediary in the various trades that got the Tigers Scherzer and Price.

      • timb

        I’ve been there and they do serve ketchup

      • mikeSchilling

        And battleships!

  • Vance Maverick

    And apparently the justification doesn’t even make sense — it’s not for another year. A pure excuse to screw workers.

    • Scotius

      Appparently you have to have been screwing over your workers for at least 6 months in order to avoid the employer sanctions. Of course, with these guys screwing over employees by reducing their hours would probably be a goal in itself, ACA or no ACA.

  • Poicephalus

    I love the juxtaposition of my Giants, the execrable cubbies and MLBVPBO Joe Torre tbh

  • Denverite

    Don’t forget the spider infestation! (Look it up.)

    Wrigley Field is the biggest shithole of a sports venue I’ve ever been in. That includes a ton of major league parks, several AAA parks, a AA park, and several more A or rookie league parks.

    • wengler

      I second this. The place is a dump. Instead of repairing the dump and making it a better fan experience, the Ricketts are putting up adboards everywhere and going to war against the neighborhood.

      I didn’t think anyone could mismanage the Cubs worse than Tribune Co. but rich Republican assholes keep surprising.

      • And also, for a while, trying to get the city to pay for a better stadium.

    • timb

      I love Wrigley field and I used to go yearly. Great place to see a game

  • Cheap Wino

    If there is a god (alas, I fear for my ancestor’s faith) this story will make the rounds and be featured on the front page ESPN’s nightmare of a website for an appropriate length of time. Ideally picked up by the ‘press’ as a whole. This is exactly the kind of thing that should provide clarity on what Obamacare means to real Americans.

    • Vance Maverick

      what Obamacare means to real Americans

      Bogus fearmongering? A bogeyman that vanishes when you turn on the light?

  • Mike G

    It’s not even about money at this point, it’s an ideology.
    It’s “We’ll screw you just to show that we can, because we get a power-boner from hurting little people, and to make sure you know your place.”

  • John Revolta

    most profitable team in baseball in 2013

    Most whaa the whaaa in the what now?

    *head spinning, smoke effects*

    • Ken

      Think of it as one of the longest-running grifts in history. They even have the marks fans trained to make excuses when the team fails to deliver.

      • witlesschum

        It really is odd. The Detroit Lions have flagrantly incompetent in the NFL since the late 1950s, but I don’t really see Lions fans making losing a part of their fandom the way masochism seems to be with the Cubs. Lions fans are pretty more delusional or just people who care more about college ball at this point.

        • As a Detroiter who lives three miles from Wrigley, I see the difference as Cubs fans wanting to feel sorry for themselves and get pity, whereas I know no Lions fans who’ve been deluded the last 15 or so years. They’re still fans out of commitment to their home city, as a sense of duty.

          And since we’re talking about Cubs fans (NSFW)…

  • SatanicPanic

    Breaking a long losing streak didn’t do anything to make Red Sox fans less annoying.

    • Richard Hershberger

      Quite the opposite, alas.

  • matt w

    Obama is a White Sox fan, isn’t he? #ObamacareConspiracy

    …at least, he goddamn better be a White Sox fan.

    • Denverite

      Yes, he’s a notorious Sox fan. His house in Kenwood/Hyde Park (I know he’s just off of 51st but forget which side) is maybe a 5-10 minute drive from Sox Park depending on traffic. (Or a 25 minute run, but getting from 39th down to 51st takes you through some bad neighborhoods, so I’d only do it in the first couple of hours after sunrise.)

    • Obama actually does seem like the type of guy who would be a Cubs fan, but to his credit, he’s not.

      • Davis

        Don’t insult the president. George Will is a Cubs fan.

        • calling all toasters

          George Will is actually less annoying and more knowledgeable than most Cub fans. True fact.

      • Four Krustys

        It’s kind of remarkable how shitty the Cubs are that his Sox fandom is the one thing about Obama that Republicans haven’t gotten in a lather about. Considering they spent a week freaking out about his preferred type of mustard, that’s kind of impressive. Not even George Will is going to make the case that the Cubs are a metaphor for Real America that a Kenyan-born Muslim could never understand.

        The Cubs are the only baseball team that I dislike more than the Yankees. With the Raiders continuing to be comically inept (trading Terelle Pryor for a 7th round pick? WTF?), the Cubs are the easiest team in sports to hate.

        If the Cubs are the Koch brothers, the Yankees are Jeff Bezos or Paul Allen — maybe no less destructive, but less ostentatiously obnoxious, and even if you hate the product, at least they’re trying to deliver some kind of value to the world.

        (Apologies to any Cubs fans who can’t help being fans… My team, the Rockies, are also owned by a family of Koch sniffers who are terrible at baseball, and at life.)

        • Davis

          Some notable rappers hear Sox caps, too.

      • LeoFromChicago

        If you knew anything outside of the narrow orbit of your own world, you’d know that club afinity is largely neighborhood based. If you’re a north-sider, you’re probably a cubs fan; if you’re a south-sider — say, from Hyde Park like Obama — you’re probably a white sox fan.

        It has nothing to do with how the guy ‘seems’.

        • Because nothing screams worldly like being a denizen of Chicago.

          Except perhaps living in New York. They know everything about everywhere.

  • c u n d gulag

    The irony here, is that Wrigley Field was built as for a Federal League team – the Chicago Whales (Whales? Really?) – a pro-player league.

    From Wiki:
    The Federal League came together in early 1913 through the work of John T. Powers, and immediately challenged the operations of organized baseball.
    Playing in what detractors called the “outlaw” league allowed players to avoid the restrictions of the organized leagues’ reserve clause. The competition of another, better paying league caused players’ salaries to skyrocket, demonstrating the bargaining potential of free agency for the first time.”

    So, maybe it was the ghosts of all of those old Whales players haunting their park, seeing what the rich psychopathic greed-heads who own the team were doing to working people, who decided to fuck around with that tarp.

    FSM know, the “Ricketteers” deserve far worse.

    • mikeSchilling

      The Federal League wasn’t “pro-player”; that would be the Player’s League of the 1890s, which lasted only one year. The Federal League did sign players away from the other two, resulting in greater opportunity and higher salaries, but that’s been true of every new league in history, e.g. the American League when it began in 1901 or the AFL in the early 1960s. If the Federal League had survived, it would have made peace with the AL and NL and adopted the reserve clause as well.

      • c u n d gulag

        Oh, I completely agree with your points.

        Maybe I should have been more specific, in that I meant that it raised the salaries of players across the board – which, of course, came crashing back down when the league folded.

        And that may have ultimately been what was the underlying reason behind the White Sox WS cheating scandal – Comiskey, “The Old Roman,” was notoriously cheap. Look at what he did to keep from giving Eddie Cicotte his bonus for 30 wins by not giving him a chance for weeks to earn it.

        And there’s no doubt if the league survived, it too would have kept the players enslaved via the reserve clause.

        • mikeSchilling

          Well, hell, I agree with everything you’ve said here too. What fun is that?

          • c u n d gulag

            Ok, I’m a Yankee fan, so, take your best shot. :-)

            Btw – I’m not a Johnny-come-lately.
            I’ve been a fan since I was a kid who came home from grade school, and saw Mickey Mantle hit his moonshot off of Barney Schultz.

            I think that HR beat Apollo 11 to the moon.

  • Davis

    Just for fun, track down on YouTube Lee Alia’s tirade about Cubs fans. He was the manager at the time and they booed his players. It’s both passionate and hilarious.

    Irony: the Orioles were paying across town against the White Sox, and not a drop of rain fell.

    • Lee Rudolph

      Must have been some Cubs fan’s wedding day.

    • calling all toasters

      “And you can print it!”
      Lee Elia was the only Cub I ever liked.

      • Davis

        “85% percent work, the other 15% go to day baseball.” Lee Elia.

        Sorry about the spelling. I should know better.

        • calling all toasters

          It’s the thought that counts. The Cub-despising thought.

  • calling all toasters

    Speaking of rain and vile Cubs management, the First Night Game at Wrigley™ was rained out, but they kept it as the First Night Game at Wrigley™ because that’s the one where they comped celebrities.

  • Rudolph Schnaubelt

    My father, born in 1907, was a lifelong Cubs fan. I have been a lifelong Cubs fan. Used to play hooky and go to the home opener every year. One year I had the bad luck to end up on the same el train with my dad, who was heading home from work, as i was heading home after the game. I thought i was in trouble as it was a schoolday. He didn’t say a word until we got home.

    He asked about the game, Fergie Jenkins versus Bob Gibson IIRC. In the morning he hand wrote an excuse for my absence from school citing “personal business” I had needed to attend to for him. He was a union steward.

    I am done with the Cubs. They have come exemplify the race to the bottom with worker exploitation fuelling skyrocketing profits. Seriously, while making billions, for being loveable losers, they deliberately screw their employees. I am done with them.

    GO SOX!!

    • jeer9

      Nice story about your dad.

      • Rudolph Schnaubelt

        Thanks. And it is the truth.

        GO SOX!!

    • rickstersherpa

      The problem is that the White Sox are run by the even more execrable Jerry Reinsdorf, who is seeking to provoke another baseball strike to shut the game down for a couple years to break the union because he wants to be a true Lord who like ol’ Charles Comiskey can do what he likes with his players. See “Eight Men Out.”

      • Denverite

        Jerry Reinsdorf has a complicated legacy. On the one hand, he was a driving force behind the 1994 strike. He can fairly be called anti-union.

        On the other hand, you’d probably have to go back to Branch Rickey to find an owner more committed to promoting minorities in baseball. He promoted Kenny Williams to GM (and took a lot of flak over it) in 2000 despite Dan Evans being a much more “traditional” candidate. He’s made a conscious effort to try to recruit African-American players, largely because he thinks the team should at least partially reflect the demographics of the south side of Chicago. And he’s been a driving force behind trying to keep Sox Park family friendly and affordable — at least as of a few years ago, all Monday and Tuesday games were half price, parking was under $20 (a huge deal in Chicago), and the food options weren’t too unreasonable. Oh, and like half the games are on non-cable.

        ETA: Which is a long way of saying that Reinsdorf isn’t in the same ballpark as the Cubs organization.

        • You can marry those two concepts, however, under the banner “slavery”: cheap labor by minorities.

          • Denverite

            And this explains Kenny Williams how?

            • calling all toasters

              It really depends on the work environment. Donald Sterling had Elgin Baylor as his GM for years, but apparently treated him like dirt.

              • Denverite

                Yeah, that’s not how the White Sox front office was reputed to be run. Kenny Williams had pretty much carte blanche if you believe what you hear and read (including, for example the scathing treatment in Moneyball — which is ironic, because Williams had his WS within three years of publication, and Beane, well, not so much).

  • mikeSchilling

    I don’t like the Cubs either, but Theo Epstein knows what he’s doing. With the young talent he’s stockpiling, they’ll be pretty good in about two years.

    • Rudolph Schnaubelt

      And I won’t care anymore because oligarchs.

      GO SOX!!

    • Davis

      Cubs fans used to say, we’re three years away from being five years away, or something like that.

      • Denverite

        They had a chance in 2003 when they had both Prior and Woods healthy. Game Six is still maybe my happiest moment as a baseball fan. And yes, that includes the 2005 WS.

        • calling all toasters

          A wise southsider once said to me (in the days before interleague play): “I root for 14 teams: the White Sox and anyone who plays the Cubs.”

          • Denverite

            In fairness, the 2005 WS really built up over several weeks. They clinched, then destroyed Boston, then had a really entertaining series against the Angels (I was at the dropped third strike game, right behind the right field pole), then had the crowning in the WS sweep. So the joy was spread out over the better part of a month.

            Game 6 in 2003 all happened in like 30 minutes. The Cubs went from going to the WS to being the biggest chokers in the history of baseball in the span of an episode of Friends. It was GLORIOUS.

    • Denverite


      The Cubs don’t have any developed pitching, and there’s no guarantee that their prospects will be good and healthy two years from now. I’d much rather be the White Sox with Sale, Quintana, and Rodon starting in a few weeks.

      • You hire a Theo Epstein to manage the “good” risk. He has a decent track record in player personnel, and he did break one other curse already so he can work in a spotlight.

        Health is something you really can’t do anything about.

        • Denverite

          Lots and lots of teams recognize that you can’t count on pitching prospects developing and act accordingly, either by locking their young developed pitchers up for several years, or by acquiring high end pitching on the open market. The Cubs haven’t done either.

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  • rickstersherpa

    The Lee Elia rant was because the fans who attended that game start doing the unCub fan like thing of booing the players for a poor performance. Apparently, this shocked Elia so much he lost his mind. Also, as the WSJ points out Cub fans are not buying tickets or showing up like they use to and TV and radio ratings are tanking. I can’t blame either Phil Wrigley or the Tribune company for figuring out that since winning is expensive and often infrequent (how many World Series has Seattle won Erik? I kind of think of the Mariners and their fans as the “Cubs of the Northwest”) that selling the ball park “experience” of summer time in a place where winter really sucks was an easier and more consistent way to make a dime. Yes, I am a Cub fan, but I long ago realized that except for Yankee fans and to a lesser extent St. Louis fans, most other teams and their fandoms are not particularly less delusional and annoying, as opposed to Yankee and Cardinal fans who are just unbearable.

  • A spokesman for the Cubs, which are reportedly worth $1 billion and were the most profitable team in baseball in 2013

    What the actual fuck…? Did they hit a lottery jackpot or something????

    • Denverite

      No. Lots of ticket sales, a sweetheart detail with WGN, and rock bottom major league salaries.

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