As noted on the BN Message Board yesterday, Tom Ricketts was on Fox Business with Neil Cavuto last night. Ricketts got top billing as the first guest, but he was on for only about three or four minutes. As I expected, there was nothing groundbreaking revealed in the interview, but he did touch on some interesting topics.
Ricketts dodged Cavuto’s question about GM candidates (Cavuto named Theo Epstein specifically), and even Ricketts’ demeanor betrayed none of the secrets rattling around in his head. One interesting thing he did say on the subject: Ricketts went out of his way to say that the team was going to get “some new leadership on the baseball side.” (emphasis added) Was he trying to dispel rumors that the Cubs would soon also be changing leadership on the business side by dumping Crane Kenney?
In any event, Ricketts sounded positive about the direction of the search, and is confident that the organization will end up with the right fit.
Ricketts was also upbeat when asked about the economy, in general. He recognized the struggles, but said, “I think the economy will come back.” In fact, he went so far as to say he was “optimistic, like this city is.” Why do I point that out?
Ricketts has a dog in the economic fight, vis a vis the city of Chicago. Namely: public dollars for a Wrigley Field renovation. If the economy stays in the crapper, Ricketts knows his public relations battle stays incredibly difficult. If, however, he can do his part to raise confidence, and call upon the good graces of the “optimistic” people of Chicago, perhaps he can get the renovation underway sooner, rather than later. I found his comments to be both subtle and savvy.
The interview wrapped up with a discussion of the playoffs, with Cavuto trying to bait Ricketts into discussing the Cubs’ financial advantage over teams with smaller payrolls. Ricketts deftly responded, and scored points in process.
“Teams with a little bit more financial resources are more consistent in getting to the playoffs,” Ricketts conceded, but explained that the playoffs are a crapshoot from there. That’s a belief that I’ve held for many years, and the failure to appreciate the fact spelled doom for a least a couple Cubs’ offseasons in recent years. (To wit: Jim Hendry’s obsession with “getting more left-handed” after the Cubs were swept in the 2008 playoffs with a mostly right-handed lineup.)
Finally, as a good Cubs fan, Ricketts says he doesn’t root for anyone in the playoffs when the Cubs aren’t there. Indeed, he says he has trouble watching.
As usual, I found Ricketts to be in impressive speaker. I simply like the way he handles himself – even when he avoids questions, it feels like he’s being more candid than he’d prefer to be. I like that. It builds trust.