Monday, July 11, 2011

Chicago Cubs: A Lesson In Bad Business


Baseball. It is foreign to me this year. I almost feel widowed to it. I have studied the precipitous decline of the Chicago Cubs for three seasons now. In fact, I do not recognize this ball club anymore. Not because of the new faces (rookies) but because of the lack of competitiveness at every level of the organization.

The Cubs do not have a sustainable competitive advantage. In fact, I am not aware of a competitive strategy. I believe the Cubs have a lack of leadership. Ricketts's direction of the team seems unclear. He comes off very amorphous; he talks, but he doesn't really tell us anything. For the betterment of the organization, Ricketts needs to be less a fan and more of a businessman with a clear direction. Most importantly, he needs to inform the fanbase on where he wants to take this team. I think we would all be more confident of the direction of this organization if Ricketts said "We have to be competitive again... And this is how we are going to do it." I wouldn't even care if he had charts and graphs (like Ross Perot). Just. Have. A. Plan.

We've had our opportunities to challenge management, most notably in the last Cubs Convention when fans got to directly question them, but the wound of Ron Santo's passing was still fresh and there were egg shells on the floor. People were aware of this fictional boundary — not to ruffle feathers. I think the most intriguing question was why the Cubs do not use more advanced statistical analysis. My opinion of Ricketts's answer was that he only has a few analysts on staff (if that) — and who knows what type analysis they use. Regardless, the synergy between analyst and manager should be smooth. The owner, Ricketts, should leverage the knowledge of the analysts to make their (on the field) product more competitive, then transfer this knowledge to the manager. Quade, if he was a good manager/leader, should have the analysts in his back pocket, picking their brains on lineups, pitching, defense, and speed.

Have the Cubs ruined baseball? Not for everyone. But for those of us that follow this team and have sucked up the losing ways for so long, it definitely seems that way. The saddest thing about this is that the Ricketts don't have an answer and we are afraid that the answer will be "business as usual" (overpaying veterans and ignoring how to create a winning organization through defense, speed, farm system, drafting, etc). And that's what has ruined my baseball experience.

The product has changed. It's not the same anymore. Not only do the Cubs compete for my time (going to a game vs. watching it at home) but also on price. There's a difference between price and value:
"Price is what you pay, value is what you get." — Warren Buffett
I haven't bought a Cubs ticket in about two years. The Cubs haven't ruined just baseball for me, but business as well.

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