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BCB Interview: Crane Kenney

Crane Kenney

On the eve of the Winter Meetings, I had another opportunity to sit down with Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney last Friday afternoon. It was quite a long and wide-ranging session, covering everything from the ticket price increase to the upcoming sale of the team to how he reacted to last October's collapse.

Read the full interview after the jump.

Also, I will be monitoring the Hall of Fame announcement expected at noon today, hoping it's good news for Ron Santo, and either way I'll make a front-page post for discussion.

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MLB Hot Stove

BCB: The first thing that I think is on everyone's mind is the impact of the economic situation on the team, the payroll, ticket prices, advertising, every financial aspect of it.

CK: I’ll give you our season ticket holder letter, which you’ll get but I can give you a copy of it. We just did this with the beat writers today, so this is my letter to the season ticket holders and that’s the fact sheet on ticket prices.

The facts are the economy does impact what we’re doing. You don’t have to go far to figure out in today’s unemployment numbers the fact that we have some major categories that are important to us here like domestic automotive, financial services, airline, all of which are in different states of disrepair does impact what we do with the ticket prices. So what we did this year going forward is we did a freeze for a third of the ballpark and then we created a new category. What we’ve learned with our StubHub relationship is that there are about 14 games, our marquee games that are most actively traded. A big portion of our house, these tickets get traded at big markups to the face value. And listen, it’s the way people in some ways underwrite their season ticket purchases. They trade their White Sox tickets for four times face value and that’s fine. So we did increase our prices for those games. But if you left that out our ticket price increases are six percent for next year which is still an increase, and I know some people wish there wasn’t one. But we think it is modest in comparison with what we’ve done in the past and allows us to achieve some payroll increases that are going to allow us to fix a couple of places in the roster that we want to improve and maintain the facility. You know we’re one of the few privately owned facilities around. Jerry [Reinsdorf] is getting his new vertical transportation and bridge at 35th Street paid for by the public, by you and I. We don’t have any of those resources.

BCB: So are you willing to go on record about anything concerning player payroll? There’s been a lot of speculation about exactly how much it’s going to be and what players can be afforded and signed.

CK: It wouldn’t help us in the market for people to know exactly how high it’s going, but it’s going up. And you look at my track record here. When I walked in the payroll was roughly $80 million and last year we finished at about $130 million.

BCB: So is money going to be an issue in terms of what Jim Hendry does this week?

CK: Yes, but it’s always an issue. We set a payroll number that we have to operate within and this goes back for five years. This is the way we’ve always done it. We’ve already set our payroll number for ’09. It is above the ’08 number. So he’ll operate within the budget and we think that gives us enough room to address the issues we think we need to address.

BCB: Will there be some room for acquisitions during the season?

CK: Yes, we always leave some room for mid year moves.

BCB: May we see some Spring Training moves again, too?

CK: You know, it’s an interesting market. If you look at the number of players that are still on the board. If you think about it, if you think about a typical off season, by the time the winter meetings start you would have seen significantly more transactions. If you think about, we did DeRosa at the GM meetings...

BCB: In November.

CK: Yeah. And then followed up with Sori by now as well. We had done most of our hard work before the winter meetings but if you look at the gross number of free agents still on the market now, it’s going to be a very interesting session Monday and through Christmas and it's very hard to predict what the marketplace will be for some of these players. I think your CC’s and your Mannys are going to get paid, but I think you know, I’m not sure any of us have seen an off season like this one.

BCB: Has there been any large scale or even medium scale cancellation of season tickets? Did anybody call just after the playoffs and cancel?

CK: No.

BCB: What about Cub single game ticket prices?

CK: We’re not going to differentiate the season [prices from] the single game.

BCB: Last year you sold a nine pack of games.

CK: Yes, we’re looking at doing a similar nine pack. Nine, maybe 10, I’m not sure exactly the number of games, but we are looking at doing a presale, that was our thought ahead of the sale date -- a presale of certain package games.

BCB: So it’ll be similar to what was done last year?

CK: Yeah. That was really well received. We offered it to some of our better supporters early on and then open to the public.

BCB: What about other forms of revenue? Advertising, how is that?

CK: Some of our big sponsors… all I need to know is General Motors pulled out of the Masters, right? So domestic auto is an important part of our, financial services is an important category for us. We have good level support from our sponsors – the Anheuser Busch’s, the Pepsi’s, CBOE. Those guys are all back and I think we’ll be able to replace the ones who are unable to stay with us because there is a long list of folks who want to come into the park and there’s a limited number of sponsorship opportunities. We have not created a massive billboard out there like some of the other parks have. We’ve guarded our real estate pretty carefully and it’s a tough year.

BCB: Speaking of which, I know that they’re going to bring in some sort of big electronic board for the hockey classic. Are you looking at doing anything like that? Is that kind of a trial run for what it might look like?

CK: It's not an intentional trial run. They need to put those boards up because with the dasher or basher boards for the hockey game being waist high a lot of the seating down low won’t know where the puck is. They’ll see the players skating but they’re going to need something else to follow the puck, so it’s unrelated to anything else. I think we may learn something by looking at it and what does it do to the ballpark just seeing video board up in right and left center field. But we don’t have any plans to do something like that in the future.

BCB: What about the ads you added to upper deck façade last year? Is there going to be anything added to that?

CK: Yeah. We may add two more boards. I think what we’ve been trying to do is incrementally bring more marketing into the ballpark. The first was the Under Armour doors then the Van Kampen tarp, and then we did the façade boards, and then we did the Bud Light Bleachers and then we did the CBOE last year and I think what we’re trying to do is this is an important source of revenue for us. It’s a lucrative source of revenue for us. It allows our team payroll to go from, our team payroll didn’t go from 80-130 [million] because I wanted it to or because Tribune’s giving us any more money. It went there because we grew the business to allow ourselves to grow the payroll. And beyond the payroll what we’re doing, almost as importantly what we’re doing in the player development scouting … today we announced the hiring of a rock star scout for the Dominican, Louie Eljaua. I probably first heard about Louie about 10 months ago when Oneri Fleita came in and said we've got a shot at hiring a difference maker. Actually it’s not only the Dominican but also Asia and so we brought him on board and yesterday I met two of our Korean players. We spent a million and a half to sign two players from Korea.

BCB: Are these the two that just started in the system last year?

CK: These are two other players. But we are mining a lot of talent in Asia. Paul Weaver and Steve Wilson and our crew that are out there… anyway, the bottom line is the resources that we’re putting to bear whether it’s in Asian scouting, amateur draft, domestic amateur draft, our facility in Dominican, we’re now hawing I think 60 players for nine months – feeding them, schooling them, obviously working them out to develop them as players. We now have a state of the art facility in the Dominican, which is a far cry from where it was years ago. So, all the resources we’re putting into the system over all are presenting itself in the Marmols and the Sotos and the Theriots, the young players, we now see Samardzija coming up through the system. So it’s not just the major league payroll – gee how much is that going up??? Are you going to dedicate resources to Asia, Dominican, scouting, hiring new scouts, etc.

BCB: Is this all part of a plan to develop an over all organizational philosophy? Because lot of people that talk about this say that since they were kids, the Cubs have never had a top down organizational philosophy…

CK: Well there is. There’s the "Oriole Way." There are a number of people who have written books about this is the way our team is going to operate. I came at it, I’ve been involved in it 13, 14 years and I came at it, got control of this thing in ’03, and I’m not sure it’s a philosophy as much as it is asking a lot of questions –- how do we measure our scouts? How do we benchmark our scouts against their performance against other scouts? How do we, just like you would with a stock picker, know whether our scouts are picking players, maybe the ones that we drafted, maybe the ones that we didn’t draft, but that we scouted anyway. How do we measure performance in our scouting system? And then how do we allocate our resources toward the people that are performing well and away from the people that aren’t. How do we upgrade our staff? Hiring a Tim Wilken to come in and run our draft. I think those are just good business decisions that a group of us have gotten our heads around, but I don’t think we have a single philosophy. Certainly we need to produce more out of our system, everyone agrees with that. And that’s why John Stockstill moved on and Tim came in. And that’s why you’ve seen the changes underneath Tim. Think about this. At one point last year the Cubs were in first place, Iowa was in first place, Tennessee was in first place and Daytona was in first place.

BCB: And Daytona won the championship.

CK: With Daytona winning it all. And really, if we hadn’t sucked all the talent out of the Iowa club… We took Hoffpauir, we brought everybody up, they probably would have gone through and win. But if you’re trying to assess the health of a farm system, the farm system has never been better. And people don’t talk about it that much but if you look at the Theriots and the Samardzijas and the Marmols and the Sotos, when was the last time we had a Rookie of the Year? Woody. But a position player win Rookie of the Year?

BCB: Jerome Walton in '89. That's 20 years.

CK: But that’s going to change. I’ll tell you what, we have the right guy in Wilken. I sat in on the draft this year with Tim. We've got the right guy assessing talent.

BCB: I think he’s done a good job. How long has he been here now?

CK: That was his third draft.

BCB: In addition to hiring Louie Eljaua from the Pirates, are you looking at also expanding the rest of the scouting staff as well?

CK: Any time we can hire a Dave Littlefield, someone who is a real, recognized premier, proven player… the one difference I’ll tell you is true today with the Cubs than it was a few years ago… remember when we were trying to get Jeff Blauser? The Cubs were not a top tier team that people wanted to come to play for. It was almost a sale job you had to tell them.. we are going to win. We can win here. We have the right coaching staff, front office, etc., to try and move the team forward. We’re one of the places everyone wants to come now. You can hear it from the players. The Dempsters, the others ... you look back between Dempster, Zambrano last year, Ramirez last year, these players are coming back and taking less than they could have got on the free agent market to stay in Chicago. That’s a credit to Lou and to Larry and to Tram and to Jim and to all those guys. That’s a new thing. Even with my years with the club, that’s a last five, six years kind of thing. If you talk to a Reed Johnson, or you could talk to DeRosa. DeRosa said there is one place I want to go. Reed Johnson drove himself to Mesa to be ready to work out for us the day he cleared waivers. That I will tell you is a philosophical, environmental change from five, six years ago. Where players are telling their agents, and you’re hearing it with Peavy and there are other players we’re hearing the same thing from their agents that there’s one place that they want to go. They want to go play for Lou, they want to play in Chicago.

BCB: To go back a little bit to the financials. Are you going to be doing the CBOE ticket auction? Are you thinking about expanding that at all?

CK: We’ll keep it the same number of seats, same location as last year.

BCB: Let’s move on to one of the hot topics, the sale. You’re not going to give any numbers or dates, but I know this past week there were some more bids submitted. What’s the time frame, what’s going to be going on, what’s the next step?

CK: We've been at this process for a long time. We are hopeful that we’re going to get something done before spring training. I think that’s a realistic time frame to try and finish something. We’re hopeful. The bids have come in, the bids are strong. The incentives are all aligned between the sellers and the buyers... we’re trying to get something concluded here... there’s a number of things that still need to be done. It would be greatly beneficial to the team to finish this. And we have spent a lot of time with each of the bidders, the management team has, to educate them on the business and the various aspects of what we’re doing here, and our future. Any of the ones who submitted bids would be a great owner.

BCB: Have any of them been asked about or consulted about payroll decisions going forward?

CK: They see a long term plan for us so they know what our view is on payroll going forward. But we’ve not asked them, for instance, how would you feel about this player or that player.

BCB: Three of these bidders were named in the papers. How many others are there?

CK: I don’t want to say, but there’s at least three. There MAY be others.

BCB: I have an interesting question that came up when a friend of mine purchased at a memorabilia store some annual reports from the Cubs from the 1970s when the Wrigleys were still owning the team. Interesting documents – they used to have annual meetings in Delaware of all places. One of these documents said that the Wrigleys had leased the land under the ballpark from another entity on a 99 year lease that ended in 2012. Does that still exist?

CK: The title was cleaned up when they sold to the Tribune. They own everything. The vacated Seminary Ave., we had to clean the title up for that. So that’s what’s going to allow for our triangle building construction.

BCB: And what’s the update on that?

CK: We’re unable to do much without an owner approving design, etc. My goals are, when you look at the Wrigley campus and you look at the opportunities to build a baseball marketplace that has assets outside of the ballpark itself, that is one big part of our future and it provides amenities for the fans, facilities for the players, a number of opportunities for us on the business development side that don’t exist today. Imagine convention space where some of our sponsors and business clients could hold a meeting, have a restaurant, parking that works and then take in a game.

BCB: Would you consider having the Cubs Convention at a place like that rather than downtown?

CK: Absolutely. We’ve been building up our non game day businesses. If you look at, this is one of the things I’ve been pushing hard is generating revenue outside of our ball games in a way to support the team on the field. So we started with concerts and we did the minor league game last year, the Road to Wrigley game which we’ll do again this year. What we hope to do this year is to bring in the Triple A team from Iowa to play. I know my young kids, all the young kids, they thought the Zooper Stars were great, and people had a gas and you know what? It was a good baseball game. We’re doing the hockey game. We’re going to announce more concerts this coming season. And we’ve got to keep pushing those. We do the tours. The tour business has gotten real big for us and it’s been a great business for us.

BCB: Have you considered doing tours year round? A lot of other teams do it almost every day.

CK: The [tour] business will expand next summer. We’ll double the business next summer. And I think as we align ourselves with hotels, some of the tour bus companies, other folks. Last year we did it reasonably low budget in terms of the marketing side of it. You’ll hear and see more about the tours coming up.

BCB: So you are going to have at least one possibly two concerts next summer?

CK: We’ll have, at least in our view, a two-date like we have been. So two different shows, possibly the same performer two different days, possibly different performers for two days and we’re going to look at the windows to see what else is going on. The field -- and this is really a credit to Roger and the staff here -- the field is busy almost every day, whether it’s a corporate outing, we might have Hewlett-Packard on the field for a sponsor softball game. The Road to Wrigley. The concerts. The tours go down on the field every day. Levy books weddings. This building during the summer there’s probably a handful, less than 10 days where there’s nothing happening on the field. And we work in a 94-year-old ballpark and you want to maintain it and you want to build your payroll. We had the second highest payroll in the National League last year. I think people are making the connection between, "Will I accept more marketing in the ballpark if it leads to winning games?" and I think that’s really the connection.

BCB: We had this discussion last summer the same discussion and from my point of view yes, whatever it takes. But there are some people, as you’ve met, who will say no…

CK: There are purists so our goal is can we walk the line where when you walk in the ballpark and see the rebuilt bleachers you might say they don’t look that different…

BCB: They don’t.

CK: But if you sit in the bleachers you say hey, they work a little better.

BCB: They do. They absolutely do. What about the proposal that was made to build a hotel complex across the street. Is there anything going on with that?

CK: I think with the economy, I think that has slowed down. And I know Tom Tunney has been keeping us up to date on the process there. But I have not heard that moving forward as quickly as it was once.

BCB: About the ballpark. What’s the status of any possible upgrades or do you have to wait for new ownership?

CK: What we’ve had, because we have such a short building season we can only do anything really significant between and now with the hockey game it’s really only gong to be from the day the hockey game ends till Opening Day. Now Opening Day we open on the road so we’re going to have a little extra time, but we’re going to work on the public spaces this year. The Friendly Confines Café we’re going to do a complete facelift.

BCB: For Opening Day?

CK: Yeah. We’re going to add restroom space, particularly for women and work on the quality of the remaining restroom space. So we have multiple million dollar capital projects inside the building which is basically similar to prior years.

BCB: Is there any concern about the falling concrete from past years?

CK: No, we have a hands-on inspection going through that every year since it fell and the city comes in and does an inspection as well. That really has not been an issue.

BCB: So this is kind of a cosmetic tweak for the off season?

CK: Well, it’s more than that. We’ll spend several million dollars a year on steel and concrete and that’s just shoring up, cleaning up different areas based on analysis that we think ought to be done every year. Then on top of that the Friendly Confines Café will be more than cosmetic. It’s going to be a completely new outdoor area, try to bring more service to the inside of the park as well. We’re going to create a whole brand new restroom space for women, near the First Aid area, something that just doesn’t exist today to try and relieve some of the issues there. And then some of the other restrooms we’re looking at kind of improving what we have.

BCB: Looking down the road what else is there?

CK: A lot of it depends on us building the triangle building to relieve some of the services.. For instance, where I work, here. I don’t need to work in the building. We ought to have an ancillary building. I can work down the street. It doesn’t matter and convert this [office] space into amenities for our fans. For the 100th anniversary my goal and it’s not a big secret, but for the Centennial I’d love to restore the existing ballpark what we have to its original grandeur.

BCB: With the wrought iron on the outside?

CK: With the wrought iron, take care of the screens, take care of the concrete panels, improve the restroom space. So if we all move out of here you can add restroom space, you can add concession space, etc. Want to bring it technologically up to standards. The fact is we don’t have an electronic scoreboard so for the Fantasy players who want to track data, for the replay fanatics, we’ don’t offer them anything but we should be able to do it in a wireless way.. So the device I have here [he held up his Blackberry], if I want to see the replay, I can get it here. If I want to see the fantasy statistics for the players on the field, I get it here. If we don’t have a scoreboard to give it to the people we ought to give it to them in a wireless way. That means rewiring this whole place in a technology way. Building the Triangle Building to bring the amenities that people expect in a ballpark that we don’t have. Concessions, merchandise sales. If you really want to buy a Cubs jersey here you can probably go across the street because our lines are too long. So there are a number of things that we need to do to make it a better experience for fans and that Triangle Building does all of that for us.

BCB: But does all this have to wait for new ownership to come in?

CK: Well, we have designs that our team here thinks work, architects that are working hard. But a new owner’s gonna be the owner and unless they say… they may say, I don’t want steel and glass I want a brick structure. I don’t want four stories and the latest one we have has like a wedding cake design on top that you can create a banquet hall that would allow us to do a lot of the non game day functions ... this building, this triangle building will offer a 365, 24/7 as a stand-alone business when we’re not playing.

BCB: Get a national chain restaurant of some kind in there…

CK: Yeah. Absolutely. So this is our vision: Wrigley 2014, for our centennial, the ballpark is renewed.

BCB: You’re probably figuring a new owner would come in, you’d show him what you’ve got and if they really hate it they could start over. But you’ve got a reasonably good plan here.

CK: The plan isn’t brilliant in any way is we need to make as much as we can in any way with a small footprint ballpark. We don’t’ have a modern ballpark that expands forever. So we’re going to have to use some of the space outside the ballpark to bring amenities to our fans that they otherwise would expect inside. So your restaurant, which you may want to have inside the ballpark’s gonna be outside. And you’re going to have this courtyard between us and the stadium that you’d have to traverse to get in. It’s not that far. And so all in, this business can grow in size. The team payroll can continue to grow and then it’s performance.

BCB: What you’re talking about with these amenities is extra revenue.

CK: Absolutely. People would for instance, love to park with us instead of in the alleys and garages and we would love to have the revenue from an efficient parking structure.

BCB: So some of that structure is gong to be parking?

CK: Parking, yes. I think if we can give fans parking right next to the building where they can get in and out with ease I think they would pay us to park with us rather than park in an alley down the block.

BCB: What about seating capacity? What would this do to seating capacity?

CK: Seating would not change much because you would add some pockets of seats here and there. But if you look at the modern ballparks that are being built today, guess what? They’re around 42,000. It’s kind of like we’re retro. We’re in fashion again.

BCB: Well I think people discovered that in the 55,000, 60,000 seat stadiums there were 10 or 15,000 really bad seats that nobody bought except on Opening Day and post season games, if there were any.

CK: That’s exactly right.

BCB: The Mets are downsizing. Only the Yankees are building a ballpark that’s as big and only they can probably justify that.. Actually I think they’re keeping their bleachers inexpensive….

CK: I know the original pricing there were not very many inexpensive seats, but I don’t know how it will actually turn out.

BCB: Speaking of the Yankees, what’s the feeling about pre-opening Yankee Stadium?

CK: I thought it was a great idea.

BCB: Did they approach the Cubs?

CK: Yes. Their president called me and said we want to do a trial run before we open and we’re trying to think of a team that would have the right characteristics for a game with the Yankees that would really open the stadium. The media’s going to consider it the opening. They’re covering it like it’s the opening. This kind of shows you where we’ve come from, where we were and the economics made some sense. We talked to Lou about it wanted to make sure it didn’t interfere with his planning and preparations. Normally we would take those last couple of games and go up to Las Vegas, which is as much a distraction as anything and Piniella thought it was a great idea and thought actually that it would be better for the team rather than spending the last two days of spring training in Vegas to spend it opening a new ballpark. And from the players, they were all very excited about the idea. So we’ll go there then go to Houston with a day off in between.

BCB: I hope they get decent weather in New York. You know what it was like here last early April.

CK: But we’re excited about it and it’s another revenue source. It’s for us, you don’t want to talk to the fans really that much about our need for revenue, but the fact of the matter is in a smaller footprint ballpark with some of the disadvantages that come with an older ballpark we have to be creative in how we grow the revenue. Our singular goal, the guy who sits here across the hall from me [Jim Hendry] and mine is to win. And it takes money to do that.

BCB: I wonder what impact the economy will have on other teams that don’t sell out every game. You have here if some people can’t afford the tickets other people will step up but in the case for example, like Milwaukee, which is now a playoff team, or Detroit.

CK: Put it this way, this is a rotten environment for everyone. We’re so lucky to have the fan base we do and to operate in the kind of market we do. We don’t take it for granted, I can tell you that. There are a lot of teams and people in my jobs that area wringing their hands right now and saying we’re going to have to cut our payroll. I predict when we’re done, when the dust settles, you will see a lot of teams downscaling payroll. Not holding flat but actually moving money off the books. And that’s really what’s happening in San Diego.

BCB: Well there’s another issue there obviously.

CK: The divorce is part of it, but I think you’ll see a number other teams do the same thing.

BCB: Big and small markets both?

CK: Yes.

BCB: So it will be a very different environment to operate in 2009.

CK: Yes it will.

BCB: But you’re heading on full speed ahead.

CK: Listen, it’s a balancing act. You’ve got the economy that is creating tensions for all of us. And then you have our desire to put a winning product on the field, maintain the facility, improve the facility and at some point you just have to make a decision how committed are you to one versus the other. So we think having a small bump in ticket prices will be justified by having a better team on the field. I think if you lined the team up right now, the team that’s on the board in Jim’s office right now with the team that finished the year, we’re better than we were last year. I think a full year with Rich Harden, for instance, makes us a better team. Samardzija getting experience makes us a better team. Soto getting experience makes us a better team. So I think we’re as good or a better team, I think we’re a better team than we were when we finished and we’re going to add to that team.

BCB: A better team than a 97-win team would be a pretty good team. I hope I sure hope that turns out to be true, but then…

CK: It’s not the post season.

BCB: It’s not the 97 wins, it’s the winning in October that’s the important thing.

CK: Well, they’re both important. As I said in my letter, you don’t get an opportunity to win in October unless you win in the regular season and we’re looking to continue that. We’d like to win three in a row and we’ve got to obviously change the outcome of the post season. We’re thankful people are staying with us and I think the dramatic ending of our season weighed on everybody. I know for me, I think it was two weeks before Kelly [his wife] said, did you sleep through the night? I hadn’t even thought of it I said yeah, it was on a Friday because the next day we were taking the kids somewhere and I said yeah I did and it was about two weeks. before I finally didn’t get up in the middle of the night and just go walk the dog, go downstairs and stare at the sink.

BCB: I remember I sent you an email in late October and you didn’t even want to talk to me. I could understand it.

CK: I didn’t come out of it, none of us have really come out of it. I didn’t become functional again for a couple of weeks and I didn’t want to talk to anybody for another two or three more weeks.

CK: My view, somebody was just interviewing me about the Charlie Weis satiation. I said, I shouldn't have this job for a day longer than when I stop caring about this basically more than anything but my kids. Right? And that’s just the deal. And I’m getting paid to lose perspective and to lose sleep and to not eat and all that stuff because when you get to a point where it doesn’t matter you shouldn’t have the job.

BCB: I've seen that happen with managers and general managers, they seem to lose touch and you’re right, they wait to be fired is what happens.

CK: And the people I saw on the street said you can’t believe how painful it was to me. And I said oh believe me, I understand.

BCB: I don’t know that there have been people in the executive suite here who have really "gotten it" until you. because I know you get it.

CK: I’m a fan first.

BCB: I think you have to be a fan to have a job at this level because otherwise it’s just work.

CK: And now there are some unpopular things we’ve got to do like raise ticket prices. This is the last year I ever wanted to raise ticket prices. But then you say you know what, dammit we need to keep pushing a little harder and that means more people, not just the payroll, but the kid that we hired for the Dominican. This organization should dominate our division, not just win it every now and then. And think about this. We were in the post season in 1945. And the next stop for post season play was 1984. That’s a lifetime for people. That’s 40 years. That’s generations of people who never saw October baseball here. Think about that. Forty years. Now we’ve done it back to back three of my six years. You don’t want to say we’re starting to understand how to do it but just think about if you told some of those people through those decades that weren’t seeing any post season baseball, yeah we won it in back to back years and we didn’t go very far, they’d say, you mean you made the post season? So you need to keep a little bit of perspective. And the wins this year. I don’t know how you felt, I know I’ve never seen a better summer.

BCB: I never have either. We talked about that all summer long, things that we had seen that we had never seen before.

CK: We won 55 games at home. Fifty-five wins!

BCB: That’s the third most in team history.

CK: It’s been 73 years. It’s a lifetime unless you’re older than 73. We’re talking about things in their lifetime, no one’s had a summer of baseball like we had.. Now the playoffs left a really bad taste, it made it difficult. But if you can get any kind of perspective, think of all the months of summer that passed, it really was a remarkable, astounding year.

BCB: It ended badly but the memories of what happened during the summer, after you get a little more time and perspective on it you can look back at some of those and say… I know for me, and maybe for you too, the highlight was going to Milwaukee and seeing that no hitter. I decided to go basically on a whim.

CK: I talked about that last Friday when we had our sponsors’ lunch where we thanked the sponsors who were with us. And I said of all the things, of the eight All-Stars, of the Rookie of the Year, the Manager of the Year, the back to back first time in 100 years this thing that stood out to me most the whole season was that Milwaukee series. And really, it’s a pertinent point. We gave people 24 hours notice that we were going to play a game in Milwaukee. We told them that when we had just gone through our own emergency weather situation where basements and streets were flooded. Believe me on my street, I remember seeing all the hoses out, luckily my basement didn’t flood…

BCB: Neither did mine.

CK: And Selig called me aid he said, after we decided on playing the game in Milwaukee he said how many fans do you think we’ll get in? I said, "Bud, we got a monsoon." He was in New York. I said we’ve got a monsoon going on here in Chicago. If we get 10,000 we’ll be lucky and we got 23,000 to drive up with almost no notice, basically abandon their houses and families to do it, like you did… and they were all rewarded with a no-hitter. And I just thought just when I kind of think I have my hands around how deep this feeling about this team, with this fan base, something like that happens and I say, boy I underestimated it and we’re so lucky. And now we have to deliver.