Trump vs. Ricketts, et al

My nation’s celebration of our freedom, by democratically electing our leaders and policymakers, is cynically viewed by nearly everyone (including those running for office) as a circus show that just happens to have our lives in the participants’ hands once all the votes are counted. Like, every cycle, even when we have to remind ourselves of war and crime, our most noble heroes on the ballot can be reduced to clown caricatures even and especially from their own voting base.

But this cynicism hasn’t been anything like amount of explanations, and apologies, some of us have had to give to our foreign friends because America has a carnival barker shouting, constantly, “STEP RIGHT UP, ONE AND ALL, AND SEE THE 9TH WONDER OF THE WORLD, YOUR NEXT PRESIDENT…MYSELF!”

Donald Trump, everyone.

And it quickly becomes a boxing match, or a wrestling promotion, or something straight out of the first issue of Spider-Man as Trump challenges anyone left and right, often with no (seeming) provocation. The relevant target: the Ricketts family, for their efforts to possibly fund campaigns against Trump, and, while Trump is at it, their management of the Chicago Cubs and the team’s history of losing.

Everything in Trumps’ bizarre and tacky world is a full of either winners or losers. An emphatic “LOSER” followed by “DISGUSTING” is how he describes anyone he can denigrate who challenges him. You don’t have billions of dollars? That’s you, a loser, who happens to be disgusting.

The Ricketts’ family has its hands in a lot of political activities. Pete Ricketts is the Republican governor of Nebraska. Todd Ricketts was fired on Undercover Boss when he couldn’t perform the duties that his stadium employees have to drudge through on every gameday, yet is the same person who wanted to run the presidential campaign of anti-union Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.

Tom Ricketts is the public face of this ownership; he greets fans in the bleachers. Laura Rickets is the first openly gay co-owner of a major league team, who has championed several pro-LGBT efforts.

She is probably the only exception in a family of financiers, bankers and lawyers, all of whom donate money and time to conservative causes. “Hesitant” is too weak a word to describe the family’s lack of support for a guy like Trump.

You’d think their corporate, boardroom existence couldn’t be more in line with a man who can not stop shouting “LOOK AT ME I’M A ONE MAN PERPETUAL BIZNESS MACHINE!” but considering his history of bankruptcy and abandoning businesses the minute they might teeter into rough times (see: USFL), he must be a financial backer’s nightmare.

The only reason someone might still lend him money for a building with his name on it is because he IS on TV all the time, and that particular someone believes it’s bad business to not allow him to continue bad business.

What does this have to do with the Cubs? Realizing that his threat to expose the family’s secrets might come up empty – their participation in fundraising and other various causes is pretty public – his best bet to get even is to point at what a rotten job they’ve done with the Cubs. Losers. Disgusting!

What rotten job? True, the Ricketts thought they were buying a recession-proof beer garden, but a businessman like Trump is too busy to look up and check to see what lackadaisical ownership allowed the team to flounder for so long.

The Ricketts bought the team from a media conglomerate that needed some cash to survive, that was still heavily invested in a roster that couldn’t deliver together nor be immediately traded to resolve contracts keeping them beyond their welcome.

The biggest crime is that the Ricketts threatened to move the team to the suburbs because they weren’t immediately getting their way with the city as far as bulldozing a few blocks around them to rebuild the ailing Wrigley Field. This (empty threat) was not just an insult to the neighborhood surrounding the stadium (that for sure would have suffered), but a logistical nightmare for anyone trying to see the games.

“We’ll move the team to Rosemont!” Great, just wonderful. Good luck with your one train line and boondoggle highway construction nightmare. Also, goodbye culture of what it means to be an active Wrigley Bleacher Bum or downtown white collar worker skipping out of work a few hours early (to arrive in the 4th, leave in the 7th, traditionally).

Hey, who wants to go see the Cubs? Great, we’ll get a drink at Olive Garden beforehand…wait nevermind, we’ll just stay home.

Otherwise, as a former fan who gave up on the Jim Hendry era because of how everyone handled the 2004 meltdown, I’m pretty impressed with what the Ricketts family has allowed the team to do. I was used to a GM answering to marketers who were team presidents, and now the team has actual baseball people concerned with getting results, pretty stadium or no.

It’s not always perfect (hiring and firing managers) but look at how last year turned out, look what is projected for this year. The team is always their own worst enemy (which makes their failings even more hilarious, or heartbreaking) but I can’t recall when they’ve had an actual shot beyond hoping all the money they’ve invested can overcome bad luck.

Meanwhile, the empty tin can continues to rattle because the only way Trump thinks he can continue this charade, and I’m thankful for a system of checks & balances if this nightmare scenario occurs, is to keep frothing at the mouth.

He made a threat against some people with access to actual money he’ll need if he wants to get this job, and then he swung wildly at the first public thing he can think of (“one of them wants Scott Walker to be president!” resonates as a dangerous sign to me).

Maybe one of the things the carnival barker needs to stop knocking, to keep promoting himself, is a bunch of hard luck clowns.

Also the embracing of racism etc. Whatever. Stop knocking baseball.

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