-- Blogging for Crain's Chicago Business on Wednesday, Ed Sherman reveals that he was a classmate of Mark Utay, the New York private equity investor whose surname sounds like Pig Latin but isn't and who also happens to be one of three finalists in the bidding for the Cubs.
The stories make it seem like Mr. Utay is some sort of outsider. Why we would want a New Yorker to own the Cubs? I know better. Mr. Utay and I went to high school together, graduating in New Trier West's Class of 1977.The "not being a great baseball fan" part bothers me. I would like to nominate another New Trier West alum to become the next owner of the Cubs—Rick Malnati, former Bradley University basketball player and later the school's basketball coach. Malnati is also the son of the late Chicago pizza magnate, Lou Malnati.
Rahm Emanuel also was part of that class. Emanuel, Utay, Sherman. Well, two out of three ain't bad.
I can't say Mr. Utay and I were fast friends. We were acquaintances who knew a lot of the same people. That's what happens when you're part of a class of 700 students. I looked up Mr. Utay in our yearbook. He was pictured with the debate team and was an associate editor of the high school newspaper. I talked to a mutual friend who remembered Mr. Utay as being bright and opinionated. He didn't recall him being a great baseball fan, but obviously he has plenty of interest now.
Unlike Utay, Malnati is a true sports guy. And I'm thinking the quality of the food at Wrigley Field would increase greatly.
-- John Dewan's Stat of the Week column this week lists the "Top ten reasons to feel good about what the Cubs are doing this winter." Three of the ten reasons have to do with recently signed Milton Bradley and three have to do with Mike Fontenot.
#3—Since Mike Fontenot (age 29) will replace DeRosa (age 34) the Cubs will be younger by five years.-- Finally, speaking of Bradley, Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts, who got an up-close view of the outfielder during Bradley's time in L.A., offered the following in discussing the deal that Pat Burrell signed with Tampa, not as rich a package as the one Bradley got from the Cubs.
#2—Mike Fontenot’s plus/minus at second base last year was +11, DeRosa’s was -8. The Cubs defense at 2B will improve.
#1—Fontenot’s projected OPS next year is .809. DeRosa’s projected OPS is.783. Fontenot is actually the better hitter!
Bradley is a fine hitter but one who comes with his own set of problems, some of which the media is only too happy to overemphasize. "Bradley's history of temper flare-ups could be cause for as much concern as the injury history," writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, even though his paper reports that Bradley has missed only nine games in his career because of suspension.
Ever since he got caught up in domestic abuse allegations in 2005, I have abstained from weighing in on Bradley's character. Nevertheless, I find that many of those who make a moral case against Bradley are much more forgiving of serious personal flaws in other ballplayers. As far as on-field performance goes, I'd be more worried about Bradley's physical condition than his mental condition.