Throw out Sam Zell's idea of selling the Cubs by the end of the year because he still hasn't reached his goal of narrowing the field from five bidders to two. And sources close to commissioner Bud Selig sounded an alarm this week during the annual general managers meetings: Forget about Mark Cuban buying the Cubs.I have no idea if Mark Cuban still even wants to buy the Cubs, but if he does, he is basically being told that he's going to have to sue to do it. Or, more to the point, he and Sam Zell are going to have to team up to do it. Given that the only court to ever consider the matter has ruled that the anti-trust exemption does not apply to the sale of teams, such a suit stands a good chance of success in my view.
Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks' owner, was the fan favorite, the guy who liked to drink beer, watch the game from the bleachers and spend money. He was the most appealing bidder to Zell's group, who knew Cuban could swing the quickest transaction for a team and ballpark that at one time figured to fetch $1 billion.
Global financial crisis or not, baseball's old guard plans to stand firm against letting Cuban into the club. ''There's no way Bud and the owners are going to let that happen,'' a Major League Baseball source said this week. ''Zero chance.''
Is it good business to launch a messy lawsuit that, even if successful, only gives you the right to pay a billion bucks for a low-liquidity asset in the middle of an economic downturn? Oh, hell no.
But it would be a load of fun for the rest of us, wouldn't it?