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Article updated: 10/16/2012 10:08 PM

Sorry, Cubs -- that 2 percent is way too low

By Mike Imrem

Not nearly enough.

The Cubs announced that they are cutting 2013 ticket prices by an average of 2 percent per seat.

Sorry, just not enough.

The number I was listening to hear was 40 percent across the board.

That sounds like a lot, but the number has stuck in my head since last month, when Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein made a remarkable revelation.

Epstein said that he might have to deal 40 percent of his starting pitching rotation at the trade deadline again next year.

Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm went this July, which contributed to the Cubs' 101-defeat season.

Every time the Cubs began creeping closer to avoiding that dreaded century mark, management did something to ensure they would surpass it.

Contributors were traded. Pitchers were shut down out of necessity or just for the fun of it. It wouldn't have been surprising if after a hit and run succeeded manager Dale Sveum was ordered never to do that again.

Seriously, the entire 2012 season was stupid … stupid fans paying stupid ticket prices to watch stupid baseball.

Then, the same fans thought they were getting smart by increasingly becoming no-shows, except that they still had paid for the seats they weren't using and couldn't resell.

The only people who didn't see dollar bills flying out of their pockets due to this mess were Epstein and his band of merry baseball men.

(Come to think of it, perhaps the person responsible for the product on the field might want to consider a 40 percent pay cut until his promises of a brave new world are realized.)

Look, I understand as well as the next dummy what the plan is: Tear the team down to build it up for what is being advertised as sustained success some day this millennium.

What remains baffling is why the Cubs can't be a competitive team during the process.

I keep bringing up to readers and anybody else who will listen that in the 1980s the Cubs came within a victory of the World Series while building up a major-league minor league system.

What happened was the Cubs took off as a franchise, drawing more fans to Wrigley Field and viewers nationwide to WGN-TV's superstation.

Someone will have to explain to me why that wouldn't be a good strategy now.

Are baseball's rules different? Someone told me recently that they are, but in some ways the changes make it more sensible to build for now and for later simultaneously.

For one thing the Cubs normally draw 3 million fans to Wrigley Field per season, ended up around 2.8 million this year and might drop to 2.5 million next year.

The Cubs don't have to be great to hit that 3 million mark. They just have to be good enough to not be as embarrassing as they were this year and might be next year.

If money is a problem succeeding on the parallel tracks Epstein refers to, just being decent might solve that problem. Think of the difference in cash flow from drawing 3 million fans to Wrigley Field instead of 2.5 million.

My guess is it that an extra half-million in attendance would generate enough revenue to help pay for today to complement tomorrow.

Short of that, slash ticket prices 40 percent so they better reflect the product on the field.

Judging by forecasts for next season, 2 percent isn't nearly enough.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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