Cubs Insider Q and A With David Kaplan: Part 2

In the first installment of the Cubs Insider interview with David Kaplan, we talked about the Cubs’ recent moves, the obsolescence of the Core Four moniker, and how the Theo/Jed plan is working.

In part two, we lead off with the front office moves that turned Kap’s stomach, the end of the road for WGN and the Cubs, Sammy Sosa’s return and heading out to the cemetery.

Be sure to catch Kap on “Kap and Haugh” on “The Game” 87.7 FM and online, weekdays 9:00 AM to noon.

CI: Have you disagreed with any of Theo or Jed’s moves?

Kap: I have disagreed with multiple decisions.

First of all, I didn’t like the acquisition of Ian Stewart because people in Colorado who Holly (Todd Hollandsworth played for Colorado) and I talked to said this guy’s as big a clown as there is, a toolbox, just awful.

Ian Stewart was a top-20 draft pick, so I get that part of it, but then he is just a complete idiot here. I thought that was a terrible move. Not the initial trade for him, but the fact that they brought him back was ridiculous.

Editor’s note: I also was not a huge fan of Ian Stewart. He even beat out Milton Bradley (no pun intended) on my all-time Cubs idiots list.

SveumObviously the Dale Sveum hiring was not a good move. He was not well liked in the locker room, and he did not have the ear of Castro, which is a big problem when it’s your best or second-best player. His personality was not my type. I like charismatic and positive in a manager. The first time I met him, I was like, ‘This is our manager?’

I didn’t get it. I’m sure he’s an intelligent baseball man, but he just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Now is Rick Renteria the answer long term? We won’t know until we give him a team that he can win with. He’s got no shot right now. He’s wonderfully nice, exceptionally positive and the players love playing for him, but the true test of time will be giving him a roster he can win with and seeing what he does with it.

CI: On the business side of things, the Cubs have made several controversial decisions in an effort to maximize profits to support payroll. One of those was the severing of a long-time relationship with WGN Radio. From a broadcaster’s perspective, what did you think about that move, and do you think we will see the end of Cubs baseball on WGN-TV?

Kap: I grew up listening to the Cubs on WGN Radio, and I wanted to work for WGN Radio because of the Cubs. I’ve always watched them on WGN until now.

ZellWGN Radio not continuing with the Cubs was a business decision that I completely support and understand. Jimmy de Castro had no other choice but to make that move, because the contract they were left by Sam Zell and his people was bad.

It’s sad they’re not going to be on WGN Radio after some 90 years of partnership, but I wish WBBM all the best. The Cubs are a great product to broadcast. I just hope they can make money on the deal.

Leaving WGN TV would be sad as well. Where the Cubs will go, I just don’t know. I’m sure they are weighing all their options, but they can’t start a cable network until 2020 because they are locked into an exclusive with Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

I hope they stay with WGN. There are so many people across the country who became Cubs fans because they could watch day baseball, especially with Harry.

If both WGN Radio and WGN TV had nothing to do with the Cubs, that would be a sad day.

CI: Do you think the Cubs will ever welcome back Sammy Sosa?

Kap: I think at some point it will get done.

You cannot deny this fact: Sammy Sosa had three straight 60-homer seasons, the first Cub to do it. You can’t dispute the numbers he put up. Sammy made a ton of money for the Cubs and the Tribune company, and Sammy thrilled people.

Sosa hopFans during that time came out to the park for three things: They wanted to hear Harry sing, see pretty girls in halter tops, drink cold beer on a sunny day and see Sammy Sosa hit a home run.

You didn’t come to see winning baseball because the Cubs were terrible, but Sammy Sosa packed that place for years. You walk into that ballpark now, and you look around? It was like the man was never born. There is nothing that signifies the thrills that he brought to Cubs fans.

I went down to the Dominican last October to sit down with him for the first time he had spoken  to the Chicago media in five years, and he could not have been more gracious. He said, ‘If I was wrong for leaving the team, I apologize, but I want back in. I want to be back with my people in Chicago.’’

Was he a bad guy at times to deal with? No question.

Now did he cheat and take steroids. We can all say it looked like he put an air hose inside himself and inflated himself. I’ve always said that. But there’s no positive test that we know of. There’s been speculation, but no one has ever come out and said that he flunked a steroids test.

I think he should come out and say, ‘Look I made mistakes in my life. Dont’ do what I did,’ like Mark McGwire. If he does, everyone here would give him a second chance. He has to be willing to do that at this point in his life, but will he? I don’t know.

CI: Will Cubs fans change when the Cubs finally raise the trophy?

Kap: I don’t think so, but the weight will be off their shoulders.

The night the Cubs win it, there will be a combination of tears, joy, utter disbelief and shock, and the next day will be the biggest hangover the city has ever seen. Then a day or two after, if you drive around, you will see every cemetery in the Chicago area more crowded than ever, with people showing up with pennants, hats, balls and flags, telling their departed loved ones, ‘We finally did it. It’s hard to believe, but we did it.’

CI: How will you balance your emotions when that happens, between the elated fan and the media member covering the event?

Kap: I’ve never hidden my fandom. Most media people hide their fandom or put it away. I’m a Cubs fan. I was born one and I will die one. That’s my team and I love them. They run through my veins.

The day they win, I guarantee you I will shed some tears, especially all I’ve gone through as a Cubs fan. I was 9 in 1969, so that one didn’t hurt me, but ‘84 crushed me, ‘03 destroyed me. Oh-seven and ‘08? It was like you’ve got to be kidding me. They can’t win one game?

To see them finally win it all? Oh my God, it will be the single coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

It would be the coolest thing I have ever seen as well, and I can promise all my readers, when it does happen, I will be one of those folks at the cemetery. I’m usually there anyway. Forest Preserves cops crack down too hard on open alcohol.


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