Hell of a week, huh? Too bad DeLorean is out of business and flux capacitors don’t exist since I suspect you’d be first in line if that was a possibility.
As much as I’d like to, I’m going to try not to talk about my feelings regarding what happened this week; I suspect you’ve heard enough opinions like mine, and it wouldn’t exactly be constructive. No, this letter is for you, and on the off-chance you actually read it, I hope you take some of what I’m saying to heart and actually consider it.
It’s hard to believe that less than a week ago, you were probably the most popular player on your team with the fans. You were a stand-up guy that exemplified what we liked to see in our players, and if that weren’t enough, by granting us a peek into your family when Riley’s illness came about, and then engaging the fan community and the city as a whole in an attempt to raise funds to combat 22q, you became more than just one of 25 guys that take the diamond in blue pinstripes. You were a man struggling through a situation that would terrify any of us, and that makes you more than a ballplayer to anyone with a heart.
What a difference a week can make.
I don’t pretend to know all the factors that have led to the decisions you’ve made. While I’ve read just about every piece of press available on what’s happened this week, I know they don’t tell the whole story. But what just about every story does say, and which no one has really refuted, is that you had identified Atlanta as an acceptable destination if you were traded.
I don’t think anyone really begrudges your 10/5 rights. You’ve earned them just like any other veteran that has them. Want to stay in the NL? We’re fine with that. Want a trade to a contender? No problem. But using those rights to force a trade to a single team, particularly after saying you’d be willing to go to another team, that just doesn’t sit right.
We could be upset that your insistence on going to the Dodgers has removed any leverage the Cubs had in the trade market. We could be upset that by holding out approval for a deal, you’ve cost the Cubs what would be the team’s #1 starting pitching prospect, and a significant piece in the rebuilding project that could end 104 years and counting of collective misery. I’ll be honest, these things do upset me, but then I remember that no player is a sure thing, and that anyone we acquire in a trade this year could be DFA’d and relegated to the minor leagues in the next year. No, what upsets us the most, I think, is that you went back on your word.
As fans, we had big hopes for the trade deadline this season. It’s not that we wanted to part with guys like you, Matt, Reed, or David, but in a lost season like this, we see how saying goodbye, at least for now, can help with the eventual goal of a World Series title. It was only a month ago that you were quoted saying how important it was to you to improve the Cubs for the future and how the organization has done nothing but right by you.
So what happened? Why doesn’t this matter anymore? Why doesn’t your word matter anymore? You were beloved by one of the most enthusiastic fanbases in all of professional sports, and today many of them wouldn’t give you the time of day. Sure, some of the more casual fans who don’t pay very close attention won’t know the details of what’s happened this week, but those of us who do follow things closely, who remember where we were October 14, 2003, we’ll remember this, and I don’t think we’ll remember it fondly.
Things weren’t supposed to happen this way. We finally had a future to look forward to, and a plan on how to get there. But then we have to remember, this is the Cubs we’re talking about. Just another bump in a very long road.
We fans are used to disappointment. You know this; you’re one of us. I guess something like this was inevitable. We just never thought, when we pulled the knife out of our collective backs, that it would have the number 46 on it.
Ultimately, how this all ends is up to you, Ryan. It’s not the 31st yet, and there’s still a chance to do the right thing. I just hope you realize it before it’s too late.