By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
October 27, 2011
For the past eight years, if you envision a singular figure who personifies the Chicago Cubs, you’re probably going to think of the Bartman. That would be hapless fan Steve Bartman, who drew the outrage of Chicagoland (and death threats) when he deflected a potential catch by Cubs outfielder Moises Alou during the eighth inning of Game Six of the National League Championship Series, in which the Cubs held a three games to two lead and were up 3-0 in Game Six. Bartman was seemingly the living incarnation of “The Curse” that has plagued the team for 103 years – following the incident, the Cubs were eliminated the next day.
Now, there’s Theo.
Theo Epstein, the young GM who led the BoSox to two World Series titles and was introduced as Cubs President of Baseball Operations on Tuesday, is the team’s "latest answer to their 103-year-old championship drought," according to the Chicago Tribune. He’s also a fan and media phenomenon.
In Tuesday’s press conference, Epstein, who signed a five-year, $18.5 million deal to make all baseball-related decisions in the organization, "talked of the Cubs’ regularly reaching the playoffs and ultimately winning the World Series." But, he added, "That does not happen overnight, and it certainly does not happen because of any one person.” Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, according to MLB, said “he knew after 10-15 minutes into their first conversation that he had targeted the right person.”
As Epstein jerseys hit the racks of the Cubs merchandise shop, the accolades continued. "Ricketts landed a rock star," gushed the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley. His Chicago Tribune peer Dave van Dyck saw in the new Cubs exec hints of the brand he’s poised to become.
Epstein "proved to be part baseball philosopher, part professional pamphleteer, part professional pitchman,” van Dyck noted. When asked about being sighted at a Starbucks in Chicago, Epstein said, "Actually I’m a little bit more of a Dunkin’ (Donuts) guy, and now that I’ve learned that Dunkin’ supports the Cubs, that’s a good thing.”
And as a 2011 upgrade to Tebowisms, Chicago Sun-Times reporter Joe Cowley on Monday started a "#LegendofTheo" Twitter thread about Epstein. Some highlights:
@GambitRF Eric--Had Theo negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, France would’ve thrown in a player-to-be-named-later
@JohnJulitz John Julitz--Theo just turned water into Old Style
@GambitRF Eric--Theo was in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction
@robperry_12 Rob Perry--The most interesting man in the world calls Theo for advice.
Epstein is a little more guarded about his stardom. "I should probably have another press conference right now to resign,” he said on Tuesday. “Because my popularity is definitely going to be at an all-time high right now.”