Tribune Columnist: Tear down Wrigley Field

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I’m with the Tribune’s Steve Chapman on the whole “tax dollars should not be used to renovate Wrigley Field” thing, but I’m not quite sure how this follows as a “b” to that “a”:

Wrigley is attractive and charming in many ways, but it’s like driving a vintage car: After a while, the novelty is not enough to justify the antiquated design. The ivy-covered walls and manually operated scoreboard have to be balanced against the cramped concourses, primitive restrooms, modest kitchen facilities and obstructed views.

To even think of replacing the nostalgia-drenched ballpark is heresy to diehard Cubs fans. But Yankee Stadium was even richer in history and tradition — winning tradition, by the way — when the Yankees abandoned it in 2008 . . . A new park would rid the Cubs of their maintenance headaches, while providing them better ways to relieve fans of cash — lots of luxury boxes, better dining, new shops and diversions. It would allow the team to hire better players and pamper them in style. The architect could lovingly re-create the treasured features of the existing stadium, while omitting the shortcomings.

If the Ricketts family is too cheap to put $200-$300 million of their own money into Wrigley Field, what makes anyone think that they’d put $500 million or more into the construction of a new park? And even if this guy wasn’t opposed to public money for the Cubs — which he is — what makes him think that any government would underwrite a new ballpark for them?

All of that said, a new ballpark for the Cubs would represent something entirely different than New Yankee Stadium represented for Yankees fans.  The Cubs experience is not just about Wrigley Field. Location accounts for a large part of it.  Unlike the Yankees, the Cubs couldn’t just build a new park across the street. If they could, that might even make a lot of sense.  No, if the Cubs were to get a new park it would be in, like, Naperville or Schaumburg or something.  And that would be about the most depressing thing ever.

DOJ settles antirust lawsuit against cable companies who don’t carry Dodgers games

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Last November, the U.S. Department of Justice sued AT&T, accusing its subsidiary, DirecTV, of being the ringleader in a plot in which it conspired with Cox Communications, Charter Communications and AT&T cable (then a separate company), to refuse to carry SportsNet LA, the Dodger-owned TV channel in violation of antitrust laws.

Now that lawsuit is over. The DOJ settled with AT&T last night.

The bad news: no part of the settlement obligates DirecTV or any of the other alleged co-conspirators to carry Dodgers games or to even negotiate to that end. There is likewise no fine or truly substantive penalty. It’s basically a “do not do this again!” agreement with some antitrust training requirements for executives and some orders to monitor their communications about these things.

“We are pleased to have resolved this matter to the satisfaction of all parties,” an AT&T spokesman said yesterday, likely in the tone of a guy who is pretty happy to have had a major antitrust suit against him settled so quickly.

When the suit was filed, I anticipated a settlement, as most antitrust suits brought by the DOJ are settled. Such a settlement could’ve featured a cash penalty or, more significantly, a brokered agreement between the parties in question in lieu of a cash settlement that could’ve led to Dodgers games being carried on more channels. After all, more competition is the end game of the Antirust Division.

As it is, however, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a surrender by the DOJ and a victory for the those carriers who coordinated their efforts to not carry the Dodgers.

An open question, unanswered in anyone’s statements yesterday, is whether this settlement is 100% about the merits of the case — keeping in mind that the DOJ tends not to file antitrust suits unless they think they can win, instead preferring to negotiate first — or whether it represents a new set of laxer priorities when it comes to antitrust enforcement from the Trump Administration and AG Jeff Sessions.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.