Saturday, February 6, 2010

Reinsdorf vs. Ricketts

It's not bad enough that the Cubs can't get to a World Series, let alone win one. In addition to that ongoing pain, we keep seeing the club end up at the center of incidents that take the focus off of baseball. If it's not bad behavior by fans, or the bankruptcy and glacial evolution toward the team's sale, or the new owners' big plans for restroom renovation, it's something like this week's news that that other Arizona spring training teams will have to pay in via tax to support the new facility that Mesa, AZ, promised to the Cubs to keep them from fleeing to Florida.

Whether or not you feel that's fair--and White Sox boss Jerry Reinsdorf predictably and hypocritically does not--it perpetuates the image of the Cubs as a business first and a baseball team second. Weren't we supoosed to be done with that era? Also, we aren't even at spring training yet, and Cubs are already living under a new cloud that make the team and its fans look entitled. We don't need anymore of that than we already had through the "woe-is-me" attitude that followed the 2007 and 2008 post-season collapses. I was hoping at this point, a year removed from play-off blunders, with the sale done and the team seemingly set to field an under-whelming group, we could watch the Cubs develop without the full glare of seasons past into something surprisingly good.

Instead, the glare is already on them. Funny that it's been brought forward by Reinsdorf, who certainly knows how to use his team as a bargaining chip to gain a deal for a publicly-funded stadium. Still, no one can blame Cubs fans if they feel a bit nervous starting spring training after four months during which the biggest headlines have been more about Wrigley Field changes and this new "Cubs tax" than on-field changes the team has made to get ready for the 2010 season. Tom Ricketts had hinted he wouldn't be the type of owner who created off-field distractions, but here he finds hinself at the center of another.

If Reinsdorf keeps up his chatter about the Cubs tax in Mesa, spring training and the opening of the season could evolve around a Reinsdorf vs. Ricketts vibe. Nobody wants that. We just want baseball.

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