I’m not sure how much of this is just the fact that I care less about the “product” put forth by the Chicago Cubs on the playing field, but I’m sick and tired of stories about how the ball club has yet to be sold.
I especially don’t understand those people who want outspoken billionaire Mark Cuban to own the ball club (one of two that has been in operation every single year of the National League’s existence). But that is a different issue, and at this point, I’d settle for the silliness that a Cuban-run ball club would bring to Chicago, just to put an end to the financial nonsense that is passing for negotiations.
IT JUST STRIKES me as ridiculous that an owner of Tribune Co. who expressed his desire to unload the ballclub (saying he knew “nothing” about the business of sports) nearly two years ago has been unable to bring the hammer down to complete a deal.
This inability to complete a deal is made more ridiculous by the fact that the Cubs are supposedly a “historic” franchise that can command a premium price because there is a demand for a team with its sense of history.
It’s not like this is the San Diego Padres up for sale.
Yet still, Cubs “fans” (an absurd breed in and of themselves) have had to endure two seasons of knowing that their team was in limbo, unsure of what the long-term future would hold because no one knew who would be in charge of that future.
THE FACT THAT the Cubs were good enough in those two seasons to manage to win division titles makes the situation even worse, because a serious baseball operator would be able to take the ball club that came close to winning a National League pennant (which would be a first for the Cubs since 1945) and refine it to the point where it could win something in ’09 and be a legitimate contender for years to come.
Instead, who’s to say what will really happen with the Cubs. I can’t help but notice that most baseball-related coverage these days with regards to the Cubs focuses on the fact that the National League’s central division is getting weaker with no apparent dominant team.
So the Cubs could continue to bumble their way into division titles (which are cute, but don’t mean much if you can’t actually win the league championship) amidst inferior competition.
Now I know there are Cubs fans who would be content to say their ball club won another division title. When your team hasn’t won a league pennant in 64 years (and officially made it to a full century since it last won a World Series title), you learn to settle for what you can get.
PERHAPS THERE’S A certain sanity to that attitude, since life isn’t always fair and doesn’t always allow us the opportunity to get what we want.
But a good part of what professional sports is about, from the perspective of the fan, is providing a diversion from the realities of life.
The ballpark ought to be the place where I can go for a few hours to forget about partisan politics and economic troubles and any other social troubles I may be having.
What it ought not to be about is a ball club behaving in a ridiculous manner. If it is for sale, it ought to be sold. If someone had a ridiculously high price in mind for the purchase that just isn’t going to happen because of current economic troubles, then somebody within the outgoing Cubs management needs to face reality.
IN FACT, I got a boost from a recent Chicago Tribune story about the continual delays in selling the team. The story noted, rather matter-of-factly, that the total purchase (regardless of who actually bought the team) was expected to be about $800 million.
I can remember when the followers of Tribune boss Sam Zell were insistent that a sale of the Cubs bring in $1 billion. That figure was based largely on the fact that the sale of the Boston Red Sox a few years ago managed to set a record for ball club transactions with a price of nearly $700 million.
Some people just naturally assumed that a Cubs sale would top that figure, even though that Red Sox transaction also included the entities that broadcast the ball games, which means the buyers (including the New York Times Co., owners of the Boston Globe newspaper) were also getting the right to make money off of baseball broadcasts.
So where do things stand now?
FRIDAY WAS SUPPOSED to be the deadline for the three entities that reportedly remain in the running to buy the ball club (pending approval by Major League Baseball, which means the other owners – even Jerry Reinsdorf of the White Sox – and Commissioner Bud Selig get a say).
Yet now, we learn that the deadline is “flexible.” Who’s to say when a prospective new owner will be chosen? A part of me would not be surprised to see the Cubs go well into the 2009 season before learning who will run the team for the foreseeable future.
Now I understand the fact that Tribune Co. is in bankruptcy court. And even though the ball club was not included with the rest of the company in that legal filing, the Cubs departing owners are obligated to show that they got as much cash as possible from the sale for the benefit of the media company as a whole.
But enough is enough. I’m tired of this Cubs stuff (or should I use first lady Patti Blagojevich’s preferred phrase for the business dealings of the Chicago National League ball club?)
HOW MANY CHANCES do the business entities currently in the running get to continually sweeten their bids before somebody pounds the gavel, so to speak, and declares the ball club “Sold!”
These continual delays are getting to the point where the Cubs’ performance in the boardroom has become nearly as embarrassing to the city’s image as the team’s play on the field.
EDITOR’S NOTES: Last week Friday turns out not to be the real deadline for (http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/2009/01/13/Chicago_Cubs_sale_deadline_extended/UPI-46311231858268/) submitting bids to buy the right to operate a Chicago-based ball club in the National League.
I’m not alone in wondering (http://www.nbcchicago.com/sports/baseball/This-Cubs-Sale-Will-Never-End.html) if this bidding process will ever end.
Even if officials pick a winning bidder for the Cubs in the next week or so (http://www.bizofbaseball.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2851:why-the-final-bidder-for-the-cubs-may-not-be-the-final-bidder&catid=30:mlb-news&Itemid=42), the process could be reopened if baseball officials have a problem with the bid. Anybody who doubts that should note how successful the White Sox were (http://www.brainyhistory.com/events/1980/august_22_1980_153076.html) under the ownership of Eddie DeBartolo.