O'Donnell: Theo Epstein, Joe Maddon, Arlington Park … going, going … going?

  • Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, right, talks with President, Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein, while pitcher Yu Darvish's pitches a simulated game before a baseball game between the Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Chicago.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, right, talks with President, Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein, while pitcher Yu Darvish's pitches a simulated game before a baseball game between the Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Chicago.

Updated 9/20/2019 6:10 PM

SHAKESPEARE'S SOOTHSAYER warned Julius Caesar about the Ides of March.

Could he have also foretold Chicago sports detectives about the leaves of autumn?


Three majors are under the spyglass: Theo Epstein, Joe Maddon and Arlington Park.

It said here on Valentine's Day that 2019 would likely be Epstein's last with the Cubs.

Not only does that speculative thought remain, it's been strengthened.

While not an outright train wreck, the fizzling whistle-stop of the Wigglies has been nothing but a series of derailments.

And if this weekend's series against the visiting Cardinals is indeed to be "The Last Farewell," the fact remains that thanks to 2016, neither Epstein nor Maddon will ever have to buy a dinner in Chicago again.

Epstein arrived in town as the touted young baseball genius and was given all of the resources by the Ricketts family to prove that lustrous advance billing.

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And he did.

But what's happened since?




Does any astute Cubs follower actually think the team's passive off-season was by Epstein's design?

Instead, does it suggest an era-ending disconnect between the Ricketts and Epstein over "allocation of resources?"

At age 45, ostensibly entering the peak years of his proven MLB wizardry, why would Epstein settle for the uncertainty of any sort of recasting on the North Side?

In this instance, time is legend.

And the meek shall not inherit the MLB earth.

Especially when senior baseball executives with championship rings such as Boston's recently jettisoned Dave Dombrowski are obviously losing their marketability in the game's metric-driven, youth-is-all new age.

Epstein's mission with the Cubs has been accomplished.

He's young enough to find a new field of gold.

Ideally for his side, one with a chunk of ownership thrown in.


As for Maddon, why has there been no contract renewal?

Could it be that once Epstein decided his own future, the Ricketts chose to leave their manager's job open as of October, 2019, so that their new baseball ops boss could hire his own guy?

The ivy soothsayer is growing louder with his considered, "Yes."

AS FOR ARLINGTON PARK, many in its dwindled fan base were treating Saturday's season finale as a probable last day ever at the legacied oval.

With credible reason.

Churchill Downs Inc. is testing the Illinois Racing Board, and in essence, the first-year administration of Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

And for once, the IRB is declining to play "lay down."

The state agency will reconvene Tuesday in an unprecedented overtime session to consider CDI/AP's request for 2020 racing dates.

Last Tuesday, Arlington's Tony Petrillo put on an awkward performance with all the clarity and fluidity of Tony Danza starring in "Downton Abbey."

The IRB -- with the strategically brilliant commissioner Tom McCauley rallying the poseurs -- expressed collective outrage at Petrillo's thoroughly unconvincing duck-and-dodge.

A critical tell on Tuesday will be who shows up to testify for CDI/AP.

If it's the C-level Petrillo redux, CDI's message to the IRB is: We could care less whether Arlington has racing or not ever again.

If it's nimble CDI/CEO Bill Carstanjen, the subtext switches to: We are acutely concerned with our short-term future at AP as it impacts our casino interest in Rivers/Des Plaines and our anticipated new casino interest in Waukegan.

Nothing assures any kind of future beyond 2021 at Arlington under the Churchill flag.

In the end, it all may come down to whether or not Gov. Pritzker truly wants to put on his big-boy pants in the matter and make it clear to Carstanjen and Co. that an issue of trust with one leg of his administration is an issue with all legs.

That's a lot of legs to consider, but as Al McGuire might have said, "There's a reason you never see the centipede near an empty picnic cooler."

MICHAEL JORDAN -- who first practiced as a Bull at the mouse resort Angel Guardian gym 35 years ago this month -- is going way downtown with a new brand of tequila.

Forbes magazine reports that Jordan and three other NBA owners, including Jeanie Buss (Lakers), Wes Edens (Bucks) and Wyc Grousbeck (Celtics), will roll out Cincoro nationwide in January.

The label's low end is slated to retail for $130 per-bottle, spiraling on up to $1,600.

That's rare fare.

Jordan supposedly taste-tested "at least 1,000" tequilas before helping to concoct his new glide.

That number may not match the alleged ledger on Wilt Chamberlain's Serta Sleeper, but it's a start.

STREET-BEATIN': Skeptics who insist Monday night will be the evening when Washington's defense "finds itself" vs. the Bears are being so cynical (WGN-TV, ESPN, AM-780, 7 p.m.). After all, Matt Nagy and his offensive miscues are due to score a second touchdown sometime between kickoff and the end of the month. … About Monday night: WLS-Channel 7 boss John Idler confirmed that Disney/ABC elected to air a new edition of the lucrative "Dancing with the Stars" franchise in Chicago, clearing the way for Bob Vorwald and staff at Channel 9 to snatch the Bears-'Skins game. (As a one-off, the Bears telecast will draw more viewers, even with the WGN-ESPN split.). … Could be auld acquaintance again on the pregame sidelines at FedExField between radio ace Tom Thayer and Washington president Bruce Allen. Young Allen -- then age 28 -- was general manager when father George Allen swooped in and signed Thayer for his Chicago Blitz out from under the Bears all those snaps ago. … The White Sox announced that single-day tickets for SoxFest 2020 will go on sale Monday. Like the 2019 Sox, maybe only the first half of the 'Fest will be competitive. … Kevin Cross and his staggered NBCSCH are advertising for a Blackhawks Insider. Two weeks into training camp? Perhaps Ozzie Guillen can serve on an interim basis. … Franklin Park's very own Ned Colletti has surfaced as a scout for the San Jose Sharks. The former Dodgers GM was actually a beat writer covering the Philadelphia Flyers before segueing to MLB as director of media relations and publications for the Cubs under Dallas Green. … And the real Tom Brady had to leave 'em gasping in New York during Thursday night's flagging Tennessee-Jacksonville game on The NFL Network when he tweeted: "I'm turning off this game, I can't watch these ridiculous penalties anymore."

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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