The Cubs' season is winding down quickly and soon general manager Jim Hendry will determine the immediate futures of Dusty Baker, Aramis Ramirez, Juan Pierre, Kerry Wood and other still-unknown employees. Now's the time for the organization to consider measures that can lead to a change in the team's streak of bad luck and broken dreams.
As the Cubs approach the 98th anniversary of their last World Series title, here are 10 proposals that might lead to a karmic transformation:
1. Stop flying the "L" flag
Rod Beck first suggested this idea in 1999, and who knows karma better than Beck? Fly the "W" flag when the Cubs win and leave the flagpole bare if the Cubs lose.
There really is no reason to advertise failure (unless there's money to be made from it).
2. Don't throw it back
Cubs fans began the tradition of throwing back opponents' home runs, but like pet rocks and mood rings, the fad is now passé. After a fan nearly beaned right fielder Jacque Jones last spring, allegedly because she thought it was OK to throw balls on the field, it became apparent the decades-old tradition had run its course.
3. Celebrity-free seventh
When it was suggested that playing a tape of Harry Caray singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" would be more relevant than a celebrity who knows nothing about Chicago, the Cubs' response was that fans naturally look to the TV booth and need someone to lead them in song. In that case, a life-sized cardboard cutout of Harry would suffice.
4. Dump "Jump."
Instead of playing it before every game, the Cubs opted to put it in rotation this season with some Coldplay tune. But like Coldplay, "Jump" is played out. Admit it: The '80s are over. Time to move on.
5. Find a new slogan
Forget about "Building a new tradition" or "We're working on it," two slogans from the past. Ask fans to come up with a slogan and then vote on the best one. One suggestion: "We're still working on it. No, seriously."
6. Cancel the Cubs Convention
As fan fests go, this is the granddaddy of 'em all, and it makes a ton of money for the Cubs and their charities. But Cubs fans need to take a nice long break from this season. Everyone can wait another month for the arrival of spring training without being reminded of this summer's horror show. Abstinence is a good thing.
7. Ban the wave
Aug. 6 was a day that will live in infamy at Wrigley Field. During the bottom of the fourth inning of a 6-1 victory over Pittsburgh, many in the crowd of 40,320 began doing the wave.
The Cubs finished their best homestand with an 8-3 record, then went 4-10 on their next two homestands.
They're 15-27 since the wave, suggesting a karmic payback. Anyone performing the wave in 2007 should be subject to expulsionmass expulsions, if necessary.
8. New advertising regulations
Rule No. 1: All cell-phone advertisements featuring Carlos Zambrano arching one eyebrow, Belushi-style, are prohibited from the rotating ad board on the brick wall behind home plate. Opposing pitchers should not have to perform with a crazy-looking Zambrano staring back at them.
9. Revive free speech
During the recent Cubs-Giants series, security removed fans from the left-field bleachers for saying the words "BALCO," "steroids" and "juicer" out loud. When some complained, they were told it was an edict from Major League Baseball. As long as fans aren't profane or throwing things at Barry Bonds, they should be able to say whatever they want. Outfielders like Pete Rose and Lonnie Smith certainly heard a lot worse things from the bleachers.
10. No more "Cubbies."
The age-old nickname is just too cute. As everyone knows by now, the Cubs stopped being cute in 2004.