Normally in the middle of January, we're all just counting the days until pitchers and catchers report to training camp. But the pending sale of the Cubs has the fans, talk radio, columnists, and bloggers in a frenzy.
The consensus opinion seems to be that anyone would be better than the Tribune Company. George Castle, author of numerous Cub-related books, makes a good point that the Cubs haven't been owned by a true fan of the team since William Wrigley Jr. died in 1932.
The Sun-Times reveals that Tom Ricketts was a first-hand witness to the pain and suffering of the 1984 team that blew the two games to nothing lead to Steve Garvey and the Padres in the NLCS.
One particular passage in the Sun-Times piece struck home with me:
"Thomas Ricketts, 43, declined to be interviewed, preferring not to court media attention until his bid is accepted. Tribune could still drop him, or Major League Baseball, which has the final say, could refuse his family's bid."
This is a man who doesn't just say he is a Cub fan. This is a guy that has been burned by the Cubs before and doesn't want to say much before the deal is done. He is waiting for the other shoe to drop.
He knows the deal is not done. He knows that being five outs away from the World Series does not make actually going to the World Series a sure thing.
There are still all sorts of things that could end up making this deal go the other way. The other bidders could restructure their deals to include more money up front (which is ultimately what the Tribune and the bankruptcy lawyers are looking for). The other MLB owners could decide they don't want to let Ricketts into their little fraternity. There may be judges involved because of the bankruptcy.
The odds of something going wrong for Ricketts now are pretty long, but he knows that when you have a three run lead, five outs to go, and your ace on the mound, you don't stand up and yell to your beer-vendor buddy, "Hey Steve! I'll see you at the World Series!" (A member of my summer family actually did this and I swear to God, the next pitch was hit down into the left field bullpen seats to the poor bastard with the Walkman.)
He knows how it feels and soon he could very possibly be in the position to do something about it first hand, and he is not going to do anything to jinx it.
Well, in my continuing spirit of spitting in the face of the curse: Hey Tom! We'll see you at the World Series!