DALLAS MAVERICKS owner Mark Cuban has this crazy idea: He wants to buy the Chicago Cubs, along with Wrigley Field and a piece of a sports channel, possibly by Opening Day. Baseball's old-boy network isn't jazzed about the notion, but I am. Here's why....
Because Cuban is a vigorous stirrer of pots. He questions authority ( David Stern's fines be damned) and convention (why should referees be immune from critique?), and MLB's broth of staid thinking and uninspired leadership has congealed into sludge.
Because he won't turn Wrigley into GoDaddy.com Field. Don't laugh—Sam Zell, the takeover artist who's now running the parent Tribune Co., may sell the stadium separately and touts the naming rights as "extraordinarily valuable."
Because as an Indiana undergrad Cuban danced so energetically while out on the town that he answered to the nickname Disco and was known to carry an extra shirt. At 49, he remains more exuberant than 15 Peter Angeloses and a half dozen Robert Nuttings combined. (Don't know who Nutting is? My point exactly.)
Because Cuban would make Wrigley even fan-friendlier. He's hinted he would consider selling sponsorship for parts of the upper deck, then give away tickets to the seats. Can free beer for the bleachers be far behind?
Because I'm serious about the free beer idea. Really. Please make it Old Style.
Because Cuban is neither Bud's boy nor a baseball establishment man, both of which apply to the other potential buyer, mutual fund magnate John Canning Jr. Sorry, John, but you already own 11% of the Milwaukee Brewers and you're tight with commissioner Selig. No one at this table ordered More of the Same.
Because Bill O'Reilly hates Cuban, and I consider that anendorsement.
Because he would joust with Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, and it'd be nice to see somebody challenge that guy. How? Those who know Cuban say he'll only bite—the asking price is about $1 billion—if he thinks he can come close to breaking even while competing million-for-million with Boston. (The New York Yankees, majority owners of their TV network, are in a different league.)
Because unlike some owners (What's up, MJ!), Cuban is intimately involved with his team. When Mavs G.M. Donnie Nelson e-mails his boss, he usually gets a reply in less than five minutes. "And," says Nelson, "that's even when he's onvacation."