The Chicago Cubs are teaming with Sinclair Broadcast Group to launch a regional sports network in February 2020 that will become the exclusive television home of the Cubs.,It marks the end of more than 70 years of over-the-air broadcasts for the Cubs, and the beginning of an ambitious endeavor to sell cable and satellite providers on the value of the carrying the new regional network — no sure thing in an increasingly fragmented world of cable TV.,But if all goes according to plan and cable providers from Southwest Michigan to Iowa — Major League Baseball’s designated home broadcast turf for the team — agree to carry the new network, viewers will have no choice but to watch local Cubs games on pay TV.,Having their own channel will enable the Cubs to have all of their programming in one place, versus splitting the games between two broadcast stations — WGN-Ch.9 and WLS-Ch.7 — and sharing coverage with the Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox on NBC Sports Chicago, formerly Comcast SportsNet, the regional sports network formed in 2004.,But in the five years since the Cubs planted the seed of the regional sports network, the pay-TV landscape has changed dramatically, with cord cutting and skinny bundles squeezing the carriage fees cable companies are willing to pay for even sports, long the most valuable programming commodity.

But unlike HBO and “Game of Thrones,” WGN and the Cubs aren’t hyping their final season together after 72 years.,In my first year as Cubs beat writer in 1997, WGN televised 144 games.,The following January, the Cubs owners — Tribune Co. — decided to reduce the WGN schedule to 92 games, placing 62 games on CLTV, the company’s local cable news channel.,Fans gradually grew accustomed to watching more games on cable, and in 2003 the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks began their own sports channel, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, which is now NBC Sports Chicago.,WGN will televise the Cubs' season opener — likely for the last time »

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The Cubs-owning Ricketts family has ripped Tunney as he seeks re-election in the 44th Ward, which includes Wrigley Field.,“I mean, Tom Tunney has always seen himself as someone who is against the Cubs,” Ricketts said.,The comment Ricketts referenced was uttered on the City Council floor in 2013, when Tunney said he would "be up your butt every day" if the Cubs owners didn't honor their commitments to Wrigleyville residents.,Told of Ricketts’ comments, Tunney said he thinks Ricketts is still upset the team didn’t get public funding to help pay for Wrigley Field renovations.,Asked whether the Ricketts family’s involvement in the race helps his candidacy in the eyes of residents leery of their reach in and around the ballpark, Tunney said “there is a genuine concern about total control of an alderman by any individual, in this case the Ricketts family.”

IF THE NFL IS DOING its sly diligence -- as its officiating crew yellow-flagged so magnificently in holding the audience deep into New Orleans's 20-14 NFC semi over Philadelphia last Sunday -- there is simply no way young magic man Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (-3) don't bounce New England in the AFC Championship game Sunday (CBS, 5:40 p.m.).,As for the Saints (-3, tiny push to 3½) and the visiting L.A. Rams (Fox, 2:05 p.m.), if the NFL allows the game to be played organically the whole way through -- extremely unlikely -- New Orleans can name the final.,THE LATE RED RUSH -- without question, one of the two or three most colorful play-by-play men in the history of Chicago sportscasting and the best pitchman that Gonnella Bread ever had -- will finally be appropriately honored by Loyola University.,… Broadcast hop-in of the week was Snoop Dogg, who assisted in the call of the L.A. Kings win over Pittsburgh last Saturday.,… CBS's meteoric Tony Romo, asked by one national reporter to break down the top young QBs in the NFL, had Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson.