Chicago Cubs Fans Have it Hard

Joe PiscopoContributor IMarch 1, 2010

CHICAGO - AUGUST 30: Carlos Zambrano #38 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the New York Mets on August 30, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Mets defeated the Cubs 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It's downright hard to be a Cubs fan.  There, I said it.  It's impossible to sugarcoat it.  That's just the way it is for Cubs fans.  Hard.  Really hard.

Surely if you have paid even just a little attention to baseball in your life you understand why.  Actually you haven't had to pay attention to baseball at all to understand why.  The Chicago Cubs are the butt of countless jokes due to the fact that they have not won a World Series in over 100 years.  I can go over all the asinine reasons people bring up as the cause of this such as Billy Goat Curses and whatnot but that's all those are, asinine.

There are actual, legitimate reasons the Cubs have had such trouble winning in the last 100 years.  The last time the Cubs won a World Series title was in 1908.  From 1909 through 1924 the Cubs were in the World Series two more times but lost both times.  In that same 16 year time span of 1909-1924 the Cubs had a winning record in 11 out of those 16 seasons. 

William Wrigley Jr. purchased the Chicago Cubs in 1925.  Mr. Wrigley was a big baseball fan and he loved his Cubs dearly.  He badly wanted to win and did whatever he could to accomplish that.  Mr. Wrigley died in January of 1932 so he only got to run the team for seven seasons, but the Cubs had winning records in six out of those seven seasons he ran the team.

They also made it to the World Series once for him in 1929.

When William Wrigley Jr. died in 1932, he left control of the team to his son, P.K. Wrigley.  On Mr. Wrigley's deathbed he made his son P.K. promise to never sell his beloved Cubs as long as P.K. lived.  P.K. Wrigley would keep his promise to his father, but unfortunately he did not share the passion for baseball that his father did. 

William Wrigley ran a business empire of which his chewing gum company was the main component.  When P.K. Wrigley took over this empire he was much more interested and dedicated to  running the chewing gum company instead of running the Cubs.  It was at this time that the Chicago Cubs franchise took a turn into mediocrity.

P.K. Wrigley did not care about the Cubs and it showed as he spent very  little money trying to improve the team.  He treated the Cubs as one big advertisement for his Wrigley's Chewing Gum which is all he really cared about.  He only held on to the team because of his promise to his father. It's common knowledge that if a baseball team doesn't spend enough money it makes it very difficult to be competitive. 

P.K. gave the Cubs basically the bare minimum in order to keep the team running, but no more than that.  P.K. Wrigley taking over the team started the Cubs down the path of being the laughingstocks of baseball.  Since he lived until 1977 this period was considerable.

When P.K. Wrigley died, his son, William Wrigley lll, inherited the team. William Wrigley lll did not know anything about running a baseball team and his first and only course of action was selling the team in order to pay the considerable estate taxes left by his parents' death.

William Wrigley lll did find a buyer for the team and in 1981 the Tribune Newspaper Company became the new owners of the Chicago Cubs. By this time the Cubs were a very popular team across the country due to their games being broadcast nationally for a long time, first on WGN Radio and then on WGN TV. 

The Cubs were a cash cow because of this popularity even though they hadn't won anything in a long time. Being a cash cow was the sole reason the Tribune Company wanted and bought the team. 

Like P.K. Wrigley, the Tribune Company only cared about how much money the Cubs could make for them and what they could use the Cubs for.  The Tribune Company gave the Cubs a paltry payroll despite the fact that Chicago was one of the largest markets in the country. 

Ticket prices were continually raised and people kept coming to the games so the Tribune Company made lots of profit but none of this profit was reinvested in the team.  Tribune just played cheap and pocketed the majority of the money.  So the Cubs went from one owner in P.K. Wrigley that didn't care about them and let them have very little money right to another owner that was basically a carbon copy of him in the Tribune Company.

Now, money isn't everything in the game of baseball.  It's not impossible to win with a small payroll.  However, in order for a team to win with a small payroll there has to be a lot of luck involved and everything has to go their way. Having money to spend is the No. 1 factor in fielding a winning baseball team and the New York Yankees are the perfect example of this.

Fortunately for us Cubs fans, the Tribune Company finally decided to start spending some real money on the team a few years ago and the Cubs made the playoffs two straight years because of this in 2007 and 2008.  The only reason the Tribune Company started spending money was because they were in the process of trying to sell the Cubs to a new owner and they knew the bills were going to be paid by someone other than them.

After several years the sale of the Chicago Cubs finally went through and the Ricketts family became the new owners.  This marks a new era for the Cubs and their fans.  The Ricketts family are self-proclaimed Cubs fans themselves and they have said they badly want to see the team win. 

This is a vast difference from when P.K. Wrigley and the Tribune Company owned the team.  Only time will tell if the Ricketts family are the saviors we have all been waiting for.

This little history lesson I just told you is not known by many people.  That is why there has always been this ridiculous talk about curses and such when the truth is there are legitimate reasons why the Cubs have been so bad for so long. 

William Wrigley Jr. was a great owner who loved the team and wanted them to win but he made one great mistake by making his son promise to not sell the team while he was alive.  Had he let his son sell the team the history of the Cubs probably would have been vastly different.

All this losing and being the punchline of countless jokes makes it difficult to maintain the loyalty and love Cubs fans have for their team.  But that is what makes the Cubs and their fans special.  Nowhere in sports will you find a more dedicated and passionate group of fans.  For better or worse, all of us true Cubs fans are in it until the end.

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