An Amazing Day With the Cubs

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An Amazing Day With the Cubs


Filed:December 9th, 2008

The Tribune filing bankruptcy. Greg Maddux retiring. Jake Peavy potentially being acquired as soon as today. Ron Santo's Hall of Fame snub. And that was before the Governor was charged in the biggest corruption case  I can think of since the Monopoly Era in America. Amazing.

Let's start with the Tribune, which officially filed for Chapter 11 protection yesterday. The good news is according to the release from the Cubs, and some old documentation put together from last year, it should have little effect on the ball club. It appears they were spun off as an LLC  in advance of the pending sell, and they've been excluded from the filing.

Sam Zell won't get to pocket the cash from the sale, as they are still as asset of the parent, but normal operations shouldn't be impacted, and this allows them to complete the sale in a less-rushed manner. I've suggested here previously all the talk about a delay in the sale was nonsense until there was accompanying news regarding a renegotiating with creditors. Well, this is the extreme version.

These leveraged equity deals are coming home to roost, and in a very nasty way. I don't know what to say. American business plays these games with credit in a manner getting progressively worse each time the market contracts. First we gobbled up bad loans in S&Ls. Then the Michael Milken-led junk bond market. The maturation of sub-prime in the 90s. CDOs and SIVs earlier this decade, and now crazy LBO deals that would make even Ivan Boesky's jaw drop.

Each time though, it amounts to the same thing: people and entities that had no business with credit getting it, in order to preserve a lifestyle or market they didn't merit. I'd like to think restructuring would make the Tribune a competitive company. I'm pretty sure though it's just postponing their demise. Sadly, it's at the expense of the employees.

Ron Santo

Snubbed again. Look, I'm indifferent about his candidacy in general, but if you forced me to comment, I'll tell you I wouldn't vote for him. There was just never a point in which he was the preeminent talent of the generation, nor were his teams generally competitive enough to create the proper legacy. I'm happy to leave it to others as to whether he belongs. If/when he makes it in, I'll cheer, and send my congratulations with no ill will.

What troubles me though is the position of some towards the Veterans Committee. Look, here's my take on them. By the time a candidate gets to them, those players have had a lot of chances to make a compelling argument for their candidacy. The baseball writers are responsible for selecting Hall of Fame inductees, and I don't think it's their province to overrule them unless there is significant argument to do so. The VC not voting players in perhaps speaks to the candidate being as un-compelling in their eyes as they were to the writers.

I look for them instead to be a backstop to correct blatant injustices in the process; for those who have truly fell through the cracks, perhaps unfairly snubbed by the writer for personality or other issues.

You know, in another few years, the VC will probably have to correct some of those injustices that I’ve suggested, voting players in who were “victims” of the Steroid Era. Some of those guys are going to get lumped in unfairly by writers, and the VC will have to make some of those cases right. Or guys who the media just didn't like, and they lose some votes because of it. I'm sure you can think of a few guys that are likely worthy, but that might get "punished" by the press down the road.

I'm troubled by the fact they've voted so few players in, but I keep coming back to this—for the most part, if these guys were such clear-cut candidates, they wouldn't be sitting with the Veteran's Committee in the first place. Some have called for their disbandment; personally instead I might like to see all the players lumped on a ballot, and the top vote-getter for each year gets in, with no player on the ballot for more than three years. Just an idea.

Greg Maddux

I remember watching him get tagged on a cold, nasty day in 1986, and thinking to myself "there's no way this guy is going to make it with that fastball." HA!! Thanks for the memories Greg.


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