Coming to a Wrigley Field near you could be …PSLs
If people complained as much about rising gas prices as they did soaring ticket prices, there would have been alternative sources of fuel by the time Jimmy Carter was done tripping all over his crisis of confidence.
But the only alternative to paying higher costs to see a Cubs game is to watch on TV, because raising prices is the cost of doing business.
More specifically, it's the cost of success and payroll.
Teams wait until they win to hike prices, generally avoiding it when they lose 95 games.
So whenever the Cubs have a successful season -- which you might argue doesn't occur more than about once a century -- you can be certain prices will jump.
Last week at Wrigley Field, a carefully worded letter was crafted and should be on its way to season-ticket holders explaining a price hike, perhaps on the average of 20 percent, with the best seats up 25 percent.
As it stands, this would place the Cubs behind only Boston with the second-highest average ticket price in baseball.
Big deal. If you can afford a $67 ticket, you can probably afford $84. If you can't, you probably don't care anyway.
Sure, a hike is unpleasant but hardly worth noting compared to what's coming.
If you really want to get upset, think three letters: P-S-L.
Yes, personal seat larceny, words the Bears made famous, are almost certainly coming to a Friendly Confines near you.
Once the sale of the club goes through and the new owners find out how difficult it is to make money in Wrigley Field, they'll search high, low and in between for every possible way to maximize revenue in the park, which will be 95 years old next season.
Within a year or three, they'll come to the conclusion that they need to institute the Permanent Seat License program, add stadium advertising everywhere, and you can only imagine what else.
Those types of choices are on the way, and anyone who wants the team to stay at Clark and Addison better get used to the idea.
It's not the only solution, as even 30,000 PSLs at $5,000 each -- it's a one-time charge -- adds only $150 million, or $15 million a year to spend on payroll for 10 years.
Drop in the bucket.
So with a new owner, expect bigger changes than an expected increase in ticket prices following a division-winning season.
Some, like PSLs, are sure to make $90-a-barrel oil seem like a walk in the ballpark.
Center of attention
Do you really believe the Cubs are going to open at home March 31 with either Felix Pie or Sam Fuld in center field?
It's hard to imagine Lou Piniella thinking he can win a World Series in 2008 with one of them as his regular center fielder. Not saying they can't, but does Piniella believe it?
He might be willing to try Pie if the Cubs can add another huge bat in the outfield, but this is starting to smell like the Cubs are racing the White Sox to Carl Crawford.
This is something of a last resort, but if the Cubs spend their money in center and leave Matt Murton in right, Des Plaines native Shawn Green would be decent in a platoon with Murton.
Yes, Green is past his prime, but he's still a solid OPS guy who'll come cheap, and he's better defensively at this point than Luis Gonzalez or Geoff Jenkins.
When we hear the news today that Rex Grossman is back in as the starter, there will be much debate about whether Brian Griese's shoulder is really that sore, and if Grossman will be better than he was before he was benched.
But the real question is, now that there's little hope of a playoff run, why not see Kyle Orton for an extended period and determine whether he has an NFL future?
This is a good time of year to learn about your inexperienced players, unless, of course, you're from the Dusty Baker School of Playing Neifi Perez Until Fans Throw Themselves Off The Upper Deck.
After this season ends, the Bears ought to go after San Diego free agent Michael Turner.
In the meantime, is there any point to watching Cedric Benson tiptoe around the backfield and fall down immediately upon being sniffed by a defender?
Adrian Peterson may not be the long-term solution, but at least he might make someone miss once in awhile. Who knows, maybe he'll even try to pick up a blitzing linebacker.
The Times of London reports that Michael Jordan's divorce will cost him $168 million when it becomes final in the next few weeks, and that ex-wife Juanita will get custody of their three children and the seven-acre estate in Highland Park.
E-mailer Mark from Gurnee: "Just the thought of Ronny Cedeno in the outfield makes me want to head to spring training now!''
Sportspickle.com: "Writers' strike leaves David Stern in a bind on how to script NBA season.''
And finally …
Dan Daly of the Washington Times: "You can understand (Don Shula's) protectiveness toward the one-and-only '72 Dolphins. Take them away -- their 17-0 singularity -- and he might be remembered as The Coach Who Couldn't Win an NFL Championship With Johnny Unitas or Dan Marino."