Jolly Cholly Grimm started Hy Vandenburg instead of Hank Borowy. The College of Coaches was decertified in its crib. Leo Durocher didn’t burn out his regulars and make nervous wrecks out of his subs and rookies. Leon Durham fielded the grounder. Steve Garvey made a long out. Dusty Baker lifted Mark Prior to start the eighth. Alex Gonzalez fielded the hopper cleanly and turned the double play.
That was then: The team with the most ex-Cubs lost. This could be now: The team with the best ex-Red Sox wins.
The Cubs’ ex-Red Sox: Theo Epstein (president of baseball operations), Jon Lester (the Cubs’ World Series Game One starting pitcher), and John Lackey. The Indians’ ex-Red Sox: Terry Francona (manager), Mike Napoli (first baseman/designated hitter), and Andrew Miller (extraterrestrial relief pitcher).
Factors to consider:
Theo Epstein, who’s in a position to know closely enough, says Jon Lester is quite the changed fellow from the one he shepherded to the Red Sox. And this is a pitcher whom Epstein saw conquer cancer and help the Red Sox to the second of their three World Series triumphs in ten seasons.
In the end, there was more to Jon Lester’s signing choice than the dollars in his own pocket. A man doesn’t take the second-best offer on the table because he’s only in it for the money. Lester himself made the point after the meeting that finally turned him into a six-year, $155 million Cub.
“We have a plan and we have a vision,” says president Theo Epstein, as the Chicago Cubs head to the finish line with (at this writing) only one National League team in their rearview mirror and fourteen crowding the lanes ahead of them, “and it won’t happen overnight, but given the way of things I think this is the best way to go.” Dear Cub fans, you’ve been warned.
When he was spurned as Mike Quade’s successor to manage the Chicago Cubs, the team for whom he shone as a Hall of Fame second baseman, Ryne Sandberg on the record was as gracious as he claimed Theo Epstein, the freshly installed president of baseball operations, had been in delivering the verdict.
“Theo called me 10 minutes after they issued the press release and told me that they have a list of guys and I’m not on it,” Sandberg told the Chicago Daily Herald. “He wished me good luck and said he hoped I got a chance somewhere soon. He didn’t owe me that at all. He didn’t have to do that. It was a classy move and I’m very appreciative of the phone call. In the end, I wished him and everybody there good luck.”
Once upon a time, George Scott, an ertswhile Red Sox star, moved to the Milwaukee Brewers (he was part of the deal that also made ex-Red Sox out of Jim Lonborg, Ken Brett, and Billy Conigliaro), had a conversation with the Brewers’ one-time co-owner, Edmund Fitzgerald. No, silly, not the wreck about which Gordon Lightfoot wrote a certain ancient song hit, however the Brewers weren’t doing at the time. “You know, Mr. Fitzgerald, if we’re gonna win,” the big man called Boomer said, “the players gotta play better, the coaches gotta coach better, the manager gotta manage better, and the owners gotta own better.”
This is just what the San Francisco Giants don’t need, though it probably did the Washington Nationals—who just squared off against the Giants in San Francisco—a small favour: Melky Cabrera, the MVP of this year’s All-Star Game, suspended fifty games for a positive testosterone test.
The announcement came practically on the heels of the Giants announcing contract talks with Cabrera would go on hold until season’s end. Cabrera, of course, was enjoying a very respectable walk year, with a .906 OPS and a National League-leading 156 hits, 51 of which came in May alone (tying Randy Winn’s team record for any month, and breaking Willie Mays’ team record for May, since the Giants came to San Francisco in the first place), a significant factor in the Giants at this writing sitting tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West.
How delicious is this?
One of Theo Epstein’s first acts as the Chicago Cubs’ president of baseball operations was to pink manager Mike Quade. That was after he informed Ryne Sandberg—whom he once tried to hire to manage the Boston Red Sox’s Pawtucket minor league affiliate—that he wasn’t going to be in the running for the Cubs’ job.
Meanwhile, Sandberg, now managing the Philadelphia Phillies’ Lehigh Valley (AAA) affiliate, could be a candidate to manage . . . the Cubs’ most bitter National League Central rival, against whom Sandberg became famous in the first place.
You’re not seeing things.
Call it rumours, call it speculation, call it wishful thinking, call it a cursebuster’s wet dream. Call it what you will, but Theo Epstein, the man who co-negotiated the Boston Red Sox’s rise from tragical mystery tours to stupefying world championships, and twice in a four-season span at that, is going to have his crack at co-negotiating the Chicago Cubs from a century plus of calamity and failure to a Promised Land they haven’t seen since the Roosevelt Administration. (Theodore, that is.)