Forbes Magazine valued the Cubs franchise at $773 million, which is about $72 million less than the purchase price when the Ricketts family took over, or about what Alfonso Soriano is owed.
Interestingly, that’s up 6 percent from last year’s valuation, which is pretty amazing when you consider just some of the embarrassments of last year:
-The Cubs finished behind everybody except the Pirates, a team that has finished under .500 for 18 straight seasons going on eternity;
-Lou Piniella quit on the team (a year earlier, if you were watching), but still was allowed to clown the franchise for as long as he wanted because the general manager who never should’ve been retained and the joke of a team president played the new owner for a sucker without any pride;
-The highest-paid pitcher went nuts and had to be sent away;
-Attendance fell faster than Tom Ricketts’ Q rating to the point that the Cubs were advertising the availability of bleacher tickets.
Speaking of Ricketts’ popularity, the head of the billionaire sons’ club is still knocking on city government doors, starting with Cubs Fan Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Ricketts continues searching for anyone willing to look silly with him regarding his plan to give back to the Cubs some of their amusement tax money to fix up Wrigley Field.
Yes, that worked so well the first time Ricketts rolled it out. Now let’s try it in stereo.
Ricketts remains tone deaf to the city’s economy and to the rules of the game. He told Crain’s Chicago Business that he won’t play the move card in trying to get Wrigley repaired, and I’m thinking, there are few ideas worse than retaining Clown Kenney, but we’ve got one here.
What part of “no leverage’’ doesn’t Ricketts understand? He can’t be so stupid that the doesn’t understand that negotiating is a blood sport in Chicago.
Ricketts is now forced to rely on politicking, which is not something he has done well at all since his opening news conference. And that’s being charitable. He has become the audio doppleganger of Michael McCaskey --- mommy, make it stop --- and his actions have been equally inept.
The new mayor, meanwhile, spent a lot of money on TV ads that stressed making schools better and making the streets safer, neither of which is accomplished by dumbing down everybody to help a rich family that can’t play the leverage game the right way.
Worse, for a glib and conversational guy, Ricketts seems genetically incapable of getting his message across and equally incapable of finding people to do it for him:
-In his introductory news address, Ricketts said there is no curse, and then retained the team president who brought in a priest to spread holy water in the dugout to break the “curse;’’
-Ricketts’ marketing wonks gave us “Year One’’ and “A Way of Life.’’ Pick a lane.
-Ricketts wrote a letter to season ticket holders that explained in part that money previously spent on payroll would now be used for scouting and development, and then his general manager traded three prospects for a pitcher who might cost $15 million the next two years.
There is no message here. There is no clarity. There are no points. This has been the ownership equivalent of Soriano facing curveballs.
Ricketts showed no pride as the head of a franchise that deserved better than to let an old quitter hang around the manager’s office when the team desperately needed some direction, any direction, some hope, any hope, some progress, any progress. Ricketts has earned little respect with his plan to upgrade Wrigley. Extortion is such an ugly word, but Chicagoans respect it, and their politicians believe it is one of the four major food groups.
It’s sad, really. White Sox fans have a World Series title and a chairman who’s a Hall-of-Fame blackmailer. The Cubs have the latest incarnation of Mr. Rogers.
Cubs fans can only hope the team can play its game better than the owner plays his, or it’s wait ‘til next Year One.
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