Chicago Cubs Ownership Alienates Fans

Stuart R. Wahlin
4 min readSep 20, 2022


Photo by Dan Gaken

When my father was transferred to the Chicago area in the early 1980s, it would once again be time to change my sports allegiances to suit the new state I’d moved to. Having played Little League for a couple years before the move, I was particularly interested in baseball.

Arriving in our new home in a suburb of Chicago, I’d have two teams to choose from. As I flipped through the television dial, I discovered that everything past WTTW, channel 11, was fuzzy. I later learned that our house did not have a UHF antenna, which resulted in the poor quality of UHF stations we received. So, the White Sox were out.

I cranked the dial down to channel nine, WGN, and found the Cubs on a sunny afternoon. Wrigley Field and its ivy-covered outfield wall looked glorious to my eight-year-old eyes. At this time, Jack Brickhouse could still be heard in the broadcast booth along with Harry Caray. Between Harry’s appearance and voice, I initially couldn’t understand how this man had a career as a broadcaster. But that all changed as I became enamored with his style and antics.

The Cubs weren’t very good at the time, and many referred to the team as “lovable losers.” I didn’t mind if they lost, because it was still fun to watch guys like Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg, Jody Davis, Lee Smith, Larry Bowa, Bill Buckner, Keith Moreland, and Leon Durham play ball every afternoon — and I seldom missed a game.

Fast-forward several decades to 2016, when the curse was broken as the Cubs were crowned champions again after 108 years. I couldn’t help but get more than a little teary-eyed to see something I’d wanted for so long to finally happen. The Ricketts ownership appeared to have paid off, and the hope among fans what that this wouldn’t be a one-off thing — that the Cubs had begun a dynasty. But it didn’t happen that way.

Within days of winning the World Series, a failed New York businessman, who played a successful one on TV, somehow was elected to the nation’s presidency, and the celebration ended quietly. No one was more surprised than Donald Trump that he’d become president, but he went along with it after a series of failed presidential bids in the decades before. The loud-mouthed buffoon spent the next four years dividing the country by empowering bigots through his own xenophobic example.

Adding insult to injury, it turned out the Ricketts family was friendly with Trump, and invited the disgraceful president to fundraise at our hallowed Wrigley Field. Not the smartest P.R. move, but rich people don’t care what regular people think. I wasn’t happy about it, and neither were most Cubs fans, but we swallowed the shit sandwich and hoped more glory would come for our beloved Cubbies.

That didn’t happen, either. The core that had won the championship in 2016 was becoming ineffective, yet Team Ricketts took a big dump on fans once again when it announced the creation of its Marquee Sports Network. It didn’t sound so bad at first.

I had recently fired my cable provider, opting instead for Hulu with live TV, which I’ve been quite happy with. That next year, I was still able to enjoy Cubs games because they’d inked a deal with Hulu to carry Marquee, though it turned out to be a disappointing season of baseball.

But hope springs eternal for Cubs fans, and I spent the winter looking forward to a fresh start in a new season for the team. As the winter months passed, I waited for Hulu and Marquee to strike a new deal, but it never happened. I wrote e-mails to both Marquee and Hulu, urging them to work things out, but both sides pointed to the other as being obstructionists. In the end, it became pretty clear that Hulu didn’t want to pay what Marquee was asking for to air games played by a subpar team, and Marquee wasn’t budging.

What were my choices? MLB Network wasn’t an option, given that I lived in-market, and to this day, Marquee does not offer a standalone subscription, which is completely asinine. E-mailing Marquee again to implore them to make the network available to a longtime fan, I was essentially told that I could still watch the games — I’d just have to dump Hulu and go back to one of the overpriced cable providers they’re in bed with. Having bled Cubbie blue for four decades, I’d been discarded by the team’s ownership.

I then turned to companies who advertise during Cubs games, politely asking them to urge Marquee to partner once again with Hulu, or to at least offer standalone subscriptions. After all, if advertisers were paying a premium for their spots to air on Marquee, shouldn’t those ads be reaching as many people as possible? Well, the advertisers didn’t care much, either, about my plight, so after 40 years of being a diehard fan of the Cubs, I’m done.

As this season draws to an end, we’ve seen (or heard on 670 The Score, in my case) some real progress from the young talent on the team. And while I wish David Ross and the boys all the best in 2023, I won’t be watching — even if the Ricketts klan finally decides to make the games available to me and countless others who made the fiscally-responsible decision to get rid of cable.

Ricketts has pushed me into the arms of the Sox now, and I don’t need a UHF antenna or cable to watch.



Stuart R. Wahlin

Former print journalist, published author and ghostwriter, award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker, tragic figure.