The Cubs are uniquely positioned to capitalize if they sign baseball’s Taylor Swift


Hat tip to Ken Rosenthal. He led his most recent piece in The Athletic (subscription required) comparing Shohei Ohtani to Taylor Swift in the sense that both are ‘cultural phenomena’. It’s what makes his entry into free agency unlike anything the game has experienced before — and reveals what’s at stake for teams, including the Cubs, still in the mix.

You are bidding for more than production in a field that is, in itself, historic and unparalleled. The team that signs Ohtani will weave invisible strings into every aspect of his short- and long-term identity because he can be marketed in ways other players can’t.

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In that piece, Rosenthal goes through, group by group, breaking down the opportunities that an Ohtani signing would bring. As for the Cubs, he noted that Tom Ricketts’ longtime wild dreams centered around Wrigleyville becoming a year-round destination and, with the Cubs’ ownership stake in the Marquee Sports Network, the tapping into a global market with Ohtani is certainly a compelling thought. .

Last summer, after several painful years of a large swath of Chicagoland Cubs fans not being able to watch the team at the Marquee, an in-market streaming option came to fruition. It’s in the team’s best interest (and that’s putting it mildly) to give people a reason to shell out their hard-earned cash for Marquee if it’s not part of their existing cable or streaming packages. Nothing drives revenue forward like bringing in The Man.

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As Rosenthal pointed out, Ohtani is the biggest star the Cubs have had in decades — since Sammy Sosa’s heyday with the team in the late 1990s. The faces of the franchise during the 2016 season pale in comparison to Ohtani, especially given how many of their respective careers have played out since that fateful season.

Ohtani’s appeal to the baseball world is certainly comparable to what Swift did during her record-setting global Eras tour, which became a must-see event at every stop. It’s been a long, long time since Cubs baseball felt like that and you’re seeing the effects of that, with lower attendance numbers at Wrigley, disappointing subscriber numbers for the Marquee and a decade old season ticket waiting list is now a thing of the past.

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The days of acting like a small market organization should be a thing of the past. Bring on Ohtani — and the champagne problems that come with arguably the biggest free agent contract in history.