Cubs Insider Q&A With David Kaplan: Part 2

Cubs Insider Q&A With David Kaplan: Part 2

In the first installment of the Cubs Insider interview with David Kaplan, we talked about the Cubs' recent moves, the obsolescence of the Core Four moniker, and how the Theo/Jed plan is working.

In part two, we lead off with the front office moves that turned Kap's stomach, the end of the road for WGN and the Cubs, Sammy Sosa's return and heading out to the cemetery.

Be sure to catch Kap on "Kap and Haugh" on "The Game" 87.7 FM and online, weekdays 9:00 AM to noon.

CI: Have you disagreed with any of Theo or Jed’s moves?

Kap: I have disagreed with multiple decisions.

First of all, I didn’t like the acquisition of Ian Stewart because people in Colorado who Holly (Todd Hollandsworth played for Colorado) and I talked to said this guy’s as big a clown as there is, a toolbox, just awful.

Ian Stewart was a top-20 draft pick, so I get that part of it, but then he is just a complete idiot here. I thought that was a terrible move. Not the initial trade for him, but the fact that they brought him back was ridiculous.

Editor's note: I also was not a huge fan of Ian Stewart. He even beat out Milton Bradley (no pun intended) on my all-time Cubs idiots list.

SveumObviously the Dale Sveum hiring was not a good move. He was not well liked in the locker room, and he did not have the ear of Castro, which is a big problem when it’s your best or second-best player. His personality was not my type. I like charismatic and positive in a manager. The first time I met him, I was like, ‘This is our manager?’

I didn’t get it. I’m sure he’s an intelligent baseball man, but he just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Now is Rick Renteria the answer long term? We won’t know until we give him a team that he can win with. He’s got no shot right now. He’s wonderfully nice, exceptionally positive and the players love playing for him, but the true test of time will be giving him a roster he can win with and seeing what he does with it.

CI: On the business side of things, the Cubs have made several controversial decisions in an effort to maximize profits to support payroll. One of those was the severing of a long-time relationship with WGN Radio. From a broadcaster’s perspective, what did you think about that move, and do you think we will see the end of Cubs baseball on WGN-TV?

Kap: I grew up listening to the Cubs on WGN Radio, and I wanted to work for WGN Radio because of the Cubs. I’ve always watched them on WGN until now.

ZellWGN Radio not continuing with the Cubs was a business decision that I completely support and understand. Jimmy de Castro had no other choice but to make that move, because the contract they were left by Sam Zell and his people was bad.

It’s sad they’re not going to be on WGN Radio after some 90 years of partnership, but I wish WBBM all the best. The Cubs are a great product to broadcast. I just hope they can make money on the deal.

Leaving WGN TV would be sad as well. Where the Cubs will go, I just don’t know. I’m sure they are weighing all their options, but they can’t start a cable network until 2020 because they are locked into an exclusive with Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

I hope they stay with WGN. There are so many people across the country who became Cubs fans because they could watch day baseball, especially with Harry.

If both WGN Radio and WGN TV had nothing to do with the Cubs, that would be a sad day.

CI: Do you think the Cubs will ever welcome back Sammy Sosa?

Kap: I think at some point it will get done.

You cannot deny this fact: Sammy Sosa had three straight 60-homer seasons, the first Cub to do it. You can’t dispute the numbers he put up. Sammy made a ton of money for the Cubs and the Tribune company, and Sammy thrilled people.

Sosa hopFans during that time came out to the park for three things: They wanted to hear Harry sing, see pretty girls in halter tops, drink cold beer on a sunny day and see Sammy Sosa hit a home run.

You didn’t come to see winning baseball because the Cubs were terrible, but Sammy Sosa packed that place for years. You walk into that ballpark now, and you look around? It was like the man was never born. There is nothing that signifies the thrills that he brought to Cubs fans.

I went down to the Dominican last October to sit down with him for the first time he had spoken  to the Chicago media in five years, and he could not have been more gracious. He said, ‘If I was wrong for leaving the team, I apologize, but I want back in. I want to be back with my people in Chicago.’’

Was he a bad guy at times to deal with? No question.

Now did he cheat and take steroids. We can all say it looked like he put an air hose inside himself and inflated himself. I’ve always said that. But there’s no positive test that we know of. There’s been speculation, but no one has ever come out and said that he flunked a steroids test.

I think he should come out and say, ‘Look I made mistakes in my life. Dont’ do what I did,’ like Mark McGwire. If he does, everyone here would give him a second chance. He has to be willing to do that at this point in his life, but will he? I don’t know.

CI: Will Cubs fans change when the Cubs finally raise the trophy?

Kap: I don’t think so, but the weight will be off their shoulders.

The night the Cubs win it, there will be a combination of tears, joy, utter disbelief and shock, and the next day will be the biggest hangover the city has ever seen. Then a day or two after, if you drive around, you will see every cemetery in the Chicago area more crowded than ever, with people showing up with pennants, hats, balls and flags, telling their departed loved ones, ‘We finally did it. It’s hard to believe, but we did it.’

CI: How will you balance your emotions when that happens, between the elated fan and the media member covering the event?

Kap: I’ve never hidden my fandom. Most media people hide their fandom or put it away. I’m a Cubs fan. I was born one and I will die one. That’s my team and I love them. They run through my veins.

The day they win, I guarantee you I will shed some tears, especially all I’ve gone through as a Cubs fan. I was 9 in 1969, so that one didn’t hurt me, but ‘84 crushed me, ‘03 destroyed me. Oh-seven and ‘08? It was like you’ve got to be kidding me. They can’t win one game?

To see them finally win it all? Oh my God, it will be the single coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

It would be the coolest thing I have ever seen as well, and I can promise all my readers, when it does happen, I will be one of those folks at the cemetery. I'm usually there anyway. Forest Preserves cops crack down too hard on open alcohol.


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  • For being a Tribune Media employee (I assume when he is on WGWG), Kap seemed to be signalling that the Cubs won't be on WGN-TV. I don't know if he has inside info or is just looking at the evidence, but it seems mighty strange that the second Sunday afternoon game this year was bumped to WCIU, this time for some Lindsay Lohan movie. In addition to the announcement that WGN America will no longer be carrying Chicago sports, IMO that indicates WGN wants out.

    Again, it is also strange that a reference was made to an unfavorable radio and TV deals for WGN, when it was assumed until then that WGN was milking the Cubs while under common ownership. de Castro about indicated that the 90+ loss seasons were not foreseen when he said he was willing to lose money during the rebuild, but not that much.

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    If the cubs are off WGN tv, I am going to be upset. What team besides the Yankees is more popular across the nation ? This is all happening while the cubs have won nothing, could you imagine how popular they would be if they ever won one or dare say dynasty?

    WGN was the vehicle to bring Harry and the cubs to homes all across the country, It will be a sad sad day if that relationship completely ends. Tommy nickels Ricketts does it again.

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    The Cubs don't have a very lucrative deal with WGN and they exercised the right to open the bidding. It's true that WGN was the biggest catalyst for the Cubs' nationwide appeal, but those days are rapidly drawing to a close if they haven't already petered out. The Superstation doesn't broadcast nearly as many games, and there are fewer day games, which were the real draw for kids across the country at home during the summer.
    You can't run a team on nostalgia, and WGN's impact on both the Cubs and the nation has waned significantly since the heyday of Harry. Listen, my favorite childhood memories revolve around watching the Cubs with my brother and grandpa on WGN, but those days are long gone. It's a different world, both in terms of the economics of the game and the landscape of broadcast television. It's time for something new, and I don't think WGN has either the capability or the desire to carry the Cubs into this forthcoming era.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    If you are not in the Chicago area, it looks like the relationship is going to end very soon, regardless of how the local TV contract turns out (Crain's)..

    I guess there is always for the die hards.

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    As a kid from MT I would be devastated if the Cubs left WGN. I grew up with Ryno, Grace, Harry, and Sammy. By on another note I am totally confused why Bryant is not considered a call up this year but Baez is? Bryant has killed it at all levels. I understand they both strikeout a ton, but why not give Bryant a shot? It seems to me that he could only be an improvement over Mike Olt's numbers and give the bleacher bums something to cheer about down the stretch!

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    In reply to moondawg23:

    Only thing bleacher bums need to be cheering about is a higher draft pick this year, so they can potentially add another high end prospect.

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    In reply to moondawg23:

    As a Boras client, Bryant is expected to less willing to sign a club-friendly extension, thus making him more expensive and making club control and arb eligibility more important for him than for Baez. And also to get more time at either 3B or a corner OF spot. When it comes to call-ups, the tell seems to be a position switch, though that's not ironclad.

  • Evan nailed it: You can't run a business on nostalgia. And that is never more true than today, an age when you can't keep people's attention longer than a few minutes and consumer options never seem to end. Just look at the trends in people moving from shows on TV to on-demand online outlets. Even Yahoo! is starting a TV program.

    The future is not traditional TV, and unless a potential partner can guarantee those future avenues, I don't see the Cubs budging. How they will work it with the CSN deal, though, remains to be seen.

  • I too will be disappointed if they are off WGN TV but, I also want what is best for the org going forward.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Samesies. I am in Springfield, so I get concerned about my ability to see the Cubs in the future. I get CSNChicago down here, but I don't get Fox Chicago (we have our own Fox affiliate). There have been rumors that the WGN games may go to the Chicago Fox affiliate for a few years until the CSNChicago deal is up. Where does that leave me on 60 plus games per year?

    However, for me to kick my feet and say "I'm being screwed!" isn't fair. Yeah, that kind of deal would suck tremendously. They'd be losing a large segment of people who are technically in the Chicago viewing area, but whose local cable affiliates don't carry Fox Chicago. But if that's the route they choose to get the high dollar TV deal and get a better product on the field, I just have to live with being screwed and figure out another plan. If I had my own business, I would run it to make money and be the most viable business possible, not cater to the whim's of nostalgic fans (who are happy to pay money when things are great, but when things get tough run and hide and complain about the product). End rant.

  • In reply to Ryan Davis:

    There was a Tribune column yesterday implying that there was an offer for "a Cubs network on a multicast station." I guess that's sort of similar to before the superstation, where small town TV stations picked up the games.

    There is a similar Cubs Radio Affiliates list (see next post).

  • In reply to Ryan Davis:

    Link for Cubs Radio Affiliates.

  • Love Kaps candidness on Sveum.

  • Does David Kaplan have any plans to purchase the team from the Ricketts family so he can implement all the changes that he belives is so critical about and bring the World Series to Chicago?
    If so, tell us about it and if not, then he is just feeding all of us lots of total BS with his comments.

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    In reply to PANAMALIMITED:

    I'm sorry, but what BS is Kap feeding anyone?

  • In reply to PANAMALIMITED:

    Not sure what critical changes he discussed from a financial standpoint, except that he understood but didn't like the WGN severance. Understood the business side of it, but was upset on a personal side because of the long history between the Cubs, WGN and him.

    Agree or disagree with his opinions though, I found nothing smelling of BS, and I can usually detect that in people.

  • In reply to PANAMALIMITED:

    For that matter, has any bank offered to loan you the $1.5 billion to buy the Cubs from Ricketts, Panama?

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