The one question Mark Cuban should have to answer if he wants to buy the Chicago Cubs
Tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban is one of the finalists in the chase to buy the Cubs. He should be asked just one question.
Those nice people at ESPN reported this week that Mark Cuban, who I am told, was given a lot of money by Yahoo for some gizmoid or other, is one of the finalists in the bidding to buy baseball's most charming, unlucky, losersome team, the Chicago Cubs.
There will be those on the waggy side of humorous who will claim that he is the perfect person to own the Cubs as his Dallas Mavericks team is one of the most charming, unlucky, losersome teams in the NBA.
(My prejudices. One, I have Golden State Warriors hats and shirts and have still not ceased to giggle at the thought of my lowly Warriors embarrassing the favored Mavericks in the playoffs in 2007. Two, I have publicly declared my admiration for Mr. Cuban's commitment to the televised jig.)
However, if there was anyone who was chemically and congenitally capable of taking Major League Baseball out to the 21st century ballgame, it is surely Mr. Cuban.
As an NBA owner, he is reputed to treat his players and staff extremely well. Despite those who believe him to be more mercurial than Courtney Love, he has shown Colin Powell-like loyalty to coaches.
And he has raised topics, such as the NBA's, um, mercurial refereeing standards, when others didn't have the courage.
Of course, his biggest obstacle may lie in persuading 75% of the strangely crustacean-like men who are MLB owners to accept him as one of their number.
Which would be a little like a Yale secret society accepting Fitty Cent.
First, though, Mr. Cuban must persuade the Tribune Group to sell. And at the moment he is said to be the highest bidder at $1.3billion.
I'm trying to imagine Mr. Cuban's interview with the Tribunal.
Somewhere, deep in my sporting areas, I am thinking the newspaper group knows that it should sell to someone who will grab Chicago's imagination, stroke it in the palm of his hand, and then ask it what it wants for Christmas.
Which is why they should only ask Mr. Cuban one question:
What will you do about Steve Bartman?
For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Bartman's plight of fancy, he is blamed for costing Chicago a place in the 2003 World Series. His sin was that, with the natural reactions of a human resources consultant, he attempted to save a flying ball from his seat in the stands, when it was thought that the Chicago left fielder, Moises Alou, would catch it. Fans claimed this, and not the players' mistakes, cost Chicago the game and the series. He has been a vilified figure in Chicago ever since.
Unlike the other bidders, who would probably offer the confused look of moneyfolk, I imagine that Mr. Cuban might give two possible answers to the Bartman question:
1. "I would go to Mr. Bartman's house, knock on his door and ask him to come with me. I would put him in the back of my limousine, give him some brand new Dallas Mavericks gear to wear- I'm big on marketing, you see- and make sure that he is taken to the very fine and efficient O'Hare airport of Chicago. I would ensure his plane was not delayed. And I would send him to the Canary Islands to live out the rest of his days. They say his curse has passed, my friends. But with curses, as with relief pitchers, you can never be too safe."
2. "I would make him a Senior Vice-President of the Chicago Cubs. One thing I have learned in my long life, gentlemen, is that you have to stand up to adversity, not hobble away from it on your artificial hips. Progress is inevitable and cures all ills. Soon YouTube will be little more than a pictogram in the history of art. Please remember that I was the one who said that the NBA's manager of officials wouldn't be able to manage a Dairy Queen. And then I went out and proved that I could. So by making Mr. Bartman a Senior Vice-President I would be declaring that the past is there not to frighten us, but to strengthen us and to make the glory that will be ours all the more sweet. Two things you need to remember, gentlemen. One, the Red Sox finally got Bill Buckner back to Fenway and they haven't stopped winning. And two, Steve Bartman used to be a part-time coach for a 13-year-olds' baseball team in Niles, Illinois. That team, and I wish I'd owned them then, but I will buy them now and make them a Cubs Little League farm team, was called the Renegades."
Management is all about the decisions you make, the attitude you take, and the good fortune you fake.
And one decision Mr. Cuban has made is not to be neutral.
That is why I am convinced his choice of response to this one question would tell the Tribune Tribunal everything it needs to know about his qualifications as a potential owner of the team that the American Association of Psychiatrists has always longed to sponsor, but never had the wherewithal. (Please, just imagine Wrigley being renamed Freud Field.)
I, for one, wish Mr. Cuban the very best of luck. He is one of the finest ambassadors for the tech world's humanity.
And it is unquestionably time that some relatively alive human being showed baseball that sitting on your old-world assets is not what the future should look like.