Chicago Cub Transaction Shows Tribune Co. 'Axis of Stupidity' At Work
The latest evidence of this comes from the Tribune-owned Chicago Cubs signing a $136 million multi-year contract for a mediocre and cantankerous ball player, outfielder Alfonso Soriano. This peripatetic character has not only played for several clubs, but he has driven the management of each one of them to distraction.
(The New York Times on Sunday, Nov. 26, analysed Soriano's career in a comprehensive article, and found it wanting. Soriano has a low on-base percentage, his strong total of stolen bases is balanced out by the number of times he was caught stealing, he is not a particularly strong defensive player and he is 31, meaning that by the time this contract is finished, he will be 39, old for a ballplayer. In short, the conclusion has to be, he is not worth $136 million at this point).
There can be only two possibilities involving the Cubs as a result of the dreadful FitzSimons' decision to go ahead with the Soriano deal.
One, he does not intend to sell the Cubs, which means he has taken all the money he has taken away from Tribune newspapers, and put it to this frivolous purchase. He is using L.A. Times profits in that event to try to accomplish what probably cannot be accomplished: make the Cubs a World Series winner, which they have not been since 1908.
Second, if he intends to sell the Cubs, he is only driving the selling price way down by committing so much to a second rate ball player and making player decisions that a new owner may not want to make.
Either way, FitzSimons is a ditz.
This also is reminiscent of FitzSimons' giving his inept Los Angeles publisher, David Hiller, another member of the axis of stupidity, permission to fire Dean Baquet as editor of the Times.
This act also devalued the Times in any sale. Who would pay nearly as much for a newspaper with James O'Shea at its head as he would for a paper edited by Baquet?
Ever since he initiated the foolish stock buyback plan last June, driving the Tribune Co. further into debt, FitzSimons has been acting so stupidly that he has only compounded Tribune's problems. He said the buyback would elevate the stock price, but it has barely nudged it. Pity the poor Chandler family for its own stupidity for climbing into bed with such a bunch of economic fools.
Tribune has fallen into greater and greater executive incompetence. The company has become, as one publication observed over Thanksgiving, a turkey.
What's next? Will Hiller and O'Shea buy homes in Lakewood, out of their ignorance of the Los Angeles area?
What are they trying to do, these Tribune executives. Maybe follow Enron into a business debacle, leaving thousands of their employees in the lurch.
When I was in London earlier in the month, someone told me a joke with pertinence to FitzSimons.
What, she asked, was the difference between a misadventure and a catastrophe?
A misadventure, she said, was if FitzSimons fell into Lake Michigan. A catastrophe was if someone fished him out.
Labels: Tribune failures