Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nothing is Sacred – Not Even Cubs/WGN

I know.  It’s all about the money.  The relatively new owners of the Cubs have fired a shot across the bow of the Tribune Company, saying when the WGN TV contract comes up next year, they’re examining their options.

The Trib’s Cubs writer, Paul Sullivan, says the tradition (since 1948) of Cubs games on WGN-TV and the ability of fans to see the Cubs most anywhere in the country on WGN America will not matter to the owners as much as money, when it comes time to make the decision.

I posted a link to the story on my Facebook page and my journalism guru and tuba buddy Dr. Jim Hoyt, Emeritus UW Professor, commented “Nothing is sacred in broadcasting. I don’t like that.”  I don’t, either. The Cubs and WGN are, and always will be inseverably connected in my mind, just as strongly as Harry Caray is connected with the Cubs and WGN in my mind.

It’s all about money now.  It has nothing to do with loyalty or tradition.  And that sucks.

I’m a Brewers fan first, and a Cubs fan second.  Why the Cubs?  Because ever since the earliest days of Community Antenna TV, which morphed into Cable TV, I’ve been able to watch the Cubs.  I love baseball.  Loved playing it, loved broadcasting it, still love watching it on TV and in person, still love talking about it. And way back when cable was in its infancy, “Superstation WGN” was on just as many, if not more cable systems, than “Superstation WTBS”, Ted Turner’s outfit, which carried the Braves games.

When I lived in New Orleans, I couldn’t watch my Brewers unless they were on the game of the week. But I could see the Cubs on WGNO-TV four or five days a week. When I lived in Los Angeles, I couldn’t see my Brewers very often, but the Cubs were on the cable. Counting the past 30 years, I’ve probably seen as many Cubs games as Brewers games.  Being married to a Cubs fan is a factor, too.

Nowadays, you can get cable or satellite TV anywhere in the nation, and you can get MLB-TV and see any team you want just by ordering the appropriate package.  And the new owners of the Cubs are well aware of that fact.  Anybody can get any team they want.

It’s all about the money, and nothing is sacred.  And they’ll just add another 30 second ad between halves of each inning, and make the game longer, and they’ll make their money.



  1. Tim---
    I, too, love baseball and the Brewers although I grew up listening and watching the Cubs on WGN. It was perfect. The Brewers didn't exist until 1970 and when they arrived, they were in the American League, so I could root for both. In 1984, while I was the overnight jock on WKAU/Appleton-Oshkosh-Green Bay, I watched a TON of Cubs games on WGN (the Brewers sucked that year). It was really special watching the Cubs get into the post-season for the first time since 1945.

    BTW, will you be a semi-regular on Sly's show on WEKZ? I enjoy your post and listening to your take on things. Ironically, I worked at WEKZ from 1992-1999. Never in my wildest dream did I picture Sly working at "the little radio station with the big signal from the chalet in the valley on the banks of the Mighty Richland in Green County." ---Shark

    1. Thanks, Shark - in '84 I was in N'Awlins, watching the Cubs on the Tribune Company station down there, WGNO-TV. Quite a season!

      I was just a guest on Sly's first show because he wanted to "salute" the folks he'd worked with in Madison. Didn't figure him to be working in Monroe, but he just couldn't come to terms with the Clear Channel cluster in Madison for a slot on The Mic - which is probably good, given that they've just laid off ANOTHER morning show team, Mike and Trisha on Star Country, and have gone to a syndicated morning show.
      Hope Sly finds "a new home" in Monroe.

  2. Tim, where I live (NW Ia), even though we are 4 to 5 hours away from the nearest MLB team, we are considered "home territory" for several teams. Therefore, we are in a blackout for any MLB tv package that includes Twins, Royals, Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers, and White Sox games. It's an incredibly stupid and outdated rule by MLB Baseball.

    Tom Plummer, Lake City, Ia

    1. Tom, thanks for this comment - I'm going to have to look further into the MLB-TV thing. It's probably some stupid "protection" thing that the on-air TV broadcasters insist on, living in the fantasy-land that EVERYONE can get their signal either off-air or off cable - which we know is complete BS. It's like when the Brewers play the Cubs - Fox Sports North has the option to block the WGN-America feed from the cable and dish operators in the Madison and Milwaukee markets, forcing you to watch their broadcast. The NFL has even goofier rules about which markets are "home" markets for the teams. The way I understand it, the Milwaukee TV market is considered a "home" market for the Packers because years ago they played half their home games there.

      Money, lawyers, stoopid.....