Defining Ricketts Ownership Legacy Post-Selloff is Mighty Complicated
When you hear the name Tom Ricketts, what comes to your mind? Joy? Anger? Frustration? Ask a Cubs fan this question in 2016, and then again today, and you’d probably get completely different answers.
Let’s try to step back for a minute and look at the complete and total picture.
The Ricketts Family has accomplished everything we ever dreamed about as Cubs fans. When the franchise was searching for a new owner, all most fans wanted was an owner that would do whatever it took to keep Wrigley Field intact and to win a World Series. That’s exactly what the Ricketts’ have accomplished. No matter how you feel about Tommy boy right now, you can’t ignore his role in helping to bring the most successful era to this franchise. I mean, would you rather go back to the Tribune Company days? I can’t imagine you would. And when did “just one before I die” turn into “win every year or we hate you?” It has largely been a very successful run on the North Side for this polarizing family.
Despite all of that, the Ricketts have also deserved plenty of ridicule. From the Marquee Sports Network circus to the “biblical losses” comments, to the lack of self-awareness in many different topics, maybe you feel the urge to tell Tom Ricketts, “Thanks for everything, but it’s time to move on.” You know, like Jed Hoyer did to the rest of the core players last week.
As Jon Greenberg mentioned in The Athletic: “Sometimes, it feels as if he only presents himself as the owner when things are going well. When things go badly, it’s, ‘hey, I’m hands-off, let the baseball guys do baseball things.'” Greenberg continued, “On the other hand, it’s not Ricketts’ fault the Cubs’ player-development system hit a snag during their contention window. You can’t blame him for bad drafts. He didn’t tell Theo to sign Jason Heyward. Ricketts sometimes takes too much public heat for things out of his control.”
Years from now, what will be Tom Ricketts’ legacy? The guy who finally did the unthinkable? The guy who should’ve done much more with what we had? Or, will it all depend on what happens next? If Hoyer and his team build another winner in the near future, I think you know the answer to that question. But as of this moment, it’s hard to find much praise in your heart for this ownership.
Maybe we’ll never know the exact details of Tom’s role in the baseball decisions over the years. The Castellanos decision still haunts this club, was that because of Tom? The Darvish trade (though it looks fine now after the sell-off), mandated by Tom? Guys like Bryce Harper that wanted to be here, and a core that would have stayed here for the right deals; how much blame does Tom Ricketts deserve in all of this?
I’ve never bought the claim that Ricketts only cares about money. People said that early in his tenure at the same time a ton of money was being poured into renovating Wrigley Field. Then what happened? The Cubs put together an amazing seven-year run. I truly believe he wants to win and is a massive Cubs fan at heart. I also believe he’s out of touch with reality at times and could’ve easily done more to help this team win the last few years. But with all of that said, let’s see what happens next.
Hoyer and Ricketts keep talking about building “the next great Cubs team.” They’ve done it before. Maybe, just maybe, they can do it again.