It's been rumored since the Tribune Company announced that the team was heading for the market but it appears that Mark Cuban's taken an official step toward buying the Chicago Cubs. He submitted an application to purchase the team and unlike mine it probably wasn't a napkin from Hooter's scrawled with "I.O.U. $500 million dollars." Cuban has his foilbles, the yelling at officials and nightmarish fashion choices, but he's turned the Mavericks from a laughingstock into a powerhouse and has never been afraid to pump his teams full of enough cash to make things happen. He would seem to be the perfect choice, then, for a marquee baseball franchise that has had some trouble winning the big one.
Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune, though, reports that while baseball is fine with Cuban refugees they aren't so eager to turn Wrigley Field into a refuge for Cuban.
But I'll say what I hear from people who are close to Selig: Baseball doesn't like Cuban. It doesn't like the fact he has had to pay about $1.5 million in fines for criticizing the NBA and its referees, among other sins. It can't imagine what he would do around umpires, a notoriously grumpy group. Baseball doesn't like the perception that Cuban wants to be the star of the show. It doesn't like the thought of Cuban as ringmaster of the Wrigley circus.
God forbid we should upset the umpires! That's why people go to the games, after all. It's illustrative of baseball's problems in the modern sports world that they'd see an owner like Cuban as problematic. Matt Watson of The Fanhouse related a story from White Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf when these rumors began in April.
"It is a matter of public record that when Cuban was approved to buy the Dallas Mavericks, the vote was 29-1," said Reinsdorf, who is also the Bulls chairman.
Great, you voted against him even though he's been better for basketball than you've ever been. Do you think Cuban would have let Michael Jordan (I know he retired, just play along), Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson walk after the sixth Bulls championship? Does baseball really benefit from another miserly owner like Reinsdorf or Carl Pohlad than a guy who would kill himself trying to bring a championship team to the North Side for the first time in a century? The easy answer is no but baseball would be just as happy with Wrigley remaining the biggest outdoor bar in Chicago with no increase in the pennant-winning. After all if Cuban comes in, spends money and improves the Cubs than all the other owners wouldn't have an excuse to hoard their revenues and line their own coffers instead of spending on the team.