Filed:October 30th, 2009
Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts
And with one 20 minute press conference this morning, an historic event has come and gone, with the Ricketts family officially announced as the Cubs owners.
The new group, fronted by Tom, with a board led by family members Peter, Todd, and Laura, promised first and foremost a World Series championship, and a legitimate commitment to establishing a perennial contender. In fact, Tom stated that the key to bringing a winner to Chicago was putting a playoff caliber team on the field every year, and his goal was to make sure that this happened.
Further, Ricketts went on to state that in his opinion, the incoming talent alone for next season was enough to not only be playoff caliber, but to carry the team into the World Series. I'll stop here, and give you a moment to collect yourself after that. I take this as a sign to don't look for any significant signings this off-season, with this statement as cover to help hide the financial strains that the purchase of the team put on the family.
And how are the Cubs going to create this winner? Amongst some of his finer points were:
1) A legitimate commitment to hiring both the best on-field and front office personnel.
2) Improvements to Wrigley Field, immediately by improving the game-day experience, and long-term with improvements to the stadium conditions, and the addition of the triangle building.
3) Increase in payroll for next season, albeit with "slight" increases in ticket prices to fund it.
4) Promising to leave the baseball decisions up to the front office people, giving them the leeway to make the required decisions for the ball club.
And what he won't do? Well, he won't be hiring a baseball man to head to the team, making a commitment to both Jim Hendry and Crane Kenney, at least for the 2010 season.
And while the family expects to be active owners, they won't be puling Jeffrey Loria moves, disrupting the team in the process. Most importantly, they won't be committed to profit margin above all else, stating a willingness to not only spend, but reinvest profits willingly and aggressively, with a long-term view. Great news for those who still remember the dollars above all else initial years of the Tribune ownership.
It was a good first day. These are definitely fans, they definitely understand baseball, and understand the magnitude of their purchase. Coupled with Tom's deft sidestepping of a hypothetical question about eating cash on contract **cough, Milton Bradley, cough, cough **, and this was a pretty good introduction to the masses.
Especially after watching this conference, I stand by the notion that 2010 looks lean, but I’m convinced even more now that the Cubs long-term future looks pretty bright.
And for those of you looking for additional coverage, NPR will be doing an extended interview with Tom tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. You can find the details and podcast at www.npr.org.