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updated: 10/22/2011 8:26 PM

Epstein might not even know what hit him

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  • Excuse me for not celebrating Epstein quite yet. Been here/endured this too often in the past to not install him as anything but a heavy underdog against this Cub thing.

      Excuse me for not celebrating Epstein quite yet. Been here/endured this too often in the past to not install him as anything but a heavy underdog against this Cub thing.
    Associated Press

 
 

Call it baseball's Battle of the Century, longer than a century in the making.

In one corner, wearing red sox, standing 10 feet tall, Boy-y-y-y-y-y Wonder!

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In the other corner, wearing baby-bear blue trunks, weighing an albatross that could crush a truck, Cubbie Occur-r-r-r-r-rence!

Let the collision commence now that Theo Epstein officially is the Cubs' president of baseball operations.

Don King or Bob Arum might bill this as The Irresistible Genius vs. The Immovable Curse.

Excuse me for not celebrating Epstein quite yet. Been here/endured this too often in the past to not install him as anything but a heavy underdog against this Cub thing.

The best I can do is reserve judgment a tad. Admittedly, though, I lean toward skepticism over the latest bright bulb hired to exorcise the demons from Wrigley Field.

Epstein is as good a hire as the Cubs could make. But it seems like baseball's gods chirped with a smirk, "Bring me Theo's head on a stick."

Some other assignments -- winning the Afghanistan War, solving the jobless rate, getting Bryant Gumbel and David Stern to dine together -- would be less daunting than curing the Cubs' ills.

If even a Boy Wonder does everything correctly, odds are it won't be enough to win the Cubs a World Series for the first time since 1908 or even get them into one for the first time since 1945.

What Epstein might have overlooked while accepting this challenge is history declares that all the people wearing smarty pants that preceded him here lost their Mensa cards in Wrigley Field's ivy.

As always the question with the Cubs is, can their latest godsend varnish them into champions before they tarnish him into a straitjacket?

The question is rhetorical. I'm already on record saying the Cubs will not win a World Series in my lifetime.

They didn't win one during my youth. They didn't win one during my middle ages. Why should they win one before Sammy Sosa requires performance enhancers to break shuffleboard records?

All my life the Cubs have been the Cubs, and they're still the Cubs, and being the Cubs is what it is and must be projected to remain being until someone actually makes the Cubs something other than what the Cubs being the Cubs always was meant to be.

Got that?

It's too early -- or maybe too late -- to be confident about the latest owner hiring the latest wise man to end sports' longest run of futility.

It's also unfair to encumber Theo Epstein with those sorts of negative vibes, considering as Cubs' whatever of whatever he has yet to overpay his first free-agent bust.

But, hey, that's what Epstein has gotten himself into by agreeing to relocate here from Boston. Before he suffers his first wound he'll receive an extended audio tour of Cubs fans' scars.

(I know, I know, Epstein did slay the Curse of the Bambino in Boston. But lock a drunken Babe Ruth and an angry Billy goat in a room together and which do you think would emerge unscathed?)

Look, it's possible Epstein can work wonders of the sort his grandfather did by cowriting the screenplay for "Casablanca," the last line of which is, "Louis, I think this could be the start of a beautiful friendship."

Cubs fans and Theo Epstein could be embarking on a beautiful friendship, too, but only if Boy Wonder can knock out Cubbie Occurrence to avoid becoming one himself.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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