Scott Mutter

March 13th, 2008

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FCC Helps Out TribCo Sale

November 30th, 2007

Finally, some movement on the TribCo/Cubs sale.

Tribune Co. said late Friday that the Federal Communications Commission — in a move that could play a crucial role in the company’s planned $8.2 billon leveraged buyout — has approved “cross-ownership” waivers in markets where the company owns both a television station and a newspaper.
Tribune said its going-private transaction is “expected to close by year-end,” following satisfaction of certain remaining closing conditions.

Wrigley’s Winter Renovations

November 28th, 2007


I have added a new photo page where I will put any pics that I have taken of Wrigley’s construction improvements this off-season. I have a few of the field renovation and a few of some exterior work as well. ikoni

Whose *?

November 1st, 2007

MAX: They come and they go, Hobbs. They come and they go. I’ll be around here longer than you or anybody else here. I’m here to protect this game.

ROY: Whose game?

The Natural, 1984

“I don’t think you can put an asterisk in the game of baseball, and I don’t think that the Hall of Fame can accept an asterisk. You cannot give people the freedom, the right to alter history. You can’t do it. There’s no such thing as an asterisk in baseball.”

Barry Bonds, Fall 2007

Wood Files For Free Agency

October 30th, 2007 sez Kerry Wood has filed for free agency. He still has till November 12th to talk exclusively with the Cubs.

It would be extremely sad to see Woody in another uniform, but unless he is happy in a set-up role, I don’t know if he would be willing to hang around the north side anymore. He certainly had flashes of his old self this season out of the bullpen. His 3.33 ERA was the second lowest of his career, but it was in a season in which he pitched the second lowest number of innings of his career (24 1/3).

Wood will be 31 next season which means he could still have a number of productive seasons left in him, but with his history of arm problems, multiple surgeries, and the violent arm snap of his delivery, he almost seems destined to be one of those pitcher’s whose elbow eventually shoots off in the middle of a game.

I love Kerry Wood. I love him for his heart, his determination, for his record-setting performance against the Astros, for his pitching duel against Clemens, for his dominance in the Atlanta series, for his humble acceptance of defeat after Game 7, and for his (alleged) destruction of the infamous boom-box.

I know the Cubs front office loves him too (especially after taking a bit of a home-town discount last year) and I’m sure they will make him an appropriate offer, but I think the question will be - what does Wood want his role to be? Does he see himself as a closer? Does he want to try and start again? Would the Cubs want him in these positions?

Dempster was a serviceable closer but certainly not someone that inspired a lot of confidence when he headed to the mound. With Todd Jones, Mariano Rivera and Francisco Cordero both hitting the open market this winter, there are more reliable closers to be had. Would the Cubs try to sign a FA or give the opportunity to Marmol or Wood?

I’m getting off track here - my point is that Kerry Wood may have pitched his last game in blue pinstripes. If that ends up being the case, I wish him all the best (except when he pitches against us) and thanks for the memories!

Red Sox Win, Yankees Keep Losing, The Rest Of Us Yawn

October 29th, 2007

Congratulations are due to the Boston Red Sox for winning their second championship in four years. They were touted as the best team in baseball all year and, for once, the best team in baseball actually finished the season with a win. Despite allowing the Yankees to make thing interesting for them during the last few months of the season, the Sox never relinquished first place. They had the best pitching, best defense, and best hitting and deservedly won the World Series.

And as soon at the last out was recorded, I flipped over to Adult Swim.

In an interesting bit of synergy, sometime during the closing innings of the World Series, Alex Rodriguez’ agent, Scott Boras, decided that it would be the perfect time to let the world know that his client would be opting out of the Largest Contract Ever and effectively ending his career with the Yankees. It was in the winter of 2004, right before the season in which the Red Sox won their first World Series championship in 86 years, that A-Rod was thisclose to moving to Boston. In fact, the team was so sure they had a deal that they even began offering A-Rod jerseys through their official site. Talks ultimately fell through and Rodriguez would end up in the Bronx at third base. The fallout from this was that former Boston favorite son, Nomar Garciaparra felt betrayed by the organization and was ultimately traded to the Cubs (in a deal that also included Matt Murton).

It seems fitting that as the Sox were clinching their second championship, Rodriguez was effectively calling it quits with New York. These two powerhouse teams that eat up 90% of the media’s attention are heading in completely opposite directions and reversing the flow of baseball history. The bloated Yankees finally burst (with A-Rod arguably playing the role of the “wafer-thin” after-dinner mint), while the Red Sox seem to have found the magic formula to end their years of frustration - a Moneyball philosophy stuffed with Yankee-sized dollars. The Sox are poised for years of winning, while the Yankees are slowly but surely taking on water, and the rats are leaving the ship quickly.

What does this mean for the Cubs? With new ownership still many months away, a huge question mark looms over the team - which direction are they headed? There is no question in my mind that the Cubs organization pulls in the kind of cash that could allow their payroll to match Boston’s. The question is will the new owner feel like spending it. The nice thing about not being owned by a large, public corporation is that the team doesn’t have to be viewed under the same profit margin microscope that, say a newspaper or tv station is subjected to. Plus, any new owner of the club certainly knows that by bringing a championship to the north side of Chicago, they would be viewed as conquering heroes. All they would have to do is look at how John Henry is revered in Boston (except for the cramming in as many seats as he could into already tight Fenway Park and having the highest ticket prices in the Majors).

But again, the question is what direction will the new ownership go in? They will undoubtedly want to make a big splash and spend a lot of money right off the bat, but will they do it wisely. The Cubs signed the best player available last off-season to a large and long contract as a knee-jerk reaction to losing out on the best player available the year before (Furcal). Now, this off-season, the best player available in the off-season is also the best player in baseball, but it is also a player that brings a huge amount of baggage and whose contract will most likely tie up a lot of your available cash for possibly the next ten years.

Since we have no idea who the new owners will be, it is impossible to know, but it seems to me like there are three choices if the Cubs are to be a winning team - Bloated, Furgal, or Healthy. Bloated is what the Yankees have been over the last 10 or 15 years, and it has garnered them a lot of championships. Frugal is what the Moneyball Oakland Athletics have been and it has gotten them into the playoffs but not to the World Series. Healthy (as I see it), is what the Red Sox have been - smart and sabermetric but spending the money to get the best available that fits within your team concept - and so far it has won them 2 World Series.

What kind of team concept will the new owners (and probably new GM) have? Will they have any kind of plan other than to spend/make money? Whatever it turns out to be, we will probably be saddled with it for a long time, so I hope it’s good. Regardless, the next 4-6 months certainly won’t be boring.

Oh, and I would absolutely sign A-Rod.

In a New York minute…

Digging Up The Past

October 27th, 2007

While digging up the the old ballpark in order to instal a state of the art drainage system, the crew found the old concrete supports for the Bears goal posts.

Goal Posts

The Bears played on the north side from 1921 to 1970. The goal posts were located nearby home plate and the left field wall.

In 1971, after years of squabbling with Cubs owner and Wrigley Field landlord P. K. Wrigley, George Halas decided to move his team. After being vetoed out of Northwestern’s Dyche Stadium by the Big 10 and some wooing by Comiskey Park, Halas eventually decided on Soldier Field. The ancient stadium had to be heavily renovated in order to accommodate the Bears, including adding AstroTurf, shifting the playing surface south 90 feet, and constructing new bleachers and boxes. The move to the south side was only supposed to be temporary, with the team only signing a 3 year lease and expecting to move into a proposed brand new city stadium. Due to Chicago Park District regulations, beer could not be sold at Bears home games.

2008 Schedule Released

October 11th, 2007

The Cubs usually are one of the last teams to release their next year’s schedule, sometimes waiting until after the post-season is complete, but we get to have a little glimpse of what we can expect next year today.

The Cubs lead off the year at home against the Brewers and Astros. You have to believe that the young Milwaukee club will chomping at the bit to knock the Cubs around right off the bat, so I see it being a tough opening series.

The new schedule makers for MLB continue their bizarre ways at the end of April, having the Cubs start a week with a two game home set against the Mets on monday and tuesday, then fly to Colorado for a quick two game set on wednesday and thursday, then the Cubs have to get right back on a plane bound for Washington for a weekend set, THEN a day off to fly home for a 3 game stand against the Brewers again, THEN back in the air for 3 game sets against St. Louis and Cincinnati. WTF?!? Who the hell thought this was good planning? Plus the team gets no warm weather or indoor stadium visits until the go to Houston on May 19th. Oy vey…

As far as interleague goes, the Cubs play their 6 games with the White Sox and the bottom 3 teams of the AL East - home against Baltimore and at Toronto and Tampa Bay. While I am disappointed that the Cubs don’t get a chance to play at Fenway this year, I really don’t mind playing the worst teams in the league.

Important home dates to look forward to - May 9-15 with the Cubs playing 3 against Arizona and 4 against San Diego, June 10-12 against Atlanta, August 8-10 the first(!) time they play the Cardinals in wrigley, and September 16-21 with the Cubs playing their last home series against Milwaukee and St. Louis.

The final road trip of the year has them in New York for four games and back to Milwaukee for three. At least the Cubs (if they are in the race) will live or die against the teams they are jockeying against with their destiny in their own hands and not having to wait and see some if some other team can do it for them.

Looks like it’s going to be an interesting campaign in 2008, guess we’ll have to (sigh) wait till next year…


October 8th, 2007

The lovely wife just pointed this out -

The Indians send the Yankees packing on Columbus Day.

…I thought it was chuckle-worthy…

Tribune Looks To Screw Over Cubs As Long As Possible

October 8th, 2007

Curve for Cubs bidders: Trib stalls on sale
Team sale heads into 2008; Trib may still own on opening day

The effort to sell the Chicago Cubs has slowed to a crawl as the team’s owner brainstorms ways to reap maximum cash from its pinstriped asset.

Yea, it’s called ‘extending the bidding war’.

“There’s no hard deadline, and I don’t think that the interest in this asset is going to dwindle,” says the person familiar with the planning.
“The groups that you’ve heard publicly that are interested in this deal, none of them have said, nor do I expect they will say, ‘If I can’t own it by April 1, 2008, I’m taking my money and I’m going home.’ “

Well, of course not, anyone who buys the team will be thinking about the long term and not buying the Cubs with an eye on making fast buck, unlike the guy buying the Tribune Corp. who is helping to create this mess.

In the meantime, Tribune is exploring ways to create new revenue streams to help fund the Cubs’ player payroll, which was a team record $110 million this year.
“We want to raise revenue so we can continue to put a winning product on the field and do everything we can to enhance Wrigley Field and to make a long-term commitment to this ballpark,” Cubs President John McDonough said in a recent interview. He declines to discuss the sale.

Read: You can stop dreaming about A-Rod, kids. This mess means no big free agent singings this winter. You can take that to the bank.