Our Long National Nightmare Is Over - Cubs Sold

It’s been for-freaking-ever in the offing, but the sale of the Chicago Cubs from the hilariously mismanaged hands of Sam Zell is complete.

Lou Piniella Drunk
(UNCLE LOU POPS THEM BOTTLES WHEN HE HEARS GOOD NEWS)

While Zell struggled with finances during the entirety of his short tenure at the head of the Tribune Company, whose assets include ownership of the team, buyer Tom Ricketts and his family should prove to be able owners whose finances aren’t tied to the newspaper industry.

Read more…

Sam Zell Sells Cubs. Um, Sells Them Again, That Is

We found out yesterday that the Cubs may finally be free of the wretched talons of the comically underwealthy talons of owner Sam Zell, who has been trying to sell the team for almost as long as he’s had them, his cash flow nowhere near enough to cover bills for the franchise.

Sad Cubs fans
(It was probably bad news to hire a fan and his young son as team accountants to begin with, but yes, they’re very disappointed by this news.)

The new owners, the Ricketts family, were reportedly going to pay $900 million with $450 million up front and the rest in loans. Sounds fine, and the plan was set to be approved by the rest of MLB ownership. Now it turns out that Zell has found another buyer for the Cubs, coming to terms with Marc Utay and his investment group. The key to this deal is that it’s for a higher price, but with less money up front.

In other words, more disaster waiting to happen.

Read more…

Speed Read: If They Say It’s Not About the Money

SPORTSbyBROOKS, in conjunction with Disney on Broadway and Rosie O’Donnell, is proud to present the upcoming smash Internet musical that will leave your toes a-tappin’ and your wallet a-empty: How to Succeed at Sports Business Without Really Trying!

How to Succeed in Sports Business Without Really Trying

Nathan Lane plays Sam Zell, a real estate magnate who overleverages himself in order to buy a major company in a rapidly shrinking industry just before the lending bubble bursts. It’s zany fun (except for the hundreds laid off, but they’re offstage anyway).

Desperate to make debt payments, he tries to sell the only profitable part of the company: a sports team known for being both lovable and not-winners. Still, he can’t find anyone willing to put up with his byzantine conditions in time to avoid bankruptcy.

However, to please the bankruptcy judge and try to salvage some of his own wealth, he presses on (as captured in the frenetic number, “Doesn’t Anyone Want to Get My Goat?”) and finds a family willing to buy the team off him.

Sam Zell's Goat

When negotiations don’t progress as hoped because he’s not getting his way and the family has to turn to regional celebrities to pony up cash, Zell tries to gin up a bidding war by hinting that he might be speaking to one of the previously-rejected suitors.

Will the family bow to the planted story and give the charismatic dwarf what he demands? Will his bluff be called and leave him singing “The Blue-Pinstriped Bankrupt Overtaxed Blues”?

And that’s just Act One, kids! Just wait till you see what’s in Act Two!

As the curtain rises on the second act, a strikingly successful bald man with an accent from the Queen’s lands (Patrick Stewart in a rare singing role) tries to make off in the night with a bag jammed full of hockey players from Phoenix (The Jonas Brothers). Caught at the U.S./Canada border, he tries to plead his case to the judge, who laughs him off and tells him to get back in line.

Having been cast a hand so weak that he could call it “The Stranger”, Jim Balsillie (the aforementioned smooth-headed rascal) organizes Make It Seven Day for today (June 19th) to encourage the creation or move of an NHL team to Canada to raise the number of Canadian NHL teams to seven.

Jim Balsillie does seven the hard way

(Jim Balsillie performing “Make It Seven the Really Hard Way”)

He bounces around the stage, Robert Preston-style, to sing to people that “Make It Seven Day is all about providing a voice to Canadian hockey fans, while raising money for minor hockey teams across the country.” (It all sounds better when it’s set to Elton John’s “Greater Toronto Area Freedom”.)

The Canadian chorus, recognizing a true Canadian hero in their midst, throw him onto their shoulders while he waves the Maple Leaf triumphantly and leads a round of “O Canada (Deserves a Seventh Team)” before someone in the crowd (Robin Thicke) realizes Balsillie is using nationalism (and corporate sponsors) to give himself a plaything and cast himself as a hero as well as a billionaire.

Also, the kid in the crowd realizes that the rich bald guy still hasn’t brought them a team, either, for all his bluster.

The crowd escorts Balsillie to the edge of the stage and tosses him back to America, warning him not to come back without a team this time. End of Act Two.

Oh, but Act Three… it’s the most expensive act in Internet musical history as it involves tearing Formula One asunder by chasing all the wealthiest teams (including Ferrari and McLaren) into forming their own league because Formula One dared suggested they not outspend all the other teams so badly anymore.

Well, the rich teams responded in eight-team harmony, if you won’t let us spend ridiculously in Formula One, we’ll build our own playpen so we can try to outspend each other with absurd amounts of cash.

Needless to say, this act’s a blatant theft of the American version of this musical, starring Jesse L. Martin as Tony George. It ends like the American version, too: both sides drain all the interest out of open-wheel racing, the money dries up, and Danica Patrick is cast as the savior. (Hey, if NASCAR can do it…)

Danica Patrick photo SI

(As always, it’s a race to the bottom with Danica)

On the other hand, you should see Formula One boss Max Mosley’s Naziriffic spanktastic encore for this show (and Formula One’s final bow):

Look out; here comes the bullet points! (But not before you consider a new iPhone for all the NSFW foreplay possibilities):

  • As the old joke goes, Jeremy Roenick donned his sparkly collar and surely proved that he has a career waiting for him on the stage, as seen during last night’s NHL Awards. In fact, if he hurries, there’s a stage leaving town in 15 minutes.

  • The Detroit Tigers have benched Magglio Ordoñez “indefinitely” due to his mediocre performance at the plate and definitely not because management has told Jim Leyland to sit on The Big Tilde to avoid triggering a clause in his contract to pay him $18 million in 2010. However, if Ordoñez would like to catch up on his DVR watching during the game, that would be totally cool with the Tigers.
  • If you’re a big fan of your favorite team, you won’t just stop at collecting cards or jerseys. You’ll also buy the unauthorized porn video (whose screen captures are probably just a bit NSFW). C’mon; if you’re in for an inch, you’re… probably doing it wrong, actually.
  • Let’s see… an AL pitcher is hurt on the basepaths in interleague games for the second year in a row. You know what that means: OMG PANDEMIC RUN FOR THE HILLS (unless you’re an AL pitcher; they get designated runners).
  • A few members of Iran’s soccer team donned green quietly to support the growing support for those demonstrating back in Iran while the players participate in the Confederations Cup in South Africa. They could be in a bit of trouble when they return home.

Iran soccer team

Who would you least like to handle your finances?

View Results

Cubs Owner Asking Famous Chicagoans For Help

In a sales process that should wrap up right around the time baseball has evolved into Blernsball, TD Ameritrade scion Tom Ricketts continues to drag out the purchase of the Chicago Cubs to extract more concessions from Sam Zell and WGN on advertising cash and to look for more $25-50 million loans from the local rich.

Jeremy Piven Chicago Cubs

(Guess who feels left out?)

Of course, as we mentioned last month, those loans have been gussied up in the form of stakes in the Chicago Cubs that you have to give back in 15 years when Ricketts pays back the loan with slim interest.  It’s now known that he’s schmoozed famous Chicagoans Bill Murray, Jim Belushi, and John Cusack to buy in. Frankly, it’s difficult to understand a world where Jim Belushi has over $25 million in net worth.

Read more…

Want to Impress People? Borrow Part of the Cubs!

Hey, skinny! Your portfolio is showing! Your pathetic $25-50 million in complicated financial transactions or ferreted away in Caribbean locales to avoid taxes doesn’t impress the women at North Avenue Beach in Chicago. They can’t see your rippling six-pack of bonds because of the Bonds-like six pack on the fellows around you.

Don’t you worry, though; Tom Ricketts can make you a new man, too, for fifteen years! The winner of the Chicago Cubs sweepstakes can’t quite bear the thought of 10% (or worse) interest on loans required to buy the team, so he’s reaching out to you to invest in the team for fifteen years.

John Henry, Linda Pizzuti, and Charles Atlas

(Sorry, Charles Atlas; ladies love cool John Henry)

You get to say you’re an owner, secure front row seats at Wrigley, claim face time with players who don’t know you from Don Rickles, and gather with other rich people who fall for the same gag share in the wealth of Cubs ownership to chat about the direction of the team.

You don’t get a vote, of course. You also have to give your ownership slice back after fifteen years and make zero money on the increased value of the team. Frankly, you’re an investment tourist gambling that the economy will blow through 2024. But rich socialite women go for your type; just ask Red Sox principal owner John Henry’s fiancée!

Read more…

Speed Read: Has Twittering Gotten Out Of Hand?

We ask because, at this point, we could almost start a blog updating solely with news about Twittering athletes, coaches and GMs. Yesterday, we wrote about the infamous tweets of the Buffalo Bills and Brian Burke. Sunday, we wrote about Mark Cuban. And you know what? There are two more breaking Twitter stories this morning.

Mark Cuban

According to the ASSOCIATED PRESS, the inevitable fine against Cuban came down on Monday, and it landed with the resounding thud of $25,000. Considering the fact that Cuban’s rant was exactly 140 characters, Cuban was paying approximately $178.57 per letter for his screed against J.R. Smith. Not surprisingly, Cuban was none too happy about being lighter in the wallet, and he responded by questioning whether outlets - like, say, SPORTSbyBROOKS - has the right to re-publish his tweet, getting attention for it and, thus, earning him fines.

The answer, as pointed out by FANHOUSE, is a resounding “yes”. Because Cuban’s profile is set to public, we all get to read and re-publish his thoughts. That’s pretty much the definition of fair use. Yet the most interesting line of Cuban’s entire discussion with the FANHOUSE folks is his closing sentence:

@NBAFanHouse not close. I like to create discussion. makes things interesting

Yes, yes he does. At a cost of approximately $25G a pop.

Meanwhile, Celtics star Paul Pierce pulled off his best Shaquille O’Neal impersonation, giving away free tickets to Boston fans who showed up at his car and proffered up the pre-listed password (which, cornily enough, was “truth”). The first five jokers who have been stalking Twitter in their Paul Pierce 34 jerseys and jumped at the chance to meet him got the free seats, and web site BOSTONCS was there to chronicle the whole experience.

paul pierce twitter tickets

All of this got us thinking: Has Twitter officially jumped the shark? What started as a slightly clever way to send instant inside jokes became instantly cool when a few athletes re-discovered their inner dork, and it’s now gone so mainstream that mediocre stars need to imitate the big shots just to stay culturally relevant.

Add to that the mind screw that is Cuban doing anything — the eternal debate of whether he’s doing it because he thinks it’s cool, whether he’s doing it to manipulate the media and fans, whether he’s doing it for both reasons or whether we should even care because he’s such a tool — and maybe we’ve reached the point that we should all blow Twitter off indefinitely … or at least until Anna Kournikova shows up and starts describing what it’s like to get dressed in the morning.

Some news last night wasn’t quite fit to Tweet, because it hasn’t been completely wrapped up. As Jason first wrote last night, it sure looks like John Calipari is heading toward a long-distance commute from Memphis to Lexington, Ky.  Of course, we don’t know that’s true … yet, but there are plenty of reasons to believe the substantial rumors, one of which is this camera, which — as DEADSPIN first reported yesterday — is permanently trained on the door of Memphis’s Athletic Department.

John Calipari

In fact, the whole “Cal to Kentucky” bit is getting so much attention that, as Tuffy first coined in an email last night, you have believe the video alluded to in the ESPN.com screenshot below would lead to a camera trained directly on Calipari’s personal bedroom.

calipari espn.com screenshot

We’re betting it’s going to happen, and that it will happen sooner rather than later. And you know what? In the end, it’s a good thing for college basketball. After all, how great will it be to have Calipari and Rick Pitino facing off against each other in an annual turf war? And just think! This time it won’t just be about who can cheat to land recruits more effectively!

And just when you thought former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s pantomime villain routine couldn’t get any more obvious, it turns out he named a secret agreement to sell Wrigley Field to the state of Illinois — all in return for numerous tax breaks for former Cubs owner Sam Zellafter a throwaway joke in the Blues Brothers.

elwood blues license

Blagojevich referred to the Wrigley Field negotiations as “Operation Elwood”, named in honor of Elwood Blues (also known as Dan Aykroyd), whose listed address on his driver’s license was Wrigley Field.

It’s yet another ridiculous chapter from a brazenly agressive civil tyrant, but then again, what do you expect from a guy who, just months after being impeached from office, is already guest hosting talk radio shows and hand picking the callers.

  • Enough with real news, lets try to manufacture some that involves incredibly attractive people. Like Alyonka Larionov, who may or may not be dating either Alexander Ovechkin or Pavel Datsyuk. She’s also a budding viral video star, so maybe she’ll be dating someone else to keep her in the news soon, too.

alyonka larionov

mma keith jardine

  • Just because we haven’t covered enough Twitter addiction today: USC Coach Pete Carroll’s ridiculous campaign to get buddy Will Farrell on Twitter reached new heights, including this self-produced video.

jensen button girlfriend

If you were a pro athlete, would you Twitter?

View Results

Cubs Finally Sold? Curse Included in Ch. 11 Filing

Despite not being able to make the sale happen in time to stave off Chapter 11 bankruptcy (at least temporarily), Sam Zell and his chippin ‘n’ flippin’ ways haven’t totally failed him.  The Chicago Cubs’ sale to very rich people with little need for mostly non-existent loans could be complete within a week.

Sam Zell shows us the money

Three bidders show up in all the articles, apparently having been the last to put up offer sheets: real estate mogul Hersch Klaff, the TD Ameritrade family (the Ricketts), and Marc Utay, who made his money in private equity. They shouldn’t dust off their pocketbooks just yet, though.  The CHICAGO TRIBUNE’s own reporter couldn’t resist this jab at the Tribune’s elfin master: “The company, which is controlled by Chicago real estate investor Sam Zell, also has not held firm to past deadlines.”
Read more…

Cubs Can’t Find Buyer, Still Can’t Alight on Cuban

Look forward to hearing this excuse for the next six months from all your favorite teams and leagues: “Gosh, we’d love to <do something good for the team or sport>, but the credit crisis has prevented us from <spending any money that doesn’t come from taxpayers>.”

That’s the current excuse why a big player contract would be awful or using their own cash for a new stadium is right out at the moment.  You know… as opposed to when it was a bad idea last year.

Sam Zell On Chicago Cubs

Writ large, Sam Zell (Tribune Co. and Chicago Cubs owner) has chosen That Darned Credit Crunch as the reason he now may not be able to sell the Cubs completely, settling for shuttling off just as much of a minority stake as he can to pay down debt that he saddled Tribune Co. with when he bought the company in the first place.

Read more…

Who Killed Kelly? Why, It’s Fukudome, Of Course!

When your team’s doing exceptionally well, you’re pretty sure that even two other teams put together can’t defeat them.  In this case, Cubs fans are justified in their cockiness.  Sure, they dropped two in a row to the Phillies, but who can blame them losing to Jamie Moyer?  He’s the age of two young men strapped together.

Beverly Hills 90210

No, when the Cubs play the Astros Tuesday, they will show a might that only every other major network and numerous Spanish language networks have displayed: the ability to defeat the combined forces of The WB and UPN, now known as The CW.  How?  By bumping the “refreshed” “90210″ from its highly-promoted start time to 10:30 pm.  Assuming there’s no extra innings.
Read more…

Orlando Sentinel Gets Into the WAG Business?

Hey! ORLANDO SENTINEL! We’re lookin’ at you. Over here. C’mere. We got somethin’ we wanna ask you.

So we’ve been lookin’ at your new print design and your obsession with Chris Duhon (hint: any free-agent search that peaks with Chris Duhon probably wasn’t run by Marshal Samuel Gerard) and we noticed you now have a feature we frankly did not expect from a major metropolitan daily in these United States:

Orlando Sentinel's WAG gallery

You’re doing WAGs, ORLANDO SENTINEL? In the sports section? Really? Here we’re hearing nothin’ but how bloggers drink their coffee like this and newspapers drink their coffee like this and how we’re just stealing your content all the time and now we see you’re hornin’ in on our turf.

We’re the dirty basement-dwelling lecherous bloggers and you’re the fine upright newspapers. Now we see you’re posting pictures of Kim Kardashian and Gisele Bundchen and calling it news, too. That don’t seem right, now do it? Now do it?

Read more…