Mansplaining To A Millionaire

Chicago Cubs fans booed the team owner last weekend, and he had no idea why.

Wut? Wait. Why, he wondered, and I'm not kidding.

At the risk of the obvious, I shall Mansplain to Tom how this works.

At the moment boos cascaded upon him, he was wearing a shirt with an open collar. That proved he was just one of the guys. You normally don't boo one of the guys. Still, they booed him lustily at the annual Cubs Convention, and he seemed crestfallen. When your crest falls, it's not a good day for a rich guy's gusto.

The fact that Tom Ricketts is worth about $900 million seems a fact to which he applies no self-reflection. Here, I'll help.

The loot is in a family trust, but he spends it how he wants. He pretends that a pile of money makes no real difference to him or anyone else. But $900 million apparently does not make you a Man Of The Common Folk if that's your goal.

Tom Ricketts has other flaws, too. He's dull. He has a round, dull head. That's an unhelpful combination for a celebrity.

What he came to sell - a new cable TV package to benefit himself - met with loud disagreement.

The Cubs fans reacted as if Tom Ricketts is a bad person. I know, Tom. You're a swell guy.

It's not that having a lot of money makes you a Bad Person. But it does not make you a Good Person, either. That's the equation that affluence cannot buy and perhaps confuses Tom Ricketts the most.

Being rich does not prove anything for good or ill, though human experience does suggest that being rich is a terrible burden to being a good person. Tom Ricketts is irritating not because he's rich, but because he's greedy. And he's dull.

As for money, he wants more. He needs more. His greed is presumptive. That's not just an opinion. He has arranged his public life for this goal, and he cannot flee the consequences.

If you like the Cubs, he wants more of your money for that privilege.

He lives in a world defined by "more," though someone has suggested to him that he is a celebrity. This is an enormously erroneous perception. He is mostly a dull person with lots of money.

Team executive VP Theo Epstein works nearly as hard at his Gee Whiz I'm An Average Palooka schtick because his net worth is a mere $25 million. Club GM Jed Hoyer's pile of simoleons is less apparent to the naked eye, though he did pay $3.1 million for a 7,400-square-foot, six-bedroom Ravenswood home last summer.

Even Cubs manager David Ross has a pile of $11 million. He only looks like the guy working the third shift at a Ford assembly plant. Nope. He's part of the most wealthy 0.000001 percent of people on the planet.

Baseball been berry, berry good to me.

This does not mean that collective Cubs management is a pack of fat hyenas, but it does mean their sensory perception is limited. Their eyesight will tend not to see average lives because those are invisible to them.

Guys who buy Maseratis with pocket change do not understand guys who buy Fords on the six-year loan plan.

The best they can do is pretend to be regular people as a marketing device.

Vast piles of dough don't turn people into miserable cretins, but it can make them indifferent to lives they do not share, or see very frequently.

Your life, my life. Different animals. They can't help it.

So Tom Ricketts came to the annual Cubs Convention to tell his fraternal Common Folk that he had come up with a way to be even more flush with cash. It was a new way to make all those people in the convention hall pay for watching the Cubs on cable TV.

The Common Folk knew all about this plan even before Ricketts explained to them again with slow, clear words as if they all were Lenny Small in Of Mice and Me or small furry pets.

So he Millionaire Mansplained the deal to the assembled proletariat.

Boooooo, they all said to the crestfallen Tom. He seemed puzzled in a way that guys with $900 million in the bank seldom are. They hire people to be puzzled for them.

The Ricketts family has a new cable TV deal because Tom With An Open Collar can survive only for so long on $900 million while he waits for his really rich father to croak and leave Tom with several billion dollars more.

Maybe having $900 million does not automatically signal a deep personality disorder. But it can make a person mistake what they do (making money selling balcony tickets to a double feature) with some grand improvement of the human condition

Tom Terrific sells a product. People like the product, though he didn't invent it. He just owns the method of manufacture these days. He might as well be a door-to-door Fuller Brush franchisee. He sells a thing that someone owned before he was born, and someone else will own after he dies.

He seems competent at selling, but even the most mentally incapable owners of the team made lots of money selling tickets.

Hawking pot-scrubbing implements on the street corner does not make Tom Ricketts a special person. Customers love the pot scrubbers, but not him. This is a distinction he seems not to have intuited before the Cubs Convention affirmed the distaste.

Ricketts has many skills, chiefly that he's mostly managed not to gag on the silver spoon that came with his birth certificate. His life is devoted to making his pile of $900 million ever higher.

But he has a limitation, and it daunts him. Confuses him. He's unloved.

The Cubs are beloved by their fans for reasons I cannot always understand, but the team's owners have never been beloved, a fact owners have often found disconcerting. But even one-time plunderer and walking yeast infection Sam Zell was never confused why fans thought him to be a reprehensible infection.

Cubs fans barely tolerate the owners, even in the rare good days of the team.

In that regard, the Cubs' new "Marquee" network is a barely disguised money grab to make fans pay for what used to be free. The plan also makes the Ricketts family even richer. This is the main industry of being rich.

Rich people - I have been designated to be their official spokesperson - consider this getting-richer-at-your-expense transaction to be the natural grist of social machinery.

Guys with $900 million in the bank do not sense why that plan irritates people who drive compact models of Chevies and Fords. But it does.

So, Tom, this message is for you and only you: Boooooooooo! Don't take it personally.


David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. He welcomes your comments.

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