2016 Cubs Convention: Ricketts Family panel
In their sixth year as owners of the Chicago Cubs, the Ricketts family goals to win the World Series, restore Wrigley Field for future generations and be a good neighbor, remain the same. Tom, Todd and Laura Ricketts will be on hand as 670 The Score’s Mully and Hanley discuss with them the strides they have made across each of these goals over the last year, plus answer questions from you, the fans.
The Ricketts Family panel opened up the full slate of Saturday panels at the 2016 Cubs Convention. With Tom, Laura and Todd Ricketts on hand, Tom opened up the discussion with the excitement of the offseason. He described his post-season meeting with baseball president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer. The front office duo proposed an ideal offseason for the club, with the understanding that it was unlikely it would all come to fruition. However, as Hoyer stated at last night’s Ryan Dempster panel, the organization was able to land just about everyone on their wish list; the team signed Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and John Lackey in a trio of free-agent signings while flipping Starlin Castro for pitcher Adam Warren.
On the same note with Heyward, Tom was jokingly bitter at the reminder that the first game of the Ricketts’ ownership began with Heyward launching a homer to right field off of then-Cub Carlos Zambrano in the first inning of Opening Day, 2010.
The panelists were asked their favorite moments of the season, and Tom actually pointed to a moment in 2014, when Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo challenged the entire Reds dugout after Aroldis Chapman had thrown a few pitches high and tight on then-Rizzo teammate Nate Schierholtz. It showed his leadership capabilities and showed that as a team, they were not going to back down from anybody. It’s a trait that he feels carried over into 2015.
Laura’s favorite moment came during the one-game playoff in Pittsburgh, where the whole family was able to attend. Though it was on the road, she applauded the atmosphere, describing how loud the setting was.
“There were a great number of Cubs fans there that night,” Todd added. “I had a transformation of mind, like ‘we’re here, we’re in the fox hole, this is incredible.’”
Todd then described his wife as somebody who wasn’t initially committed to baseball, but something that has grown on her. But bitter from her take on Mets fans after the Cubs NLCS, she loved the Royals winning the World Series. After Matt Harvey refused to come out of the World Series game and the Mets wound up blowing a lead, his wife jumped out of her chair and yelled, “Screw you Matt Harvey, screw you!”
Tom said there won’t be many notable visible changes to Wrigley Field for fans this year, believing the updated clubhouse will be the biggest change to the ballpark. He explained the inferior state of the players’ facilities before they took ownership, and didn’t want to sell a first-class organization with third-class amenities.
The emcees then turned the questions over to fans in attendance.
The Ricketts’ were asked about, “the holdup on the extension” with Theo Epstein, who’s in the final year of a five-year deal.
Tom said they’re on the same page, with a deal that will likely work itself out in due time. He was unwilling to give a timeline, but believes a deal will get done that is beneficial to all parties. Ricketts also applauded his front office, noting that Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod have turned down bigger jobs from other organizations in exchange for seeing out their World Series goals.
The family was asked about what it’s like to work together as a family. Todd said that as a kid, he was told by his mom that there could be squabbles inside the house, but they need to remember that they’re a family. Laura said that they have weekly family business meetings, where everybody is kept up to date. She also said Tom makes a lot of decisions, but they are all in the best interest of the family.
Another fan asked if there would be the ability to walk around the entire stadium in the near future. Tom fielded the question, and noted that one of the big issues is that the bleachers are general admission and there are not many other ballparks in baseball with general admission, making it difficult to regulate seating. And they’re highly desirable seats, people want to sit there.
In regards to Alderman Tom Tunney, the three wanted to remind people that the hope with the exterior Wrigley Field renovations are for people who live around Wrigley to treat Cubs Plaza like a town’s square of sorts.