[Ed. – The following is a guest post from a reader and Chicago Cubs fan, Ankur Roy, who has a different take on where things stand with respect to the new man in charge, Theo Epstein. You may have heard me saying things similar to number three below. It’s not something I want to feel, but it lingers there in the back of my mind, nonetheless.]
Like all Cubs fans, I was ecstatic when the Cubs were able to pry Theo away from the cold dying hands of Larry Lucchino and John Henry. Well, maybe pry isn’t the right word. Either way, it was sheer joy and I remember texting all my fellow Cubs fans in celebration. Amongst the return celebratory texts, I received a reply from a jaded, old Cubs fan and friend. It read, simply, “I hate you.” That reply could have been him simply expressing his pent up emotion towards me, but I decided that he was really angry about my pleasure with the Theo hiring.
I pondered the text for a few days, and a thought kept gnawing at me. Maybe, I should hate me too. Maybe I was the dumbass for basking in the majesty that is Theo. So, the cynical, jilted Cubs fan that I am, I had to introspect. There’s quite a few of us out there now and the days of the “Lovable Losers” (god, I hated that) are long gone. As I delved deeper into the broken psyche of a Cubs fan, I realized that there are a number of reasons that left me uneasy about Theo.
1.) Look, I’m going to be very frank about my relationship with the Cubs. I’ll repeat, it’s jaded. I love them so much that I hate them. So, I realized really quickly that maybe I shouldn’t be elated by Theo. Wasn’t this the exact same feeling I had when Sweet Lou came out of the booth to the dugout? The man had won one World Series as a manager. One. And yet I thought he was the final piece. Wasn’t I one of the many yelling “In Dusty We Trusty”? The same Dusty that single-handedly cost the Giants the 2007 World Series? The man that was directly responsible for Dr. James Andrews’ wealth? How about when the Cubs hired the wunderkind, Andy MacPhail? Heck, we can go all the way back to Dallas Green and his “Building a New Tradition.” The point is, I’d been down this sadistic road before. It leads to nowhere. And my newfound awakening was asking if I wanted Theo to lead me there again.
2.) The jaded relationship could explain some of my apprehension, but it couldn’t explain all of it. No, there had to be something more. As I delved deeper, I realized that there was some intellectual jealousy. Look, I know some very smart people. In fact, I consider myself to be a very smart person. So, then, why should I put someone like Theo in such an exalted position? I mean, Theo’s very smart. But, there are thousands of very smart people out there. More narrowly, there are hundreds of people within MLB right now that are every bit as smart as Theo. Why should Theo get all this credit? Theo would be the first to tell you that randomness had more to do with his current life than any skill that he brought to the table. Would we even be talking about Theo had David Ortiz not hit the walk-off in Game 5? Randomness effects all walks of life, but even the most novice of sabremetricians can tell you, randomness is the silent siren of baseball. It draws in many a fan and owner without us even knowing. Could Theo be Theo because of sheer luck?
3.) Now we’re getting somewhere. This self diagnosed therapy session is really helping me out. So, I’ve begun to make sense of why my friend hates me, but there has to be more. And there is. It’s simple resentment. The more I thought about the Cubs winning the World Series, the more I realized that it will be every bit about Theo as it is about the Cubs. The man who brought world championships to two cursed (I curse at curses) franchises. The man who was able to conquer the Bambino and the Goat. You know what? I don’t want that. And I’m not afraid to say it. For as long as I have been a Cubs fan, and as long as we have suffered as Cubs fans, I don’t want our World Series to be about Theo. It’s about us, the Cubs. Look, Theo has every right to his legacy and I hope beyond hope he achieves part of it in Chicago with a Cubs World Series win, but I do not want it to overshadow how much more important it is to the Chicago Cubs and Cubs fans like us.
4.) Lest I start getting my Andy Rooney on, let me stop bitching. But, before I stop, I do have one more quibble. THEO? What has Theo done to deserve being called just Theo? He may have some accomplishments under his belt in Boston, but nothing in Chicago. So, why the honor of just being called by his first name? We are Chicago sports fans and we don’t just hand out that honor. There’s Michael, there’s Walter, and there will be Derrick. Hell, even Ryne and Andre were called Ryno and the Hawk. So, I ask, is Theo already worthy of being just Theo?
As I reread what I just wrote, it’s obvious that many of my points just sound bitter. Well, that’s because I am. I’ve been a Cubs fan since 1984 (great time to hop on the wagon – I never could have predicted the sustained pain that was to be inflicted on me). I’ve seen Garvey mash, I’ve seen Will the Thrill kill, and I’ve seen Alex Gonzalez bobble (I refuse to acknowledge that Bartman had even a minuscule role to play in 2003). So, forgive me if my initial elation has turned to apprehension. But, I’ll tell you this, Theo: you bring a World Series champion to Chicago and I will call you Daddy.
Ankur Roy is fanatical about the Chicago Cubs, but doesn’t want to be defined as such (except when he’s doing the defining). He has written previously at www.ankurroy.com, and you can find him on Twitter @ajroy.