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Today, the Chicago Cubs will introduce their long-awaited savior President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein. It’s been a long, frustrating road, so it’s easy to forget that, just a month and a half ago, no one would have believed this would be happening today.

The press conference starts at 11 a.m. CST, and I’ll be updating this post with salient points, bullet-style, as the press conference goes on. Enjoy the moment, friends. We’ve earned it.

  • Is it embarrassing to say that I’m physically buzzing with excitement? It’s not like there will be any revelations or surprises. But … I can’t help it – I’m like a kid on Christmas morning before his parents have cleared him to go downstairs and start ripping into presents.
  • Tom Ricketts is on first, discussing the priorities of the organization. The first, and most important goal from the beginning has been to win a World Series. “Today, we take a major step toward achieving that goal.”
  • “I cannot imagine a better person for this job than Theo Epstein.” Epstein is in charge of all things baseball, and will report directly to Ricketts, as expected.
  • Ricketts compliments Randy Bush and – eh hem – Crane Kenney. “Crane is an excellent baseball executive who worked very hard to put this deal together.”
  • Ricketts says he’s thrilled as a fan and as the team Chairman by the results of the search. Interesting that he’s discussing the “search,” which was always framed as the “GM search” in the past. No mention of Hoyer, though. Not that it’s a concern.
  • Theo speaks: “It truly feels great to be a Cub today.”
  • Theo starts by thanking Ricketts and Kenney – “I look forward to working with you on the business side.”
  • “I’d also like to thank Jim Hendry, whom I really admire … especially for staying on this Summer, and signing a really strong draft class … I hope I can demonstrate that same class and loyalty.”
  • Epstein thanks the Cubs fans, and says he hopes he can reward us with a successful tenure. He then thanks the Red Sox, and wishes them the best.
  • Epstein is going into the tradition and history of baseball, but it’s “best of all when you win.”
  • “I believe we can preserve the things that make the Cubs special … and build a solid foundation that delivers sustained success.” Boing.
  • Epstein is going into the plans for player development and scouting – it’s a clear focus, as it should be (and as was expected).
  • Epstein wants a progressive front office, and he plans to bring in “the best and brightest,” but he says he isn’t going to cast everyone currently in the front office aside. He’s really hammering the “foundation for sustained success” theme. Fine by me.
  • Paraphrase: We’ll be searching for that next, great competitive advantage through research and development. Boing.
  • I get the sense that Epstein clearly recognizes a short-term turnaround is not going to be possible, and he’s setting us up for that expectation: it will be a process.
  • Epstein drops “the Cubs way” bomb, which is a cornerstone of Ricketts’ vision. Epstein wants kids who join the organization to buy into what it is to be a Cub.
  • Bruce Levine gets the first question, and he asks about Mike Quade’s future. “Mike seems like a great guy and he’s developed a great reputation … and I look forward to sitting down with him in person … we’ll get together as a group and decide from there.”
  • Phil Rogers asks about the 2011 Cubs draft and the international spend, and Epstein notes that “we could tell what [the Cubs] were doing … they’re going for it.”
  • Jim Rose asks about Epstein’s time in Boston, and Epstein has nothing but positive things to say. But, as his Op Ed this morning said, he feels like it was time to move on. “This is certainly the ultimate challenge.”
  • Jon Greenberg asks the rebuilding question. Epstein says the plan is to build a foundation, but working on the Major League club is a parallel process. Every season is an opportunity to win. “It’s sacred.” The fans deserve a chance to win every year. Interesting.
  • Paraphrase: There are no shortcuts in baseball. The long haul is what it’s about.
  • Dave Kaplan asks about culture change. Epstein says there will be change in the front office, which includes the vision for the organization, and getting everyone to “buy in.” Epstein says “working hard” multiple times. Hmm.
  • The culture change is in the clubhouse, too. He talks about preparation, fitness, and that winning is the most important thing.
  • Rick Morrissey asks the first really lame question: “What makes you think you can be the person to do what no one has done in 100 years?” Epstein says it won’t be just him, and that, when faced with a similar challenge in Boston, he rallied the troops, and got everyone to buy into the organizational vision, and forget about external pressure. Good non-answer.
  • Pedro Gomez (“Hey, Pedro”) asks about the difference between the Red Sox roster when he took over and the Cubs’ roster now. Epstein says there’s a gap between where we are and where we want to be (glad he sees it, and is honest). He says it’ll take some hard work and creativity to get the team to contend in 2012, “but it can be done.” He justifies the position with some examples of teams who’ve been competitive on a quick turnaround, but, to my ear, it’s clear that he doesn’t expect a quick turnaround here.
  • Epstein is asked if he’ll be working on the compensation issue with the Red Sox. He avoids the question – “it will be addressed.” There’s a good relationship between the teams.
  • Barry Rozner asks Ricketts the “baseball guy to watch my baseball guy” question. Ricketts says he knew there was always going to have to be a guy in charge – “last year it was Jim, today it’s Theo.” Basically, he avoided the question. Fine by me.
  • Ricketts discusses the process for the search. It didn’t start with a list, it started with a review of the other 29 teams and other 29 systems. Who’s winning, who’s producing ML-ready players? That lead to a handful of teams to focus on. At the same time, Ricketts was talking to some big wigs in baseball about who he should be talking to, and all of that ran up until the end of the season. By then, it was clear that Theo was the right man for the job.
  • Theo is asked about the Cubs’ crappy defense. He says pitching and defense are important. Fundamental play is important. “The Cubs Way” includes expectations about defense. Shrug. Very corporate answer, but I’m not sure what else you can say at your introductory press conference.
  • Theo talks about his initial meetings with Tom, which were “five or six hours” of talking about baseball. Theo felt like they clicked. Theo got a commitment from Tom that he could grow the baseball operations department (finally), and Theo says there will be plenty of resources available to win.
  • Theo is asked about his Boston Globe Op Ed (did reporters just come up with their questions this morning?), and about his theory that after a period of time in one organization, it’s time to move on. “There’s plenty we can accomplish here in the next 10 years.”
  • Epstein is most proud of building a scouting and development “machine” in Boston, and then obviously winning the World Series and seeing the fans’ excitement. He sees that parallel here, and knows that winning a World Series would be deeply impactful.
  • Ricketts indicates that Epstein was clearly his top option – paraphrase: before I moved on to the more realistic part of my list, I knew I had to check with Theo first.
  • Sahadev Sharma asks Theo how he’ll implement his statistical vision on both the player side and the front office side. Epstein notes the importance of both numbers and scouting, and kind of rambles from there. Nothing concrete.
  • Epstein has a policy of not commenting on player payroll because he believes being secretive about that creates an advantage (or at least, doesn’t put them at a disadvantage). There will be plenty of resources, he says, but those resources could go to the draft, amateur scouting, etc., not just player payroll. Good to know.
  • Epstein says he’s a purist when it comes to the game, so he loves coming to Wrigley Field after being at Fenway Park. The renovations at Fenway generated revenues, improved the fan experience, and allowed us to use those revenues to improve the organization. It also had a tremendous impact on the city (wow, talk about “on message;” well done, Mr. Epstein).
  • Epstein discusses the “prime age” of baseball players, and although the roster will be diverse, the goal is to focus on having as many “prime” players – hopefully homegrown – as possible. Vets play an important role, though. But you pay for future performance, not past performance (not a shot against Jim Hendry, explicitly, but it sure could be used as one).
  • Epstein confirms, unasked, that it was indeed him at that Starbucks. He did it with a joke, and it played very well. Nicely done, Mr. Epstein.
  • Epstein’s only concerns in taking the job were related to his happiness with the Red Sox in Boston. But, he still felt like it was time for a change. And the more he learned about the Cubs and the Ricketts, the more interested he was.
  • He talks about coming home from school and watching the Cubs on WGN in the afternoon – that’s how I became a Cubs fan! *swoon*
  • Wow – Epstein talks about “limbo” between jobs in Boston and Chicago, and how he felt like the character in ‘Office Space,’ (“That’s my stapler”) working in the basement each day he went to the office in Boston. That was a joke made here by a reader last week. That’s funny.
  • “I came here to help the Cubs win. I didn’t come here for a title.” He means the “President” title, not, like, a World Series title.
  • Press conference over.
  • Unsurprisingly, Epstein was just as billed: smart, funny, smooth, and with great things to say. His demeanor was very businesslike – very much like Tom Ricketts, I must say – and not overly affected. A small part of me wishes he had a little more enthusiasm, but I think that’s just not his bag at functions like this.
  • The fact that no one even asked about the GM position tells me that reporters were told in advance that the subject would not be discussed. Other subjects not discussed: Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano (he would have dodged them anyway), his Carmine statistical tool (that he built in Boston), and the state/quality of the Cubs’ farm system at present.
  • The reporters in attendance pounced on Theo as soon as the presser ended, so I’m sure there will be many more quotes and issues discussed in upcoming news articles. The one drawback of being a non-journalist, Mom ‘n Pop blogger? I’m not there to ask any of these questions or participate in the non-presser part going on right now. 363 days out of the year, I wouldn’t want to be a beat writer. Days like today (and the day of the Hendry presser) are about the only time I pause. Speaking of which, I didn’t hear any questions from Paul Sullivan, Gordon Wittenmyer or Carrie Muskat. What’s up with that?
  • TWC

    Damn… I was hoping for a Mystery Science Theater 3K-style presentation, with Ace’s silhouetted head at the bottom of the live stream of the press conference.  Oh well.

    • Fishin Phil

      Now THAT would be awesome!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah, that would have been great. Except not as funny as MST3000 – my silhouette would have spent the whole time going, “Yup. That’s right. I agree. You’re so handsome.”

  • hansman1982

    Is it just me or does Tom look as giddy as a school girl?

    No, Brett, there is nothing wrong with buzzing with excitement right now…I dont even think I have ever heard Epstein speak before.

    • Chi-ville

      I’m giddy as a school girl, too. A direction. A leader. A “way.” Those lead to A Championship.

  • Jason

    Did you hear him?

    “When we win a World Series…”

    I love him – that’s the attitude that we need at the corner of Clark and Addison

  • hansman1982

    I got that same sense from reading your bullets that Theo is preparing everyone for a year or two of crapitude to see what some of our youngsters might have

  • ron

    “the Cubs way” I like it. a new attitude

  • Dave

    We will have to talk to Mike about a few things that happened over the last year. :)

  • hansman1982

    god what a douche – you get the first question and you ask about Quade? Did you honestly think that Theo was going to drop an A-Bomb about someone else during HIS press conference?

  • Curt

    My wife passed away last yr , this is the 1st time since tht I’ve been genuinely excited , Ty rickets, theo, but I’ve def found this site go b very entertaining, informative and has gtten me excited to hvd things to look forward to Ty brett

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Very sorry to hear about that, Curt, but I’m glad things are turning around for you. Sports, and people to share them with, can be pretty great that way.

    • Bails17

      Welcome Curt!  This is a great site..you will LOVE IT!!

  • ron

    damn espn cut away after questions

  • ISU Birds

    Someone ask him if he knows the words to Go Cubs Go yet.

  • Ol’CharlieBrown

    I literally can’t believe I’m watching this right now. It always seemed too good to be true. Great day for the Cubs!

  • Jim

    Wilkens gets it!

  • Spencer

    Like the answer to the question about defensive fundamentals

  • ron

    The reporters need to think what would Brett Taylor ask!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      WWBTA. A theme for life.

      • ron

        Your new t-shirt

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          That reminds me, I do need to put together a “Bleacher Nation” official shirt that I can wear to the Cubs Convention in case anyone wants to be easily able to spot me.

          • ron

            Because you are big time now you could even do a “Bleacher Nation” polo (the close 2nd at the awards a couple months ago). I have an embroidery person…

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Hmm…

  • Dan0mite

    I’m surprised no one has asked about the Starbucks yet.

  • ISU Birds

    Brett Taylor, Bleacher Nation. Theo I encourage you to read my blog as it contains the best readers and the most realistic views of the Cubs organization. Also I love you……….Like I seriously love you.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Haha – that’s pretty much how it would go … if I was able to say the first part, at all.

      • EQ76

        Just don’t call him Theo Huckstable and you should be fine.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Wait, why? That’s not his last name…?

  • Mike Foster

    I’m at work and can’t watch. if you know of a site that will be replaying could you please link it? Thanks.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m sure there will be a video on CSNchicago.com, too.

  • Jason

    So the guy at Starbucks was him – I figured it was some random Lincoln Park guy

    Internet Random – I stand corrected…

    • Internet Random

      Big of you to say so.

      For the record, I was not 100% sold that it was him.  I just thought it more likely that it was him than that it was not.

      • hardtop

        me too, i was sure it wasn’t him. i don’t know how you arrived at the conclusion it was more likely than not a real Theo sighting, but you have a most trustworthy gut, IR.
        does this mean i have to start respecting the starbucks wi-fi weenies? or acknowledge them as valuable members of our society? nah, never mind, that’s just silly.
        I’m just glad the report of Theo’s purchase didn’t involve him drinking some blended espresso concoction… i would have to question his ability to lead if he was a macchiato man-girl.

        • Internet Random

          does this mean i have to start respecting the starbucks wi-fi weenies? or acknowledge them as valuable members of our society?

          A lot of otherwise decent people seem to like overpaying for coffee that tastes like burnt aspirin.

          I’m just glad the report of Theo’s purchase didn’t involve him drinking some blended espresso concoction . . . .

          Word. Though, it doesn’t look good — trying to drink the garbage that Starbucks calls “coffee” generally requires adding a whole lot of crap to it to mask the taste. But then, maybe Theo actually likes burnt aspirin.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Fact: all coffee is gross.

            • Internet Random

              I can’t decide how to respond:

              (a)  Is not, you’re gross.

              (b)  Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is cheap and delicious.

              (c)  This makes me sad for you.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                (a) So’s your face.

                (b) I’ve heard that, but, like, it still tastes like coffee. “This toilet bowl is one of the cleaner, least fowl smelling bowls I’ve been around.”

                (c) Add it to the list.

                • Internet Random

                  (a)  Nuh-uh, yours.

                  (b)  If you’re a caffeine person, force yourself to get all of your caffeine from black coffee for one week.  By the third day at the latest, you’ll start liking coffee.  By the end of the week, you’ll be an aficionado.

                  Nobody likes (not really) the taste of beer until they catch a buzz or two from it.  You learn to associate the reward with the source, and next thing you know, you actually enjoy it (the taste, that is).

                  (c)  Okay, but for now it’s a one-item list.

            • Kansas Cubs Fan

              Wow you are the first person besides me that has said they think all coffee is gross, at least the first person that I know of.

              • mac

                I’ll third the coffee sentiment. I hate it.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  I should say that I do like Starbucks’ desserts quite a bit, though.

                  • EQ76

                    They make a damn good blueberry muffin!

              • Jason

                Black coffee from Starbucks = yummy

                Double moccha soy latte machiato frapucinos = sucky – I refer to them as milkshakes

                Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t do it for me – it’ll do if it’s all that’s around though.

                • Internet Random

                  Black coffee from Starbucks = yummy

                  If you like that, then you’ll love this recipe:

                  Yield: One Serving

                  Ingredients:

                  • One 100-count bottle of Bayer aspirin

                  Directions:

                  1. Empty the contents of the aspirin bottle into a saucepan. Cook over high heat until aspirin is thoroughly black.
                  2. Scrape aspirin into a coffee mug, fill the rest of the way with water, stir and enjoy.
                  NB:  Don’t do this, it could kill you.
            • hardtop

              im shocked you’re allowed to voice your opinions on a semi public forum after making that irrational statement. more importantly, im shocked that i sometimes, often actually, value your opinion ;)
              but, as a fellow cubs fan, i still have hope for you, my son.

              fact: i just finished watching theos opening statement thingy on espn.
              fact: i wept like a baby. serioulsy, its up there with my most happy, cry-worthy, times. last time i cried like this is when my daughter spoke her second word: “cubs” (no shit, its the truth. “mama” was her first word, thank god: my wife would have killed me)

            • Diesel

              I agree.  Coffee sucks

              • Internet Random

                No, boogers suck.  That’s why there’s not a booger vendor on every other corner in the civilized world.

                Coffee is good.  That’s why they sell it everywhere.

      • Jason

        The more you think about it, the more sense it makes. First, he said that he wasn’t Theo Epstein but he said that he hears that a lot. Then at the end of the conversation, he asked, “Who’s Theo Epstein?”

        If he “hears that a lot” don’t you think that he would have known who Theo Epstein was? At the very least, he would have Wiki’d him at some point.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I mean, I don’t want to crap on the IR love-fest (because I, too, feel great affection for IR), but he wasn’t the only one who arrived at that very conclusion…

          • Jason

            I know – IR is just the only one I can remember because we had a very specific discussion about it. I told him that I thought it was bs – he gave me a few logical reasons as to why it wasn’t bs, and then I proceeded to tell him that I still thought it was bs.

            Can’t remember what you thought, Brett?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Same as IR, but with a more sophisticated explanation (ooh, is IR going to stand for that?).

              • Jason

                If it makes you feel better, I would have apologized to you too had I engaged in a discussion with you about it.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Ha, nah, nah. I’m just screwing around (well, I mean, it’s true what I say, but I don’t actually care about the recognition (or do I?)).

              • Internet Random

                Quit crapping on my love fest, Bert.

        • hardtop

          oh, worry not, i thought about it a lot. for about a week in fact, give or take a few hours. but in the end, it seemed just too unlikely. if i was at the presser i would have asked him where in the hell he got a honda suv 1000 miles from home ;)

  • Chop

    Mike Foster, I am willing to bet there will be a replay available on the Cubs MLB website.

    Also, nice call Dan0mite.

  • TJ
    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Nice.

  • Captainplanet54

    Nice office space reference…Is he going to burn down Fenway now?

    • hansman1982

      one could only hope

  • Chop

    I think they are doing a good job of that on their own, captainplanet.

  • Sam

    And now the Managerial/Prince Fielder/Albert Pujols media circus begins…

  • jim

    damn…i actually shed some tears listening to theo and tom and their vision for the cubs…i remember carrying my little transistor radio while riding my bike, back home in illinois, listening to the cubs day after day…i have waited a long time to see this team finally move in a positive direction as an organization…although there was nothing like listening to ernie, ron, don, glenn, billy….go cubs…hope i live long enough just to see them compete year after year with the hopes of making it to the series

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      We’re on the right track, eh, Jim? It’s a good time to be a Cubs fan.

  • Chop

    Carmine = Carmine Falcone? I thought they already took care of him.

  • John Lennon

    I think that the picture up top is quite groovy. Peace & Love Theo

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Hopefully the reference isn’t lost.

      • Katie

        Love the Beatles pic at the top. Theomania!

  • Dave H

    All I’m thinking now is that I’m going to witness something truly special. I am going to see a championship title with my girl and father. A great day to be a Cub fan. Wear those “C” hats with pride today and many more days to come. This was as memorable as watching that first game on WGN, seeing Wrigley for the first time, a playoff clinch, man I can’t wait. To quote a character to sum this up. “Do or do not – There is no try.”

    PS Love the “Office Space” reference. He probably gave the Jennifer Aniston speech as he walked out of Fenway. I don’t need this f__king job!

  • Jason

    How many pieces of bling do you think he’ll wear at his first day on the job?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If he’s not wearing a necklace bearing a hubcap, I hope he’s fired on the spot.

      Oh. You mean rings…

    • Katie

      Flair, not bling!
      (I know that movie almost word for word. Yes, I’m a dork)

  • montellew

    All I can say is….Mancrush in full bloom! I loved when he said that if you didnt buy into the new winning culture, you wouldnt be along for the ride. Dedication and drive! Damn, I love this man!

    • hansman1982

      That was my favorite quote out of all of this as well – basically we aint takin no bs from anyone.

  • Jason

    I’m getting zero work done at this point – I should just take the afternoon off…

    Just read the bottom part of your notes. Small coment on this statement:

    “A small part of me wishes he had a little more enthusiasm, but I think that’s just not his bag at functions like this”.

    Actually, I don’t recall him getting excited over anything (related to his job of course) – just doesn’t seem to be a personality trait of his in general. I received a good vibe from him during the presser – I got the impression that he was excited to be here and ready to get to work.

    Or, maybe he was just realized that he had to figure out a way to rid this team of Alfonso Soriano

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