The Chicago Cubs: Lovable Losers. The Curse of the Billy Goat. Bartman. On the field of play -- in this case, the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field -- one team reigns in the negative superlative as the most hapless of all time, famously innocent of championships for more than a hundred years.
All superstition aside, your average Cubs fan, desperate for victory, has come to blame the team's celebrated run of futility on one thing: that ancient fan bugaboo, Ownership.
So it's no surprise that when Sam Zell officially put the Cubs up for sale in 2007, after the billionaire Chicago native acquired the
, parent of the team, in an $8 billion leveraged buyout, intense interest was paid on the Northside to the person, or more likely people, who would replace the faceless corporation that had owned the franchise since 1981.
Almost immediately, a menagerie of hopeful bidders (click "Lineup of Bidders" below) either expressed interest in owning the team, or had it expressed for them, from the high profile (Mark Cuban, and even Bill Murray) to the relatively low (real estate mogul Hersch Klaff, theater impresario Rocco Landesman).
POLL: The Best (and Worst) Owners in Sports VIDEO: MLB's Digital Double Play
No one thought it would take nearly three years -- encompassing not only the bankruptcy of Zell's Tribune itself but a historic financial collapse and an ongoing global recession -- for a new owner at last to arrive. It was as if the Cubs' haplessness on the field of play had somehow spread, like a vicious strain of influenza born of the barnyard, into the boardrooms of not only Sam Zell and his many baseball-team courtiers, but Wall Street, the nation, the Western World.