If the title to the Cubs well-known victory anthem were to suddenly be renamed to celebrate their under-qualified outfielder, it would not come as a surprise to me. Sure, the title isn’t as catchy and doesn’t flow, but all of the symbolism is there. Tony Campana is the epitome of Cubdom – The Loveable Loser.
For a little over a month, Campana had patrolled Wrigley Field along with several other Cubs prospects such as Brad Snyder, DJ LaMahieu, and Lou Montanez, although Montanez was hardly an early bloomer at the age of 29. Their major league opportunities were less because of ability and more due to the injuries of Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, Reed Johnson, Darwin Barney, Jeff Baker, and the shortcomings of Tyler Colvin.
In 74 at bats, Campana is hitting .270 with 18 of his 20 hits coming as singles. These numbers are hardly jaw-dropping, although he is 10 out of 11 in stolen base attempts and gets an “A” when it comes to effort and hustle. That being said, the Cubs fans seem to have grown fond of the young outfielder. That is the real problem.
It seems that after years of observing superstars like Soriano and Aramis Ramirez take plays off, Cubs fans are just fine watching a 5’8″, 165 lb go-getter such as Campana speed his way around the basepaths. Yes, on a few occasions, Campana’s speed has helped the Cubs win some games in a late, walk off fashion. After these wins, the Cubs fans all celebrated and sang in their usual manner, like all was well. Nevermind the fact that they are 18 games under .500 and will not even smell a playoff race in 2011.
Whether or not Cubs fans should be singing after any win these days is a different argument. It’s the attitude surrounding this franchise and its fans that needs to change. Cubs management has expressed plans in becoming more like the elite franchises such as the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. The early verdict on this goal is simple to determine: failure. Red Sox and Yankees fans would never put up with the product that is displayed day in and day out by the Cubs. Of course, It would be hard to say how they would react since none of these fans have experienced a losing season since 1997 (Boston, 78-84). The difference between these clubs and the Cubs is that Boston and New York hold their management accountable and replace them when things begin to go awry.
Here in Chicago, the fans have assimilated to the losing culture. There are no expectations at Wrigley Field and not enough pressure is put on management. If Tom Ricketts wants his new investment modeled after the Boston and New York franchises, a quick turnaround is necessary. In my eyes, we’ll need to see strives in 2012, and have an actual core by 2013 that radiates the ability to win. He can start by holding Jim Hendry and Crane Kenney accountable for the mess that they have left behind in what is the aftermath of Sam Zell’s brief ownership of the Cubs. Ricketts cannot expect the same people that handcuffed the Cubs with big money, difficult to move contracts, to be the ones to successfully rebuild this franchise into a winner.
If Ricketts wants to know what to really expect down the line from his new franchise, all he has to do is watch and see what the fans are seeing: The Ghost of Cubs Future, Tony Campana, parading around in his superhero cape that is fashioned out of the “W” flag, a mere 70-75 times a season.