Putting the Lovable Losers on notice

Originally Posted Online: April 23, 2014, 11:00 pm
Last Updated: April 24, 2014, 11:42 am
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By Frank Mullen III
To: Thomas S. Ricketts, owner, Chicago Cubs
From: Frank Mullen III
Subj: Final Notice

Dear Sir:

This is to inform you that if the Chicago Cubs do not turn out a winning season in 2014, our heretofore sunny relationship may be terminated.

You will recall that this relationship began in 2009, when the Cubs finished the season with a .516 win-loss record. Cheers rang across the prairie. For the Cubs, this was the equivalent of winning the Intergalactic Pennant.

You and I, I fear, overreacted. You diversified your securities and banking holdings by purchasing the Cubs for $900 million. I dropped my allegiance to the New York Mets and began to champion the Cubs, writing newspaper columns lauding the team's nobility, traditions and bright future.

In the ensuing years, however, I have won more new fans for the Cubs than the Cubs have won games, period.

Cheerleaders, however, do not win games. Winning teams win games. And it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to write an honest sentence that includes the phrases "winning team" and "Chicago Cubs."

As I write, the Cubs' win-loss record is .286. Two-eighty-six may be a fine average at the Lucky Strike Lanes, but this is the National League, not a bowling league. I am similarly reminded of those 1980s-era IBM 286 computers that ran at the speed of molasses and were barely capable of accomplishing the simplest of tasks, not unlike the baseball team under discussion.

Sir, even the Cubs' most diehard fans are starting to complain that the team is going down the tubes. What a bunch of optimists. The Chicago Cubs are not "going down" the tubes; they have passed completely through the tubes, shot out the far end and landed face-down in a dark, moist area known as "The Pits."

The nickname "Lovable Losers" perversely understates the Cubs' accomplishments. In a sense, they are miracle workers. Last season, for instance, they improved their winning percentage over the previous year yet somehow managed to drop into last place in the Central Division. Of course, this was partly due to the fact the Houston Astros shifted to the American League, leaving no one in the Central Division for the Cubs to finish ahead of.

I hate to do this, sir, but I must now bring up the St. Louis Cardinals. With each passing year year, the win-loss margin by which the Cardinals outperform the Cubs grows wider. In 2009, that margin was a mere .46. By last season, this margin had quadrupled to a humiliating difference of .188.

Mr. Ricketts, I realize that you are a stockbroker, not a pitching coach, and that your knowledge of the finer points of baseball probably does not exceed mine. However, while you are sipping martinis in the owner's box, I am on the ground, dodging catcalls from snickering fans of the St. Louis Cardinals.

I've had enough. Be advised, then, that if you want my support to continue next year, the Cubs must turn out a winning season this year.

This is harsh, I know, but, in fairness, I am willing to negotiate a redefinition of the term "winning season." I propose this: if the win-loss gap between the Cubs and the Cardinals shrinks by just one-zillionth of a percentage point -- in other words, if the Cubs don't do as poorly compared to the Cardinals as they did last year -- I, and countless Cubs fans, will count 2014 as a "winning season."

You are on notice.
Frank Mullen III of Aledo is a retired Navy band leader.


Local events heading

  Today is Thursday, July 31, the 212th day of 2014. There are 153 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: A corps of surgeons now occupies the new hospital quarters at the Garrison Hospital on the Rock Island Arsenal. A fence has been installed to enclose the prison hospital.
1889 -- 125 years ago: B. Winter has let a contract to Christ Schreiner for a two story brick building with a double store front on the south side of 3rd Avenue just west of 17th Street. The estimated cost was $4,500.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Germany sent simultaneous ultimatums to Russia and France, demanding that Russia suspend mobilization within 12 hours and demanding that France inform Germany within 18 hours. In the case of war between Germany and Russia, France would remain neutral.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Civil service offices at the post office and the Rock Island Arsenal were swamped as more than 700 youths sought 15 machinist apprenticeships at the Arsenal.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Last night, American Legion Post 246 in Moline figuratively handed over the trousers to a female ex-Marine and petticoat rule began. Olga Swanson, of Moline, was installed as the first woman commander of the post .
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Illinois Quad City Civic Center captured the excitement and interest of a convention of auditorium managers this weekend in Reno, Nev. Bill Adams, civic center authority chairman, said the 10,000-seat arena planned for downtown Moline has caught the eye of construction firms, suppliers, management teams and concession groups.

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