Cubs' Ricketts has changed ... and that's good

It was in June that Tom Ricketts offered up a line which — up to that point — was his most infamous.

“I've never bought into the (idea) that I should have a baseball guy to watch my baseball guy and his baseball guys,” Ricketts said at Wrigley Field. “Then what do you get, a baseball guy to watch the baseball guy who's watching your baseball guys?”

And there have been numerous times the last two years in which Ricketts expressed complete confidence in Crane Kenney.

He was the right man to be the team president, to oversee the entire operation.

But Kenney did not meddle in baseball operations and he was the guy to get a new stadium deal done, Ricketts insisted.

Well, stop the world I want to get off.

Of all the unexpected and head-spinning moves of the last few months, nothing can be more shocking than Ricketts preparing to put a baseball guy in charge of the baseball team, and allowing him to bring in a GM and yet another baseball guy to work for the GM.

Yes, a baseball guy will be watching a baseball guy, and together they'll be watching all the rest of the baseball guys, and Kenney — at least in theory — will have nothing to do with baseball.

Titles will be the focus of much debate, but what they call Theo Epstein — President of Whatever Kenney isn't — and whether Ricketts allows Kenney to retain his title — President of Not As Much As He Used To Be — is essentially irrelevant as long as Epstein and his new GM (Jed Hoyer) don't have anything to do with Kenney.

Ricketts has executed what we've called for here for years, that he put a baseball man in charge of the operation.

Furthermore, with Ricketts' backing, Epstein has been trying hard to bring with him Jonathan Gilula, a Red Sox VP of business affairs for nine years and a man in the center of the Fenway Park renovations.

These are all signs that Ricketts no longer believes Kenney is the reason the planet remains on its axis, and that Ricketts has listened to the avalanche of criticism he's received the last two years.

It remains to be seen how much of this comes to fruition, but in the process Ricketts — without saying a word publicly — has admitted he was wrong about nearly everything he thought when he got here, knowledge any of us could have given him and information many of us tried to offer him.

It is a wonderful sign.

Most baseball owners — and frankly, most baseball executives — are unapologetic egomaniacs. For proof, just take a look at the dismantling of the Red Sox' World Series-winning hierarchy the last few weeks.

But Ricketts is saying he doesn't have all the answers and that he's made some big mistakes.

Now, he's taking big steps to correct those mistakes and it takes a big man to admit that.

It bodes quite well for the future, indicating that Ricketts — after refusing to accept reality — now realizes he can change his mind. He can try to right wrongs and he can fix what's broken with help from those who know what they're doing.

It's no guarantee that Epstein is going to be the savior or that he's going to be the one who ends the drought. He's not going to reinvent the game.

Epstein will be competent and he will expand a front office dreadfully behind the times in staffing and modernization.

But Ricketts' sudden acceptance that he needs help and that he's not a baseball genius is a terrific step in the right direction.

For this he should be roundly applauded and for this he deserves much credit.

No matter what you've thought of Ricketts the last few years, and you had every right to think the worst, it's now time to hope for the best.

Good for you, Tom Ricketts.

#376; Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts ponders a question about manager Lou Piniella, who announced that he will retire from coaching at the end of this season, during a baseball news conference at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, July 20, 2010, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)
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