'I think I'm the most accessible owner in sports': Cubs' Ricketts on convention, spending, Russell

Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is not doing a panel discussion with the fans at this weekend's annual team convention, but he made the rounds of sports talk-radio shows Thursday morning.

Ricketts addressed questions about several issues with Mike Mulligan and David Haugh on WSCR 670-AM.

On not doing a panel discussion:

"We had the lowest-rated panel last year, so the guys cut us. People would rather watch the mascot play bingo than listen to the owners speak. The fact is, we had a low-rated panel. It got kind of dull over the years because a lot of the questions were the same.

"I think I'm the most accessible owner in sports. I talk to people all the time. I answer my emails. It's just kind of funny to me, the timing of it. People ascribe some, like, agenda to it. The fact is, we were just boring people, and they want more time with players and coaches. So that's why it got canceled. We can always bring it back if people really liked it."

On the perception that the Cubs aren't spending money on players this off-season:

"First of all, we have spent money this off-season. We signed Cole Hamels and we picked up (Daniel) Descalso. I'm sure Theo (team President Epstein) has got a few moves left in him. But frankly, we have one of the largest budgets in all of baseball. We've put that to work. We signed a lot of players over the years. We have a team that we like.

"We have a team we think is going to go a long way. We have a team that won 95 games last year without a lot of help from some of the guys we picked up last off-season, and all the different things we fought through last year - the injuries, everyone having down years, some of the off-field distractions. We like out club, and we're among the very top spenders. I think all of that stuff is kind of misguided."

On shortstop Addison Russell, who is serving a suspension for violating Major League Baseball's policy on domestic abuse:

"The fact is we decided after a lot of talking to a lot of experts, after talking to Addison multiple times, after talking to the league, that we'd rather support him through the process than just cut him or let him go. It doesn't mean that it's in conflict with support for victims of domestic violence.

" ... You have a decision to make as a club. What do you think is going to be best for the player and his family? In our case, after talking to many experts, after talking to Addison and what we thought the better thing for the player, for the player's family, was to see if we could help him get through this. I think that it's not an easy decision. It's not a decision that anyone takes lightly."

On the impending new TV deal, which the Cubs will start on their own: "We're definitely looking at being able to talk about that more sometime in the future. It'll be awhile yet before we know exactly what we can and can't announce. I think it's already out there that we are looking to go in our own direction on this, which is the right thing for the team and the fans."

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