Friday, January 30, 2009

Like We Said

Over at, Jason Stark Rumbles, Grumbles and buries the lede:

But does that mean (the Jake Peavy trade) can get revived sometime soon? Not necessarily, because there are still major ownership issues. And no matter how much the folks at MLB might want to get the Cubs' sale approved by Opening Day, the timetable isn't solely in its hands.

"I don't think we're anywhere near as close to resolving the ownership situation as it looks," said one baseball man with knowledge of those machinations. "You have to remember [the seller, the Tribune Company] is in bankruptcy court. So if somebody comes along and says, 'We offered more money,' the court can say, 'You have to take the most money.' So there's no way of saying right now whether this gets resolved in two to three months or six to eight months."

So why does that matter? Because the Cubs can't add a $63 million contract without ownership approval. And there's still no assurance they'll have an owner before Opening Day. So how can they move forward on a deal?

Right now, they can't even get a tentative go-ahead from prospective owner Thomas Ricketts because he's still, technically, negotiating. And even after those negotiations are completed, the court still has to sign off.

The Tribune, in its final insult to the Cubs fans, has delayed the sale of the team for two years in an attempt to avoid taxes. The result has been a diminished purchase price and handcuffs on the baseball operations people from doing all they can to put the best team on the field.

One wonders how much cash the Trib would have netted had the Cubs sold in 2007 and paid full taxes compared to what has been offered today and no tax paid. Apply a two year time horizon to that and the costs of a bankruptcy filing and hard to see how waiting has helped the Trib.

But, again, the real story here is that the sale is not a done deal. Despite the outpouring of love for Owner-Designate Tom Ricketts and family, there is still a very strong possibility that the deal won't close. Courts, bankers and possibly other bidders still have voices that are yet to be heard.

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