Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cubs pick up yet another ex-Sox minor league affiliate for organization

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I learned this week that the Kane County Cougars of the Midwest League were no longer going to be a minor league baseball affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.


It was with such fanfare that the far west suburban-based ballclub announced it was going to be a part of the Chicago Cubs organization. It would be a chance for Cubs fans to see the future stars of the organization. It would strengthen the brand of the Cubs in the metro area.


YET AFTER JUST two years, the Cougars have decided they are better off with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Cubs didn’t renew their agreement, but instead have chosen to be affiliated with the South Bend Silver Hawks – also of the Midwest League.


Which amuses me because I can remember when professional baseball returned to South Bend, Ind., in 1988 – as an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. In fact, for eight seasons into the mid-1990s, South Bend was a part of the White Sox organization.


I can remember when the talk about how decrepit Comiskey Park had become centered around the fact that South Bend’s Coveleski Stadium had nicer clubhouse facilities than the allegedly “major league” ballpark.


Many White Sox fans would make the trip to South Bend to catch an occasional game; which is what I’m sure the Cubs are hoping will happen. They want to think it will help them cut into the one part of the Midwest – northern Indiana – where the White Sox have a fan base.


WHAT I FIND funny is that this now makes the Cubs an organization with a top-level minor league team in Des Moines, Iowa (the Iowa Cubs) and another affiliate with the Tennessee Smokies of Knoxville, Tenn.


I recall the 1970s when it was the White Sox who were affiliated with Des Moines (the team was called the Iowa Oaks back then) and the Knoxville White Sox (the Knox Sox for short, to local baseball fans).


It makes me wonder if the day will come that it will be the Cubs will be the ones with affiliates in Charlotte, N.C. and Birmingham, Ala. – which have been combined as a part of the White Sox system since 1997.


It also makes me wonder the logic of the Cubs organization – which thought it was making a significant move for the organization by ditching their long-time affiliate with the Peoria Chiefs two years ago.


HAVING A MINOR league ballclub in Peoria benefitted the Cubs by appeasing those fans living in central Illinois. It gave them a sense that they could catch live baseball without having to make the trek all the way to the Lakeview neighborhood.


They gave that up for Kane County, where the Cubs already had a strong fan base. They gained little to nothing with that move. Although I’m sure if the Peoria Chiefs weren’t completely satisfied with their St. Louis Cardinals affiliation, they’d be eager to have the Cubs back.


Instead, the Cubs are now setting up a system that they say is meant to build championship ball clubs, but instead is seeming to be one consisting of White
Sox cast-offs.


How long will it be before the Wrigley Field scene includes a shower head or two erected in the bleachers, or long-time (and now retired) White Sox organist Nancy Faust to play at selected games?



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