Whither Sobeys? Can they sell you Touchdown to Win?

Seem familiar? How Sobeys vaporized half of Safeway’s value in just three years:

When Sobeys headed to Western Canada to snap up Safeway for $5.8 billion, it was on top of the world. Since then, it has booked billions in write downs and dumped its CEO. Why did everything go so terribly wrong?
Carole Taylor’s red-pepper complaint may not sound like a big deal. But multiply it by thousands of customers, and you’ve got the biggest retailing fiasco in Canada since Target Corp.’s northern foray self-destructed.

For Stellarton, N.S.-based Empire Cos. Inc., the parent of Sobeys, a dream acquisition has turned into an existential struggle. After a string of costly missteps and some bad timing that culminated in the company’s CEO stepping down, Sobeys finds itself having to reinvent itself to woo customers back to Safeway.

It won’t be easy. In the past two quarters, same-store sales in its West business unit, which includes Safeway and Sobeys stores, skidded 3.6% and 3.9% respectively. That’s raised questions about how long the bloodletting can continue. The company’s counterpunch is a major price-cut initiative, as advertised on those in-store signs. For a full-service grocer like Safeway, with its higher costs per square foot of store space, it’s a big gamble.

It was hailed as a masterstroke when Empire acquired Canada Safeway in 2013 following exclusive talks with its American owner initiated by CEO-to-be Marc Poulin and then-CEO Paul Sobey under the code name “London.” The purchase instantly gave Sobeys girth in Western Canada and made it Alberta’s No. 1 supermarket chain operator. Rivals, including Ontario- and Quebec-focused Metro Inc., had also coveted Safeway, with its 213 full-service stores from Vancouver to Thunder Bay, four major distribution centres, 12 manufacturing plants and $1.8-billion worth of prime real estate.

So what went wrong? Well, if you remember the rundown of Target there is a familiar thread:
It wasn’t immediately evident for months after the takeover, but Sobeys had problems at each step of the chain from warehouse to cash register—and some of these hitches existed before the deal. Safeway, which struggled in its own home U.S. market and would soon be taken over itself, had treated the Canadian business as a cash cow while investing as little as possible in modernizing the operations, says Kenric Tyghe, retail analyst at Raymond James. “What Sobeys thought they were buying, and what Sobeys ended up getting, turned out, I think, to be two different assets,” Tyghe says.

Supply-chain problems were a particular drain on efficiency after the deal. Sobeys made a transitional arrangement with Safeway to maintain U.S.-based produce sourcing and buying. As the arrangement expired, Sobeys took over purchasing and immediately suffered glitches as new buyers became responsible for keeping fruit and vegetables on the shelves. The result is what Taylor, the Calgary shopper, experienced with her peppers. “We basically had, for a number of months, difficult replenishment of our stores in produce,” Poulin explained in late June. “The quality of what we were putting out for the customers was impacted as a result of that.”

Such issues, and empty shelves as a result of supply-chain snafus, are business killers because customers have a low tolerance for being inconvenienced, Ricker says. “I go to your store needing bananas, and you don’t have any? Are you kidding? Now I’m going to have to go somewhere else,” she says.

That the IT side of the supply chain would be a hitch should not have been a surprise. Following acquisitions of new businesses at large retailers, massive IT systems must mesh thousands of SKU, or stock keeping unit, codes, and that can lead to myriad glitches. Enterprise software snafus have upended the supply chains and internal systems of other Canadian retailers, including Loblaw and Target Canada. In fact, Sobeys itself abandoned a SAP system in 2000 following a system crash, resulting in a $50-million writedown. It returned to the German software provider—whose systems are used by many of the world’s largest corporations—a few years later. At Safeway, Sobeys installed new SAP software and point-of-sale technology that frustrated staff, some to the extent that they tried to go back to the old systems. Sobeys also relocated all western headquarters functions to a centre in Calgary—just a few years after setting up regional hubs in cities such as Edmonton and Winnipeg. These changes, too, took a toll on employee morale.

The confusion in the ranks didn’t help supplier relationships, either. A marketing representative at one Canadian-based manufacturer said that, even up until this year, it took as long as six months for some distributors to get a meeting with key buyers who could agree on and finalize store-level promotions, such as a sale or special displays. That hurt his brand’s sales. “A lot of the budget I had to invest at Safeway was basically left because nobody could make a decision on promotional activities,” says the rep, who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing loss of future sales.

What’s so surprising is how long the woes stayed under wraps. At the end of the 2014 fiscal year, Poulin said Safeway was being successfully integrated into the Sobeys fold. It was becoming more efficient and costs were coming down throughout the organization. In fact, by the end of the first year, Safeway and Sobeys in Western Canada were already well down the road to delivering half of the promised synergies. Sobeys said it would close 50 underperforming stores in the company’s network, 60% of them in the West. Overall sales jumped 20.6% accounting for the Safeway takeover, and 2.2% excluding it.

The following year, revenues climbed another 14.2%. Things were so rosy for Empire that it treated shareholders to a dividend increase. Investors bid the shares up to the point where the company opted to split the stock.

But in Sobeys’ 2016 fiscal year, everything seemed to go wrong at once.

In March, Empire stunned investors by writing down $1.6 billion of the value of Safeway as customers drifted away. Just three months later, it lopped another $1.3 billion from its book value, meaning half the worth of the acquisition had evaporated within just three years. It’s clear that Sobeys materially overpaid for Safeway
So for the second time, a major retailer has been crippled by lack of supply chain solutions and an SAP system that just didn't do what it's promised.

Should SAP be concerned about this? Nope, apparently not.


"Me Chief. Sleep with all women. Big, small, fat, tall."

There are a few Halloween traditions that need to end. A decade ago I wrote about two of the worst (at the time) offenders: tainted candy scares, and UNICEF boxes.

Flash forward to 2016 and there's a far, far worse trend that comes with the Halloween season. No, not pumpkin spiced products. No, not even those silly inflatable decorations they sell at Walmart.

No, I'm talking about the myth of "cultural appropriation". You see, retarded millennials and their constantly-offended demeanor have decided that dressing up as a Red Indian Chief or Pocahontas is now highly offensive because you are insulting their culture by wearing costumes from that culture.

It is, of course, ridiculous. Which is why the modern left has embraced it so wholeheartedly. The logic isn't too far removed from their patent insanity over the Cleveland Indians. You see, "People Who Are Marginalized"TM are harmed when people who aren't "marginalized" "steal" their culture. You can't ask how this works, by the way, because no mechanism is ever presented. One of the reasons, as I again discussed vis a vis the Cleveland Indians, the very term "marginalized" is not very well defined, nebulously applied, and subject entirely to the whim of the person deciding. Tell these people that white Canadian taxpayers are highly marginalized by far-left governments and NGOs, and they sputter in shock and horror when you dare use their precious terms of victimhood against them.

So don't ever let them use the "marginalization lie" to excuse this ridiculousness. The fact is, every Halloween costume is both based on simplistic stereotypes and using a specific culture or class of persons. That's what a costume is. Whether it's a businessman or an Indian, it doesn't make any difference.

Let's take the example of the Indian Chief. This apparently bothers people because Indians simultaneously didn't wear crazy feathered headdresses, and the are signs of tremendous honour and it's insulting for somebody else to wear them. (As with so many things related to Red Indian activism, the argument requires them to hold two competing beefs simultaneously). If they did wear crazy feathered headdresses, then that alone makes it a perfectly acceptable item to accessorize your Indian Chief costume. In exactly the same way, if you're dressing as an army officer for Halloween, you should definitely accessorize with a bunch of medals on your chest. After all, you don't just want to dress up as "random grunt", you want to be George S. Goddamned Patton. You don't want to dress as "Haida nobody who lived in the Queen Charlotte Islands from 1164-1208 A.D.," you want to be the Chief. The Indian Chief got all the perks, he was the top dog, and you could tell who he was because of the (historically accurate) headdress. You bought one at a costume shop and your headdress may not be historically accurate, anymore than the army medals you are wearing aren't historically accurate. In both cases, wearing the real thing when you didn't actually do anything in your life to earn them might be a big issue, but how can a cheap ripoff be offensive? Much like those racks of plastic "medals" you can buy for your uniform at Supply Sargeant, the $24.99 headdress (Made in China) you picked up at an online store isn't authentic either.

But what if you're with a retarded leftist who claims the headdress isn't authentic and therefore is now offensive because it "perpetuates a stereotype?" The first thing to remember, of course, is that stereotypes exist for a reason. If you don't think blacks tend to have trouble being on time for work, try attending the Edmonton Carribean Parade (except in 2015). If you don't think Indians have a serious problem with alcoholism, ask yourself why there are dry reserves where you can't even buy Lysol at the convenience store. The second is, if you read the bit about "if its true" then the stereotype is a positive one: a strong authoritative culture with a specific and codified authority structure, defined via prowess in competitions. So what's the harm? That it paints a picture of Red Indian culture superior to the reality of that culture?

So after this became a big deal, I decided to go down to one of the Spirit of Halloween stores in Edmonton to look at some of the other costumes that are available. Let's see if any "perpetuate stereotypes" and if we can insist that only specific cultural groups are allowed to wear them.

Are you Egpytian or Italian? No? Then you have no business wearing these costumes! Also notice it "perpetuates the stereotype" of Egyptians and "Romans" being toga-wearing goddesses. You may also note that even if you're Italian, if you're from Venice or Florence then you aren't a "Roman". No word yet if you're "allowed" to co-opt your neighbour's culture like this. Much like faded leather-wearing Pocohontas, this is a costume of a racial group based on a historical and/or faux-historical outfit.

Ah! Bonjour Mademoiselle! This French maid costume may make you want to voulez-vous coucher avec moi but wait! Who's wearing it? Is she actually French or is she a Belgian dressing up like a French maid? I bet they'll even use an exaggerated French accent too! (I hear this is something that bothers people about Indian Chief costumes, making bad Brocket 99 impressions)

One girl. One girl from Kansas dressed like this, and now it's "Kansas Beauty" to costume makers? Sure Dorothy was a fictional character, but mostly Pocohontas was one too. Are you from Kansas? If not, isn't it offensive to wear the costume and perpetuate negative stereotypes about Kansasians? Bonus points to those who argue that only Judy Garland's relatives are allowed to wear this costume. Consider that's literally the same argument against why non-Indians can't wear Indian costumes.

Didn't we just cover the Italians? How many negative stereotypes can you perpetuate? Guess what, asshole: Italians aren't a bunch of comically dressed plumbers jumping through pipes. Mario is #NotYourCostume, isn't he? Also, he's a man. Double hate crime here, and that's before we get to the false stereotype that every asian knows kung fo. This is also the first costume we've seen where the model on the bag doesn't match the ethnicity of the costume...even here, she's not authentic.

Can white men be victims of cultural appropriation? Apparently so! They just let anybody buy this costume, without first ensuring that the purchaser is both white and German. (Though, like with the Roman/Italian issue above, we aren't sure if Germans from Berlin or Bremen are allowed to dress like Bavarians). And how stereotypical can you get? Outside of Oktoberfest or a trip to Barb and Ernies back when Ernie still owned the place, you will never see Germans actually dress like this. I bet when you picture a German in your head you either see this guy or Hitler. And if you do, you're perpetuating stereotypes and therefore you are worse than Hitler.

Again, ninjas are a specific sub-group of asians and therefore not suitable to dress up as just like "Mohawk warrior" is a specific sub-group of Red Indians. So obviously if one is a disgusting embarrassment, so is the other.

#MexicanCulturesMatter. So this pair of costumes may or may not get a pass since it's specifically depicting the Mexican iconography related to Halloween. If you're a "cultural appropriations" expert, please go into the comments and help us out with this one. Does it make it better? Or (somehow) even worse?

We've moved from ethnic stereotypes to religious stereotypes: here we see a Rabbi, a more sacred costume than any Red Indian Chief ever could be, being shamelessly co-opted for a cheap laugh at Halloween. Do Jews get upset about this? Well, maybe a few of them. But apparently there's no big traction about this. There aren't CBC news articles calling for the banning of Rabbi costumes being sold at Halloween stores. And that's way before we get to an actual costume being marketed as "Jesus". He's more sacred a symbol than every Indian who has ever lived combined and somehow Christians aren't angry that their Saviour is being depicted as a cheap Halloween costume. What if an atheist dressed up like Jesus (they probably would be the only one)? Yet somehow there are no calls to remove this costume from the shelves. And it's only appropriate at this point that it's noted that there's a couple major religions missing from the costume rack. Where are the niqab costumes? Where is the Mohammed costume? Even poor Buddha somehow doesn't get a costume (though, if you want to be pedantic, Buddhists believe in reincarnation so every costume could technically be a Buddha one)

Here are a couple more religious costumes that presumably are offensive unless a Catholic is wearing it. The Pope costume is worth noting, because it's an actual human being who is currently alive.

Finally, because Halloween always comes right around the same time as the U.S. Presidential elections, candidate costumes have always been popular. But aren't they also offensive? Like the Pope, Donald Trump is a real person (there's also a Hillary Clinton mask, but to save you all the sight of that disgusting witch I didn't take a picture of it) and probably should only be worn if you are actually a Trump supporter. You don't get to wear it ironically. This one I'll grant, I know a girl who actually was offended to learn that her favourite candidate is being made fun of in costume form, and refused to come to a Halloween party on Monday because the host is planning on going as Trump for Halloween.

So there you go, easily offended Red Indian activists. Every other culture and group has their symbols be used as Halloween outfits. Even "tranny" is a common and popular one (K'mpec dressed as a chick a few years ago and it was a great success).

It's Halloween. Get over it. Your backwards culture needs to grow up and join the rest of us at the adult table.

Cleveland Indians

Since the Red Sox and the White Sox broke their curses in 2004 and 2005 respectively, the longest two World Series droughts have been the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians.

By humiliating the Blue Jays in a 5-game stretch to win the ALCS, the Cleveland Indians are going to have a chance to break their drought. It's their first World Series since 1954, and they haven't won it since 1948. In fact, they only have a single previous appearance in 1920. This isn't a team that has had a lot of success. But they swept the Red Sox in the ALDS, they only needed 5 games to get rid of the Blue Jays, and they're playing against a team who, even before a Billy Goat kept them out of the World Series, had a lousy track record from 1909 to the present.
The Chicago Cubs lost the World Series in 1906 and then won in 1907 and 1908. They then played in the 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945 World Series. They won a whopping eight games in those seven World Series.

Of course, nobody wants to talk about the Cleveland Indians without bringing up the silly controversy...

The controversy, of course, is that the name "Cleveland Indians" and their delightful mascot Chief Wahoo is so offensive to Red Indians that the name needs to be changed, sports broadcasters have to stop using them, and a massive Twitter campaign called #NotYourMascot has to be formed to hector and harass those who would call the Cleveland Indians the...Cleveland Indians.

This is, of course, bunk on numerous levels. As with so many things involving Red Indians, there's a certain lack of perspective by those who are so upset with this. Let's go through these issues one by one.

Issue 1: Red Indians are "marginalized" and therefore need to be treated differently than other racial groups. Typically when defending Cleveland Indians as just another sports team named after a racial group, it will be countered with the claim that because Red Indians are "marginalized" then the Cleveland Indians name is offensive in a way that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish isn't.

The "marginalized" argument is on thin ice to begin with. In Canada the Red Indian isn't marginalized, he's subsidized to the tune of $14.75 billion dollars a year. The American taxpayer isn't quite as badly burdened (understandable since they represent only 0.9% of the American population versus 4% of the population of Canada) but still costs the federal treasury $8B annually. That's a lot of direct cash...some of the rest of us wish we could be as "marginalized". Moving from financial to sociological grounds, "marginalized" is itself a nebulous concept. (Currently) the Wikipedia page defines it as...
Social exclusion is the process in which individual of people are systematically blocked from (or denied full access to) various rights, opportunities and resources that are normally available to members of a different group, and which are fundamental to social integration within that particular group
Again, in Canada there is a racial group "systemically blocked" from opportunities...whites aren't allowed to benefit from the Aboriginal Business & Enterpreneurship Development program, as an example. When asked to provide a relevent counter-example the #IdleNoMore weenies routinely fall flat. The only rights and opportunities and resources not available to a Red Indian is the right to leverage or sell on-reserve property for financial benefit. A similar problem exists in the United States. They don't own the land, the band does. Of course, every once and a while it is proposed that this occur, and you know who are the first to scream in complaint? Yep, that's right, the very people who complained about marginalization 30 seconds earlier. They enjoy considering themselves "marginalized" in the absence of any real evidence thereof. It helps them feel empowered when their victim status, not their personal choices, are the cause of any real or perceived hardship in life. A lot of times, the answer to "how can you demonstrate you're marginalized" is "can you imagine any other team with a name like the Cleveland Indians?" Then when you mention some, they say it's not the same. It's a complete catch-22.

There's nothing "offensive" about the Fighting Irish, but isn't there something very weird about them being the team name for the University of Notre Dame du Lac, which was built by a man from Laval France at the behest of a Frenchman from Indianapolis. The catch here is that the man from Laval (sounds like a great start to a limerick, speaking of the Irish) brought eight brothers from his order with him in 1842, and some of them were Irish.

Issue 2: You cannot compare teams like the Redskins or the Indians with teams like the Spartans or Vikings, since Vikings aren't alive anymore and Indians are. This is very similar but a slightly tweaked version of the first issue, and is equally bunk. Vikings are of course still very much alive, they're simply called the Swedish. Likewise Greeks are still totally a people. There are even people who live in Sparta to this very day: 35,259 of them. I touched on this argument a bit in my post last year about why all 94 TRC recommendations are garbage, but these team names aren't even necessarily about modern-day Red Indians. They are instead about a historical, mostly romantic, partly inaccurate portrayal of a group known to be powerful and full of vigour, energy, and spirit. The modern day Swede is completely unlike any Viking you can picture: they sloth around on the slowly decaying foundation of the public welfare state and live in fear of violent young Muslims mass-imported on dubious grounds. Likewise the Greeks are nothing like the Spartans of old: the only thing they fight for is more government entitlements, and they burn innocent workers alive in their violent protests to secure another paycheque for doing nothing.

Sports teams are all about endorsing a view of drive, competition, excellence, and perseverance. When they are named after animals, they typically pick bold and/or handsome specimens to venerate and emulate: Cardinals are known to be brightly coloured birds, for example, and "a lovely shade of cardinal" was already the colour for St. Louis's baseball team stockings. The San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Grizzlies, the Atlanta Falcons, Charlotte Bobcats, and Philadelphia Eagles were all named after animals known to be strong predatory creatures: great symbols of virility in the world of hunting, much as a team would be known to hunt for a championship trophy. Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars, Florida Panthers, and Indanapolis Colts are all named after animals known to be sleek and fast, typically horses. When it comes to naming teams after animals we don't care if the reality isn't quite on par with the fantasy: Grizzly bears eat more berries than freshly killed elk, more moths and pine nuts than salmon or bison. They don't even hunt as a general rule, preferring carrion already killed by wolves or the elements. The same applies when we're naming teams after human groups, both ethnic and otherwise. The team has to be called the Fighting Irish to distinguish themselves from normal Irishmen, who only "fight" in the sense of having the highest crime rate in the British Isles (even after the IRA troubles have ended). The Edmonton Oilers are named after the men who toil for black gold under the harsh Albertan winters, while a decent chunk of their fans are signing onto punitive carbon taxes and the less said about #OilersFistCaptain the better. The University of North Carolina is named the "Tar Heels", which was the "nigger" of 1865 but was later enthusiastically embraced by North Carolinians. If you're a resident of elsewhere and wear a "Tar Heels" jersey are you any worse than a white in a Cleveland Indian jersey? No? Why not?

Issue 3: These images are promoting false stereotypes. I suspect that this is part of the reason that Indians get so upset about sports teams being named after their racial group: the vast disconnect between their ancestors proud fighting ways, and their more modern SJW nonsense. Unlike Vikings, who didn't actually wear those funny hats, Mohawk warriors of old actually looked far more bloodthirsty than their cartoon representations look today. The Huron, who they stole the style from, looked even more sinister. The problem isn't that these are false images of who Red Indians used to be, the problem is that they are true. Pace the T-shirt Hell image posted above, the stereotype of what Indians used to be is a positive one regardless of its truth. As I noted in the Issue 2 discussion, sports teams are chosen based on positive characteristics whether stereotypical or not. The Berea College sports teams are called the "Mountaineers" which imparts a mental image of stalwart and strong men like Paul Bunyon able to forge across a great untamed frontier. In reality Berea College (alma matter of NCIS actor Muse Watson) is a "Fair Trade University" that spit out a Secretary of State under Jimmy Goddamned Carter. Likewise when you think of the Chicago Blackhawks you think of the legend of Black Hawk, the Sauk Indian who fought U.S. Settlers and formed a group of feared warriors uniting the Fox and Sauk clans. You don't think of his predecessor Quashquame who got piss drunk and gave away his entire nation in return for a particularly good vintage of Lysol, nor his rival and contemporary who betrayed Black Hawk and became the only Indian from the Sauk tribe who the Americans dealt with. Perhaps the Black Hawks were the exception to the rule while the Quashquames were the norm? Which would you prefer, a false image of nobility or a realistic depiction which just falls under a different stereotype. Not that "stereotype" is necessarily a bad thing anyways. You have a stereotype of a Ukrainian but not of a Kazakhstani...not because you have a more rounded view of a Kazakhstani but because you don't have any view of him at all! Talk about being "marginalized". Indian team names are keeping this race in the collective consciousness. You might think that you would prefer to be recognized individually for your own individual achievements, and that's fair. But there are surely successful folks from Kazakhstan. I can't name any, can you?

The problem is that while Red Indians love co-opting their (possibly false or highly exaggerated) warrior culture, it doesn't reflect who they have become today. That isn't the fault of the Cleveland Indians, anymore than its the fault of the Minnesota Vikings that a Norwegian today is nothing like his seafaring ancestors of old. Demanding the team change the name to avoid you being shamed by your sins in failing to live up to your cultural legacy is not only unfair but highly counterproductive. Like the virgin in college bragging about his high school sex exploits, Red Indians embrace their warrior culture to compensate for the fact that they probably didn't have one. While it may be inaccurate for the Atlanta Braves or the Cleveland Indians to use a warrior motif related to Red Indians, it isn't like whites made this stereotype out of thin air. You ask us to believe that your culture is the North American equivalent of the Spartans of "300" fame, and then are shocked that we take it on face value and act upon it.

Issue 4: Only Indians are allowed a position on these team names. This is probably the most ludicrous and offensive take on it all. Whenever anybody who doesn't have a vested interest in a policy has an opinion on it, it's typically a sign of a level-headed view not tied up in petty tribal politics or a real or perceived sense of being wronged. As Ted Byfield and Lord Justice Leveson have said, policy should never be set by the victims. That should be doubly so when the victims are only victims in their heads. Yet when dealing with identify-group politics such as this, we're often told the exact opposite: only Indians can discuss if "Cleveland Indians" is a valid team name. There are actually two major problems with this issue. The first, and it's the one that Trevor Norris would argue, is that when you actually poll Red Indians to learn what their opinion is on the topic, you find that the majority aren't actually offended by them. This is a valid point, and it's worth making (which is why you're reading it in this blogpost), but it's not the strongest argument against this ludicrous "you aren't allowed to discuss it" claim, and you might have already guessed it when you see that 9/10 Indians don't mind "Redskins" (and presumably 1/10 oppose it).

That second problem is that "Indians" are a group of individuals with their own beliefs, concerns, attitudes, and experiences. As with any group of people who only exist as a group through an arbitrary and involuntary definition, you cannot say anything about them. For all practical purposes, "Indians" don't actually exist anymore than "whites" exist. After all, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both "whites". And is President Monkey a "white" or a "black"? He's 50/50 in the racial makeup lines. Similarly are Metis or other half-Indian people allowed an opinion on Cleveland Indians? Half an opinion? If Elizabeth Warren weighed in on the team name and logo, would she only get 1/32nd the airtime? Because of this, and this is a very important point, the name Cleveland Indians, the Chief Wahoo character, and the entire debate cannot belong to them either. Being of the same ethnic group as the historical peoples being honoured/borrowed for these team names doesn't give you any right to control what the team does with the name and logo. Those belong to the Cleveland Indians organization (who belong to a guy, who is ironically a Fighting Irish) and the organization alone. Everybody can have an opinion on them, and nobody has the right either moral or legal to tell Larry Dolan what he can do with them.

Which is why the idiotic Douglas Cardinal attempt to use the courts to force the Cleveland Indians, the professional baseball league they belong to, and their partnered media organizations to cease using their name was so brutally offensive. Cowardly Red Indian activist Jesse Wente tried arguing that "I fundamentally disagree" with the idea that "nobody owns history". As such, he and other Red Indian extremists have tried to deny people they consider "racially unclean" from "owning" the historical (or faux-historical) nature of their culture. To that end, of course, why did Cardinal go to court (invented by the British)? Why did Wente-the-Coward go on the radio? These aren't things invented or created by their prehistoric culture, so what gives them the right to co-opt them for their own purposes like this?

In general, this is the thing you'll notice about this desire to take "offensive" Red Indian team names away: those who oppose take the most simplistic and one-sided view of the issue, believing that their culture gets special dispensation not available to any other. So, if they really want to push this, below is a poll. Please vote and tell me which name you prefer for "the Cleveland baseball team".


The 2016 World Series

It's on!

Tonight at 6:08pm Mountain Standard, it's Game 1 of the World Series.

The American League Champions: The Cleveland Indians
Record: 94-67, .584
Last 20 games: 15-5, including only one loss against Toronto since September 28th
Famous curse: The Curse of Rocky Colavito

The National League Champions: The Chicago Cubs (no, seriously!)
Record: 103-58, .640 and best in Major League Baseball
Last 20 games: 14-6
Famous curse: The Curse of the Billy Goat (vanquished)

The Indians pitching been almost perfect this postseason, holding Toronto to only three runs over their 4 wins (they gave up 5 in the loss), and posting three shutouts (2 with Toronto, 1 with Boston). They've needed to be, since they scored only 12 runs over three games in the ALCS. Of special note is the Cleveland rotation, who had to play almost the entirety of Game 3 after Trever Bauer's "old drone injury" acted up in the first inning.

The Cubs can counter with the best starting rotation in all of baseball, with the trio of Arrieta, Hendricks, and Lester. In games at Wrigley with NL rules they gain the advantage of pitchers who can hit: in the first 21 innings against the Giants the Cubs pitchers had more RBIs than the entire San Fransisco team. The Cubs had scoring issues of their own, going 21 scoreless innings in the NLCS before coming alive in Game 4 and scoring twenty-three (23) runs over the next three games.

Game 1: This is the game 6:08pm MT tonight at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Jon Lester (LHP, 0.86 postseason ERA) takes the mound for the Cubs, while Corey Kluber (RHP, 0.98 postseason ERA) will pitch for the Indians.

Game 2: Also at Progressive Field at 6pm MT tomorrow, Jake Arrieta (RHP, 4.91 postseason ERA) will pitch for the Cubs, while Cleveland hasn't been confirmed but will probably be Josh Tomlin (RHP, 2.53 postseason ERA) due to Bauer's injury.

Game 3: This game will be at Wrigley Field at 6pm MT on Friday. Chicago has announced Kyle Henricks (RHP, 1.65 postseason ERA) will be on the mound for the home team, with Trevor Bauer (RHP, 5.06 postseason ERA) the starting pitcher for the Cleveland Indians.

Game 4: This is also at Wrigley Field at 6pm on Saturday. Cleveland has yet to announce their starting pitcher, but assuming they aren't down 3-0 in the series it will likely be the rookie Mike Clevinger (RHP, 5.40 postseason ERA). Chicago has already announced that John Lackey (RHP, 5.63 postseason ERA) will be the starter, but this would probably change of the Cubs are down 3-0 at this point.

Game 5 (if required): Game 5 will be in Chicago at 6pm ET on Sunday, and neither team is in a position to project their starting pitchers going forward.

Game 6 (if required): Game 6 returns to Cleveland at 6pm MT Tuesday November 1st at 6pm ET.

Game 7 (if required): Game 7, representing the end of the 2016 MLB season, will be held in Cleveland at 6pm MT on Wednesday November 2nd. If required, Game 7 would be the eleventh ever November game in MLB history (not counting the "late night Halloween game" of 2001).

The Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are going to the World Series.

That statement alone is, to be frank, shocking. The infamous "Curse of the Billy Goat", which I first wrote about almost ten years ago has been long interpreted to mean that the Chicago Cubs were never again even going to appear in a World Series. Throughout the 50s and 70s, the Cubs were famously a laughing stock. The only thing that saved them in the 60s was the legendary Ernie Banks along with the "great trio" of Ron Santo, Billy Williams and pitcher Fergie Jenkin. Attendance was still good, and it featured a 92-win season where the Mets still beat them for the pennant. However, the post-war era saw the "College of Coaches", the burning American flag incident, and three consecutive decades without an appearance in the postseason. The Cubs didn't reclaim any magic until the 1984 postseason, which, as I wrote at the start of the postseason, ended in a Billy Buckner play before there was even a Billy Buckner play. The Cubs would return to the postseason again in 1989 but without any heroics or interesting plays. Just another loss, just another year not making the World Series. The 1990s featured huge campaigns by Ryne Sandberg, Sammy Sosa, Greg Maddux, and Kerry Wood, and at least another postseason appearance. The Cubs are retaining their "lovable losers" status. With the exception of the 1984 disaster, it doesn't look like any dramatic curse-related stuff is bound to happen. Just decent but not good enough baseball.

Which brings us to the post-9/11 era of the Chicago Cubs. I was at Wrigley Field for a game in September 2003, and that was the year that the Cubs went on to win the pennant and secure a postseason berth. I was in New Orleans during the ALCS and was at a bar watching the game on...the day. You know what day that is. The day. The day that Steve Bartman, Cubs fan extraordinaire and participating in a routine fan activity that you see at least once or twice in every Major League Baseball game, fucks the team up and cements "The Curse" as a thing back in the collective consciousness.

I'm not kidding, either. Check out this SBNation post about the Steve Bartman game and scroll down until you see...
This guy. This guy in the gray jacket right here. This guy is you. And you were both lucky to walk away, whistling, free to go about your lives.

As the SBNation post mentions, and this is true about every "curse" event, is that that wasn't the be-all and end-all of the game and the series. The Steve Bartman incident was in Game 6 of the NLCS, an NLCS the Cubs had a 3-1 series lead in. What happened in Game 5? The Cubs lost, Steve Bartman wasn't involved. Game 7? The Cubs lost, Steve Bartman wasn't involved. And even in Game 6, the Steve Bartman incident wasn't a bottom of the 9th event that made or broke the game. Steve Bartman was nowhere near the ground ball hit by Miguel Cabrera and famously fumbled by Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez makes that play, nobody knows who Steve Bartman was. Kyle Farnsworth was ordered to intentionally walk Mike Lowell, who then scored because Sammy Sosa didn't throw to the cutoff man. None of these people are Steve Bartman, and remember the Cubs still had a Game 7 they didn't win.

But then, that's true of every curse, every bad play. A black cat ran across Ron Santo in 1969, when the Cubs were 84-52 and the Mets were 5 games back. However, the black cat didn't shun a platoon system and left the best Cubs players exhausted in September: that was manager Leo Durocher. The Cubs played 26 games after the black cat incident and only won 8 of them, and no cats were seen at any of those games. Speaking of the Mets, any "Curse of the Bambino" fan can tell you about "Billy Fucking Buckner" and Game 6 of the World Series. That was a bottom of the 9th scenario (bottom of the 10th, actually), and had Buckner not misplayed that ball the Red Sox would have won the series. But they didn't lose the series that night either. Game 7 wasn't caused by Billy Fucking Buckner, though maybe had Oil Can Boyd not shown up to the game drunk as a skunk. Buckner actually had a pretty good game (2 hits in 4 AB with a run scored). The Oilers losing Dwayne Roloson in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final hurt, but the Oilers only scored a single goal in Game 7, and you can't blame Marc-Andre Bergeron for that. Baseball games are made up of a minimum 27 at-bats per team (as the Los Angeles Dodgers can attest to!) so there's always lots of reasons for a team to win or lose.

There was no "curse" involved in the Cubs losing the 2007 and 2008 NLDS, nor the 2015 NLCS sweep at the hands of the Mets. But what separates the 2003 Cubs from the 2008 Cubs is that in 2003, the Cubs weren't the only team in baseball facing a curse. Hell, they weren't the only team from Chicago facing a curse. Yet in 2004, the Red Sox broke the 86-year Curse of the Bambino, for the "crime" of selling Babe Ruth. The next year, 2005, saw the White Sox break their 88 year Curse of the...Cheating...Scumbags. There was hope for the Cubs to break their curse in 2006 when I wrote that blogpost linked to above (they finished 6th). In 2008 was the hundred year anniversary of the last Cubs World Series crown, and then they were swept out of the NLDS by the Dodgers. Last year they were playing in the NLCS and apparently being de-cursed by Back To The Future Part II. This curse, somehow, endured.

But now, for the first time since October 1945, the Chicago Cubs are playing in the World Series. What was going on when the Cubs were in the World Series?
  • Elvis Presley, aged 10, performed in public for the first time
  • A bloody riot takes place at the Warner Brothers lot when striking set designers get a little slap-happy
  • A patent is filed for the microwave oven
The day after the Cubs lose to the Tigers in the World Series, the Chinese Civil War began. Red China is younger than the Cubs' World Series drought. Cubs fans are excited, they are pumped, they are in awe of the history being made...and, if we can be honest, a little melancholy. What does it mean to support a successful Chicago Cubs team? Losing has defined the Cubs for so long that it's more than just a habit, more than just a default position, it's a part of Cubs fans identity. They're the lovable losers from the (rich, white) north side of Chicago, Illinois. We always get teased with the possibility of greatness to have it stolen away from us. Babe Ruth calling the ball. Losing a game when winning 8-0. Leon Durham losing the ball between his legs. Black cats, Steve Bartman, and a goat. At the start of the postseason I laughed in the blogpost title at the notion of the Cubs making it to the World Series. Something always happens. You saw young people excited over the Cubs, and just chuckled. The Curse would teach them. They would learn to be a fan of the team without ever being deluded into thinking they could win it all. They would learn to be Cubs fans.

But now the paradigm is turned on its head. The Cubs are in the World Series. 71 years of heartache has already ended, and 108 years of heartache is within our grasp. What will it mean to cheer on a Cubs team after their curse has lifted? The Boston Red Sox saw a big leap in popularity following their 2004 World Series win (which coincided with hundreds of thousands of Expos fans looking for a new team). The Cubs have never been short on fans, but how will Cubs fans deal with all these new Johnny-come-lately fans who will jump onto the Cubs bandwagon only to be frustrated if they don't make it to the World Series between 2018-2030? What will young fans who only know the post-Bartman era think? If you're a 20 year old, the Cubs have made it to the postseason six times in your lifetime, four times since you can remember, and twice in a row playing in the NLCS. Is it being that special to be a fan of such a team? Pandora's Box of Cubs achievements has already been opened, and closing it may be difficult. The Curse of the Billy Goat is over, and if the Cubs miss the World Series next year in a humiliating or hilarious fashion, it's not something we can blame on a bar-owner named Sianis anymore. It's just our favourite team being shitty and disappointing us. But it's only a tiny disappointment now, a season's disappointment, a temporary event caused by rich athletes letting us down. Before, it was but a tiny part of a lifetime of disappointment, a long-standing tradition older than the...Angels, Senators/Twins, Astros, Mets, Royals, Expos/Nationals, Padres, Pilots/Brewers, Mariners, Blue Jays, Marlins, Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Devil Rays. The prototypical Cubs fan was Al Bundy (who, by the way, was Steve Bartman before Steve Bartman was Steve Bartman), like the second-season episode where Al and Steve collect classic Chicago Cubs baseball cards (minus Ernie Banks and Ken Hubbs).

We've replaced Al Bundy and Steve Goodman with Eddie Vedder and Bill Murray. Not to be a dig against either one of them, but they're just too...successful...to be Cubs fans. Even John Cusack feels like a step a little too high. When the holy figures of hipsterdom are fans of your team, can you be the lovable losers again? Can you be the lovable losers after a big win like this? It's not easy learning to adapt to plenty after being used to starvation. Most lottery winners end up miserable. The Red Sox and the White Sox have already beaten their curses. If the Cubs have moved from being "the cursed team you can tell your grandchildren about" to just another team that sometimes wins and sometimes loses, who is left to turn to? The second longest Cubs World Series drought is the Cleveland Indians (who are also in the World Series). After that is two teams who never played in the World Series since forming: the Nationals and the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners might be a good candidate: after all, they tied for the best record in the history of baseball only to lose the ALCS to the Yankees in the wake of 9/11. The Pirates haven't been in the World Series since their 1979 win, and the Brewers only appeared in one World Series in 1982 and never have won it all. They're also from Milwaukee, which is basically just northside Chicago extended slightly north. These are all decent picks, and you can easily live a lifetime where one of these teams is around but never wins a World Series. They do miss out on being generational losers, and in a sense nothing can ever replace the Chicago Cubs.

And that's maybe why I'm a little down about them in the World Series. A 71-year curse has been abolished, and it won't even be in my lifetime or even my children's lifetime that we can see anything like it ever again.

If there's any consolation in all of this, let's remember that the Curse of the Billy Goat covers the black cat and Steve Bartman and Leon Durham and four infield errors in Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS. You know what it doesn't cover? Billy Herman misplaying the ball and costing the Cubs the 1935 World Series. It doesn't cover the 1932 World Series where Cubs fans "got the goat" (no pun intended, Ruth said so himself) of Babe Ruth and he reacted by calling the next hit. The Cubs gave up an 8-0 lead in Game 4 of the 1929 World Series, and Billy Sianis hadn't even founded the damned Tavern yet (it opened in 1934). In other words, and I don't think you can say this enough, the legend of the Cubs didn't start with the Curse in 1945.

So if the Cubs can stink up the World Series and lose to the Cleveland Indians (another team of destiny, drawing many comparisons to the Kansas City Royals of 2015), then the cosmos isn't going to collapse. The Chicago Cubs will still be the lovable losers of yore. You'll still be able to say that there is not a single person alive today who remembers the Chicago Cubs last winning a World Series. The century-plus World Series victory drought will still be a thing, and getting one step closer and somehow failing to reach it (possibly in hilariously heartbreaking fashion) will just be another feather in the cap of long-suffering Cubs fans. This will remain a generational failure, where your great-grandfather who you never met was the last relative who read about a Cubs World Series in the newspapers. In other words, the Cubs can still be the Cubs. All the Cleveland Indians have to do is break their losing streak.



Nobody (especially me) could have believed it, but the Cubs won tonight in dominant fashion, and are...this is no joke...heading to the 2016 World Series.

Now read up on the musical legacy behind "Go Cubs Go". And now that you know all about the song, it's damned time that you sung it.


The Chicago Cubs quest to be the 2016 World Series Ch....Ch....Ch.... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh man! I almost got through that whole thing with a straight face!

At 7pm today Mountain Standard Time, the Chicago Cubs will start their postseason campaign by hosting the San Francisco Giants.

Many Cubs fans are riding high right now. The Cubs finished the season with 103 wins, the most in all of Major League Baseball, and their .640 winning percentage beats the next highest (Texas and Washington, each of which had 95 wins) by .054...which is more than the gap between the .500 Kansas City Royals and the wild card Jays/Orioles. Their OPS was the third highest in the league, Kris Bryant was a top ten home run hitter, and four of their players are in the top 15 for on-base percentage. But the real story of the Cubs this year has been the pitching, not the hitting: Jake Arrieta allowed the lowest batting average in the majors this year, and three more Cubs pitchers are in the top ten. Three Cubs pitchers are in the top ten lowest WHIP in the league as well, with two Cubs pitchers taking the top two ERA spots in all of baseball this season. The Cubs can play a dominant game, no question about it.

Will they win the World Series?

[Editor's Note: Feynman and Coulter's Love Child is busy having another laughing and crying fit, so I'll assume the answer is no.]

Okay look. The Cubs are riding high. The last time they broke 100 wins was 1935...when they only played 154. Shockingly enough, that mark only ranks fifth in the all-time number of season wins (they won 116 in 1906 when they lost the World Series). But the Cubs have been here before. They won 97 games just last season, 97 in 2008, 96 in 1984, and 98 in 1945...when again a season was only 154 games. You might remember hearing something about a Cubs World Series run in 1945...most Cubs fans today weren't even born when that campaign went on, but it reverberates through history.

The Cubs lost the World Series because of a goddamned goat. We've remarked how weird it is that the Curse of the Goat remains to this day...but yet it remains. Every year, a Cubs season ends in heartbreak. The nature of the heartbreak changes year to year, but it doesn't ever go away. And I mean never.

In that 1984 season, the Cubs had their own "Bill Fucking Buckner Moment" when Cubs first baseman Leon Durham allowed San Diego's Carmelo Martínez easy hit to dribble through his knees and score a tying RBI that kicked off a Padres rally that eliminated the Cubs from the postseason. Third Edge of the Sword favourite James Loney hit a rare home run to give the Dodgers a 4-2 Game 1 lead...oh, it was a 2-0 game before he hit it. In 1969 the "black cat incident" jinxed the Cubs and started them on the road to a losing streak that cost them the pennant. The Cubs would go on to get swept after leading the National League with 97 wins. And every baseball fan knows about the 2003 Steve Bartman incident. But there's more to the Cubs heartbreak than the Billy Sianis incident that kept them from ever even seeing the World Series.

The Chicago Cubs lost the World Series in 1906 and then won in 1907 and 1908. They then played in the 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945 World Series. They won a whopping eight games in those seven World Series. The worst of them was the 1935 Series where the Cubs blew a 3-2 lead in Game 6 and then coughed up a weak hit in the ninth inning over Billy Herman's glove. The Cubs had won 21 games straight in September and then lost when it really mattered.

Second to that had to be the 1932 World Series. You know that one....Babe Ruth gestured to the stands in Game 3 and then delivered on his promise. Despite having a lead in every game, the Cubs were swept in four. That was probably the second worst World Series game in Cubs history. The worst? Game 4 of the 1929 World Series where the Cubs had an 8-0 lead going into the bottom of the 7th...an hour later the score was 10-8 and the Cubs were out...including a routine fly ball dropped that turned into a 3-run inside-the-park home run.

So Cubs fans are going to be disappointed. There's no question of that. The bigger the hype for a Cubs season, the bigger the disappointment. And that's why every time you see younger Cubs fans getting excited, you'll see an older fan...not even necessarily that old, just more experienced...standing behind him and telling him to calm down.

You develop the callouses eventually. The Cubs are on top of the league. They are the favourites to win the NLDS, the NLCS, and the World Series.

They won't. They'll collapse. Somehow. Almost certainly before making it to the Series. It will be another chapter, it will be glorious, and it will be something nobody could expect. A routine fly ball in the sun. A routine bloop to first base. A cat in the dugout. A goat in the stands. An overly aggressive fan in the stands. A superstar calling the ball in a way never before seen in sports.

I'll be cheering on the Cubs for the next week. Maybe even the next two weeks.

But not three. I won't get overly excited. They're the Cubs.