CHICAGO – Finally, the Cubs have blown away the competition to finish in first place.
OK, so maybe this No. 1 ranking has nothing to do with the actual game of baseball.
Still, it’s not every day that you see these words together: Cubs. First place.
When it comes to spending massive amounts of money on politics, it turns out that the Cubs are amazing, remarkable, unparalleled – you name it.
We’re talking the New York Yankees of the late 1920s. We’re talking Cy Young on the hill, Johnny Bench behind the plate and Willie Mays patrolling center field.
We’re talking dominance.
Recently, a nonpartisan, Washington D.C.-based group called the Sunlight Foundation released a study of political spending among all 30 teams in Major League Baseball. The group analyzed contributions to politicians, political action committees and independent expenditure groups during the 2012 election cycle by team employees and owners.
Long story short: The Cubs contributed $13,917,827. No other team topped $2 million. Including the Cubs, only five teams topped $1 million.
Go, Cubs, Go!
The group’s study followed last week’s report in Forbes Magazine that listed the Cubs’ value at $1 billion, fourth in baseball behind only the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox. The Cubs’ operating income in 2012 was $32.1 million, according to Forbes, which was more than any other team despite a woeful on-field product that lost 101 games.
As a certain North Side supporter might say: Cubs, woo! Profits, woo!
It’s no secret that Joe Ricketts, the patriarch of the Cubs royal family and one of the founders of TD Ameritrade, has incredibly deep pockets and burning passion for conservative causes. Ricketts’ sons have followed suit, while daughter Laura has diverted from the family script as a liberal activist and the first openly gay co-owner in MLB history.
Despite their differences, the family seems to get along as well as any family, which is great. This is America, and we’re allowed to disagree on which political party is less corrupt and less incompetent than the other.
But the Sunlight Foundation’s research project inspired an idea.
Let’s merge baseball season with political season.
The team that wins the World Series gets to choose the following year’s crop of politicians.
Campaign spending, you’re outta here! Corporate lobbyists, grab some bench! Hey, all of you shady political action committees, that’s stee-rike three!
For an update on which political party is leading the polls, check the standings.
The timing is perfect.
This season, the final possible date for a World Series game is Oct. 31. That’s only five days earlier than when the elections officially would have been bought and sold anyway.
If the Cubs win the World Series – don’t laugh, they’re undefeated after one game – then Papa Ricketts can plug in whomever he chooses. If a left-leaning contributor such as the Baltimore Orioles or San Francisco Giants wins, the same holds true.
Meanwhile, current politicians can focus on education, health care, poverty, public transit, the environment, the economy and approximately 10 million other things that matter more than being re-elected. And because back-to-back World Series champions are rare, politicians could be replaced every year by a new group of people, hopefully including some still in touch with reality.
Imagine how exciting every baseball season would become.
Imagine how motivated Joe Ricketts and his sons would be to develop a winner.
Imagine the Cubs blowing away the competition in something actually related to baseball.
• Northwest Herald sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @tcmusick.