McDonough, the Cubs' senior vice president of marketing and broadcasting, was named interim president by Dennis FitzSimons, Tribune Co. chairman, president and chief executive officer.
"I think we need to reward these tens of millions of fans who have waited for a long time," McDonough said. "I just witnessed something miraculous. We're 30 games under .500 and you see 30,000 people standing in unison at the last out singing, 'Go, Cubs, Go,' at the end, as if we had just clinched the division. They need to be rewarded, we need to win. We will win. We will win the World Series. The goal is to win consistently. Anything short of that, I will not be doing my job."
MacPhail, 53, joined the Cubs in 1994 as president and CEO, and during his 12 seasons, the team reached the playoffs twice and advanced to the National League Championship Series in 2003. He also guided the expansion and modernization of Wrigley Field. This year, the team had one of the highest payrolls at $95 million, but finished with the worst record in the National League at 66-96.
"This isn't my proudest day," MacPhail said.
Since he joined the Cubs, MacPhail has had a handshake deal with the Tribune Co., and this summer met with executives to go over the state of the team. MacPhail said he offered his resignation, and after some deliberations, FitzSimons and Crane Kenney, the Tribune Co. senior vice president and general counsel, accepted it.
"It's not just the season," MacPhail said. "It's not just that we had a terrible season. I've been here 12 years, and we've had two postseasons. That's not what I came here to do. I haven't been as effective as I wanted to be. I'm the CEO, and I'm responsible."
"It's obvious the losses were wearing on Dennis," MacPhail said. "He said, 'Look, Andy, we have to try something different. It's time.' The clock on the MacPhail-o-meter has run down to zero."
MacPhail has given up day-to-day responsibilities of the team, but will stay on as it relates to league matters, and will continue to work on the collective bargaining agreement. FitzSimons complimented MacPhail for upgrading Wrigley Field, yet keeping the tradition of the ballpark, especially through the just completed bleacher expansion project.
"I'll help in whatever transition period they need to get the next guy in place," MacPhail said.
What went wrong?
"What's most frustrating to me is the lack of consistency," MacPhail said. "This year is an example. Jim [Hendry, general manager,] goes out and makes several acquisitions -- [Scott] Eyre, [Bob] Howry, [Jacque] Jones, [Juan] Pierre -- and if you look at the stats at the end of the season, they gave you what you had a right to expect and hope."
"It was the foundation that he thought he was building on that evaporated," MacPhail said. "The last couple years, at least the last two, we've had our highest-priced players on the disabled list for most of the season. When you go out and make additions, those guys have paid off, but something you thought you had in place evaporates. I wish I could tell you why that was."
Kerry Wood ($12 million), Derrek Lee ($9.416 million) and Mark Prior ($3.65 million) all spent the majority of this season sidelined with injuries. The farm system also hasn't come through. MacPhail admitted they have done a poor job of developing position players in the farm system.
Bottom line, the Cubs needed to win for MacPhail to keep his job.
"It's about winning games," MacPhail said. "I've been in this business my entire life. I was born to it, I've done every job imaginable, from selling program space in Midland, Texas, to scouting in the Midwest League to being a general manager to negotiating collective bargaining agreements. There's one rule that applies to everybody. You've got to win."
MacPhail started to tear up at the end of his news conference.
"This is the first time I've ever done [a job] in baseball that I didn't have a high level of success in," he said.
The Cubs still drew more than 3 million fans this year, reaching the second highest figure in franchise history (3,123,215).
"We had 3 million people come, for God's sake, as bad as we played, and they still came," Jones said. "I think they all know in their hearts that we never quit and things just didn't work out."
Cubs manager Dusty Baker will know his fate on Monday after a meeting with Hendry. Baker's four-year contract is up at the end of the season, and McDonough said he talked to Hendry on Sunday, adding "there hasn't been a decision made that I'm aware of," regarding the manager.
McDonough is the brainchild behind the successful Cubs Convention, the team's annual fan fest. Now his attention shifts to the team itself.
"To me, it's not about marketing or being creative or bringing people into the ballpark or the seventh-inning stretch -- it's all about winning," McDonough said. "Winning is the greatest marketing idea of all time."
FitzSimons agreed that McDonough's job description has changed.
"They have one mandate and that's to win for our incredibly loyal Cubs fans," FitzSimons said. "They'll focus on every facet of the organization to determine what we can do better to deliver a winner to our fans."
"This is a baseball decision," FitzSimons said. "It's an issue of making sure our fans know we're committed to winning. Andy MacPhail was committed to winning and for whatever reason, it didn't work out."
How soon will the Cubs win the World Series, as McDonough predicted?
"Realistically, you want to go into every season thinking you are going to win the World Series," McDonough said. "Our goal is to win the World Series next year and the year after that. You have to be careful and realistic. But with the resources we're given and the decisions that need to be made, I think the Cubs will win the World Series and the Cubs will win the World Series soon."