So I turn on Chicago sports radio and the subject is the Cubs, specifically Theo Epstein. I could not believe what I was hearing from callers. “Theo has lost his mojo.” “Its time for the Cubs to move on from Theo.” “His free agent signings don’t work out.” WHAT? Are you kidding me? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
Now keep in mind that only 2-3% of a radio audience actually picks up the phone and calls the show, and an even smaller percentage actually make it on the air, so to say these meatheads represent the majority of Cubs fans would be grossly irresponsible. Plus I am sure the hosts take these calls after seeing what they want to say from the screeners for the shock value. But come on. really people?
He’s lost his mojo. Let’s see. If 4 years ago you’d have showed up in a DeLorean from the future and told me that the Cubs would go to the next 3 straight National League Championship Series, including a trip to the World Series, and oh by the way, win it, I’d have run over my own mother to sign up. Oh and the next year they are the Vegas favorites to go back to the Series. And they are probably going to be contenders for at least another 5 years. How did that happen? I’ll tell you how. Because Theo Epstein built this team basically from the ground up. He didn’t go out like the Cubs had done for years and throw big money at past their prime free agents. He built the team with smart draft picks and good trades and signings. And yes, I know Jed Hoyer is technically the GM, but I have to believe that Theo has the final say in things.
The two free agents getting the most heat were Yu Darvish and Jason Heyward. Darvish deserves the heat, but in his defense let me say he is now on the DL, and it is possible he hasn’t performed well because he’s been hurt. And of course everyone wants to point to Jake Arrieta. According to my sources, right before the Cubs signed Darvish, they made one last pitch to Arrieta, and he wasn’t interested. I don’t know why. Only he does. For whatever reason, he no longer wanted to be a Cub. So it isn’t a case of the Cubs choosing Darvish over Jake. And if the Cubs hadn’t signed Darvish, there were 3=4 other teams in line to pay him. I know he’s pretty much stunk so far, but let’s wait and see how things play out before we start calling for him to be kicked to the curb.
As far as Heyward, I didn’t hear anyone complaining in 2016 when they were winning. We all know the now legendary story of his speech to the team during the rain delay in Game 7 of the World Series in Cleveland. Has he lived up to his huge contract? No, of course not. He has been playing well as of late, though, and he still plays good defense.
And how about some other free agents? How about Jon Lester? That one work out? Ben Zobrist? You like him? Did you like David Ross in 2016? The point is, not all free agents work out. Some do, some don’t. Nobody is 100%, but I think the man who ended the Cubs lifetime plus of futility has done pretty well overall.
How does this happen? How do you go from lovable losers for 118 years to a fan base being this entitled? You do realize this is baseball. What did you think after all that time the Cubs were going to win 10 World Series in a row? I mean I know I recently wrote that I was disappointed in the start, but the Cubs are 8 games over .500 and in second place as of this writing. It’s not like you were the Marlins, winning a title then disappearing for the next decade. It blows my mind that anybody would do anything other than bow down and worship Theo Epstein like the baseball god that he is. Maybe some fans need that DeLorean to go back to the early 90’s and the Larry Himes days, and remember not signing Greg Maddux, letting Andre Dawson walk away. Other notable past free agent signings: LaTroy Hawkins, Todd Hundley, Mel Rojas, Candy Maldonado. Now look at what we have and get down on your knees and be thankful for it.
I hope this isn’t the case. I hope this was just a couple of buffoons who got on the radio and not that the fan base is turning into a bunch of entitled babies. By no means am I saying you can’t be critical. In fact, I say the “real fans” are the ones who do criticize, who do ask questions, not the pie in the sky all things Cubs are perfect fans, and I use that term for them loosely. But to say that Theo Epstein needs to go, well, you need to make sure you didn’t forget to take your medicine.