Why are MLB owners so scared of Mark Cuban?

Long-time Cubs fan (and billionaire) Tom Ricketts is the winning bidder for the Chicago Cubs and if the sale goes through (which would also include a 25 percent interest in a regional sports network), he would buy the club from the Tribune Co. for around $900 million.


Ricketts seems like a solid choice considering he’s a long-time fan and would likely try a hell of a lot harder than the Tribune Co. did in putting a winner on the field. (Outside of the years when the Tribune spent money on free agents in efforts to up the value of the club so they could eventually sell it, of course.)

But Ricketts is not Mark Cuban.

Had Major League Baseball allowed Cuban to buy the Cubs, he would have stopped at nothing to put a winner on the field. He wouldn’t have gone through years of mediocrity before trying to build a World Series contender – he would have tried to win from Day 1.

So the question becomes: Why are baseball owners so petrified of Cuban? He would presumably bring excitement to the game, he would challenge the Yankees in terms of spending and he would be a hero in Chicago, which oh-by-the-way is the type of big city market that baseball would love see make the World Series on a consistent basis so TV ratings would skyrocket.

I’ve always been under the assumption that owners didn’t want Cuban the owner because he would challenge the Yankees and therefore, smaller market teams wouldn’t make as much off the luxury tax as they would if the Bombers spent big all the time. But thanks to TSR teammate John Paulsen (who did a quick Google search because my dumbass didn’t think to), I realized that the money from the luxury tax (also called the ‘Competitive Balance Tax’) isn’t distributed to smaller market teams to promote competitive balance.

So therefore, it doesn’t matter if Cuban came in and spent as much as the Yankees because smaller market teams get paid from baseball’s revenue sharing program, which is completely independent from the luxury tax. (In fact, it would help smaller market teams if the Cubs’ revenue was close to the Yankees’ because they would get a bigger cut from the revenue sharing program.)

If owners keeping Cuban out has nothing to do with the luxury tax payout, then again – why treat him like the Ebola Virus? Below are two opinions as to why. There are probably more, but in my opinion, none bigger than the two below.

1. Baseball has become the “good ol’ boy” network in terms of its owners. Change is bad. And Mark Cuban owning the Cubs would be the epitome of change – radical change. He does everything first class with the Mavericks and he would presumably do the same with the Cubs. He would upgrade Wrigley Field, treat the players like kings and probably sit right behind home plate so he’s within earshot of the umpire. Baseball owners don’t want a young, hip outsider coming in and having the media focus be on him and the way he does things. He would rock the boat every chance he got, just like he does now in the NBA. Owners are supposed to sit in their seats or boxes and watch from afar. They’re not supposed to be in your face and as recognizable as Cuban is in the NBA.

2. MLB teams already have their hands full trying to keep up with the Yankees every offseason. If Cuban buys the Cubs, he would compete with the Evil Empire and drive up the price for free agents even more. The player’s union would love for Cuban to buy the Cubs, but the owners would rather deal with one monster than two. (Granted, the Mets and Red Sox compete with the Yankees’ spending on a consistent basis, too, but nothing compared to what Cuban would presumably do.)

Some might note that the owners also don’t want to be associated with someone, who, in November of last year was accused of insider trading. But don’t forget that Cuban was being turned away by MLB owners well before the SEC report came to light. And by the way, Cuban would have paid $1.3 billion for the Cubs, which is a good bit more than the $900 million Ricketts is ready to dole out. So it has nothing to do with money.

The bottom line is that baseball is seemingly making a mistake. Cuban would do a lot for the Cubs’ organization and baseball on a whole, but for whatever reason he’ll never have the chance to become an owner. It’s sad really, because in the end, baseball fans are the ones who suffer the most.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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