Monday, May 23, 2011

Baseball or Business Decision?

As an owner of a sports franchise most of your decisions are based on what is best for your business as well as your sports team. But there comes times where the choice that is made can't end up in both categories.

The Cubs organization has endured a century long of losing with the last World Series Championship coming in 1908. Over the past ten years the team has made the greatest strides to bring the MLB's highest trophy back to 1060 W. Addison. At the beginning of the 2000s, Don Baylor took his place in the home dugout. Baylor had great success with the Colorado Rockies, but the true test is if he could run the Cubs organization.

Baylor was replaced by Dusty Baker, who took the Cubs the closest they would get to the World Series, without appearing in it. But he couldn't get the Cubs to the next level. And after Baker came Lou Pinella. "Sweet Lou" had experience with turning around teams and having success in the playoffs with his only World Series title coming with the Cincinnati Reds some fifteen years earlier.

At times there were interim managers, but Baylor, Baker and Pinella were the main figure heads along that Wrigley Field third base dugout. And each manager managed success, but none took the Cubs to the World Series.

Once Pinella stepped down, former Iowa Cub manager Mike Quade assumed the duties from his previous employer. Some thought it was Lou's way of giving Quade a chance to interview for the job. At the same time, Cub All-Star, Ryne Sandberg was believed to be grooming himself for the job at triple A Iowa, and would be given the head Chicago position once it was opened.

The Cubs were low on many experts list to advance to the post-season citing deficiencies at many positions. Quade showed promise while in his interim position. The Cubs finished stronger and with a winning record in that short amount of time. Sandberg brought a wealth of experience from grooming many of the young Chicago roster while progressing with them in the minor leagues. However, if Sandberg was given the job, and success didn't happen, what would that do to his famed legacy in the Windy City?

Fast forward to the present with the Cubs hovering near last in the division and the team has yet to put together a three game winning streak. Injuries have struck the starting rotation as well as a few position players. And fans haven't been drawn to the Friendly Confines in the numbers the Rickett Family was expecting. Attendance has been lacking leading the Cubs to a promotion unheard of by many who follow the Cubs-$3 beers in the bleachers on Tuesday nights.

So, was the hiring of Quade a good baseball decision? Or should the Cubs have hired Sandberg, one of the most popular players in Cubs history, to lead the team and help sell seats in the process?

The Cubs have always been popular, and the lack of attendance shouldn't be alarming until the Summer months arrive with children out of school. It is June, July and August where seats are the toughest to come by on Chicago's North Side. But should the Cubs have made a business decision and ensuring more seats be sold in the earlier months of the season by hiring a former hero to bring fans into the ballpark.

For those who have watched the Cubs play this season know it doesn't have much of a chance to compete for any division or wild card title. And this team hasn't given their faithful fans much reason to believe the quality of play will improve. Quade was thought to be the sacrificial lamb as the guy taking the bumps and bruises until the youth mature and many overpaid salaries are off the Cubs' books. But with the high ticket prices, many fans may not want to spend their valuable time and money on a sub par product that hasn't shown any signs of progress.

So was this a good baseball decision? Or was it a bad business decision?

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