Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pony Up

Just a few weeks ago, we kicked around the idea that the Cubs would be sold to the highest bidder and not who Bud Selig wanted. With billions of dollars in debt to pay off with Cubs sale proceeds, there's no way that Sam Zell could accept a substantial discount to the highest offer he receives for the team.

Certainly, that seems to be true:

It is certainly a business deal on Tribune Co.'s end.

The media company went private late last year in a heavily leveraged $8.2 billion transaction engineered by real estate investor Sam Zell, who has said he expects proceeds from the auction of the Cubs, Wrigley Field and related assets will help meet a major payment obligation due next year. That is why the company is intent on wringing every dollar it can.

What Phil Rosenthal does is some further speculation on the recent $500,000 fine the Cubs paid for violation of draft rules.

The decision not to move Canning's group to the next round came on the heels of Major League Baseball's recently reported $500,000 fine of the Cubs for violating draft rules.

The severity has been seen by some of those who follow the sport's behind-the-scenes politics as a sign that the once strong relationship between Selig and the franchise's ownership may be fraying. Some, however, interpret the steep fine as less a message to Tribune Co. than to all franchises about adherence to MLB rules.

There was speculation by commenters here that a fight between Selig and Zell would be a lot of fun to watch. The $500,000 fine may have been Bud's salvo back to Zell once Bud knew Canning was going to be eliminated.

Selig needs to have a nice, cozy group of owners who won't rattle the cart and will do everything possible to keep costs under control and have governments pay for stadiums. Zell doesn't care about any of that (hell, he said "Fuck you," to one of his own employees in a public, broadcast forum). He's selling for the most money and he'll go as far as he can to accomplish that goal.

In a battle between Sam Zell, billionaire real estate mogul, and Bud Selig, used car salesman and mouthpiece for baseball, the bet here would be on Zell to win in a knockout.

Additional note: It looks like Don Levin has been elimianted. Too bad. But if losing Levin meant losing Canning, that's a net positive from the fans' perspective.

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