It's time to bury your billy-goat curses and take a fire extinguisher to the flaming Bartman effigy dolls. Good things are on the way for Chicago Cubs fans, even if they don't realize it yet.
Last Friday, Tribune entered into a definitive agreement to complete the sale of a majority stake in the historically unlucky ball club to the Ricketts family for a reported $845 million.
I don't know any of the Ricketts folks personally, but my bosses do. Joe Ricketts founded Ameritrade, the online discount brokerage that became one of our earliest advertisers. As The Motley Fool grew, so did Ricketts' company.
Ameritrade acquired Toronto-Dominion Bank's
What does this mean for Cubs fans, beyond the fact that the Ricketts had to sell roughly $400 million worth of TD AMERITRADE stock earlier this year -- leaving the Ricketts with roughly an 18% stake in the company -- to partly bankroll the purchase of the team?
I figured I would ask our Foolish executives.
Fool President Scott Schedler grew up in Chicago, with painful memories of watching the Cubs blow a seemingly insurmountable lead atop the standings of the National League East to the Amazing Mets of 1969.
He recalls commiserating with Pete Ricketts at Ameritrade's HQ on Oct. 15, 2003, the day after Steve Bartman made notorious history for interfering with a foul ball that Moises Alou would probably have caught for a crucial eighth-inning out. The Cubs went on to lose the game -- and, later, the series -- to the eventual World Series champion Florida Marlins.
"We actually sympathized with this poor guy, whose natural instinct to catch the ball temporarily blocked his understanding of the reality of this game," Schedler remembers.
CEO and Fool co-founder Tom Gardner also has a good feeling about the Ricketts family and TD AMERITRADE. As he pointed out:
- The Fool's first marketing deal with Ameritrade was sealed by a simple handshake.
- TD AMERITRADE has remained an advertiser through two market collapses.
- The broker's family-owned mentality has created a welcome openness and transparency in the industry.
- The broker steered clear of funky mortgages, something that rival E*TRADE
(NASDAQ:ETFC)is still digging itself out of.
Is this enough to assure Cubs fans that the elusive World Series title is on the way? Umm ... well, why not? The Ricketts proved that they can piece together a winner in TD AMERITRADE, by paying up for complementary puzzle pieces such as TD Waterhouse and thinkorswim Group, while never neglecting its core organic operations.
That's a recipe for success in any game. Besides, as a Florida Marlins fan -- and a spectator for a pair of the Miami games during the 2003 playoff series against the Cubs -- I feel I owe it to Chicago to offer up hope.
It's your turn, Cubbies.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been trading exclusively through discount brokers since 1990, but he owns no shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Foolhas a disclosure policy.