Theo Epstein will have to be a miracle worker for the Cubs
RICK TELANDER firstname.lastname@example.org October 12, 2011 10:04PM
The L flag flies above the scoreboard after an 8-3 loss to the Braves at Wrigley Field Thursday, August 25, 2011, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Updated: January 23, 2012 2:55AM
‘T heo’’ means God in Greek.
Theo Epstein, welcome to Chicago!
Bring on the Miracle!
Perform the Exorcism!
Cast out ye ghosts and cloven-hoofed beasts and rodents of Ozzie Guillen’s imagination!
In fact, just walk here from Boston in your sandals, right across Lake Michigan!
Oh, we have said in this very column that there might be no one on the planet, no savior in the galaxy more suited to changing the sad culture of Cubdom than 37-year-old Red Sox general manager Epstein.
That he apparently has agreed to a five-year, $20 million deal to be something-more-than-a-GM with the Cubs is divine news to the starving masses in the glassy-eyed Cubs Nation.
Epstein needs to get out of the last year of his contract with the Red Sox, but why wouldn’t owner John Henry and president Larry Lucchino let him go?
The boy wonder led the Red Sox out of the desert, won two World Series and healed many children by the time he was 33 — a significant age in Judeo-Christian history. And Theo now seems ready to put all childish things behind and become an adult
So welcome, welcome, welcome!
But what we got here, son, is man’s work, indeed.
Let’s start with this:
There is nowhere and nothing like the Cubs.
You’re not in Boston anymore
Theo, please get it out of your head that the Cubs are just a factor of the Red Sox times two.
The Red Sox are not Cubs Lite.
The Red Sox are to the Cubs as tiny hair plugs are to Ron Santo’s toupee, as a Cape Cod lobster boil is to the 2,000-acre Great Chicago Fire.
The Red Sox’ former problems — no World Series title in 86 years, trading Babe Ruth for junk, a ball that rolled through Bill Buckner’s legs — are not on the Cubs’ loser radar.
We are talking 103 years without final success, a ball that rolled between the legs of Leon Durham two years before one found its way through Buckner’s, of so many bad trades that Lou Brock and Greg Maddux are just the tip of the iceberg.
Yes, the Red Sox briefly had pitcher Pedro Martinez’s 28-inch- tall pal and good-luck charm Nelson de la Rosa during their struggles.
But the Cubs trump that with curious talisman Ronnie “Woo-Woo’’ Wickers, who’s life-size.
Yep, a little neighborhood ballyard that is either quaint or garbage depending on one’s viewpoint.
A little neighborhood ballyard that is either quaint or Lourdes, depending on whether you think Harry Caray was an apostle or merely an angel.
There is no other franchise in all of sports like the Cubs.
Here’s how players, managers and executives of the Cubs realize that for certain: as they look at our city in rearview mirrors and wonder if the time they spent with the Cubs was real or a hallucination caused by mushrooms.
Was there a more dazed man in baseball than Lou Piniella at the end?
Did Jim Hendry look gray and ill when he was finally released?
Did Lee Elia’s vein-bulging, fan-assaulting, career-derailing rant of 28 years ago get at the very heart of darkness that beats within Cubdom?
Ponder this, Theo.
Back in 1982, the Cubs were announcing their new season’s motto — “BUILDING A NEW TRADITION’’ — at a news conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Dallas Green had been with the Cubs as president only a few months, but the new slogan was his way of thumbing his nose at the Cubs’ losing ways.
As the lights dimmed for an inspiring video presentation, marketing assistant Buck Peden got his tie caught in the screen that was lowering from the ceiling. The film that came on was nothing but unreviewed spring-training footage of pitcher Fergie Jenkins making endless pickoff moves to first base.
As new PR man Bob Ibach saw with horror what was unfolding, Cubs photographer Barney Sterling keeled over with a stroke. The camera toppled sideways, and the film kept displaying images on the wall. In the back of the room, the real Fergie Jenkins was partway through changing from street clothes into the new Cubs uniform, pants on the floor, and chaos reigned.
Ibach remembers that he couldn’t let go of the spring-loaded screen or Peden would be strangled and that through all of it, Green stood in the back of the room, stunned.
God bless you, Theo.
Make it happen.