Get ready Chicagoland, your Jay is back. Jay Mariotti to the Chicago Tribune! Let those words luxuriate on your tongue for a moment. At least that's the word according to two of our sources, one of whom is quite close to the situation. Tribune higher-ups — and by that I mean higher than the editorial department — are reportedly trying to figure a way to get around some no-compete contract clauses that would allow them to install Mariotti as a columnist on the print side. Already a done deal is Mariotti joining the Trib's web site. An announcement could come as early as Monday. Says our tipster:
"I'm told that it's a matter of when, not if. It appears that Mariotti has a pretty strict non-compete clause, but they have lawyers working very hard to get around it. It is definitely being driven by the new regime, and not the newspaper people. Lee Abrams and Randy McMichael as the drivers, with no mention of Sam Zell, but that certainly doesn’t indicate he’s not involved. Word is that these guys want a provocative “shock jock” type as in radio (Abrams’s influence, apparently), and there is absolutely no regard for journalistic tenets, or Mariotti’s standing among colleagues and those he covers.
And then there's this from Chi-ball:
Sources told Chi-Ball something could happen by Monday on the Marriotti front. Interest in him is coming straight from the top, Sam Zell, Lee Abrams, etc., not from the people who are responsible for the day to day paper. They (Trib) are looking into his contract to see if there is any way he could be in the paper as well as on the internet. There are a lot of ticked off people about this, especially considering the Trib just trimmed 80 people. Now Marriotti is probably going to come in as a highly paid star.
This should get very interesting. The ball's in your court, Ozzie Guillen. Sources: Decision On Mariotti Could Come Monday [Chi-ball]