by Dan Gura
On April 2nd, the Tribune Company announced their intention to sell the Chicago Cubs baseball team following the 2007 season. This decision was made because shareholders compelled the newspaper (TRB: NYSE) to market itself for sale as well as divest certain component parts--including their baseball team.
Like any smart seller in a buyer's market, they spruced up the old ballpark (the second oldest in the major leagues) to make it more saleable. The long overdue rebuilding of the playing surface at Wrigley Field began immediately after the Cubs were eliminated (in a sweep) from the first round of the playoffs. The Friendly Confines, which had previously been valued at $90 million, most certainly will now fetch top dollar.
And a potential buyer has stepped forth, one with enough assets to make the team a perennial World Series contender. Mark Cuban, controversial owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, has expressed a desire to purchase this venerable baseball franchise. He told ABC News, "when a team that's so iconic and such an amazing team like the Cubbies come up, that's an opportunity I couldn't let slip by." Cuban reportedly is set to offer $625 million for a team which Forbes magazine valued in 2005 at $448 million (1). But does the perfect smile which Cuban flashed as a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC) hide a darker secret?
The ugly truth is Cuban financed "Redacted" -- a newly released movie which is little more than terrorist propaganda. Director Brian DePalma, evidently not satisfied with besmirching the good name of American soldiers fighting in Vietnam, has resurrected the script from his 1989 anti-war movie, "Casualties of War." Sure, he changed the uniforms from jungle green to desert camouflage, but kept the premise the same: evil imperialistic American soldiers rape a girl then go on a killing spree. What makes Redacted so dangerous is DePalma's style mimics an actual documentary, lending an air of truth and accuracy to what is a stylized, fictional account of a single event in a war which has lasted over four years. Bill O'Reilly, host of The O'Reilly Factor (FOX NEWS)--the most watched program on cable news--summed up the plot with, it "will incite anti-American hatred around the world."
However, Redacted appears to be a stealth movie, flying under the radar of the American public. Its theater release hardly caused a ripple--a miniscule worldwide gross of $167,995; $44,651 domestic and $123,344 worldwide--(2) with DePalma choosing instead to release it via pay-per-view and at hotels. It is clear the movie has found a more receptive audience among those in foreign lands, some of whom mean ill will towards America.
I was curious what Cubs fans would think about their team being bought by a man who invested money in a movie which has the potential of enflaming terrorists (to avenge the movie's premise). I soon found out it is no easy task to find anyone who has even heard of the movie, let alone Cuban's financial involvement. Though admittedly unscientific, I began my poll by asking everyone I saw wearing Cubs logo clothing or a jacket their opinion. To a one, all expressed great excitement about the potential infusion of Cuban cash. Typical comments were, "I couldn't care less as long as they bring home a winner." (Alfred in Elk Grove Village) and "Who cares as long as he is willing to spend the money to win the World Series." (Kevin in Palatine).
I switched tactics and tried the Internet where I found a site on which the so-called blogging billionaire Cuban invites questions from mere peons. I e-mailed a series of questions regarding the movie, Cuban's interest in the Cubs and plans for the team--if he is the successful buyer. To date I have not received a reply from either Cuban or anyone in his employ.
Next I searched every Cubs blog which I could find to see if anyone else had the same curiosity. Nada. Was I the only person who cared?
Finally, I found an on-line petition which encouraged Cuban to buy the Lovable Losers. 1,339 Cubs fans had affixed their signatures to said petition. (Note of hope: In 2007 the Cubs set a franchise attendance record of 3,252,462 -- that means only .0004116 percent of attendees were thus willing to show their support for Cuban buying the team). Comments were solicited in addition to signatures. I read every single one of them--Justin Beyer's was typical, "Please Lord, have mercy on us Cubs fans. Show Mark Cuban the way to the Northside and deliver us from the execs at the Tribune Company."
Though discouraged, I continued reading and had my spirits lifted when I found the eloquent comment left by Laurie McCabe of Virginia who wrote, "To Mark Cuban. Let me preface this note with I am a doctoral student of behavioral sciences, so you know I am capable and intelligent. When the Jihadists finally use this movie to kill more Americans, I will think of you CUBAN! You might be rich, but you are also demented and at the present moment the nemesis of the entire nation..."
Thank you, Laurie. I'm sure that's a sentiment many others will share.
(1) www.forbes.com/lists/2006/33/Value_1.html Sorry White Sox Fans, but Forbes said the south siders are only worth $315 million.
(2) www.boxofficemojo.com reports the movie was released at fifteen theatres worldwide and averaged a paltry $1,708 per screen. Figures current as of November 25, 2007.
Dan Gura is a contributing editor to RFFM.org