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Smith: How will Cubs ownership legacy be defined?

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If you’re a Cubs fan, it’s been quite an emotional ride over the last 8 years or so. When you hear the name Tom Ricketts, what emotion comes to mind? Joy? Anger? Frustration? Think about it: This is the guy who helped bring a World Series Championship and the most successful stretch of Cubs baseball in our lifetime. But in the last 3-4 years? It’s been a lack of awareness, a lack of spending, and another full-on rebuild that has seen beloved Cub after beloved Cub walk out the door. And with this season’s Trade Deadline approaching, more fan-favorites like Willson Contreras appear to be next.

Let’s try to step back for a minute and look at the complete 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 him 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 has done to the entire core of this team.

At the same time, Ricketts isn’t the only one to blame for the downward spiral. The front office didn’t develop pitching or draft well. The core players weren’t producing at the same level. And sometimes, you just have to admit: Baseball is hard, completely unpredictable, and really difficult to sustain a high level of success.

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 he 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.

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.

Tyler Smith is the current girls basketball coach at Crawfordsville High School and covers the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Hoosiers for IndySportsLegends.com

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