Tom Ricketts distances the Cubs from the anti-Obama campaign presented to his father

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Followup from this morning’s New York Times story about Joe Ricketts being pitched to bankroll that anti-Obama campaign.  Son Tom, chairman of the Cubs, issued a statement:

“As chairman of the Chicago Cubs, I repudiate any return to racially divisive issues in this year’s presidential campaign or in any setting — like my father has,” Tom Ricketts said in the statement. “I shall have no further comment on this or any other election year political issue. My full-time focus is on making the Chicago Cubs a World Series champion preserving Wrigley Field and making the Chicago Cubs a great corporate citizen.”

I assume that “like my father has” line means that he believes his father has repudiated such politics. Which, while he is now said to have rejected that “extremely literate” black man thing mentioned this morning, he hasn’t done. The Times still reports him to be “entertaining” it and any number of other initiatives. We’ll see when Joe Ricketts either speaks or acts.*

Also notable, Tom’s sister and Joe’s daughter Laura Ricketts is a big Obama donor. She issued a statement too, supporting both Obama and her father, even if she disagrees with his politics.

I think the absolutely most notable thing about all of this is that what seems to be driving the statements the most is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s angry reaction to the Times story this morning. Apparently, as the city is in talks with the Cubs about Wrigley Field renovations, Emmanuel was none too pleased to hear that the Cubs’ patriarch is going after Emmanuel’s old boss.

Which, while understandable, is reason number 1,456 against public funding for ballparks.  If you pay your own way, you don’t have to care a lick of what partisan politicians — especially the hotheaded ones — feel about your views on the world, and then you don’t have to issue statements like Tom Ricketts just had to.

*Also, can we dispense with the notion that Joe Ricketts had no intention whatsoever in bankrolling a campaign intended to smear Obama personally? This was a slick 54-page proposal accompanied by a personal presentation. One doesn’t come off the street and pitch that kind of thing cold like Fuller brushes or Kirby vacuums. Such proposals are requested and such requests have guidelines about what they’re looking for.  I’m assuming Ricketts didn’t ask for the stuff about “an extremely literate” black man, but unless the political operatives who pitched it were the worst ever at their job, they were certainly delivering to Ricketts something in the ballpark of what he wanted to see.

Madison Bumgarner began his rehab assignment yesterday

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Giants ace Madison Bumgarner tossed three no-hit innings yesterday in his first minor league rehab start with the Giants’ Arizona Rookie League team. He struck out two and walked a guy, while sitting in the 88-91 m.p.h. range on his fastball.

Bumgarner, who is coming back from a sprained left AC joint in his shoulder suffered in a dirt bike accident in April, will return to San Francisco to throw a bullpen session and then go back on the road for more rehab games. That’s a lot of traveling, but the Giants obviously want to monitor his progress. At the moment he’s expected to build up his strength for the next several weeks and, hopefully, return to the Giants’ rotation some time after the All-Star break.

Of course, there shouldn’t be too much of a rush. The Giants have lost five in a row and 12 of 13 and currently sit in last place, 24.5 games behind the Dodgers. At this point Bumgarner rushing to rejoin the Giants is like an Australian soldier getting a wound dressed to hurry back to the Gallipoli Campaign.

Is it really that weird that Cody Bellinger does not know who Jerry Seinfeld is?

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Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger has been tearing through the league so far this season, blazing a 50-home run pace despite not even making his debut until April 25. His Dodgers are winners of 10 games in a row, sit in first place and have the best record in the National League.

But not everything is rosy in Cody Bellinger land. He’s now at the center of controversy after he revealed on SportsCenter on Friday night that he doesn’t know who Jerry Seinfeld is. Or, at the very least, that he could not put a face with that familiar-sounding name and that in no event did he know why he was famous.

People have been going crazy with this, acting as if he’s from Mars or something for not knowing who starred in one of history’s most popular and influential sitcoms. His teammates, especially, have been getting on his case:

I dunno. On the one hand, sure, the show was amazingly popular and has been in heavy syndication for like 20 years so it would be hard to miss even for a young guy like Bellinger. And, of course, the catchphrases and bits of the show that has seeped into the popular culture have given it a longer shelf life than most TV shows ever manage.

On the other hand the thing ended when he was not yet three years old. For him, “Seinfeld” was like “The Beverly Hillbillies” for someone my age or “M*A*S*H” for someone born in the early 80s. Those shows were just as popular — actually, they got higher ratings and were seen by a larger percentage of the population than “Seinfeld” ever was — and they were just as heavily syndicated for the decade or two after they went off the air. We don’t get on the case of players born in the 70s or 80s for not knowing who Alan Alda or Buddy Ebsen are. And if it’s about the catchphrases, substitute in “Happy Days” and “Welcome Back Kotter,” each of which created a cultural footprint larger than the show itself. Would we freak out if we found out that Jayson Werth — born in 1979 — had never heard the phrase “Up your nose with a rubber hose” or “Sit on it?”

And that’s before you acknowledge how much more fragmented pop culture and entertainment is now. I was 12 in 1985 and back then I had little choice but to watch “M*A*S*H” reruns at 7pm while I was waiting for prime time. It was either that or “Wheel of Fortune” I guess. As a 12-year old in 2007, Bellinger could’ve easily avoided “Seinfeld” reruns. He could’ve avoided TV altogether and just been online. My son is 12 now and he hasn’t watched an actual TV show in years. It’s all You Tube and stuff. The idea that there is any one thing or even a handful of things that, culturally speaking, we can all agree upon or which can serve as a common touchstone is an increasingly obsolete idea.

Maybe “Seinfeld” is different. Maybe this is not the same as not knowing “The Beverly Hillbillies” or “M*A*S*H”. I floated this whole idea on Twitter yesterday and people were outraged, so perhaps something else is going on here that I’m missing. But personally speaking, I feel like we should all calm down a bit about Cody Bellinger and the “Seinfeld” thing. Maybe we should acknowledge that the stuff we like is not going to be culturally prevalent forever. And that young kids like Cody Bellinger are going to be the ones to inform us of this inescapable fact.