“While Tom [Ricketts] respects Pat Gillick’s Hall of Fame career, reports of a conversation are unfounded.”
That was the statement released by Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts’ spokesman Dennis Culloton late yesterday in an effort to refute reports that Ricketts has had conversations with Gillick about the direction of the Cubs.
So, that ends all the Gillick talk, right?
You tell me. You’ll note that Ricketts did not make the statement himself. He did not make himself available to the media to discuss the issue. Hmm.
Ricketts used a spokesman, who released a short, written statement. Hmm.
The statement is almost intentionally obtuse, declining to address whether conversations have taken place, instead saying simply that “reports” of the conversation “are unfounded.” Hmm.
I may not be a practicing attorney anymore, but even I can turn that statement to mush.
So, Tom Ricketts – through your spokesman in a one-sentence, written statement – are you saying that the reports are unfounded because the conversation hasn’t taken place? Or because the reports were not precisely correct? Or because the stated foundation for the alleged sources’ knowledge is specious? Or are you saying that there hasn’t been a “conversation” directly between the two of you, which would not preclude contact between the two of you?
Because only the first of those four possibilities means that you haven’t been in touch with Gillick. And, forgive my presumption, if you’d meant the first one, you would have said the first one. You might have even said it yourself. In spoken words. To the media.
This is one of those rare times where the rumor seems more plausible to me than the denial. I suspect that Ricketts hoped that the meetings would remain private for any number of reasons, not the least of which is not hurting the feelings of his current front office, and jeopardizing his future relationship with them should he hope to maintain one – personally or professionally. He also may not have wanted public reports to screw up any negotiations taking place with Gillick (if so, er, um, sorry about that).
And, if Gillick is merely serving in a limited, advisory role (as opposed to being hired for a front office position), but for the report, we may have never eave have heard about it. So it’s pretty easy to deny a conversation – it could be kept quiet from here on out.