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Volume 27 No. 5
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Cubs Fans Put Heat On Tom Ricketts Over New RSN, Quiet Offseason

Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts received "scattered boos" toward the beginning of the annual Cubs Convention on Friday, and those boos became "more evident" when he mentioned the soon-to-launch Marquee Sports Network, according to Madeline Kenney of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. After the event, Ricketts said, "I'm not sure I was booed." Kenney noted Ricketts was "adamant that the boos weren't directed at him," and he "believes there's some misunderstanding regarding Marquee." Ricketts said, "Pretty much everything we announce gets a negative reaction because people don't like change. Once they see and particularly hear today what Marquee is going to be, everyone's going to be really excited." Kenney wrote, "But how can he expect fans to be enthusiastic when their team is coming off an 84-win season and hasn't done a thing to address its problems?" The Cubs are one of only two teams who "haven't signed a significant major-league player" since last season ended. Ricketts said that it partially is because the luxury tax has "crippled the Cubs' budget." Ricketts: "It's definitely something you have to manage toward because it does have very punitive effects if you go over and stay over for a long period of time" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/19).

IN LIMBO? In Chicago, Rick Morrissey writes Cubs fans are "mad about Ricketts' super-glued checkbook," and they are "upset a team that didn't make the playoffs last season has added no one of note through trade or free agency." Fans are "definitely upset that the fantastically rich Cubs don't want to go over the luxury tax for a second consecutive year." Winning a championship "isn't a lifetime free pass, even if it was the formerly woeful Cubs doing the winning" in '16 (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/20). Also in Chicago, Tony Andracki wrote the Cubs are "stuck in something of a baseball purgatory, trying to win in 2020 but also recognizing the need to improve the long-term health of the franchise." That means "resetting the luxury tax, adding long-term pieces and potentially trading away short-term assets" (NBCSPORTSCHICAGO.com, 1/17). The CHICAGO SUN-TIMES' Gordon Wittenmyer wrote for the Cubs and Ricketts, the "chill of business finally, fully has overtaken the last comforts of warm and fuzzy baseball" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/18).

FLIP SIDE: In Chicago, Mark Gonzales writes the Cubs "may follow the path of the Blue Jays in paying their minor-league players more money in an effort to provide them with more security." Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said, "Stay tuned, because it's something that's important to Tom [Ricketts] and something we're working on." Class A players around organized baseball are paid "as little as $1,200 a month before taxes and dues." Epstein said, "We agree with you. It's not fair" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/20).

NO EXCUSES? In Chicago, Steve Greenberg wrote maybe the Cubs always will have a "larger fan base, a more charming ballpark and a more inviting neighborhood in which to party, but what else do they have that the Sox don't?" Heading into this season, the answer is "nothing." While the Cubs have been "hitting the snooze alarm all offseason," the White Sox have made "one double take-inducing move after another." For a change, the Cubs Convention "tastes like an appetizer before the main course -- SoxFest, at McCormick Place," and who needs a "bland, rubbery, uninspired appetizer?" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/18). Also in Chicago, Daryl Van Schouwen noted the White Sox announced two-day and single-day passes have "sold out" for SoxFest this weekend. Fan interest has been "heightened by multiple offseason additions to the roster, coupled with the team's core of young talent." SoxFest last year also was "sold out, two days before the event" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/18).