Why Cubs fans should root for Padres to win World Series originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Cubs’ six consecutive wins — and 10 in their last 11 — are as nice as they are meaningless with the calendar flipping to October.
But if you’re a Cubs fan there’s a clear rooting interest left in this season.
You should be rooting hard for the Padres. Because if the most aggressive team over the last three or four years flames out early in October — or manages to miss the playoffs for the second straight year — it might be the worst of any possible postseason outcome ahead of a winter in which the Cubs promise to be aggressive.
What “aggressive” means for a huge-revenue team in the midst of its second tanking rebuild in a decade already seems debatable until the Ricketts family ownership and Jed Hoyer’s front office deliver on the promise.
And if a Padres team from a small media market with two $300 million hitters, two $100 million pitchers — a team that traded a trove of prospects for generational hitter Juan Soto at this year’s deadline — face plants under its new manager, then it gives the best excuse yet to every owner and front office already reluctant to go big to try to win.
Never mind to try to win every year.
It’s already a trend in this propeller-headed era of computer-valuation models, payroll-squeezing youth movements and owners using profits to invest in impressive ballpark villages instead of impact, win-now rosters.
That the Chicago Freaking Cubs can tank twice in a decade with one of the top four revenue bases in the game — and with a straight face — should already be scary and repugnant to anyone paying for a ticket.
That a team like the Padres can try to deliver for their fans with long-term contracts for popular impact players in an attempt to slug up a class with the Dodgers should be embarrassing to the “don’t know the definition of ‘rebuild’“ Cubs tankers.
But to think that the Padres might fail, again, to deliver for all their best efforts and fan-friendly intentions could be a nightmare for the fans of any team whose ownership already seeks cover and excuses for not spending to the level of its means to compete (google “biblical losses”).
And make no mistake: It would be bad for baseball.
It would provide exactly the kind of smart-guy-sounding example owners and front offices can use to continue to peddle the bill of goods to fans they’ve tried to sell for years about “cycles” of winning — that it’s somehow acceptable to spend multiple seasons with little intention of winning for some non-guaranteed promise of a World Series in the future.
Hey, it worked here already, right? The Cubs obviously can do it again, right?
That’s what ownership already has been selling since systematically tearing down a division-winning roster after the 2020 season, purging it of its entire All-Star, championship core (with Willson Contreras on his way out after this season).
No team in baseball loses money anymore. Franchises have never been worth more — by a decade-long rise measured in billions of dollars. And they’ve effectively slowed (in some cases capped) their biggest expenses to growth rates well below revenue growths through such mechanisms as payroll luxury taxes and hard caps on amateur signings.
And it’s a safe bet no ownership group outside of San Diego wants to see the Padres win the World Series this year.
Which should mean one thing to almost everyone else:
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