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updated: 10/27/2011 9:40 AM

With Epstein, Cubs fans can risk having faith

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  • Video: Ask the Sports Writers: Rozner on Theo, Cubs

 
 

It is not in a Cubs fan's nature to trust.

Let's face it, a century of misery will do that to a fan base.

Cubs fans have been promised too much and believed too often, so a portion of the group is not yet doing cartwheels over the hiring of Theo Epstein.

And it's completely understandable.

Epstein is not the first savior to arrive on the North Side, but hopefully for the fans' sake he will be the last for a long time.

But if you're a Cubs fan, you're going to have to trust.

You must surrender some control over the emotional process if you're to believe this can actually work.

This means opening yourself up to more pain by letting go of the one thing that sustains a Cubs fan in times of trouble: cynicism.

It comes as natural to a Cubs fan as breathing, and is as necessary for existing as food and water.

But you must trust Theo Epstein that he took this job knowing all the inherent risks, and guessing that he spoke to Jim Hendry and dozens of others about all things Crane Kenney.

You must think that his exorbitant praise of Kenney on Tuesday was merely a favor to Tom Ricketts, who believes he owes so much to the team's president of business operations.

But you can believe Epstein would not be running the Cubs today without the promise from Tom Ricketts that Kenney would be kept away from the baseball side.

You've got to think that Epstein is smart enough to keep Kenney at bay, that he will parcel out crumbs when necessary but keep Kenney at a distance.

You must believe that he and Jed Hoyer will be respectful of a sitting manager but make a change as quickly as possible.

And you must believe that if he passes on Ryne Sandberg, he will do so for reasons that are logical.

Conversely, if he selects Sandberg you can be certain that it won't be for romantic notions, and only that he thinks Sandberg is the right choice for baseball reasons, not because he thinks it's what Ricketts and Cubs fans desire.

If he chooses to attack the Central Division more quickly than you expect or think reasonable, rest assured he will not mortgage a long-term vision for any short-term gains.

If he brings back any of the poisonous veterans that are already bought and paid for, assume he has a plan to get whatever value he can out of them before dispensing with the ugliness of the past.

If he trades a player you have come to adore, it's because he believes he knows something about the future.

In all of this, Theo Epstein is asking you to trust him, and none of this comes easy.

You don't want to forfeit the one thing that makes a Cubs fan's life livable, the belief that this franchise can't win in your lifetime.

That is what gets you through a baseball season and keeps your emotions from getting away from you.

It is understandable.

But if you consider that Epstein is not a miracle worker and will simply do things as best he can and do things right and that he has the right motivation in mind, it will help you survive the next couple of years.

Understand that when Rocky Wirtz took over the Blackhawks just a few years ago, he inherited an organization that was in the 1950s.

One of the first things he did was remove Bob Pulford from the building, thus sending the message that the Hawks were entering a new era.

Then, Wirtz hired John McDonough, and he began the slow process of modernization, no easy task considering the many decades by which the Hawks trailed much of the NHL from both a business and hockey standpoint.

Ricketts has not yet moved his Pulford out of the building, but he has hired his McDonough, and Epstein will go about the task now of building a modern baseball infrastructure.

It will not happen overnight, but it will happen.

He has been given the opportunity and resources that no Cubs GM before Epstein has been given, but he wouldn't have taken the job without it.

So while the World Series is not a promise, it's at least an expectation after Epstein has a chance to put in place an organization that will grant the Cubs consistent success and an opportunity to compete for the big prize.

Some Cubs fans have already given in and are dreaming of parades, though others want proof first, believing their misery will never end.

This is also understandable.

They believe being a Cubs fan means never having to surrender your cynicism.

Letting it go means opening yourself up to more pain if you're disappointed again.

But, really, when you think about it, after all these years what have you got to lose?


• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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