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Change in ownership won't change Cubs' history
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 1/25/2009 12:01 AM

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Hopefully Tom Ricketts knows what he's getting into.

Unless the presumed next Cubs owner intends to rename them the Chicago Ricketts, they'll still be the Cubs.

That sets up a clash between new money and old curse that will be even more colossal than the one between Cubbie Swagger and Cubbie Occurrence.

Regardless, optimism is soaring on the North Side because any owner would be better than Tribune Company.

But Ricketts should understand that the probable risk of owning the Cubs is as dramatic as the possible reward. This franchise has a way of turning rich people poor, strong people weak and smart people dumb.

Look at the Trib's plunge from prosperity to bankruptcy since it purchased the Cubs before the 1982 season.

The Ricketts equivalent would be going from comfortable North Shore digs to a Dumpster on Lower Wacker.

Remember what they say about how to become a millionaire: Be a billionaire and buy the Cubs.

This baseball franchise turned Tribune Co. executives insane enough to acquire several newspapers just as the Internet was emerging.

That would be like Major League Baseball allowing Ricketts to add the Dodgers, Orioles and Mets to his portfolio just as mixed martial arts was becoming the new national pastime.

Romanticism swirls around Ricketts, 43, the frontman in the deal for his wealthy family. Scouting reports say he not only once lived across from Wrigley Field, but he met his wife in the bleachers.

We can only hope that the cursed Cubs don't leave any of the Ricketts broke in 28 years and his wife doesn't hand a 71-year-old Tom divorce papers in the same bleachers.

Ah, but bad things do tend to happen to those associated with the Cubs.

Like, the Wrigley family had to sell the club because of tax issues. And the Trib has to sell it because of debt from taking the slumping company private at a terrible time.

So here comes Tom Ricketts, romanticizing over owning the Cubs and Wrigley Field and all the valentines that come with them.

The man who met his wife in Wrigley suddenly would own it. The man who suffered with the Cubs since the 1980s potentially could own their first World Series title in more than a century.

Easier said than won, folks.

If it sounds like I'm skeptical, so be it, but Ricketts' wounds are my scars.

Those bleachers where young Tom met his wife? I sat in them nearly 60 years ago and the Cubs were as frustrating then as now.

I have witnessed both the family Wrigley and corporate Tribune prove clueless about how to get to a World Series, much less win one.

Just about everything possible has occurred - except for serendipity and the percentages conspiring to make the Cubs world champions.

Consider that the Ricketts can't be positioned better to win a World Series now than the Trib was when it bought the team.

The Cubs/WGN-TV/WGN-AM/Chicago Tribune synergy was as powerful as it gets in this town. Yet the Trib's most memorable moment came when the championship drought reached a century.

Listen, I suppose anything is possible, even a World Series in Rickley, er, Wrigley Field.

Sorry to rain on the Cubs' victory parade, but I'll believe it when I see it.