Friday, November 07, 2008

Playing Games

By now, nearly everyone has heard that Mark Cuban won't be buying the Cubs:

Global financial crisis or not, baseball's old guard plans to stand firm against letting Cuban into the club. "There's no way Bud and the owners are going to let that happen," a Major League Baseball source said this week. "Zero chance."

So, is this it for Cuban? Game over?

Not by a long shot.

This is just the latest salvo in the war between Sam Zell and Bud Selig (proxy for Jerry Reinsdorf and John Canning). The first shot was fired back when Tribune suits hosted Cuban in their box seats at Wrigley. The message then was, "We'll sell to who we want to."

Today's news is simply a response of, "Oh, no you won't!"

Where does this end up? Where it always ended up, with the Cubs going to the highest bidder. If that's Cuban, so long as he's the highest bidder by a significant amount, then he's still going to get the team. Sam Zell has debt to pay off. He cannot allow Bud Selig to cause the Trib to default on bonds because Selig and Reinsdorf don't like Cuban.

Perhaps this is why the Cubs are now saying they may only sell 50% of the team.

Tribune is selling assets to help pay down debt, which stood at $12.5 billion at the end of the second quarter. Declines in readership and advertising dollars at such newspapers as the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times have added to the pressure on the company to secure funds to avoid default.

They need cash.


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