Most published articles about the Chicago Cubs the last couple days have been on the subject of a certain something that happened 10 years ago today. I’m not interested in pouring over all that dreck, but I did find an interview with Theo Epstein by Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago. The theme of the piece is that fatefull fall 2003 night, but Theo talked about other things, too. Like declining attendance.
“You can look at it both ways,” Epstein said. “Sure, you guys see the numbers and there’s been a decrease. But at the same time, this is a team that unfortunately is in last place. We traded 40 percent of our rotation two years in a row now and 2.6 million people have shown up to watch us play.
“I don’t doubt and will never doubt the dedication of our fans. It’s a huge asset to have as an organization and we don’t take that for granted. So we’re working our tails off to make the organization healthier, to reward them, ultimately, with the only thing that you really can reward fans with — winning clubs.”
The Cubs still ranked 12th in all of baseball in home attendance. That put them ahead of playoff teams like Atlanta, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. And while we all know that 2.6 million people didn’t attend games at Wrigley, they did manage to sell that many tickets. And Theo knows the fans will come back (hopefully to an improved ballpark experience).
“I have no doubt that the minute we put a winning team on the field, we will have a packed park,” Epstein said. “Raucous crowds and borderline intimidating crowds and a huge home-field advantage. Up until that point, all we can ask of our fans is to trust us that we’re working as hard as we can to make it happen.
“I would never spend someone’s money for ‘em. It’s a personal thing. But I will say that I believe the experience will ultimately be more rewarding if they’re around for the whole journey. That’s why we appreciate so many of them coming out this year.”
We’ve been on this journey a looooooong time.
The kids in the AFL didn’t play this weekend, but in case you hadn’t seen, Kris Bryant and Albert Almora hit the seams off the ball in their first few games in Arizona.
Kris Bryant hit a two-out RBI single in the first, driving in Jorge Soler, who had reached on an error, and a solo home run in the seventh to lift the Mesa Solar Sox to a 7-3 victory Friday night over the Peoria Javelinas in Surprise. Bryant was 2-for-5, and is 7-for-14 in three games in the Arizona Fall League with two home runs.
The Cubs’ Albert Almora, who is 6-for-10 in two games, will take part. Almora has hit for the cycle in his first two games with Mesa.
So there’s that.