BOB:  Cubs sale news and a haunted house

Cubs sale gets a little more interesting

Tribune Company is considering putting the Chicago Cubs into bankruptcy protection in lieu of their sale to the group led by Joe Ricketts. The idea would be for the Cubs to enter into bankruptcy for a day or two to allow Ricketts to get as clear a title as possible once he purchases the team. For now though, it’s been over a week since it was announced that there was an agreement, but the latest reports indicate that things still aren’t final with the Cubs sale. As I discussed last week, Ricketts is buying the team, Wrigley Field and 25 percent of Comcast SportsNet Chicago for around $900 million.

Agents cry collusion

A group of agents appear to be pressing the MLB Players Association to file a collusion grievance based on what happened this past offseason. With Donald Fehr stepping down as union head, Michael Weiner looks to be in the forefront on this. He said that the union’s investigation is ongoing and that it might know more by the end of the month.

For now, Bud Selig has denied the conspiracy theories. Rob Manfred, the league’s executive vice president of labor relations, said the market did nothing wrong.

Minor league attendance still strong

Last week I talked about attendance in MLB and now it’s time to look at the minors. Through the end of June, minor league baseball averaged 3,986 fans per game. This is fewer than 20 fans per game less then last year’s record-breaking attendance. The Columbus Clippers, with a new ballpark, lead the minor leagues with an average of 9,341 fans. Eight of the 15 leagues have topped their 2008 attendance marks, with the Pioneer League showing an impressive 18 percent jump.

Charity or advertising?

This year’s All-Star Game had a lot of the usual suspects as sponsors. State Farm, Bank of America and Pepsi were prominent in St. Louis, but this year, more then any other, the sponsors combined charitable pursuits with their marketing plans. Bank of America agreed to give away $5,000 to Feeding America for each hit in the game and State Farm gave a large sum to the Boys and Girls Clubs. Pepsi has taken, helping pay for a free concert to raise money for Stand Up to Cancer.

The reasons for this are twofold. Ken Belson at the New York Times wrote an excellent article on the subject. Corporations are very charitable and help out many causes. The less altruistic reason is that they’re normally criticized for spending lavishly at sporting events, so they hope combining the two will dampen the criticism.

John Henry Moses profile

Two weeks ago, John Henry Moses passed away at the age of 90. In 1947, Moses founded what was then the Western Carolina League and what is now the South Atlantic League. After a nine year departure to work in the Detroit Tigers system, he returned to be the league’s president for 50 years. For an interesting look at this trailblazer, I highly recommend you read the profile of Moses by Bruce Weber at the New York Times.

Brewers’ home city advantage

Some teams have a unique ballpark they can tailor their team around. Other teams go as far as possible to give the visiting team as uncomfortable a locker room as possible. The Milwaukee Brewers’ little advantage is less conspiratorial but not any less ominous. Most of the time, the visiting team stays at the Pfister, a 116-year-old hotel. Many players have complained that the place is haunted.

There are some interesting quotes from the Brewers visiting clubhouse manager, Phil Rozewicz in this New York Times story. It’s also a little humorous reading about these larger-than-life ballplayers tell their scary stories.

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