Jim O'Donnell: Theo Epstein's short list of new resurrection targets has to include the White Sox

THREE YEARS AGO — November 17, 2020 — Theo Epstein “gratefully” bid adieu to the Cubs.

He left a measured, astonishing magnum opus titled “2016.”

Since then, he's served as a consultant to Major League Baseball. For a future Hall of Famer who will celebrate his 50th birthday in December, that status is “honored hang time.”

The baseball side of the Cubs has been left in the hands of Jed Hoyer — “Theo Lite.”

Hoyer is to diamond success on the North Side what Ronnie Wood is to more touring riches for the Rolling Stones. He's culture-friendly and knows the notes and rhythms with credibility by association.

But in the three seasons of Hoyer's soloing, the Cubs have finished 71-91, 74-88 and 83-79.

THE TIMID FAN FOLKS masquerading as media down Gallagher Way don't like to emphasize that Hoyer bears more accountability than David Ross for the 2023 Cubs not having all of the parts to sustain their July-August momentum into a playoffs berth.

Now are the Cubs about to be overshadowed by the third act of Theo Epstein, baseball genius?

Informed speculation continues that Epstein will be resurfacing as a participating partner and CEO of an MLB outfit before the ides of March.


The Nationals — Washington baseball is desperately in need of a new hero ... The Lerner family has been trying to sell the team since 2022. ... The Nats have not come close to a .500 season since Chicago-area native Mike Rizzo and Dave Martinez guided their miracle World Series crown in 2019.

The Padres — Chairman and lead investor Peter Seidler died Tuesday at age 63. ... Epstein began his comet climb up the baseball ops ladder in San Diego. ... For a piece of the action, Epstein might be willing to adjust player payroll glee ($249 million in 2023) inside a franchise that otherwise thrives (3.2 million paying fans this past season).

The White Sox — Epstein as the face of a new era on West 35th St. would be as welcome as Jetsons people movers easing rush hours on Chicago's expressways. ... With the elevation of no-name Chris Getz and the retention of Pedro Grifol, is Jerry Reinsdorf merely keeping key positions “clean” for revamped ownership? ... Epstein completing his World Series trilogy at Guaranteed Whatever would forever allow Reinsdorf heirs to claim, “Our father left the White Sox in the best hands possible.”

THE IDEA OF EPSTEIN not having a third act at the most intensely competitive stratum of MLB is outrageous. He belongs up on the highest tightrope.

His time for reboot is over.

Already, he never again has to buy a latte anywhere near Wrigley Field or Fenway Park.

Now would the spirit of Ernie Banks paraphrase and suggest, “Hey Theo, let's resurrect No. 3 today?”


Memo to CBS / Fox flyovers: Bears fans wanted to watch the Lions last weekend, But in Chicago, GB-PIT aired, MIN-NO aired and DET-LAC was lost in the late-afternoon window. Thick as a brick, but probably not as thick as what awaits Matt Eberflus and his cast-adrifts at Ford Field Sunday (Fox, noon). ...

ESPN will waste no time in showcasing the new age of highwayman Craig Counsell. The Cubs' season opener at Texas will air Thursday, March 28. (Maybe Counsell and Bruce Bochy can skip the lineup cards and instead exchange direct-deposit statements.) ...

The best thing about Counsell's introductory patty-caker on Monday: The love-in wrapped in 42 minutes, leaving enough time to catch The Showcase Showdown on “The Price is Right.” (Dian Parkinson is still missed.) ...

Jason Benetti sounded as refreshed as a postman counting Christmas tips while calling Marquette's impressive 71-64 win at Illinois Tuesday on FS1. The lump of coal in the Sox broadcast bag remains languid Len Kasper. His autobiography should be titled “Born to Drone.” ...

Best theater at Northwestern isn't David Braun's miracle work with the football team. It's said to be the backstage beta clashing between Pat Ryan Jr. and athletic director Derrick Gragg. Braun's Wildcats can become bowl-eligible with a win over Purdue Saturday (BTN, 11 a.m.) ...

Hustling young Jon Zaghloul has put together six affiliates to air his weekly “Sports Talk Chicago.” The University of Chicago alum (‘22) is basing the show on Aurora's ACTV and WKAN-AM (1320) in Kankakee. His future is one to monitor. ...

And Charlie Tefford, on the “magic” of the NBA's inaugural in-season tournament: “I'd rather watch outtakes of Chris Paul / State Farm commercials.”

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports and Media column appears each week on Sunday and Thursday. Reach him at All communications may be considered for publication.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.