9:24 AM CDT, March 20, 2013
I’m still waiting for confirmation from the Elias Sports Bureau, but I believe that Tom Ricketts now leads the Chicago Owners League in negotiating errors.
It’s hard to think he surpassed Michael McCaskey in such a short time, but the dollars that have poured into and out of technology and sports have grown exponentially since the former Bears wonk was sent to his bedroom by his mother.
So, the baseball wonk has enjoyed more chances in a shorter period to fail to get what he wants, and you’d have to say he has made the most of those faceplant opportunities.
Most recently, the Cubs got an offer to move out of Wrigley Field and settle in Rosemont.
Hard to imagine the team that has lost gloriously for more than a century leaving the charm of the temple at Clark and Addison for a spot in the shadow of O’Hare, but at least the roar of the airplanes would cover the boos that accompany the joke that is Cubs third basemen.
Rosemont’s offer came out of nowhere and seemed to be met with suspicion, but remember, things get done in Rosemont. Stuff gets built there. Businesses happen. A casino, too -- a lot of the stuff that the city of Chicago can’t seem to accomplish, extended empty palm or no.
So, you can’t necessarily rule out the legitimacy of Rosemont’s offer.
But you can officially rule out Ricketts’ viability as a owner who gets what he needs for his business.
A family spokesman issued a statement saying the team won’t be moving out of Wrigley, which continues the self-inflicted gelding of a negotiating stance.
Ricketts didn’t play the move card when the family bought the team. In fact, he gave up his greatest negotiating weapon on Day One when he said the family wouldn’t leave Wrigley. A city of professional politicians laughed out loud at the new Boy Scout.
Ricketts didn’t play the move card after that pathetic rollout of the billionaire family begging for tax dollars. Professional politicians wondered how this kid got out of Single-A owner ball.
Ricketts didn’t play the move card when he offered to pay for his own business upgrades if the city would butt out with restrictions and votes. Professional politicians chuckled that the naïf owner was trying to use common sense as his negotiating hammer in this city, of all places.
And now, when a surprise suitor packing some credibility sits in their lap -- this is not East St. Louis or Stone Park asking if the Cubs want a private dance -- Ricketts had a chance to add to his negotiating game. He had a chance to speed up a deal with the city even if he faked the whole thing.
But no. Ricketts remains the stooge in this case.
He absolutely should’ve taken all the steps toward a new park. Start with an EPA study, then an artist’s rendering, and everything right through open bids on construction deals, even if he’d have to explain “open bids’’ to the city of Chicago.
Showing serious interest in Rosemont would’ve drawn a reaction from Cubs fans, who might enjoy walking into a modern ballpark with ample parking for a season of night games if it means the team has a greater chance of winning the World Series.
And if the fans reacted that way, then the city would be scrambling. The city would at least have to think about dealing with a big diamond-shaped hole in Lake View where their property values used to be.
Playing the move card and meaning it would’ve given Ricketts the necessary opportunity to play against type and, heck, who knows, maybe even escape his role as Ald. Tunney’s towel boy.
And guess what, the move card might be his only real option soon.
Ricketts looked silly when he complained about restrictions in the neighborhood --- restrictions he knew about when daddy gave the kids the money for the team. But perhaps this sad act was predictable. Papa Ricketts made a crack a several years ago about his son’s struggles to graduate from business school, and I have to believe that even private tutoring didn’t help Tom pass Leverage 101.
Listen, if Jerry Reinsdorf had owned the Cubs, he would’ve had two legitimate offers in hand and the city would be on its knees screaming for mommy.
Ricketts is headed for a big, red nose.
The Cubs are going to need new revenue streams wherever they play, and they’re going to need those streams quickly. Ricketts might believe that the Cubs and the city are moving toward an agreement that accomplishes that and he doesn’t want to disturb the supposed speed of those negotiations.
Yes. Well. Ahem. It’s entirely possible the city knows it has a sucker on the other end of the phone.
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