Hey, look how young and hip and self-aware and gracious Theo Epstein is. While you were gushing over that full page ad he took out to thank Boston for letting leave town under his own free will and not ground into a Sam Adams sampler, he was busy pulling the trigger on a plan born in the shadows.
He may have looked distraught up in his booth, but the moment the Red Sox gurgled and died, Theo was already plotting his next move in a fit of sneezes and snickers.
From the mystique of his potential hiring, to the denial of his own identity, to the charming of the local media, Theo has sewn a fabric of lies and deceit into America’s midwest.
“I firmly believe that we can preserve the things that make the Cubs so special and over time build a consistent winner, a team that will be playing baseball in October consistently, and a team that will ultimately win the World Series.”
And normally, we certainly wouldn’t care that Theo was saying these things, because this career move would be especially irritating if it meant we needed to start caring what he was up to.
But the next phase of his plan involves unplugging the drainage ditch that is the Chicago Cubs and all manner of people are going to be pulled into the resulting suckage.
Jed Hoyer and Jason McCleod are already on their way. Right now, they’re just names in the Chicago-area headlines. Whether or not they’re the figures destined to stand in the shadows behind Theo as he raises a World Series trophy in the air remains to be seen. Or not seen.
But the next name on Theo’s list is one he’ll have to rip out of our bowels. And from the looks of things, he’s already elbow-deep.
Ryne Sandberg’s history with Philadelphia is well-documented and even more well presumed. The future in which the Phillies built around the young second baseman decades ago is trapped in some other universe. Bringing him back to the organization many years after the fact was a pleasant novelty, one that ended in a playoff berth for the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs and a low rumble of mutterings on his new future as an eventual Charlie Manuel replacement.
Theo, on the other hand, watches our budding reunion and conjures up his best smirk. He’s the new president of baseball operations for the club any sane person would instinctively link to Sandberg. And he’s got a manager who just dragged the team through an abrasive season that abruptly ended their “new beginning.”
Mike Quade is a friendly, competent fellow, but he was never a 10-time All-Star wearing a Cubs hat. When it was originally rumored last year that Sandberg could take the reins, the impassioned frenzy that followed was intimidating enough to witness from 800 miles away. He was denied the gig. The people were scorned. I’m sure he was too, at least a little bit.
There’s no denying the perfect fit a Cubs Hall of Fame hero would have into the mold of a new “new beginning.” So perfect, actually that it makes it seem liken the move is already cemented into fate and that all we’ll be able to do is watch Sandberg go.
And already, Theo is allowing a tone of forgiveness to spread; as he plans to pull Steve Bartman out of infamy and instruct his new legion of faithful to forgive the error etched into cave walls deep below Wrigley Field. That same tone may be just the environment to begin anew and correct the legend.
But of course, this is business, not baseball, so all we can do is believe or not believe the ambiguous statements guys in suits say into microphones.