Closing The John McDonough File
Submitted by Cubnut on Tue, 11/20/2007 - 10:52pm
In the wake of his big job change, John McDonough absolutely carpet-bombed the Chicago media today. I heard his interview with Mike Murphy on WSCR over the noon hour, just missed his late afternoon interview on WMVP (local ESPN Radio), then caught his appearance around 6pm with Roe Conn on WLS Radio. Naturally, his mug was all over local television as well, so much so that he effectively deprived poor Drew Peterson of the screen time he requires to continue creeping out the viewing public. McDonough's 24 years with the Cubs coincided with the 24 highest annual attendance totals in Cub history. The Cub fan convention, McDonough's idea, has become an annual rite of winter in Chicago and the blueprint for similar events now hosted by many teams in all major sports. (The 2008 Royals FanFest will be held January 19th at the Overland Park Convention Center. Get your tickets now!) Beanie Baby Day and the "celebrity" singers in the 7th inning stretch? More McDonough brainstorms, which, though derided by almost all of us, helped keep the organization in the spotlight even when the product on the field wasn't capable of it. An overlooked dimension of McDonough's legacy, I think, will be the way he extended the Cub brand to embrace players from the team's past and keep them in front of the fans. Not just the stars, like Banks, Jenkins, Sandberg, Williams and, of course, Santo, but also lesser lights like Jody Davis, Milt Pappas, even Gene Oliver. By nurturing this multi-generational Cub family, McDonough and the organization made multiple generations of fans feel closer to the team than ever, enabling 60- and 65- and 70-year-old fans, as much as the 20- and 30-year-olds, to say, "They're my Cubs." So why am I so glad McDonough is gone? Because as tough as he talked on the day he took Andy MacPhail's job in October of 2006, John McDonough was Tribune Company through and through. He is Beanie Baby Day and Kellie Pickler singing Take Me Out To The Ballgame and team-owned ticket scalping services and crappy food at outrageous prices and a tacky Harry Caray statue that the tourists will line up to pose in front of. Sorry, you'll never convince me that it was the former Marketing Director--as opposed to a new Tribune Company business strategy to pump up the value of the Cubs--who convinced the corporation to spend all of that free-agency money last winter. In my opinion, John McDonough never had the depth or the vision to warrant being the President of the Chicago Cubs. He was just a comfortable choice for an ownership group that had to be looking ahead to the sale of the team even as they were anointing their boy the new king. John McDonough is the Peter Principle in a blue suit. I will give him this: he was smart enough to adjust his career path before John Canning or somebody else adjusted it for him.