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updated: 9/20/2012 4:50 PM

Cubs' move to Kane County good for fans, too

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  • Cubs fans will be able to see prospects such as Jorge Soler much closer to home with the Class A team moving to Kane County next year.

      Cubs fans will be able to see prospects such as Jorge Soler much closer to home with the Class A team moving to Kane County next year.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer


Last month a security guard and I were talking on the top step of Comiskey Park's home dugout.

He had just been to one of the smaller ballparks in the area, and I had just been to the one in Schaumburg.

We marveled at how pleasant the experience was, how nice the facilities are and overall how lucky fans are to have this alternative to see baseball.

Then we wondered out loud to each other why the Cubs or White Sox didn't put a minor-league team in Schaumburg or Joliet or Gary or Kane County.

The next day a report surfaced that the Cubs were considering moving their Midwest League team to Kane County. Wednesday it became official when they announced an agreement to relocate their single-A team from Peoria to suburban Geneva.

As vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod said in the news release, "It is exciting to know we now have a Cubs affiliate right in our back yard."

This always made so much sense for the Cubs or Sox that it was curious why both previously let the Marlins, A's and Royals have Kane County.

Didn't that defy common, economic and geographic sense?

For the Cubs, the move means injured major-leaguers can be sent to Kane County for rehab assignments. It also means club executives have a shorter trip to check out some of their young prospects.

Looking back at some of the draft choices made by the Cubs and Sox, maybe they were embarrassed to let the public see them sooner than later.

Better the myths of players like Brooks Kieschnick and Joe Borchard be built up before letting fans down with a firsthand look at their weaknesses.

Just kidding, I think.

Seriously, though, as convenient as the move from Peoria to suburban Geneva is for Cubs management, I'm more interested in what it does for the faithful followers of this franchise.

A lot, it appears. Sports are immersed in the information era. Everyone knows everything about everybody, including baseball fans about baseball prospects. Baseball America made Cubs outfielder Corey Patterson a legend before he ever arrived here to fail, or at least to underachieve.

Young players can't be mysteries stashed in last outposts until teams are certain they're worth showcasing in big-league markets.

Cubs prospects might as well hit Kane County early so fans can get a look, for better or worse. Maybe a fan can enjoy a game in Wrigley Field during the afternoon, then go to Geneva at night to formulate impressions of the recently drafted.

Jorge Soler, the Cuban outfielder signed this year to be part of the Cubs' foundation for the future, played at Peoria this summer. If he were in Geneva, even lazy old me might have driven over to watch him in an A game.

By the way, the only downside of the Cubs' move for Chicago baseball is that the White Sox won't benefit, too.

Central Illinois has belonged to the Cubs and Cardinals forever. Each has included Peoria among its minor-league affiliates at one time or another.

When the town essentially was a free agent, the best of all worlds would have been if the Sox moved a single-A team there and given themselves a new fan pool. Instead, the Cardinals moved a team back into Peoria.

We'll have to happily settle for the Cubs winding up in the suburbs.

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