O'Donnell: Theo rambles, Bears amble and surrealism rules the week in Chicago sports

  • Theo Epstein will be hiring a news Cubs manager in the near future.

    Theo Epstein will be hiring a news Cubs manager in the near future. Associated Press

  • Former Yankees manager Joe Girardi could be a candidate for the same job with the Cubs, with whom he previously played.

    Former Yankees manager Joe Girardi could be a candidate for the same job with the Cubs, with whom he previously played. Associated Press

  • David Ross, the former Cubs catcher, has expressed interest in becoming the new Cubs manager.

    David Ross, the former Cubs catcher, has expressed interest in becoming the new Cubs manager. John Starks | Staff Photographer

Updated 10/4/2019 5:12 PM

SOME ARE NOW CLEVERLY calling Theo Epstein's Monday news conference "an 81-minute filibuster."

They're not wrong.


The acrobatic linguist could have held podium for 81 days and none in the assembled puppetry would have uncovered anything Epstein didn't want to reveal.

As a deflector, Theo was as deftly butterflying as a healthy Corey Crawford up against pee-wees trying to score with 16-inch softballs.

Like the true genius of music, any substantive messages Epstein might have been delivering had to be found between the lines.

He's clearly working a double agenda:

One involves the future of the Cubs.

A second involves the future of Theo Epstein.

The hiring of Joe Girardi could prove to be a masterstroke toward advancing both interests.

For the Cubs, it would both placate a confused fan base and provide the perception of a hard-edged manager counterbalancing the relentlessly trusting good-guyism of Joe Maddon.

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For Epstein, it would leave David Ross available to be his lead bench bot wherever Theo's next port o' ascent is.

As for Girardi -- bless 'im -- he's working a campaign for the job that might make him eligible to fill in for the recuperating Bernie Sanders at the next Democratic presidential spelling bee.

Girardi has been nothing if not intense in his quest.

Questions remain, including:

When do the "Go With Joe!" billboards go up on the Kennedy?

Has Girardi been seen passing out balloons and kissing the Dalmatians at the Waveland Avenue firehouse yet?

LONG, LONG AGO, a major American cosmetics manufacturer held a national contest called "Weekend in London."

Top prize was for two lucky teen queens to cross the Atlantic and hang with the glad-all-over Dave Clark Five somewhere between Mary Quant's Mod boutique and Charing Cross.


In impact, that derby probably did more for U.S.-U.K. trade than anything the synthetically hyped Bears-Raiders Sunday match will (Fox, noon, Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth).

As an international happening, the game is a nonevent, Mike Pompeo taking tea with Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, while Frothwhip the Royal Cat purrs in the background.

If there is any saving grace for Bears fans it's that the organization thankfully did not surrender a home game.

The specter of the contest also quickly relegated the mystery of Roquan Smith to sidebar status.

The Bears will win.

Chase Daniel will execute and manage with laudatory efficiency.

By 3:45 p.m., Chicago TV viewers will quickly re-immerse themselves in either the Broncos-Chargers (CBS, Jim Nantz, Tony Romo) or more likely, Green Bay at Dallas (Fox, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman).

And in the year 2069, London will still be waiting without a hint of Fleet Street anxiety for an NFL team to call its veddy own.

STREET-BEATIN': Except for the lingering fan bases of Zoilo Versalles and Al Franken, Chicago should prove to be an extraordinarily dead TV market for the 2019 MLB postseason. Without the rickety Cubs, as crystal pistoleer Mike Miller so sardonically put it, "The whole thing seems to lack legitimacy." … The Dodgers opened their NLDS scoring vs. Washington in Game 1 on TBS with an electrifying first inning that went walk-strike out-strike out-walk-walk-walk-ground out. (Even Magic Johnson seemed to be playing "Angry Ducks 4" on his iPhone.) … The spirit-wrenching depletion of staff at Sports Illustrated prompted a brilliant essay by Dave Zirin in "The Nation" titled "The 'Sports Illustrated' layoffs are what happen when we're ruled by vampires." (A 12-year-old paperboy once held on to a breathtaking SI cover piece by Frank Deford on Indiana high school basketball phenom Rick Mount long past when he went to work for Deford at The National Sports Daily 23 years later.) … Denise and Tony Garoppolo will lead the cheers when son Jimmy Garoppolo and undefeated San Francisco get a grand showcase against Cleveland on "Monday Night Football." (ESPN, 7 p.m.). The Rolling Meadows High grad (Class of '10) isn't getting sacked much anymore and has a QB rating of 96.3. (Lay the 3½.) … If his Nikes hold (Air Jordan XXXIVs for now), Zion Williamson will make the first appearance of his NBA career at the United Center Wednesday when New Orleans visits (ESPN, NBCSCH, 7 p.m.). Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry is keenly aware that he is suddenly swimming in the most shark-infested waters of his enduring NBA career. … NBCSCH continues its strange operational drift toward netherland. Now the default cable outfit is advertising for "a Cubs Insider" at a most curious time in coverage cycle. (George Castle, Bruce Wolf or Cheryl Scott would be intriguing.) … Roughest part of watching extremely likable Chris Collins wither on the twines at Northwestern is that the capable men's coach had an open-net shot at the Indiana University job before signing his devil's deal on The Enchanted Lakefront. Trying to wait out Mike Krzyzewski at Duke could prove to have been a career breaker. … Churchill Downs Inc. -- your friendly neighborhood gaming carnivore -- has moved deeper into a $200 million initiative to convert creaky Turfway Park in northern Kentucky into a flashy racino. Village officials in Arlington Heights would be well -advised to step up their pro-activity toward being positioned to have meaningful input into the future usage of the land currently housing Arlington Park. … Stan Van Gundy is moving from ESPN to a showcase gig with Turner. With a .577 winning percentage as an NBA head coach, Van Gundy will be answering all calls from the 312 and elsewhere, but time is not on his side. … Paging Noam Chomsky: Why are "rebuild" and "Reinsdorf" listed so close together in "The Unabridged Dictionary of Chicago Sports?" … Speaking of Jerry Reinsdorf, his tungsten bromance with devolving Sox pitching coach Don Cooper is finally catching more informed media scrutiny. If asked to choose between "Coopy" and a time tunnel back to the beloved Ebbets Field of his Brooklyn youth, Reinsdorf might have to give the classic Jack Benny reply: "I'm thinking." … And savvy David J. Halberstam of Sports Broadcast Journal -- on Fox's decision to push much of its MLB postseason coverage to FS1 this weekend -- sighed: "Yes, baseball is getting only a little more play than the WNBA playoffs."

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

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