In April 2007, I voiced my excitement upon hearing the announcement that Tribune Co., a long-time nemesis (and hopefully one day, future employer) was going to sell the Chicago Cubs. For a long time, I had compared TribCo.'s ownership of my beloved baseball team to a bad relationship. Sure, guys like Andy MacPhail and Larry Himes tried to run the franchise into the ground, but in the end, they were always there for you. For better or worse. Always.
And after a two-year courtship, Tom Ricketts, whose family founded TD Ameritrade, is (officially) the Cubs' new partner in crime. Ricketts will make a statement to the media Friday. But as happy as this news makes me, I have already been warned about getting too giggly over the situation.
Older Cubs fans have been through this before, like in 1981 when ownership last changed hands. They thought the Tribune Co. would save the Cubs after the Wrigley family had turned a once proud franchise into a hobby. And after three years, it looked like they had done the trick. But after getting a 2-0 lead in the NLCS over the Padres, the Cubs collapsed.
The 1980s and 1990s should have been much better to the Cubs. Dallas Green had a plan, but never got to see it blossom thanks in part to TribCo.'s mismanagement of the team. Young talent came through the system as player such as Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace and Greg Maddux should have been franchise cornerstones. They would go on to add Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, each of whom had a share in why the Cubs have become one of baseball's most popular and profitable franchises.
Under a proper management system, the Cubs should have made at least one World Series appearance between 1981 and 2009. And that's just according to the law of averages.
Instead, all the Cubs have to show from the Tribune Era is the following:
- 6 playoff appearances
- 5 division titles, 1 wild card
- A 9-22 postseason record
- 1 playoff series win
- 0 World Series appearances
- 0 World Series titles
In short, Tom Ricketts has small shoes to fill.