The Other Fifteen

Eighty-five percent of the f---in' world is working. The other fifteen come out here.

Missing the war

I'm really starting to get annoyed with the faux populism the Sun-Times is showing over Zell's plans to sell the naming rights for the Cubs.

Or maybe that understates things. It started off as annoying, at least - now it's passing over into outrageous. The Sun-Times, to be quite frank, is engaging in the sort of coverage that seems more in line with the days of Hearst than the modern, "objective" era we live in. They're not covering the story, they're creating it:

Even now, a mob clad in Cubbie blue is massing on the North Side, preparing to march to Michigan Avenue and storm Tribune Tower.

Well, it at least felt that way this week, after hundreds of furious Cubs fans e-mailed the Chicago Sun-Times in response to Tribune boss Sam Zell's plan to sell naming rights to Wrigley Field.

At least it felt that way. Conveniently illustrated with a photo of a mob of Cubs fans, designed to evoke the feel of the mob:


And this cute caption: "Hundreds of furious fans have emailed the Chicago Sun-Times in response to Tribune boss Sam Zell's plan to sell the naming rights to Wrigley Field."

I'm sorry, but nobody in that photo is e-mailing anyone. If anything they're welcoming Hitler to Nuremberg.

It's shoddy journalism and it's downright misleading and dishonest. The Sun-Times is exploiting the situation to sell newspapers, and using provocative and outlandish coverage to do it. It's self-serving and irresponsible.

Which isn't even the worst part - it fails to fully cover the issue at hand. Maury Brown, probably the best writer out there at uncovering what's going on over on the business side of sports, gives us the real reason Cubs fans should be concerned:

Sam Zell needs your money, and he’s looking in every nook and cranny to get it.

By now, you’ve heard that Zell (the now owner of the Tribune Co., ergo the Cubs) fully intends on selling off Wrigley Field, thus breaking apart two assets (the Cubs and Wrigley) that are synonymous with each other. He's doing so in an attempt to gain more revenues than the selling of the two as a package would have otherwise garnered.

But, while he does own the Cubs and Wrigley, Zell is looking to maximize the assets to squeeze even more out of the Friendly Confines.


Sam Zell is a business man, and not a business man interested Major League Baseball. Zell's whole direction is one of making money with his investments, either by selling assets or maximizing them. After all, Tribune is in $13 billion worth of debt. He is, no doubt, interested in getting his cash flow working to address that issue.


For fans of baseball -- and surely as the sun rises tomorrow, MLB thinks the same -- the sooner Sam Zell is removed from all things Chicago Cubs the better. While other corporate ownerships have been chastised by some fans for not doing enough to improve the team for the future, Zell isn't interested in anything more than getting as much money out of the Cubs and Wrigley as he can, and doing so yesterday would be nice, if you don't mind.

Go and read the whole article if you have time - it's absolutely fascinating. And then below the article you can find more of Brown's writings about Zell and the Tribune situation.

Zell is attempting to make a quick buck, and he doesn't care how he does it. He is literally mortgaging the future of the Cubs in order to pay off the Tribune's debts. This is why he's selling off anything he can that could conceivably provide the next owner with revenue in the next 30 years. Zell doesn't care about the Cubs; he cares about the massive debt the Tribune carries.

What Zell is doing today could hold down payroll for the Cubs for decades to come. That's the story here, and by obsessing over this populist campaign of theirs instead, the Sun-Times is doing Cubs fans everywhere a massive disservice.

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2 Responses to “Missing the war”

  1. # Blogger Ty

    Colin... I had a feeling here there was a reason to dislike all of this other than "Ahhhh, Wrigley's getting a new name." Thanks for keeping up with it.  

  2. # Anonymous Max Power

    If only this were the only disservice the Sun Times had performed.

    Three more weeks, and it officially becomes the NY Post.  

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