Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Cuban rescue mission?

Now that the smoke from the Academy Awards has cleared, it's time to turn to even more critical matters - the impending championship season of Major League Baseball. In my little corner of the universe, that means the Chicago Cubs, also known as baseball's version of Susan Lucci Martin Scorsese the Democratic Party pathetic sad-sack losers. This Year of our Lord Two Thousand and Seven will mark the 99th season in a row that the Cubs have sought to reclaim the World Series championship that the team last won in 1908 (the second of two back-to-back titles, no less). So obviously it has not been easy being a fan of the Chicago National League Ball Club. As if we needed any reminder of that, yesterday brought yet another downer: news that Ron Santo, the beloved former All-Star third baseman for the Cubbies during much of the bittersweet late ’60s-early ’70s run, had been denied yet again entry into the hallowed Baseball Hall of Fame. Santo, who is 67 and has lost both legs to diabetes, fell five votes short of immortality. Five votes - sound familiar?

All of this morbid backstory is set up to what might happen this year. Already there has been muted hope that things at Wrigley Field may be different this time around. There's a new manager in Sweet Lou Piniella, a new center fielder and potential superstar in Alfonso Soriano. But the biggest news of all broke today with word that Mark Cuban, the out-there but loaded owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, may be about to put his long-standing desire to buy the Cubs from the Tribune Company into overdrive. How serious could Cuban be? Serious enough, according to Radar Online, to offer a smashing $625 million for the team. That would be almost 50 percent more than the value of the Cubs as listed by Forbes magazine - not to mention a megabucks offer to a company in Tribune that is teetering on the brink of financial ruin. Cuban has proven with the Mavericks the ability to take a long-sucking franchise and turn things completely around (once the laughing stock of the NBA, the Mavs made the Finals last year, and just about every player on that team worships Cuban like the second coming).

There are some possible drawbacks to this plan. For one, would the stubborn Tribuners even agree to the sale. Also, MLB's financial set-up is very different from how things go in the NBA - Cuban himself has admitted to that - and so his ownership of any baseball team is far from a guarantee of success. And how would fans in middle American - not to mention the commissioner's office - deal with Cuban's eccentric antics? But for Cubs fans starved for a consistent winner, having Mark Cuban in the ownership chair would be a refreshing breath of fresh air. Will it happen? If God is a baseball fan, it will.

NOTE: According to ESPN, Cuban has denied preparing a offer for the Cubs. Curses! (Wait, forget I said that ... )

1 comment:

Beth said...

A Cuban who cares about his people.

I think the Trib would bite, actually. Because $625 million would solve a lot of problems. And it shouldn't own a team anyway. And an offer like this would probably never come around again. And if he can improve the company's bottom line, FitzSimons would earn himself a tasty bonus.