As I note at every available opportunity, I was born on the north side of Chicago, possibly in a log cabin. This makes me a Chicago Cubs fan by birthright. I followed baseball as a kid, but less so as an adult. The 1961 expansion confused me: why take 16 teams worth of good players and spread them out over 20? Brooklyn moved to Los Angeles, which still seems pointless, Washington moved to Minneapolis, and everybody started to do-si-do as though when the music stops somebody is going to pull a chair. A decade later some dick dreamed up the designated hitter rule and destroyed the American League forever.
Now that I’ve pissed off everybody…
Whereas my interest in contemporary baseball waned some – I continue to appreciate the history and legacy of the game – my self-image as a Cubs fan did not. I continued to make ritualistic visits to Wrigley Field. Two of my greatest moments of joy were when Ernie Banks handed me one of those giant checks (I was with the National Runaway Switchboard program and Ernie was with the Bank of Ravenswood in charge of handing out big checks to charities), and when my daughter, a devout New York Mets fan, wanted to do a winter walk-around of the Friendly Confines – it was a very cold January, even by Chicago standards – Adriane and I did the walk around Wrigley Field twice.
Being a Cubs fan is an act of devotion and endurance as well as a manifestation of faith. “We’ll get them next year,” Cubs fans would lament. In fact, writer John Ostrander and I would say that to each other roughly the first week of each season until 2016, when a bright ray of sunshine broke through the clouds and for the first time in 108 years the Cubs won the World Series.
That picture of me looking even goofier than usual was taken by daughter Adriane at the very moment the Cubs sealed the deal. In true Cubs fashion, this happened in the tenth inning of the seventh and final game of the World Series… after blowing a 5 – 1 lead in the ninth.
I’ve followed the Cubs though thin and thinner for six decades. Nothing could shake my affinity to the denizens of the Friendly Confines. Nothing, that is, until now.
Even those reporters who plow the fields of Happy Talk are under the direction of their employers. However, they maintain the belief that they are supposed to be reporting the truth free of hidden agenda. While working, virtually all reporters leave their personal agendas in their car except for those who work at Fox News… and at Sinclair Broadcasting.
Sinclair Broadcasting is a dinosaur, but they’re not in the oil business. They are so far to the right they might make you think Fox News was founded by Huey P. Newton. Right now, they own 193 teevee stations and several “cable” networks and have been desperately trying to acquire more outlets. They tried to buy Tribune Broadcasting’s big-market stations and “cable” nets, but they incurred the wrath of sundry stockholders, people who like truth and honesty and, surprisingly, the Trump-era Security and Exchange Commission and the Trump-era Federal Communications Commission. Seven months ago, Tribune Broadcasting pulled out of the deal and sued Sinclair for breach of contract. Please hold that thought for a paragraph.
The problem is that Sinclair is so far to the right that they insist all their local stations must run their far-right political stories as though those opinions came from the local on-air staff. They also must run pre-packaged news and opinion pieces by such right-wing hysterics as Boris Epshteyn, Mark Hyman, and Sharyl Attkisson. Fox News is the greatest source of the fake news in this country, but Sinclair Broadcasting is truly Orwellian.
So what does this have to do with the Chicago Cubs?
Several years ago, the Cubs were purchased by the notoriously right-wing Ricketts family. Cubs fans overlooked their fanaticism because it the Ricketts family that won us the World Series. But now… now…
The Cubs have formed their own cable network. Even if you’re not paying for a separate sports package, these networks charge the cable operators an arm and a leg to run the programming and, of course, those expenses are passed right along to subscribers.
So who do you think the Ricketts family is partnering with to get so deep into your wallet? You guessed it: Sinclair Broadcasting. Ernie Banks’ “let’s play two” is now “let’s pay, too” and to do so let’s pay the hatemongers.
I could tolerate the Ricketts’ ownership of the Chicago Cubs. It’s not like players must tattoo the visage of Donald Trump on their backs. But I cannot tolerate the Ricketts team-up with Sinclair. It’s only sports; I do not have to tolerate this nonsense. To mix metaphors, when it comes to the genuine evil of Sinclair Broadcasting, I take a knee.