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The Cubs are making scouts take the subway!

Jan 17, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT

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Well, they don’t call it the subway in Chicago. It’s the L. But that’s not important right now. What’s important is that the Cubs’ owners are being compared to Marge Schott by Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times:

For instance, a big-market team that just committed $3.5 million a year to a newly created position of president of baseball operations, that created several other high-level front-office jobs and that’s assured of trimming tens of millions of dollars from its big-league payroll this season is pulling a Marge Schott on its scouting staff this week to save relative pennies.

Borrowing a page from the notoriously cheap former Cincinnati Reds owner, the Cubs assigned their scouts two-to-a-room hotel accommodations this week and advised using the L instead of cabs, including to and from airports with their luggage, sources said.

“Sources” likely being “a scout really, really mad that he can’t expense cab fare anymore.”

Look, I love some good us-against-the-suits rabble-rousing, and I guess this does stink for the lower-level employees. But forgive me if this doesn’t exactly rise to the level of outrage for me.  Wake me up when cost-cutting actually prevents the team from making smart baseball decisions.

  1. kranepool - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    A light bulb just went off over Fred Wilpon’s head

    • sdelmonte - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:24 PM

      Anyone who isn’t taking a subway to Citi instead of driving is a fool in the first place.

      • Old Gator - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:12 PM

        Anyone who is going to Citi astride any conveyance, including Mr. Ed, Francis the Talking Mule, Bresson’s Balthasaar (his show name) or a Galapagos tortoise steered with a fishing line with a strawberry at the end of it is a fool in in the first place if they really want to be rid of the Wilpon regime.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:18 PM

        I am positive I’d pay anything to see Gator go head-to-head with Jim Bowden on ESPN radio.

      • JBerardi - Jan 17, 2012 at 8:06 PM

        “a Galapagos tortoise steered with a fishing line with a strawberry at the end of it”

        My mental image of Gator now includes him using this as his primary mode of transportation.

      • Old Gator - Jan 17, 2012 at 11:34 PM

        The tortoise was the primary mode of pre-adolescent transportation at the old Catskill Game Farm. My parents used to take me there when I was a child to exploit the endangered species. It was fun. At the end of the ride you were allowed to let the tortoise have the strawberry, which pleased it immensely and made it love you. Just a form of hostage syndrome, I think.

  2. bloodysock - Jan 17, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Rubbing nickels together to cover the $15 million they sent to the Marlins to dump Zambrano.

    • Old Gator - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:14 PM

      Yeah, it’s Scrooge McLoria level penury, that’s for sure. But let’s not exaggerate. Until the front office starts insisting that their scouts wear swastika armbands, the analogies with Marge Schott will be extenuated.

  3. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    The Blue line (O’Hare) and the Orange line (Midway) are both crappy rails to ride, in my opinion. The Blue line, especially. It rattles too much and is usually overcrowded. However, both rails are also easy to get to from the airports, and the CTA is working on redesigning the trains.

    However, we don’t know how much was expensed previously, and if the previous costs actually did hurt the team in some way. And the L is still pretty cheap – I pay $86 for my 30-day passes.

    Both lines, however, would require a transfer to the Red line to get to the Addison stop. And I hate transfers, so I feel them there.

    But if I were working for the Cubs, my favorite team, I think I’d put up with a lot, out of my silly fandom.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:08 PM

      Wow, I really like to use the word “however.”

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:34 PM

        Gator for the win, as always.

        What had brought you to London?

    • Old Gator - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:23 PM

      I really enjoyed the L when I lived in Chicagoland and went to UC. I enjoyed cruising by all those wooden fire escapes, fantasizing about what a stone blast Mrs. O’Leary could have if she were around today. It was a pleasure to take it to O’Hare for my periodic flights south to Macondo for some decent Cuban food. When I lived in London, I really enjoyed the comfort and convenience of the underground, the Sloan Square bitch who kept droning “Mind the gap!” in my ear, and all the punk chicks without bras in December, when the cold made their…uh…well, anyway, and then I came home to Macondo with its wretched single Metrorail line and HIV test ads along the a/c ducts, and if you’re lucky, a huge Cuban anole with a screaming treefrog in its mouth – sushi style – staring at you from the top of a palm tree next to the platform. Trust me, Chicagolanders: aside from your accursed baseball team, you have great transportation and even greater pizza – not horrible horsemeat and Velveeta™ sandwiches.

    • Old Gator - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:29 PM

      Stairs: I was there to collect from some recalcitrant Lloyds underwriters parts of a six hundred million dollar liability claim against McDonnel-Douglas for a misfired booster rocket that sent two communications satellites into useless orbits. It was supposed to take me six to eight months to get the jib done but I found ways of taking on new projects that kept me there for four and a half years. It was a hayride – I was getting paid from the States and Sterling was very weak. I had a flat on the Thames in Chelsea overlooking Battersea Park and the Albert Bridge. English women loved my accent. I lost my taste for that golden pisswater Americans call beer and became an ale person. I had a ringside seat and unlimited popcorn for the Falklands War, the coal strike, Greenham Common and Ascot.I watched Yes, Minister, The Young Ones, Struggle, a bunch of great sick Dennis Potter musicals on the BBC, learned a lot of Salman Rushdie jokes and hung out at the 606 Club. Life was good.

      It all ended when I married a London girl who insisted on going back to Macondo so that she could see what the sun looked like.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 19, 2012 at 10:44 AM

        Wow – you saw a lot! You were an attorney, then?

  4. kopy - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Having a hotel roommate everywhere you go may not exactly be the most fun, but I wouldn’t listen to any complaints about having to take the subway. The L in Chicago is more than serviceable for getting around the city.

  5. xmatt0926x - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    The “EL” (elevated train) and subway are two different things entirely.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:07 PM

      It goes underground a lot. Semantics, my friend.

  6. pike573 - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    I would say it does have the potential to be a bad baseball decision. What if you run off your scouts who know their worth?

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:21 PM

      If transportation is a dealbreaker when you’re working for one of the most storied franchises on earth, your priorities are a bit questionable.

      • pike573 - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:39 PM

        it’s not about transportation… it’s about treatment and value. if the organization doesn’t value my services and i have option to move to one that does, then i’m moving along. if they have this little concern for their scouts in this regard i doubt they have regard for them in others.

        being a storied francshise doesn’t give you the right to be a bad employer.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:48 PM

        That’s so weird – I don’t recall saying the Cubs are acting like a bad employer or not valuing anyone properly. I’m merely saying, I don’t expect my employer to expense my transportation, and the Cubs have no real need to.

        If their salary is right, and their work is regarded, then the L being a dealbreaker is a bit petty. That’s all I’m saying.

      • paperlions - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:03 PM

        Whereas the Cubs may be a “storied” franchise….it isn’t a good story…it is a “you are the but of a bunch of jokes story”.

        Good baseball decisions can only be made with good information, a lot of that information comes directly from your scouts. Good scouts likely have a choice of employer, and when other options come along that are more attractive than your current one….those scouts will be gone.

        Theo (and Hoyer) make millions/year making decisions based on information collected by other people….treating those people anything other than first class may compromise the quality of the information they have to make decisions. Savings this minor within the context of MLB team expenditures is not worth losing one quality scout.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 17, 2012 at 3:14 PM

        You know what, the article said this week. And honestly, the L is less stressful than the idiot cab drivers we have in Chicago. We don’t even know that this is permanent. And it sure isn’t a big deal.

        We don’t know how budgets work for MLB teams. We have very little resources to find anything out. Maybe scouts use to abuse the hell out of their expenses – and considering the Cubs farm system is a joke, maybe I’ll go as far as to believe Jed and Theo are sending a message.

        Again, we don’t know anything other than scouts had to take the L this week instead of a cab they could easily afford and likely took anyway. I don’t feel this is disrespect. Let’s agree to disagree.

  7. ndrocks2 - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Two old scouts sharing a room and riding the L from the airport carrying luggage probably sounded ok when they were discussing in the boardroom over their catered breakfast, lunch and snacks but really Rickett$ “come on man”. This is petty beyond belief for any MLB team especially one from a market the size of Chicago.

    • JB (the original) - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:58 PM

      We’ll see how long it lasts once “regular” L riders/commuters start seeing these guys on the train with their logo’d attire and luggage and chatting them up as to who they are and what they’re doing. Being as the scouts probably aren’t exactly happy about the change, I would imagine the conversations wouldn’t exactly be painting the team/executives in a rosy way, thus leading to the general fandom to start making fun of/ripping the team about the matter; then it will all quietly go away.

  8. henryd3rd - Jan 17, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Theo; did you make your scouts use the T in Boston or was that Larry’s territory?

  9. blacubed - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    The news from this article was learning they actually had scouts.

  10. blacubed - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    The news from this article was learning the Cubs actually have scouts.

  11. blacubed - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    The news from this article is learning the Cubs actually have scouts.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:49 PM

      A comment so good, it had to be said thrice. :)

  12. lanflfan - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    My gut feeling on reading this was Saber-head Theo was searching for ways to annoy their scouts into quitting, but that is probably just the Saber-hater in me speaking. I agree this is a “wait and see” if it effects baseball decisions.

    And Craig, +1 for the Airplane! reference.

    • ptfu - Jan 17, 2012 at 6:44 PM

      During rush hour, it’s nearly as fast and way cheaper to take the el to/from either airport. You don’t need sabermetrics to know that.

    • JBerardi - Jan 17, 2012 at 8:12 PM

      Theo isn’t a “saber” guy, he’s an information guy. Stats are information. So are scouting reports. I promise you he’s looking at both.

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