Friday, March 31, 2006

in its own words

rick morrissey in today's tribune makes the argument for selling the cubs.

The Wall Street Journal is the latest publication to wonder in print whether an ailing stock price and a struggling newspaper industry will prompt Tribune Co. to sell the Cubs.

Tribune Co. has said the club isn't for sale. Say it ain't so.

A newspaper has no business owning a baseball team, in the same way a newspaper would have no business owning a cell-phone company, an insurance company or any other company it might have to cover as a news story.

I was sure of that when Tribune Co. bought the Cubs in 1981, I knew it when I came to the Tribune in 1997 and I was reminded of it the other day when I wrote in my blog that, against all reason, I was picking the Cubs to win the National League Central this season.

morrissey, for the first time in my memory (though i am admittedly an infrequent reader of his column), penned a quite clever piece about his and the paper's conflict of interest in covering the cubs, something he says has made his job -- selling papers by either earning trust or sensationalizing -- much harder by cutting off one of his avenues to success. perhaps that would explain something of the tribune columnists' all-too-frequent resort to hyperbole.

but the very mention of the notion -- which has been gaining momentum for some time, recently with new force from ariel capital's john rogers jr. -- in the pages of the tribune itself is an acknowledgement of its validity and a step toward managing the expectations of tribune readers by taking a sale out of the ethereal realm of financiers and corporate critics and materializing it in widepsread print for daily readers, cub fans and small shareholders. a more conscious and meaningful step toward an eventual transfer of controlling ownership interest could hardly be taken at this point, and that's how, in the opinion of this page, it should be interpreted.

for this page, the eventuality cannot come too soon.

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