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Ok, so there’s a story making the rounds today about Ricketts family patriarch, Joe Ricketts, who has no meaningful involvement in the running of the Cubs, funding a PAC that is considering launching a particularly aggressive attack against President Obama. Feel free to read the piece, but keep in mind that nothing has happened yet. We don’t really know how this is going to play out, so I’m not really sure it’s time to rip a guy based on assumptions of what’s to come (unless you want to rip the guy for his politics, in general, which is your prerogative – but take it somewhere else).

I don’t think the story is really all that interesting as a “baseball” story, and, instead, is more about political campaigning, private dollar use in elections, and the nature of how folks get elected. I’m cynical, and nothing I read surprises me. (Avoid talking politics in the comments. I know it’s hard, given the nature of the story, but it’s just too damn divisive, and we don’t need it in a place where we’re all Cubs fans, mmkay?)

But where the story does take on a compelling “baseball”/”Cubs” angle is in the Cubs’ current efforts to secure public dollars in Chicago to help renovate Wrigley Field. As you know, the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel – who’s driving this bus – is President Obama’s former Chief of Staff. And, obviously, President Obama hails most recently from Chicago, and I’m sure those political ties don’t die in a few short years.

So, the obvious question is: if the Joe Ricketts’-funded PAC goes through with this attack, will it hurt the Cubs’ efforts to secure public funding in Chicago? Crain’s writer Greg Hinz is looking into that question, but doesn’t yet have an answer. Obviously you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist or watch ‘The Wire’ to know that it’s a conceivable problem.

It’s also a torturedly complex issue for a family with at least one member who’s a huge political supporter of President Obama (Laura Ricketts), and another member who undoubtedly wants all of this to stay completely off the pages and the TVs (Tom Ricketts). Does Joe care about the impact his actions might have on his kids and/or the Cubs? That’s not a rhetorical question, mind you, because I have no idea. We may never know.

Folks are entitled to do the political thing as they see fit, and I’m not going to dump on anyone for doing it. But this is a pretty sticky wicket. Can Tom Ricketts avoid commenting on this completely? I kind of hope he can.

I don’t really know where this goes from here, but as an unapologetic Cubs fan, I hope it blows over, and discussions about Wrigley Field continue unabated.

UPDATE: Wow, well that was fast. From a Joe Ricketts spokesman:

Joe Ricketts is a registered independent, a fiscal conservative, and an outspoken critic of the Obama Administration, but he is neither the author nor the funder of the so-called “Ricketts Plan” to defeat Mr. Obama that The New York Times wrote about this morning. Not only was this plan merely a proposal – one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by third-party vendors – but it reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take. Mr. Ricketts intends to work hard to help elect a President this fall who shares his commitment to economic responsibility, but his efforts are and will continue to be focused entirely on questions of fiscal policy, not attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally.

So, according to Ricketts, he saw the proposal, rejected it, and says it reflects an approach to politics that he doesn’t agree with. You can be suspicious, but that’s exactly what I said might happen, and why I preached caution. Some of you think I’m just an apologist, but I’m not: I’m cautious because I’ve seen so many of these two-sides-to-every-story situations before.

  • Steve Lopez

    Well looks like it is having some effect already. Got a retraction already

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2012/05/statement-ricketts-rejects-ricketts-plan-123761.html

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Wow. Thanks, Steve.

    • Mike Foster

      Retraction? Ah, no, that’s a denial. A retraction has to come from the New York Times. When I see that, then I’ll be satisfied.

  • al

    “…Joe Ricketts, who has no meaningful involvement in the running of the Cubs…”

    Joe Ricketts gave his kids the money to buy a toy. I’d say that is pretty significant.

  • Edwin

    In my opinion everyone should have to watch The Wire.

    • Ash

      I agree. Possibly a requirement for graduation from high school, as well as required for the rest of the people to maintain current degrees/diplomas.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        I would recommend The Wired, instead…..

  • Chop

    Well if he is trying to end spending then maybe the public money they are seeking for renovations will be cut. :|

  • guy

    Joe claims he’s donating gazillions of dollars to a candidate who will be fiscally responsible, but is trying to get the severely cash-strapped city of Chicago to give his family millions of dollars for the private business they own. I don’t think I’m being partisan or political (not taking sides here) to point out how massively hypocritical this is.

    Also, if this scuttles any deal for the Cubs to get public money, all the better. It’s a terrible idea no matter who the Ricketts support for president, and should never ever happen. And if the Ricketts can afford to spent gazillions of dollars on a PAC, they can afford to build their own damn Triangle Building.

    • Patrick

      Half right, half wrong. :)

      Actually, I think you make a couple of good points on the merits, even though I disagree on the second half. But your comment actually supports the meme, which is, I think, that any public avowal of a political point of view from somebody in the family of investors that own the Cubs is going to open up questions about their finances and their ability to finance any renovation of Wrigley Field on their own, particularly when that avowal is “outspoken” against a President who’s former chief of staff is the MAYOR OF CHICAGO.

    • bt

      That’s utter nonsense. I could spend the rest of the day listing private companies, not to mention every other professional sports franchise in Chicago, that has received public money in order to locate, stay or operate in Chicago. Call it a tax incentive if it makes you feel better, but the Cubs staying within the city limits of Chicago are as important, if not more important to Chicago than it is to the Cubs. They can still make money in Addison. If you think Chicago is cash strapped now, see how it looks 10 years from now with Wrigleyville a ghost town.

    • Mrp

      Then Wrigley needs to lose it’s landmark status and the Cubs can have night games whenever they damn well please. It cuts both ways. Chicago, especially Wrigleyville, benefits from the Cubs. The team is forced to charge an amusement tax on tickets. Where the hell does that money go and who is it benefiting from it? Why wouldn’t the Cubs be somewhat entitled to use that for improvements to the park? Like I have said in other posts, move the Cubs out of Chicago for all I care, I’ll still be a fan.

  • Jim

    Thanks for writing this piece. I had read about the plan earlier and it made me question my loyalty to the Cubs. Not because of his political leanings, everyone has the right to an opinion and to express it positively, but for the race-baiting nature of the plan. Good to know that the Cubs profits are not supporting mud throwing for either side.

    • Fester30

      I don’t think you have to worry about profits from the Cubs going to anything like that, anyway. Maybe I’m not remembering correctly, but I could have sworn I saw it somewhere that Tom Ricketts himself said all profits would go back into the ballclub.

      • hansman1982

        He has said that numerous times but some people don’t believe him. Seems to me that a certain segment of the fan base has disliked the Ricketts from the word go and is not letting go.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          This is almost certainly true: but is it ever not the case?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Tom has said that more than once.

  • FromFenwayPahk

    Getting this spin (back) into the universe didn’t cost Joe Ricketts or the “Ending Spending Action Fund” a dime. Electronic Apophasis.

  • ibcnu2222 (John)

    Yahoo said the Joe Ricketts is the owner of the Cubs. I thought the he was just the father of the owner of the Cubs.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s more nuanced than that – but it sure makes for a sexier story if he’s the owner, doesn’t it?

      • al

        Joe Ricketts will tell you he bought the Cubs. It’s on video:

        http://wn.com/Joe_Ricketts

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          “It’s more nuanced than that.” -Brett

          • al

            Since the video is five minutes long and you replied in four minutes I guess to have no interest in viewing it.

            Pity. You could learn for yourself how simple it is.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I’ve seen it before, a long time ago.

        • hansman1982

          I bought the Cubs.

          There it’s on the internets so it has to be true. All of this reaks of something that the media is trying to drive into a tizzy to make a good story and drive page hits – like calling it a racial attack. Remember when you read or watch or hear anything there is far more of the story that you don’t know than you do know and everyone everywhere has an agenda of some sort.

          • Mrp

            Well said. I’m surprised so many people want to already hang Joe for this without knowing the actual\whole story.

        • Mike Foster

          Good find al, he seems like a nice guy. He certainly is the owner.

        • Shawon O’Meter

          Hey Link Master al, while you are at it, could you provide links of the other 29 owners in MLB and their political dalliances?

          You do realize to own a sports franchise there is a real good chance you have to be a billionaire and most likely stand right of center?

          So, what’s your point?

          • al

            Citing sources enables readers to verify that the information given is supported by reliable sources.

            When Shawon O’Meter says,”You do realize to own a sports franchise there is a real good chance you have to be a billionaire and most likely stand right of center?” he is doing the exact opposite by giving a personal opinion without the benefit of research to see if this could actually be so.

            • Mrp

              Hey Al, what do you think the outfield is going to look like in a couple months?

              • al

                I don’t think DeJesus is going anywhere this year even with one home run. He is doing exactly what the Cubs want from him. Campana is hitting .324 (?!) in 71 AB’s which is a surprise. He has struck out 15 times which is not a surprise. He could bounce either way.

                I just hope Soriano can stay off the DL until the Jackson service time issue is settled.

            • Shawon O’Meter

              That’s Mr. Shawon O’Meter the Oppressor to you.

              Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that one does not actually have.

              I’m a hypocrite because I exist in a world that does not fall in line with my personal beliefs. I go to Cubs games, I shop at XYZ-mart, I work at a major financial institution, etc. If I lived by my credo I would have to resort to living off the land, something I’m not prepared to do. All I’m saying is if people are going to get all self-righteous without sounding hypocritical because the Ricketts family leans to the right, be prepared to walk the walk if you are going to talk the talk.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Moreover, it is possible for beliefs themselves to be hypocritical: that is, specific exceptions to general rules.  However, that starts taking us closer to cognitive dissonance…..

                • Shawon O’Meter

                  Doc, you are the best! I truly look forward to reading your unique perspective (and for once in my life, I am not being sarcastic). Cheers!

              • al

                In a campaign year, this is a big story and it would still be a big story even if the Cubs were not parenthetically involved.

                In any event, while I did indeed point out that Joe Ricketts is the owner of the Cubs, I made no comment on the story contents, or about Ricketts himself, or his political ideology.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Yeah, I should be clear on one thing: when I say this is a non-story, I mean that the Cubs/baseball angle is a non-story. The political angle and the proposal are definitely a story. They’re just not a story for this site.

                  • al

                    When owners like Marge Schott, Nelson Doubleday, Frank McCourt, and others find themselves in the news it usually is not because of the bullpen.

                    The Cubs front office is at this very moment scrambling jets and passing out launch codes; NATO be damned.

                    This is just the beginning. Joe Ricketts seems keen on doing something, and people will now be watching him closer than a scoreboard operator stealing signs.

      • MaxM1908

        This should actually be very scary for the Cubs. It’s a team in the heart of Obama country and more than one fan is going to be offended by the proposal. People may think twice before dropping $100 at the ballpark for the Ricketts family’s benefit. I know I will.

        Also, although I support public funding for a Wrigley renovation, I would laugh hysterically at a follow-up Rahm quote about the Wrigley plan containing phrases of “the importance of fiscal responsibility” and the need to “reign in government spending.”

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          “People may think twice before dropping $100 at the ballpark for the Ricketts family’s benefit. I know I will.”

          I don’t understand. Joe – who doesn’t even do anything for the Cubs – disavowed the plan. So, what we’re left with is a guy who’s a very political dude with a lot of money, using that money to advance his positions. So what?

          Laura Ricketts – who actually serves on the Cubs’ board – is a huge Obama supporter and fund-raiser. Does that mean Romney supporters should stop being Cubs fans?

          This whole thing really confuses me. It’s a complete and total non-story.

          • baseballet

            “So, what we’re left with is a guy who’s a very political dude with a lot of money, using that money to advance his positions. So what?”

            It’s a race baiting campaign and irresponsible fear mongering. Look at the images of it in the New York Times. There’s a reason JR is disavowing the plan now that it’s been revealed that he’s behind it.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I think that’s unfair, and it sounds like you pre-judged Joe (which is, of course, your right).

              The proposal was ugly, stupid, lame, and the worst kind of political BS. Why can’t it be true that Joe didn’t approve of it?

              • baseballet

                I don’t think I’m being unfair, but I do think you are being naive.

                From the New York Times (Mr. Baker is JR’s spokesman):

                But in an interview on Wednesday evening, Mr. Baker did not reject the contents of the advertising proposal. The statement from Mr. Baker was released on Thursday as the Ricketts family sought to respond to the fallout from the story.

                The proposal, however, indicates that Mr. Ricketts was more than a passing participant.

                It opens with a quote from Mr. Ricketts saying if an advertisement about Rev. Wright that Mr. McCain’s team had produced four years ago – which Mr. McCain rejected – had aired, “They’d never have elected Barack Obama.”

                And, a note about staffing for the effort reads, “With your preliminary approval at the New York meeting, we have discussed this plan in highly confidential terms with the following proposed team members. All are ready to jump into action upon plan approval.”

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Maybe I am naive. Maybe I underestimate Joe Ricketts’ true agenda.

                  Maybe you underestimate the agenda of the original story writer.

                  Shrug. I can say one thing for sure: I’m not too naive to know how little I actually know, and I choose my words very carefully for that reason. I’m just a dude reading words on a screen.

            • Mrp

              “There’s a reason JR is disavowing the plan now that it’s been revealed that he’s behind it.”

              I’m curious, how do you know this to be an accurate statement?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Shouldn’t those same people who might think twice about spending with the Cubs thanks to Joe be eager to spend money with the Cubs and to the Ricketts’ family benefit thanks to Laura?

          It cuts both ways.  Anyone who wants to avoid the Cubs because they like Obama should be gravitating to the Cubs because they like Obama.  And anyone who wants to support the Cubs because they don’t like Obama should be avoiding the Cubs because they don’t like Obama.

          I think some people are upset by the racial tones in proposal that Joe rejected… but which people?  Are we supposed to be upset that someone made the pitch to him, or that he rejected it?  Some have argued that the author of the proposal would not have made the proposal if he didn’t think it was exactly and finely tailored to Joe’s every whim and therefor the sheer existence of said proposal is a final condemnation of Joe’s intellect and moral character… but I’ve seen too many blatantly stupid proposals be dumped on my various desks to fall into that argument.  And at the end of the day, Joe rejected the proposal.  I don’t know how we can fairly read into it more than that.

          So where does that leave us?

          Obama’s supporters should love the Cubs due to Laura and hate the Cubs due to Joe.

          Obama’s opponents should love the Cubs due to Joe and hate the Cubs due to Laura.

          Cubs fans should be wondering if either Laura or Joe are available to pitch out of the bullpen and hoping that neither of them are stupid enough to send a priest and a bucket of holy water to a ballpark.

    • Mrp

      Well if Yahoo said it, obviously it is true. Although they may have more credibility then the NY Times at this point.

  • USS CRAZYHORSE

    Joe Rickett may not run the Cubs but he is a Rickett and the Cubs are own by the family, If Joe Rickett is funding a Super Pac and if it is discovered that he is funding millions upon millions of dollars into that Pac then the State of Illinois should not help the Cubs with any tax payer revenue. . I feel MR Rickett has a choice, fund a Super Pac or Generate those dollars to fund Wrigley Field BUT DO NOT STEAL MONEY FROM ILLINOIS TAXPAYERS IF THE rICKETTS CAN PUT HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN A SUPER PAC

    • Mrp

      You might want to take a look at your caps lock, it might be broken. Also, name is Ricketts. That is all.

  • http://justinjabs.com/blog Justin Jabs

    BOOO. Keep that filth called “politics” out of my baseball enjoyment!!

    :’(

    Justin cries today.

    • http://justinjabs.com/blog Justin Jabs

      As a clarification, that’s not a “boo” towards Brett for bringing it up (it is Cubs-related, after all).

    • Mrp

      Yeah no kidding.

  • Jon
    • http://twitter.com/#!/sperls13 sperls13

      “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi quipped, “I hope they’re as successful with this campaign as the Cubs are in baseball.””

      Ouch, Pelosi. Regardless of your opinion on any of this crap, that is just plain MEAN. :)

      • Deer

        A source close to the mayor confirms that that remark was indeed Freudian. Mr. Emanuel is “livid” with the family’s “blatant hypocrisy,” that source says. The Ricketts have tried to contact him, my source adds, but the mayor “does not want to talk with them today, tomorrow or anytime soon.”

        Follow Greg on Twitter at @GregHinz.

        • bt

          Well, that’s no good.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            An odd angle that I’m fleshing out: the “anonymous” quotes from an Emanuel aide about the Mayor being “livid,” and not taking the Ricketts’ calls show up in at least two publications (Crain’s and Washington Post) independently. In other words, each publication’s article is written as though they talked to an anonymous source and got the quote. That means one of two things is happening: either (1) there’s some unethical journalism going on, or (2) the Mayor’s Office saw an opportunity to create some leverage and they’re taking it.

            Will be writing on this when I’ve given the authors a fair chance to respond.

            • Deer

              The Trib essentially reports the same thing written differently.

              The mayoral aide described that as hypocritical.

              The Emanuel aide said the Ricketts family has tried to contact Emanuel to discuss the situation, but the mayor declined the overture. Publicly, Emanuel did not have an immediate comment on how the effort by Joe Ricketts might affect those talks.
              http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-emanuel-antiobama-ads-would-be-insult-to-nation-20120517,0,1128323.story

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                Yup, virtually the same “anonymous” statements.

                • MaxM1908

                  Oh yeah, these are totally planted quotes by the Mayor’s office.

  • Cheryl

    He’s already disavowed the plan, but will that make headlines? No!

    • al

      Google ricketts plan and see for yourself.

  • Ralph

    Turn Wrigley into a homeless shelter and build a domed stadium somewhere else.

    • Cubmig

      I love the Cubs……..but……Maybe the Cubs owner and chairman will explore moving to Texas. They can then be in the Friendly [Business] CONFINE of Gov. Perry.

  • beerhelps

    Just saying thx Brett for follow up on this … hard to keep up when politics can change by the hour though.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    This explains why the city has played hard to get with the Ricketts.
    Old man Joe is a classic modern day capitalist. When I get a tax break, it is socialism. Us little people are not paying our fair share. But when Joe wants tax breaks, they are called incentives. What is sad is the guy got lucky and hit the lottery in life, and instead of doing something meaningful with the money and helping some people in the world that need it, he wastes it on hate mongering baloney. Quite sad really.

    • Crockett

      Blah. Go away.

      • Bric

        I don’t follow politics and so don’t really know or care about any of this. My political party is the Cubs. But I’ve never seen your name here before and get a little itchy when I see you telling other people to go away because you look like a troll. Two suggestions- keep your views relevent to the Cubs and remember all views are welcome here. Or go troll some place else. Only guy who has the right to refuse access is Brett, and I think he’s only ever done that once.

  • Crockett

    Laura’s unnecessary and alienating comments certainly are going to lead me to spend less money on the Cubs. Absolutely. As an independent moderate who thinks Obama has fiscally destroyed America, I think it was pretty rash of her to make such comments that could alienate some fans.

    • beerhelps

      what comments did Laura make? By the way, so much for leaving politics out of this discussion. Strong work there bud.

      edit: saw her comments, not very inflammatory imo

      • bt

        I think (hope) he was being snarky.

        • Crockett

          No snark. 100% reality. I don’t think the public face of a public institution (yes, it is public) should be promoting one candidate over another, period. Laura’s comments were out of line and unnecessary.

          • bt

            That’s utterly and completely absurd. Why should the face of a public institution stop having an opinion? They should be able to voice their opinion (and be subject to whatever consequences they bring) just like anyone else.

            No one is (or rather should be)faulting Joe Rickets for not liking Obama. They are faulting him for not liking handouts while simultaneously asking for one.

  • necusfan

    As long as they aren’t giving money to the Cardinals, I couldn’t care less. Sure hope this doesn’t hurt the Cubs in any way though, that would suck.

  • sven-erik312

    It’s election tactics like this that I don’t miss even one little bit over here…

  • Dante Hicks

    So here’s how I see it, but I want to keep politics to a minimum. Thanks Brett for being balanced. The proposal, whoever ordered it–is sickening. It says something that McCain didn’t use it and Romney says he won’t. Today is the anniversary of the 1954 Supreme Court Decision in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, KS (go look it up if you don’t know). Shameful how some never learn. However, I have a lot of other thoughts but I will save those. Joe and his kid in Nebraska (who ran for office and lost) are hard core GOP.

    A couple of things:

    As I recall, Joe Ricketts didn’t even want to the buy the team and didn’t understand the reason it might be a valuable asset or profit center (ironic of course). Tom had to convince him. And he has little role in the team if any.

    Laura is a big time Democratic donor. Todd, often ridiculed here, is unknown and Tom? Who knows. We need to see that before people, as I have heard here on Facebook page, never go to another game. Wow.

    My brother, who is in finance, once went to a meeting with Joe. As this is a family blog, I’ll leave out his words, but were basically not a nice guy.

    So, the NY Times with a liberal ax to grind? Shocking!

    Give Nancy Pelosi credit for saying something like: I hope that this is as successful as the Cubs. Funny.

    Crazy stuff that shouldn’t happen. But, not because of the Cubs, but because of the hateful people still living and breathing here.

  • Fester30

    I understand politics is a very emotional thing for many people. I just hope all the people getting emotional about the politics surrounding this situation are only doing so because of how passionate they are about baseball. Would be a shame for anybody to not be able to separate their love for a baseball team from their ideas in the political arena. I’ll make my most political statement that I’ll make on any of these blogs or forums: Whatever happens with any of this surrounding political stuff, I hope all of it somehow results in a World Series!

  • jim

    I have been posting for a year that it is daddy joe making the big moves. 900 million $ is all daddy joe. Tommy is piker. Cudnt even trade options on cboe.

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