You remember, because nobody could ever forget, that last year, Al Yellon had a sitdown with Cubs “owner” Tom Ricketts, where he asked Tom 100 questions, and 94 of them were “Who owns the Cubs?” After a thorough grilling like that it’s no wonder that Ricketts and Al sat down again. Let’s take a look at what they covered–mostly so we can see how many ways Al can ask, “Who does Theo report to?”Read More
Friday night we celebrated the first night of the poorest attended Cubs Convention in 20 years with our annual Desipio – Hire Jim Essian drunkfest at Shitty O’Keas at the Hilton and Towers.
The usual gang of miscreants showed up and, as in years past, some prominent media members stopped by to chat with us, the unwashed masses.
Our good friends Paul Sullivan and Bruce Miles were both there. And Sullivan was in his glory because he was going to get to introduce the most insufferable of the Chicago baseball media (consider what it would take to wrestle that title away from some of the other candidates) Gordon Wittenmyer to me.
I went over and shook hands with Paul and with Bruce and extended my hand to Gordon and he stared at it like I had just pulled it out of my ass.
He immediately started in by demanding to know what “my deal is.” I wasn’t sure what he meant (so many deals to choose from) and he wanted to know why I’m so personal with my criticism of him.
Other than the superficial (he’s a ginger so I make the requisite albino jokes, and he looks like Timothy Busfield so I point that out) I haven’t gotten too personal with Gordon. Other than calling him a douche. And that’s what he was so fired up about. But I call lots of people douches, or sometimes I just point out douchey behavior.
He indicated that the one that really bothered him was the now famous “101 Reasons That Gordon is a Douche” column from 2008. It was in reaction to his hack-tastic column that gave “101 reasons not to get too giggly about the Cubs.”
Gordon was pretty agitated. He was turning pink and pumping his little hands in the air and saying “fuck” an awful lot.
We had this exchange:
Wittenmyer: My kid read that.
Me: I’m sorry that’s how he had to find out.
Wittenmyer: I’ve never had anybody who’s never met me say those kind of things about me.
Me: So most people say those kinds of things about you after they’ve met you?
Don’t I get any kind of credit for being so perceptive?
After about ten minutes of him staring at me like his eyes were about to pop out of his head, during which I wanted him to explain why I would have a problem with him and not with the other beat writers, and him calling me an asshole, we went our separate ways in the bar. I thanked him for his effort in 2009 of painting every Cubs fan as a racist.
Then he started up with Kermit, which is not a good idea because Kerm’s a lawyer by trade and he’s used to extending arguments as long as possible for billing purposes. They must have gone on for at least 20 minutes. Gordon paused a few times to try to get my attention and give me the finger, and eventually even Kerm tired of talking to him.
The rest of the night was fun, too. Right next to us Cubby Julie was hosting a tweet up and she had name tags for everybody and she let me have one. I wrote Todd Ricketts on mine…Morpheus had already named himself Toby Ricketts. And that came in handy at about midnight when who should come in but Crane Kenney and Todd Ricketts! I got a chance to tell Todd that the bathrooms could use a good hosing down and I got to tell Crane something very personal.
If they want to sell out next year’s Convention they need to add a session where you can tell Crane to go fuck himself. Because even though I got to do it for free, it felt so good I’d have gladly paid for the privilege.Read More
At a hastily thrown together press conference in the left field women’s bathroom at Wrigley Field that Todd Ricketts has dubbed “The Throne Room” the assembled media horde (me, the StreetWise guy and of course, George Castle), Todd refuted the idea that a football field can’t fit on Wrigley’s playing surface.
“My brother Pete and I play football out there all the time,” Todd said. “I run the 40 yard dash in like three seconds, and I can run six seconds and still have room left. So it’s just stupid to say a football field doesn’t fit.”
Cubs president Crane Kenney issued a statement saying the Cubs aren’t to blame for the inability to fit a 120 yard regulation football field onto the playing surface. Kenney’s completely red-assed statement seemed to imply that someone was blaming the fact that Illinois and Nortwestern will have to in essence share an end zone in tomorrow’s game on the Cubs.
Todd took a similarly defensive stance.
“When Northwestern asked if they could have a game at Wrigley (Field), I did some drawings that showed how it would all work.”
Todd then placed this image on his trusty old overhead projector:
Todd explained that not only would the field fit, but that there would still be plenty of room for “Alfons Soriano” to play left field.
When asked if his drawing was to scale, Todd replied, “To what, now?”
It was pointed out to Todd that his field was only 50 yards long, and that he had misspelled “Northwestern.”
His replies were: “No it’s not.” And, “Oh, are there two ‘f’s?”
Todd was asked if he would be “In attendance” tomorrow and he answered: “No, I’ll be here at the game.”Read More
Remember back when the Rickettses took control of the team and we all just couldn’t wait for them to shitcan their Vice President for Douchebaggery and Asshattery, Crane Kenney? Yeah, well they never actually did that. Instead, they put Crane in charge of two things.
1) Finding a buddy of his to take over and ruin the marketing of the Cubs
2) Heading up whatever the hell “Wrigley 2014″ is.
Crane made short work of hiring the brains behind the brilliant marketing of Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid (can’t wait to buy my tickets!), and things are going so well that the team can’t get anyone to buy tickets to the Cubs Convention this year.
But what was really important to the Rickettses (that can’t be the right plural for them, is it Ricketti?) was the Wrigley 2014 horseshit. They were going to execute this grand plan that would renovate the ricketty (wait, maybe that’s ricketti?) old ballyard into a cash cow money maker with toilets so clean Todd would only need to hose them down every other day, and actually edible food, and a clubhouse that wouldn’t necessitate the spate of sub 5’4 middle infielders they have to have now to meet fire code, and all kinds of nifty new crap.
They were going to build a triangle building that would be shaped like…well, a triangle I would guess, and it would have offices in it (neat!) and a Cubs Hall of Fame (oh, for godsakes why?) and they were going to dig a tunnel so players could either use expanded training facilities in the adjacent building or play Chilean miner, I’m not really sure which.
Anyway, this was going to be great. And Crane was going to head it up, because nobody knows how to get things done like a guy who has had a series of jobs with the Tribune and now the Cubs that nobody knows what the hell he’s supposed to do.
Crane was also going to use his somewhat masculine charm to convince Interim Baseball Commissioner for Life Bud Selig to have the 2014 All-Star Game in Chicago to commemorate the 100th birthday of Wrigley Field.
See, Crane’s a man who gets things done. This is why he continues in his phoney baloney job months after he should have been kicked to the curb. He’s a man of action, and you can’t ever have too many men of action.
So guess how well Wrigley 2014 is going?
It’s now Wrigley 2016.
That good, eh?
I live in Illinois and you might too and this state doesn’t only not have any money, it owes other states and countries and perhaps other planets money. Illinois is so broke that whatever organized crime family that’s supposed to get the tollway profits this year had to actually pay $40 to recharge an I-Pass.
So it really seems like a great time to ask the state for $200 million so Ryan Dempster can get an extra eight inches of room to scratch his ass in the clubhouse.
The Cubs already pay the state of Illinois “amusement tax” money every year. Last year, nobody was amused by the Cubs, but if you bought a ticket you paid into the amusement tax fund. The Cubs even helpfully had your contribution printed right on the tickets, in a show of passive aggressiveness so blatant that most 16 year old girls would be proud of it.
In 2009, the Cubs paid $16.1 million in amusement taxes to the City of Chicago and Cook County through the 12 percent levy on each ticket, the team said. The city and county will be guaranteed this amount for the duration of the bonds. Growth in amusement taxes beyond $16.1 million — through increased ticket sales or prices – will be redirected to pay the bonds. The family says the incremental growth in the tax will cover the bonds.
Here’s the interesting thing. The Cubs attendance is far likelier to go down in future years than up. So if they’re guaranteeing no less than $16.1 million to the city and county but fewer people are going to buy tickets, how is that going to work?
Why, they’ll just have to raise ticket prices. And…if they get $200 million from the state to make Wrigley a nicer place to take a dump, they have a new thing to “blame” ticket increases on. Great! Where do we sign up?
Tom Ricketts sent out a letter to his ever decreasing base of season-ticket holders, and the Wrigley Field neighbors explaining…well, this:
“The plan is fair, simple and solves the problem. Most importanly, it will not increase taxes paid by Cubs fans or anyone else and will not create any new taxes.”
I really wish that when he writes stuff like this he just drops the pretense and hits us over the head with a board that says “semantics” on it. Of course Cubs fans and “anyone else” are going to pay increased taxes. An increase in the price of any ticket will increase how much amusement tax is generated by that ticket, and I don’t see the Cubs paying it, so you or I are going to.
Gov. Pat Quinn said Thursday that he had no knowledge of the plan. “I haven’t been briefed at all. It’s news to me. … I don’t know anything about it right now.”
Are you as surprised as I am that Pat doesn’t know anything about…anything?
Asking the city and Cook County to forgo future increase in amusement taxes, though, may be a tough sell when each faces mounting budgetary woes in a tough economy. In addition the public might wonder why a wealthy owner needs public debt to make stadium improvements when the state faces a projected $15 billion deficit going into fiscal 2011.
I don’t think the Ricketti really expect the city or county to raise the amusement tax, they just don’t want to get blamed for it, and they want their contribution to the city and county locked in at $16.1 million. That way if the amusement tax goes up, the Cubs don’t feel it. The ticket buyers will, but the team won’t. If anything it will add to the pool of money that they need to make the $200 million from the state go away. Bend over Cubs fans, here it comes.
Ricketts said the family spent $10 million on upgrades in the last off-season but the ballpark needs a long-term investment to remain the state’s third largest tourist attraction.
That hose they bought to dilute the urine on the floors of the bathrooms cost $10 million?
And what are the other two biggest tourist attractions in Illinois?
To deflect criticism, the family said it will spend about $200 million of its own money to redevelop land around Wrigley Field, which will create jobs and future sales taxes.
Todd’s in charge of creating the jobs. He doesn’t ask anyone to do anything he can’t do. So nobody has to do anything.
The proposal also does not call for the Cubs to vacate Wrigley during construction, which won’t be completed until 2016, two years later than the owenr’s earlier plan to renovate the stadium by 2014, its 100th anniversary. If the state approves the financing plan, the Cubs plan to ask Major League Baseball to host the 2016 All-Star Game.
So originally the plan was to “get it done” in time for the 100th anniversary, but now it’s looking more like the 102nd. Gee…when have Cubs fans ever seen anything like that?
There’s no way this wasn’t the Cubs plan all along. It’s not like the Ricketti suddenly realized it’s going to cost an extra $200 million to renovate their ivy covered dump. But only they would let a hollow, stuff shirt, dope like Crane run around bragging up Wrigley 2014 only to figure out it was going to have to be Wrigley 2016 (which will quickly become Wrigley 2020), and keep the same mope around to talk it up.
I really hate this franchise more every day. And I really didn’t that was possible.Read More