Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts created a stir this week when he threatened to move the team if it didn’t gain approval for two proposed signs and a gigantic video board at Wrigley Field. Sports editor Jon Styf and columnist Tom Musick discuss:
Musick: It appears that the Cubs’ big boss man finally has put his foot down. Sort of. A little bit. He said the Cubs could move if they don’t get their way, but then he backtracked like a center fielder who misjudged a fly ball.
Styf: He should threaten that. But I can’t imagine the Cubs following through. It’s clearly a ploy, as the legal part of this debacle gets underway. They didn’t spend all the money to work up this plan and woo politicians (Stealing from your column on the Cubs’ political spending here) only to see it fall apart. Pro sports teams usually get their way.
Musick: Yes, and I think the Cubs will get their way, at least for the most part. But is it the right way? I know the Cubs should be allowed to spend their money how they see fit, but I’m a bit confused about why signage is such a big issue. What about, I don’t know, making sure the 99-year-old stadium doesn’t fall down?
Styf: It’s about money and balloon payments and debt. Kind of like the state, only they actually have a feasible plan to get out from underneath it. That plan is to sell ads on a video board (What, you thought it was about improving the fan experience?). And if they can’t sell those ads, they will take their ball and go home. Either way, this won’t impact the baseball-spending bottom line, don’t let them convince you otherwise.
Musick: None of this makes me more confident about sitting in the press box atop Wrigley’s crumbling concrete. Nor does it make me confident that the Cubs can find a way to renovate the NL Central standings. Those free-agent deals for Edwin Jackson (4 years, $52 million) and Kyuji Fujikawa (2 years, $9.5 million) aren’t looking so hot at the moment.
Styf: Don’t go lumping Fujikawa in with Edwin now. Fuji anchored my fantasy baseball bullpen well, for two days. And that’s all that really matters. I’m just amused that anyone could think they’d actually move. They won’t. It would be interesting, and it would most likely make the stadium more accessible for those of us up at the end of the Metra line, but I just don’t see it as realistic.
Musick: Perhaps the Cubs can sign someone from Fiji to join Fuji. But I don’t think anyone anywhere believes that the Cubs are going anywhere. Ricketts is blowing hot air. Maybe he should run for mayor.
Styf: Of Hebron.