General Manager Theo Epstein of the Boston Red Sox watches batting practice before the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Sooner or later (hopefully, sooner), the Cubs and Red Sox will stop their little kabuki dance, agree on compensation for Theo Epstein, and he'll start work as the Cubs' general manager. Or President of Baseball Operations. Whatever the title he's given, there will be a lot of work to do.
Since Theo grew up and has lived nearly his entire life in the Boston area, I thought he'd need a guide to some of the things that are most important surrounding his new employer. Recently, Paul Sullivan wrote a team history, mainly a list of team highlights (and lowlights) with a few of Sully's comments added. And at Baseball Nation, Jason Brannon made comparisons between what Boston and Chicago have to offer.
Theo needs more. I could make this a long list of area Starbucks, but he probably doesn't need that, either. (Hint: there's one directly across the street from Wrigley Field.) After the jump, my guide for Theo Epstein to the most important things he'll have to know when he finally has an office at Clark & Addison.
First, Theo, you're going to have to get rid of all that red team gear you have. Red is the color of two of the Cubs' biggest rivals, the Cardinals and Reds. Maybe you can have it shipped to Tony La Russa -- I hear the Red Sox are looking for a manager. You're looking good in blue in the photo at the top of this post. That's good. Get yourself some blue Cubs gear. Don't do this, though.
Yankees? Fuhgeddabout 'em. They're a team that comes to Wrigley Field about once a decade. The American League team you'll learn to dislike is the White Sox. Easy to remember, right? It's even got "Sox" in the name. It looks like you've made just three minor trades with them in your time in Boston, and the biggest name involved in those deals was Mark Kotsay. Get to know Kenny Williams better. Given the sorts of moves he's made in the last year or so, perhaps you can grab a good player or two from his roster. Also, the Cubs used to have a pretty good rivalry with the other team from New York, but that faded after the teams got moved to separate divisions. Your best bet is to just turn your back on the East Coast. Oh, and change your watch. We're on Central time here.
Speaking of trades, you're welcome for Mark Bellhorn, who you got from Jim Hendry in 2003 and who had a great year helping your team win the following year -- when you shipped us Nomar and got two players who also helped you win. The only other trade Jim Hendry made with you after that was sending Mike Remlinger over during the 2005 season; that was a bust for both teams. Remlinger posted a 14.85 ERA in eight games in Boston and you released him after 19 days. The minor leaguer the Cubs got in that deal never panned out. Feel free to raid your former team's roster. For anyone good, that is.
When you first step on to the field at Wrigley Field, look toward left field. (Try to ignore that big sign that advertises a car.) What don't you see? That's right, a big green wall. Our wall has bricks. And ivy. Well, at least in the summer it does. Try to get us some outfielders who aren't afraid of it.
Boston is near an ocean. When you drive up Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, you may feel at home when you see a large body of water to the east. But that's not an ocean. It's Lake Michigan. For most of the first two months of the baseball season, the wind howls off this lake into Wrigley Field. Plan your team accordingly, because some players (cough Carlos Pena cough) couldn't figure out how to hit home runs into that wind until June. And dress warm. That means putting on as many layers as you think you'll need, then adding two more.
We pronounce the "R" at the end of words. Please don't let us hear you say "Cash-nah", "Demp-stah", or pronounce the name of one of the few prospects we'll have left after your compensation is paid "Cleven-gah".
Speaking of letters, it's "L" in Chicago, not "T". (You probably won't be riding the train to work, but it's useful to know anyway.)
1975? 1986? 2011? Forget 'em. Key years you'll need to remember are 1969, 1984 and 2003, the years that sear Cubs fans' souls. And unlike the Boston failures, which seemed to drive their fans to mass depression, here's the Cubs fan reactions you need to know from each of those years:
- 1969: Lifelong love for every player on that team (well, except possibly Don Young)
- 1984: Ryno! Ryno! Ryno!
- 2003: Anger
Watch out for that 2003 anger, Theo. It's still around.
Speaking of Ryno, there's your next manager. In a word often used around here: GITERDONETHEO!
The greatest player in Cubs history is Ernie Banks. There's a statue of him right outside the door where you'll enter to go to work every day. Look at it (and the statues to other great Cubs, Ron Santo and Billy Williams, down the street), and be thankful that the Cubs honor their players in this way, instead of what happened to the greatest player in Red Sox history.
Forget that "Sweet Caroline" stuff. "Go Cubs Go" is played at Wrigley Field after every Cubs home victory. We'd like to hear the latter song more often, please. And quite a bit in October. Can you help arrange that?
Finally, if you run into someone who resembles this description, run away. Far away.
Seriously, Theo, good luck here in Chicago -- whenever you actually get here. It's a great city and Cubs fans are just as passionate and knowledgeable as Red Sox fans. You made the lives of millions of Red Sox fans happy in 2004; we'd just like one World Series title in our lives, just to know how it feels. We promise we won't run you and your players and manager out of town after you bring it to us, either.
And just in case you still need it, I thought this might be useful to you.