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Ricketts: Ownership ties to polarizing Trump no concern for Cubs

Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts meets with President Donald Trump in November. | AP File Photo/Carolyn Kaster

MESA, Ariz. – Despite his family’s well-known public ties to an increasingly embattled President Donald Trump, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said he doesn’t fear any perception problems or impact in Wrigleyville on one of the biggest, ongoing feel-stories in sports.

Since buying the Cubs in late 2009, the Ricketts family has built and nurtured a team brand based on character of its players and organization, work in the community and high-minded aspirations – culminating last fall in the franchise’s first World Series championship in 108 years.

On the other hand, some members of the family – including cabinet nominee Todd Ricketts – also have publicly and financially backed President Trump, who four weeks into office has become the most contentious figure in the White House since at least Monica Lewinsky and maybe Richard Nixon.

“Obviously, my brother Todd is a nominee for under secretary of Commerce,” Tom Ricketts said Saturday during his annual spring media session. “My sister [Laura] was a bundler for Hillary Clinton. A family has different political views.

“Away from that I don’t think anything that’s going on in D.C. has any impact on us right now at all.”

With the Cubs’ already high profile skyrocketing, could that change in the next few months – or weeks – if controversy and scandal continue to hound the Trump (and potentially Todd Ricketts) White House?

Never mind the ideals within a multi-national, multi-ethnic, multi-faith Cubs organization potentially clashing with immigration bans, deportation crackdowns and the appointment of an attorney general who once prosecuted (unsuccessfully) black civil rights leaders for voter “fraud.”

What’s certain is that the Ricketts name has in recent years become far more prominent for its ownership of the Cubs and for the political ties than it ever was for the founding of TD Ameritrade.

“The fact is we do have a good culture with the Cubs,” Tom Ricketts said, “and I don’t think anything that the White House has done or hasn’t done has any impact on that at all.”

NOTES: The first rain of the spring wiped out the entire first full-squad workout schedule, and more rain is forecast for Sunday. “No consternation, no concerns,” manager Joe Maddon said.

Tom Ricketts said he wasn’t sure whether Todd will have to step down as a Cubs board member because of conflict-of-interest rules if his cabinet nomination is successful. If so, he wouldn’t be replaced on the board, Ricketts said.

• Ricketts on the World Series trophy he often has accompanied on its regional tour: “It’s probably the most photographed trophy in the history of baseball, and we’re going to keep showing it. In fact, we’d like to have it on display on the plaza during games this year so people have a chance to come take a photo with it.”

• The ballpark renovations will be completed by 2020, but Ricketts downplayed the possibility the Cubs could be awarded their first All-Star Game since 1990 by then. MLB has scheduled All-Star Games through 2019.