How Does Crane Kenney Keep Gettin' Work?

How Does Crane Kenney Keep Gettin' Work?

The year was 1995. The setting: Hawaii. Kevin Costner was coming an 8-year run that included films like Silverado, The Untouchables, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Dances With Wolves, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, JFK, The Bodyguard, and The War. Okay, Silverado might be pushing it.

But all waves must eventually come ashore, which is exactly what happened to Costner with Waterworld. I remember visiting the set with my family while on vacation, seeing this huge platform out in the water, and looking forward to seeing the movie. Until I saw the movie. Ugh. While Waterworld was not actually the flop everyone made it out to be, it signaled the beginning of the end of Costner's box office viability.

Sure, he would go on to film Tin Cup and For the Love of the Game. But he also mailed in The Postman, cast a Swing Vote, traveled 3000 Miles to Graceland, and was mocked in Draft Day. I think Family Guy's Chris Griffin put it best when he asked, "How does Kevin Costner keep gettin' work?"

I felt the same way Saturday morning when I saw the news about Crane Kenney's 5-year extension with the Cubs. And here I thought the Manny Ramirez headline was a joke; now it's as though the Cubs baseball and business sides are competing to see who can make the most mystifying move. Seriously, this is the professional sports version of the penis game.

And I suppose that's fitting, since so many people think Kenney's real first name should be Richard; at least, I think that's why they're calling him a Dick. Whatever name you refer to him by, the Cubs president of business operations will be with the team through 2019, which, incidentally, is right around the time all the major debt issues from the Ricketts' purchase should be resolved.

Much has been made about Ron Santo memorabilia and an elaborate cake being hucked in the trash, Comiskey Park being portrayed as Wrigley Field ON Wrigley Field, and the whole rooftop contract business. Some have gone so far as to call my colleague, WilcoMeThat, a dumbass, while others have brushed the narrative aside as meaningless.

And while it's true that these incidents, when viewed in a vacuum, are minor in nature (okay, well, the rooftop thing isn't minor), they become indicative of a more insidious issue when viewed as a whole. They shouldn't just be ignored, just like chest pains and numbness in one's left arm shouldn't be ignored by someone with high blood pressure, or anyone for that matter.

Regardless of how wholeheartedly you believe the company line that the Cubs need new revenue streams, you have to believe that the business and baseball sides of the organization need to sync up at some point. Sadly, that's actually what's happening now, albeit in the wrong way (i.e., without Raj or Rerun, or success); a couple bungled PR moves have involved a dumpster, while the Cubs on-field product closely resembles a dumpster fire.

But while there are signs of hope on the horizon for the baseball side as Arismendy Alcantara, Javier Baez, and Kris Bryant all continue to track nicely toward promotions, the extension of Kenney's contract appears to signal continued entropy for the Cubs' biz ops. So I ask, how does Crane Kenney keep gettin' work?

I guess it's because he's the Kevin Costner of baseball executives. They do, after all, share the same initials. But where Costner keeps getting roles and making bad pictures, I can only wonder as to whether Kenney keeps his role because he's got some pictures of his own, compromising ones. How else do you explain his continued employment in the face of what appears to be abject failure?

Perhaps Kenney took a cue from the legendary blues musician Robert Johnson was said to have sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in order to gain mastery of the guitar. Crane could have headed out to the corner Clark and Addison to sign a deal of his own; of course, that's assuming he had something left to trade in the first place.

And if it seems as though a 5 year deal isn't much to receive in exchange for one's immortal soul, consider that spending that much time with the Cubs really is kind of like an eternity.

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  • I may have missed something but how is extending Kenney's contract like playing the "penis game"? Explain.

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    In reply to Aquinas wired:

    It was referring to the two sides of the organization trying to outdo each other with silly or strange moves. Baseball side signs Manny, biz signs Kenney. I thought it was pretty clear, but I'm the one who wrote it, so I guess it should be to me.

  • Lets forget the allegory and get into the numbers. I hope that Brett Taylor is a competent accountant, since some of the terminology is above me.

    The EBIDTA seems irrelevant to the debt, but the debt is relevant to what money has to be around to pay the debt owed to the banks and venture capitalists.

    The tax hit seems more the Tribune Co.'s problem, but I also read that one of the issues before the IRS was that the bankruptcy meant that the Tribune Co. was not a true partner liable for the LLC's debts.

    However, the numbers Bruce Levine had at about 6:00 p.m. were worse, He said that the projected attendance this year is 2.3 million, or 1 million below the 3.3. million peak, meaning a $67 million/year loss in revenue, assuming $47 average ticket and $20 on concessions. Both put the payroll at $85 million, but $14 million to to the Yankees for Soriano. Bruce's math after that was bad, but that seems like $71 million for the current team, and Edwin Jackson is getting $13 million of that, so the rest of the team is getting $58 million.

    Taylor says some things that seem to support the view someone else here tried to advance that making offers to international free agents meant the money was there, but everything else he says indicates that it isn't. He pretty much says that the money isn't going to be there until 2019, so the only conclusion that could be drawn is that Theo thinks the current prospects will be productive maybe in 2016, but have to stay cheap until 2019. Maybe that's how long term contracts work now, but it doesn't say much for getting any free agents.

    But back to your subject, after I called for canning Kenney a couple of days ago, the secret extension is beyond me. Maybe it is like most companies today, where it is believed that a competent beancounter can run it, but the marketing and PR disasters are so distracting that they have to get a competent marketer into the front office. Are the Cubs so desperate that they have to auction off Tanaka and Jeter benches?

    In the meantime, I tried to get through the bad scan of the Tribune-rooftop owners contract, and the only thing clear was one thing pointed out in the article--the rooftop owners certainly won't see the Cubs in court, because of the arbitration clause. Ask A Rod.

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