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Saturday, January 18

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Cubs Tue Jan 06 2009

Mark Cuban? No Cigar

Short of maybe their pursuit of Jake Peavy (has that happened YET?), nothing has been more drawn out for the cubs than their proposed sale to new ownership. But while the process started back in a completely different presidential administration, it might be drawing to a close in the next day or so. According to reports, Tribune owner Sam Zell is contemplating offers from three bidders, Chicago real estate investor Hersch Klaff; the Ricketts family, who founded the online brokerage firm TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.; and a group led by New York investor Marc Utay, who reportedly grew up in Chicago.

But from a fan standpoint, there is one name that is glaringly omitted from that list: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, the brash "fan's owner" who threatened to bring the Cubs into the world of personality-driven Big League Sports and not the same old stodgy corporate bottom-line-watching style of ownership. Even more than a few Cubs players had to have visions of private jets dancing in their heads (as Cuban has done for his NBA Mavericks). Hell, even his name spoke "Cubs". Not since Bill Veeck had a (potential) owner connected with fans on their level, even going so far as to join them in the bleachers, as both Veeck and Cuban had done. Has Crane Kenney EVER sat in the bleachers?

Alas, it is not to be, and not necessarily for the reason that many doubters pointed to, which is that Cuban's hands-on, yell-at-ref style of ownership wouldn't fit in with the current regime, which tends to show as much emotion as an oil painting. No, according to Cuban's own blog, it's money (remember that stuff?) that did in his bid. Writes Cuban:

"Then the credit crisis hit and hit hard. All of the sudden, what seemed like a sane business decision, didnt seem so sane any longer. In particular, the financial participations I had been discussing with my bankers were for shorter term loans. Just refinance at the end of the term. Its what everyone is doing. Except that it no longer seemed like a safe bet that I could refinance in a few years. I didnt want to be caught with a Sumner Redstone margin call, and for better or worse, the banks were getting worried about staying in business and the idea of matching the asset to the term wasnt something they were ready to do, unless of course they could convince 30 other banks to do the same thing. I thought about writing to Congress to get a bailout...just kidding."

Cuban said he asked the Cubs for an extention on coming up with a bid and was told they'd get back to him. Well, they have. In a way.

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