While everyone in Chicago was discussing another disappointing performance from the Chicago Bears on Tuesday night, the Cubs dropped a bombshell of a report. Theo Epstein announced his intention to resign from the team, making Jed Hoyer the new President of Baseball Operations.
It’s hard to really put into words what this announcement means for Cubs fans, as it signals the end of an era in Chicago. Theo Epstein was beloved by Cubs fans, and his work with the Cubs will never be forgotten.
There will be plenty of time to discuss what this means for the Cubs moving forward, but now is a time to reflect on what Theo was able to accomplish. I think that any true Cubs fan would utter two simple words if they ever ran into Theo on the street, and those words are. “Thank You.”
I still remember the initial press conference that Theo made after accepting the job, and it just felt like things were going to be different for the Cubs. Sure, Epstein had just come off winning a World Series in Boston, but he was now OUR guy.
Epstein spoke about having patience and about doing things the right way in Chicago. He had a plan, and he was going to stick to that plan to deliver the Cubs a World Series Championship.
Cubs fans are eternal optimists, and “Wait ‘Til Next Year” is a common phrase associated with the team and its fans. When Theo Epstein spoke, it finally seemed as there was some real hope behind those words, and he was the man that would get things turned around.
The Plan Takes Shape
The biggest task that Epstein had to take on in Chicago was changing the culture. How do we get the “Lovable Losers” into perennial contenders in the National League Central Division.
It took a few years for things to really start to turn around at the Major League level, but Theo and his group were transforming the Minor League system and was stocking it with elite-level talent.
As the Major League team continued to lose games, fans were drawn to the prospects tearing it up in the Minor Leagues, and Theo kept promising a brighter future.
The trade for Anthony Rizzo, the drafting of Kris Bryant, and the signing of Jon Lester were all huge moves made under Theo, but he always stuck to his original plan. He changed the culture of this franchise, and he did it his way.
Theo Epstein is going to be in the Hall of Fame as a baseball executive, and he might just be the greatest executive in the history of sports. He ended two of the longest droughts in professional sports history in two of the most storied franchises.
It all goes back to that initial press conference and the “hope” that he brought to the city and to Cubs fans from day one. Theo Epstein was the right man for the job, and he continued to deliver for Cubs fans.
Memories Last a Lifetime
Listing all of the biggest moments in Epstein’s tenure would take too long to write as they are numerous and momentous. These are memories that will last a lifetime for Cubs fans, and some Cubs fans waited a lifetime to experience them.
Theo Epstein always just felt like a fan of the team himself, and his celebrations and pure joy during the 2016 playoff run were exactly what other fans were feeling. His plan was nearly complete, and he deserves all of the credit in the world.
The 2016 World Series Championship does not happen without Theo Epstein, and fans will forever be grateful for that moment. That was the moment that proved the plan a success, but it doesn’t define his career in Chicago.
The Cubs are no longer the “Lovable Losers,” and this is once again a proud franchise that expects to win. “Wait Til Next Year” means something different now, as there is real hope behind that sentiment.
This was a tough day for fans of the Chicago Cubs, there is no other way around it. The sadness and the emptiness will be felt for quite some time.
Theo Epstein saved Chicago Cubs baseball, and saying “Thank You” will never be enough.