Cubs Show Business Side of Baseball
The Texas Rangers should pay attention to what’s happening in Chicago and not make the same mistake here. Have you ever heard of Kris Bryant? Chances are probably not unless you’re a big Chicago Cubs fan or a baseball nerd all together. Bryant is the sensational Cubs rookie who just hit the cover off the ball in spring training and was unceremoniously sent back to the Cubs minor leagues. Here’s all that Bryant did in spring training for the Cubs; in 14 games he hit .425 with a Cactus League leading 9 home runs and 15 RBIs. He’s the first player in at least a dozen years to lead spring training in home runs and NOT make the major league roster. The reason the Cubs sent him down? If he plays at least 11 games in the minors, the Cubs get an extra season out of him before he can become a free agent. At some point the business of sports has to…occasionally…take a back seat to the whole reason for professional sports to exist – which is to watch the very best players play against each other.
It may just be 11 games but hell, it could be 11 games that could help the Cubs make the playoffs – and that he won’t be able to help them now. It’s telling your fans that “we’ll put the best players on the field, IF it makes financial sense for us to do it.” In case you think that Bryant just came out of nowhere and had a great month in Arizona and the Cubs just wanted him to polish himself a bit more check this – he won the Silver Slugger award at the University of San Diego as the best amateur player in the country, he was drafted second by the Cubs out of college, just a few month after being drafted he was the Arizona Fall League MVP, then Player of the Year in the minors last year when he led the league with 43 homers and hit .325 with 110 RBIs.
Seriously, what else could a guy do to earn a spot on a major league club? And by the way, in case Theo Epstein hasn’t checked the standings lately, we’re not talking about the San Francisco Giants here. The Cubs finished 73-89, dead last in the NL Central last season. They lost 96 games in 2013 and 101 the year before that. A team that is as desperate as any team in any sport on any planet, has Hercules in its possession and instead of rewarding him for all his hard work by putting him on the opening day roster, they concoct a story about how he needs a bit more “seasoning” before they bring him up. At least the Cubs management should say what it is. It’s about keeping him from free agency for an extra year and saving a lot of money. Here’s what General Manager Theo Epstein said about it, “I’ve never put a guy on an opening day roster who hadn’t played in the big leagues previously. In 13 years, I’ve never done it,” Epstein said. “I’m not saying I’d never do it, but the general rule, the presumption, is to allow those guys to go out, play, get comfortable, get in rhythm, and come up when you handpick just the right moment for them to have success.” I’m going to take a wild guess that the right moment is just after his 11th game.
Bryant is trying to take the high road and said, “I don’t want to say I’m mad or anything, I’m just extremely disappointed. I wanted my performance to matter, and to me it felt like it didn’t matter as much as I thought it would.” When Bryant is finally a free agent, you have to wonder if this little maneuver will still be in his mind (and his agent’s Scott Boras), and bite the Cubs in their collective ass on their way back down to the cellar…again.