Theo Epstein has Resigned as President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs and I Am Sad

Photo: SFGate

Damn…what a ride.

This morning, news broke that Theo Epstein would be stepping down as President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs, effective immediately. Epstein joined the Cubs in October 2011, and completely transformed an organization known for being long time losers into consistent post season appearances, success, and of course, World Series champions.

Epstein noted in his press conference this afternoon that the original plan was to transition out of his position in October 2021. However, with important roster and organizational decisions coming this offseason, he believed it best that those who would be with the Cubs longer-term should be making those decisions.

The now former President of Baseball Operations has always maintained that 10 years is about the maximum he would ever stay at job, and he is holding true to his word. In his presser this afternoon, he noted there was “no sense of burnout. I enjoy building, transformation, and accomplishing. Maybe I’m not as great at maintenance. After a while, I need a new challenge, and with the Cubs in a state of change with the roster, it felt like the right time.”

This sucks. Epstein has been the face of the Cubs for the past nine years. His list of accomplishments and the stories that have come out of his tenure is as impressive as it is long. I watched the press conference this morning, and wanted to outline some of the best moments and quotes.

  • When asked about his overall feelings about his time with the Cubs: “A life changing experience, the best part being the relationships and connections I’ve made along the way.” Epstein continued “Our goals were to build a foundation of sustained success and build a team that would win a World Series for the Chicago Cubs. It was not perfect, but we did it.”
  • Describing Cubs fans: “The depth of the connection with the fans, how intimate and easily shared…is really is different here, thanks to [the fans]. Right as we started to turn the corner, walking home from a game, I could ease drop on conversations that were so optimistic, it was such a special time. The lines between fans, team, and front office members were blurred. We all knew what was going to happen before it did.”
  • On the 2016 World Series victory: “Such a privilege to run into strangers and hear what the World Series meant to them.”

Jed Hoyer, current Cubs General Manger, will take over as the new President of Baseball Operations. Hoyer joined the Cubs with Theo initially as GM, and has more than earned this promotion. Epstein believes he is leaving the Cubs in incredibly able hands: “[Hoyer] ensures great continuity, and is also realistic in ways we need to change and get better” he said.

Additionally, Theo ensured Cubs fans that Hoyer “does not need me over his shoulder…he is ready, willing, and able.” He supported his claim by giving an anecdote on the now famous trade with the Baltimore Orioles that brought a struggling Jake Arrieta to the North Side, and as we now all know, to the MLB Awards stage as the 2015 Cy Young Award winner. Epstein said that Hoyer kept “banging the table” for an additional throw in on the trade, saying that the throw in must be included in the trade or the Cubs would walk away from the trading table. That throw in at the time, was a relief pitcher with a woeful career 4.82 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. That “meaningless” throw in was named Pedro Stop, who like Arrieta, resureccted his career in Chicago to become one of the best relief pitchers in team history.

This, and many other reasons, has Epstein feeling confident that the Cubs are in great long term shape as he proceeds with a peaceful transfer of power. Epstein noted that while he anticipates he will eventually return to baseball, for now, he and his family will continue to live in Chicago, and be Cubs season ticket holders moving moving forward. He noted that now he can enjoy the bleacher bum experience, and when he does, “it will feel like home.”

While this is a sad day, I also cannot help but feel happy. This nine-year stretch has been the best in Cubs history, and I feel lucky to have been able to see it from the foundation to the peak of baseball. Thank you, Theo Epstein, for putting all that you did into the organization for as long as you did, and bringing Cubs fans like me success that we only dreamt of before you came to Chicago.

Sunday State of Mind: October 26th-November 1st

Photo: Annie Nyle on Unsplash

Fall is here, friends. The leaves have changed, the sweaters have been donned, and the clocks have moved back. Let’s all get comfortable and enjoy this week’s SSM.

Tua Time in Miami, the rookie made his debut
A surprise win over the Rams, the Dolphins feel anew
Tua didn’t have a big game, or put up many stats
But if the Dolphins keep winning, they’ll no longer be AFC East cellar rats

We crowned a new World Series champ this week, the Dodgers from LA
Emerged victorious over the Rays of Tampa Bay
A lot of talk on the internet on the decisions of Kevin Cash
If he kept Blake Snell in longer, it could be the Rays throwing the championship bash

Trevor Lawrence, Clemson’s long-haired quarterback
Tested positive for COVID, by the disease he’s been sacked
The best QB in the NCAA missed this week’s game
It was also announced he’ll miss Clemson’s next contest against Notre Dame

This week the Chicago Cubs declined Jon Lester’s option for 2021
Unless he’s brought back on a cheaper deal, his time with the Cubs is done
Big Jon did something very cool this weekend, something very dear
He’s buying the entire city of Chicago their first rounds of beer

Sunday State of Mind: October 19th-October 25th

Photo: Frank McKenna on Unsplash

We took a bit of a break from SSM last week. We couldn’t be more excited to return, please enjoy.

Dodgers and Rays, not even here
To talk about tonight’s game, because Saturday was so weird
Game Four ended with two errors and a slip
It was so insane, an absolute trip

A sentence I thought I would never say
Things aren’t going great with the Patriot Way
Three picks for Cam, and a loss to San Francisco
After all their success, hard to feel bad for New England Massholes

Big 10 Football is back, and we had a wild one
Indiana beat Penn State on a last second run
The call was so close, and was impossible to call
How can you not love college football?

On the flip side of college football, Jaylen Waddle
Sadly fractured his ankle while going full throttle
Another week one star, Badger QB Graham Mertz
Tested positive for COVID, both injuries must hurt

Sunday State of Mind: October 5th-October 11th

Photo: Amanda Phung on Unsplash

SSM after dark! Some late night sports poetry to send you into your week.

We’ve crowned a new champ, The Lakers have won
LeBron, AD, and the squad made sure The Heat were done
With the win comes the end of the NBA bubble
King James lead the way with a series winning triple double

Huge comeback story in the NFL
Alex Smith is back, that’s a buy, not a sell
Even if his team lost, him being back was a great scene
A rare feel good story for The Washington Football Team

Opposite Alex Smith, poor Dak Prescott
His seasons over, and the ankle’s shot
If you haven’t seen the video, I would suggest not
The pressure on Jerry Jones now has to feel quite hot

Moving on to the MLB
The bracket’s down to four teams to see
Who will take home the World Series Trophy
Since it won’t be The Cubs, it doesn’t matter to me

Sunday State of Mind: September 21st-September 27th

Sunday, it’s here…so is this week’s SSM. Let’s hop in:

Last week of baseball, wrapping as we speak
The MLB made it through, and reached their seasons’s peak
The postseason starts next week, will be a wild story
To see who takes home the COVID World Series Trophy

The NBA is winding down, Lakers took out the Nugs
The Heat and Celts could be done soon, makes me sadly shrug
Either way, it’ll be the Lakers and LeBron
A few more games and before you know it, the NBA will be gone

The NHL is also close to closing out their year
The Lightning and Stars are wrapping up, with their grown out playoff beards
If the Lightning win on Monday, they’ll be hoisting up Lord Stanley
If the Stars pull it out, we’re talking game 7, the cup won’t be won handily

Your NFL surprise of the year, the Chicago Bears
Moved to 3-0 today, and this writer cares
Trubisky was benched, Nick Foles was the hero
Who would’ve thought after three weeks the Bears losses would be at zero?

Sunday State of Mind: September 14th-September 20th

Photo: Vincent Guth on Unsplash

Wow…what a week in sports. Let’s dive into it with this week’s Sunday State of Mind.

Hate to say it, but you already know
Your new US Open Champion, Bryson DeChambeau
Took the trophy home today at Winged Foot
He may be a dork, but can’t argue with his output

Huge injuries came in the NFL
McCaffrey and Saquon, dammit to hell
McCaffrey may be OK, but the Giants fear
That Saquon will be done for the year

Justin Verlander announced that he is gone
The old righty said he needs Tommy John
Three no hitters, two Cy Youngs and a World Series ring
In the world of pitching, Verlander was a king

The Miami Heat continue to cause trouble
They’re the biggest story of the NBA bubble
Two wins away from the NBA Finals
Winning with defense and ball movement, old school like vinyl

Joe Kelly May Just Save 2020

We all saw this coming.

For those of you who don’t remember, the Houston Astros got in to some trouble this offseason after being outed as sign-stealing cheaters who legitimately stole a World Series from the Dodgers in 2017. They have, appropriately, been mocked beyond repute. One of my favorite Twitter accounts to follow is @AsteriskTour, the 2020 Astros Shame Tour, go follow now if you haven’t yet (also, follow @untimed_down while you’re there). Unless you’re on the Astros roster, or a fan with your head in the sand, most of us agree that the Astros have everything that’s coming to them this season.

This is where our hero, Joe Kelly comes in. Last night, the Dodgers played the Astros for the first time this season, and Kelly took it upon himself to show his displeasure. After falling behind 3-0 to Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, one of the most defiant Astros in the cheating scandal, Kelly buzzed one high and tight right past Bregman’s dome for ball four. After Bregman went to first, Kelly fired two pickoff attempts that, if not caught by Dodgers first basemen Max Muncy, would have caught Bregman square in the ribcage. The unwritten rules of baseball were in full affect.

The Dodgers reliever wasn’t done at that point. Kelly later faced Carlos Correa, who was as, if not more defiant than Bregman in response to the cheating scandal. Correa got a breaking ball thrown over his head before being struck out by Kelly. The post-strike period is where the fun began.

From the aforementioned @AsteriskTour Twitter feed:

The tongue, the pouty face, the “shut the fuck up” to end the performance. It’s all perfect. Mockery at the highest level to the biggest villain in sports today.

All of this eventually lead to “benches clearing,” which is usually pretty weak in general when it comes to baseball. However, with COVID rules in the MLB this season, any chance of any actual fights happening is even lower, so it’s all worthless. I’m just glad Joe Kelly stepped up, did his duty as a Dodger, and made the first of what I can only assume will be many spectacles of beaning Astros this season.

Edit: right after publishing this blog, the MLB announced Kelly has been suspended for eight games. CBS Baseball Writer Danny Vietti put things into prespective: