In conjunction with the official team announcement and press conference that Theo Epstein was stepping down as President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs, to be succeeded by Jed Hoyer, Epstein wrote a letter to his colleagues with the Cubs to more fully explain his decision. You can read in full here at The Tribune or here at The Athletic, among other places.
Some of the sections that stood out to me most, as they inform the decision and the transition, and touch at the heart:
I think most of you know that I have always planned to be with the Cubs for a maximum of ten years. Bill Walsh’s theory that in the sports industry a change in leadership after about a decade can be beneficial for both the organization and the individual has always resonated with me. The idea is that the executive finds the renewed vigor and passion and creativity that comes with a new challenge; the organization receives the jolt of a fresh perspective and the chance for immediate growth that comes with change. Given this timeline, Tom and I had been communicating for the last couple years about how to execute a transition that leaves the Cubs in the best possible position going forward. While we had been operating with the basic assumption that the formal transition would take place next October, this summer it became apparent to me that for a number of reasons we should consider moving the timeframe up a year.
First, the organization faces many decisions this winter that carry long-term consequences; those types of decisions are best made by someone who will be here for a long period rather than for just one more year. Second, as we know all too well, COVID-19 has brought serious threats and impacts to our business and our people — and to every sports franchise in the country — and we must face the immediate challenge of how to allocate our temporarily reduced resources in a way that allows us to move forward and to succeed. In a way my presence in 2021 would actually make that challenge more difficult. Last, Jed Hoyer is more than ready to lead the Cubs into their next chapter. Well respected in all corners of the organization and the industry — and with experience as a Baseball Operations “number one” already on his resume — Jed offers continuity that will preserve our areas of strength. At the same time, Jed is realistic about the areas where we need to improve and is unafraid to make necessary changes, as evidenced by his role in 2019’s restructuring and re-modernization of our amateur scouting and player development departments. Jed has been a loyal and impactful right-hand man, but he is his own man, with his own eyes, his own opinions, and his own leadership style. He does not need me watching over his shoulder for another year as we finish off a transition that in many ways has been years in the making ….
The moments are so precious and such obvious lifetime memories that you almost don’t want to access them too often; yet, they are impossible not to watch — and make your heart skip a few beats — every time they pop on a screen. Our wildcard coming out party in Pittsburgh. Homer after homer to finally slay the Cardinals. A jaw-dropping comeback in San Francisco. A slam and a near perfect game to fell the Dodgers. The atmosphere around Wrigley before Game Three of the World Series — the first played here since 1945 — somehow at once a civic celebration and as tense and edgy as a city can feel. Our scouts and development people bursting with pride while walking around the track. Holding your breath for the entire second half of Game Five and a raucous exhale afterwards. The Game Six breakout. The highs and lows, and rain, and highs again, of Game Seven, which we all endured together, our stomachs clenched and our hearts beating with the fans around us and the generations before us. A little ground ball, a smile from KB, a slip, the ball in Rizz’s glove, and, finally, a collective catharsis and celebration that forever changed the Cubs experience. I am so grateful to you and the fans for everything you have given to this organization and for making this experience so meaningful ….
I cannot wait until the fans and all of us are able to return to Wrigley. On the first day back, I am going to walk to Clark and Addison with my wife and two sons, taking in the sights and the sounds and the smells, mixing in with the fans in their jerseys new and old. I will make sure to arrive early enough to come say hello, catch up, and share a few stories. Then, we will settle into our seats, admire the now familiar hues and shapes of the gorgeous Wrigley panorama, and get ready to root on the Cubs and sing during the stretch.
It will feel like home.