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Mark Cuban, Redux

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Today's Winter Meetings rumors are covered quite well in cwyers' early morning diary; go there for a summary, various news links and discussion.

Mark Cuban was in town for the Mavs/Bulls game last night, and naturally, that fueled some MSM articles about his interest in the Cubs; first, this brief AP dispatch which appeared in the Daily Herald quotes him on the current state of the process:

"Nothing's changed. Right now we're waiting for the (economic) reports to come out in January," Cuban said before Monday's game between the Mavericks and Bulls.

With the final sale of Tribco apparently green-lighted after the FCC's approval of crossownership waivers last week, to be completed around the first of the year, the company should be able to get its financial reports out to prospective team buyers early in 2008 -- that doesn't mean an immediate sale, rather, it probably means it'll take till near the end of the 2008 season for a sale.

Jay Mariotti is still pumping up Cuban:

If he can make quantum leaps into Hollywood, the Internet, high-definition TV, movie theaters and pro basketball while managing to pull off "Dancing With The Stars" without embarrassing himself, you think Cuban cares about what we're writing and saying regarding conventional baseball wisdom? You know, that the good old boys who run the sport would rather sleep with rattlesnakes and dine with Scott Boras than let him own the Chicago National League Ball Club Inc.?

Again, I'm puzzled as to why "DWTS" has anything to do with running a successful sports franchise. Yes, there's no doubt Cuban has run many successful businesses, and has enough money to pour into the Cubs. Mariotti wondered about Cuban's forays onto NBA courts to taunt referees:

As he sat in his NBA ENTERTAINMENT LEAGUE t-shirt, which seemed a shot at something, I asked him why Selig shouldn't be concerned that he won't jump on a field to protest an ump's call.

"I won't do that. I'll be in the bleachers," he said. "And basketball and baseball are two different sports. In basketball, there are no stops. A ball-strike call isn't the same as a turnover. I played baseball and never argued with an ump."

That remains to be seen. As I wrote last month after hearing Cuban speak at BlogWorldExpo and meeting him (well, for about 15 seconds, anyway), I am less opposed to him as a potential owner than I was before. I'm still not convinced that what the Cubs need is a celebrity owner who will promote himself as much as the team; my first choice remains, as I wrote in October, Chicago Wolves owner Don Levin.

Levin's name has been curiously absent from MSM articles about the potential sale recently; but then again, so has the name of the supposed front-runner, John Canning. Levin, to me, is Mark Cuban without the flamboyance -- a guy with deep pockets who'd spend money on the Cubs because he wants them to win, and put the best baseball people in place and give them the resources to do their jobs right.

If Mark Cuban would do that, rather than keep saying "I'll sit in the bleachers" (because, Mark, it's NOT all about YOU), then maybe I'd be more ready to jump on his bandwagon.

We probably won't know more about this process until after January 1, so in the meantime, let's go sign a Japanese outfielder! (Whenever, that is, he decides officially to come to MLB, which apparently hasn't happened yet.)