Major League Baseball (finally) approves the Cubs' sale

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I’m pretty sure that Ron Santo was the starting third baseman when the Ricketts-buying-the-Cubs negotiations started. With the exception of a bankruptcy court’s rubber stamp, however, the process is finally over:

Major League Baseball owners welcomed the Ricketts family to an exclusive fraternity Tuesday, unanimously approving its proposal via conference call to become the owner of  the Cubs . . . The Ricketts family still must clear one more hurdle in bankruptcy court before it can assume day-to-day control of the team. The transaction, valued at $845 million, is expected to be closed by the end of the month.

Whether this will mean anything for the Cubs on the field in the short term is debatable. Rick Morrissey, despite what seems like some wild optimism — “I dare say the Cubs could field the same team next season minus Meltdown Bradley (all right, and Kevin Gregg) and be a factor in the playoffs — thinks that there won’t be a lot of offseason personnel moves. The fact of the matter is that they have a lot of big contracts, one of which — Bradley — they’re probably going to just eat.  Ricketts is a billionaire, and you usually don’t get to be a billionaire by making hasty, public-pleasing decisions.  He’s probably going to stand more or less pat this year and see what he has before tearing things up.

But it is a new day in Chicago, and for that Cubs fans should be happy indeed.

Yordano Ventura exits game with back tightness

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Royals’ right-hander Yordano Ventura was pulled in the fifth inning of Saturday’s matinee against the Tigers with an apparent injury. After throwing four pitches to start the fifth and serving up a Justin Upton double, Ventura was visited on the mound by head trainer Nick Kenney. Per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, he’s day-to-day with back spasms and lower back tightness.

It’s just another bump in the road for the defending champions, who currently sit 6.5 games back of a postseason spot with seven left to play. Through 176 innings in 2016, Ventura posted a 4.35 ERA and 1.2 fWAR, a considerable downgrade from the 4.08 ERA and 2.7 fWAR he contributed during last season’s championship year despite a moderate bounce-back in the second half.

Prior to his early exit from Saturday’s game, Ventura went four innings for the Royals, giving up three runs on 10 hits and two walks and striking out six of 24 batters faced.

Cubs are seeking a court order against unlicensed vendors

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If you’re looking to rep the red and royal blue this October, you best get your gear inside the ballpark. According to Lauren Zumbach of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs have sought a court order that would allow them to seize unauthorized merchandise being hawked outside of Wrigley Field. That includes shirts with taglines like “Just One Before I Die” and apparel depicting a blue flag with a white “W.”

[The Cubs] received a trademark for “W” flags, but a trademark for use on apparel is pending. Deeming a letter of the alphabet worthy of a trademark might seem like a stretch, but around Wrigley, everyone knows what that particular W in that particular color combination means, [intellectual property attorney Douglas Masters] said.

While seven vendors have been named in the suit, the Cubs have a list of 30 more whom they suspect of trademark infringement, including retailers who primarily operate online.

Back in 2013, the Cubs ran into a similar issue when a fan dressed as alternative mascot Billy the Cub and made multiple appearances on game days outside the park. After six years in the role, Billy the Cub was ordered to cease and desist his ballpark activities by the team.

This time, however, Billy’s tip jar pales in comparison to the revenue unauthorized sellers stand to reap over the next two months. With the playoffs just around the corner and playoff merchandise sales in full swing, quashing the competition (both on the field and off) will be top priority in weeks to come.

The club’s full complaint can be found here.