Cubs sale nears completion
The longest team sale of memory appears to be at an end. ESPN is reporting that Cubs.com is reporting that the Tribune is reporting that they have reached an agreement with the Ricketts Family.
Of course, it's still not over -- the MLB owners have to approve of the sale.
So here's the question -- do the Ricketts have any chance of not gaining the approval of MLB? If not, and if they have been given an inside iggy that things will go smoothly, is it possible for them to give Jim Hendry pre-emptive permission to grow the team's salary before the trade deadline?
It sounds like a lot of "ifs" to me, and history has taught me that the answer will likely be "no." Besides, we cannot quickly forget that the feet-dragging of this sale occurred primarily because Tom Ricketts had trouble ponying up the cash to finalize the near-$900 million dollar deal.
As a long-time Cubs fan, I can't help but wonder what happens next. It's like going to prom with a blind date. Will she turn out to be a foreign-exchange student studying to be a model back in Mother Russia? Or will she be revealed to be your best friend's thugly cousin who once started linebacker for the high school football team?
I'd like to think that Tom Ricketts is a baseball genius who will surround himself with verified, certified baseball men who aren't afraid to try new things and will not flinch at hitting the eject button on long-term Cub strategies that obviously do not work. I'd like to believe that Mr. Ricketts will not only not cut salary on the team but will in fact open his checkbook up even more to help ensure that the Cubs can field a competitive ballclub now and forever.
I'd like to think all that. I can't help but be skeptical, though.
I have often said that in baseball there are a handful of teams that are always competitive. The Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Cardinals, and Giants have immense fan bases, large budgets, and smart people running their organizations. They don't always make the playoffs, but they are expected to -- and if they fail then their fans are bitterly disappointed. The Cubs belong in that category based on fan base alone.
Maybe the Ricketts will build on that fan base and the Cubs will finally ascend into the ranks of Regular Winners. We can't assume Tom Ricketts will buy the Cubs a World Championship, but we should expect -- nay, demand -- that he puts them in a good position every single year. And the best way for him to do that is clean house, hire the right guys, and give them the budget to do their hard work.
Will he? Can he? I'm almost too nervous to find out.