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Hanley: Epstein Ushers In New Cubs Era

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Theo Epstein takes a stroll at Wrigley Field. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Theo Epstein takes a stroll at Wrigley Field. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Brian-Hanley Brian Hanley
I was born in 1960 on the westside of Chicago at the venerable St....
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By Brian Hanley-

(CBS) “Just pick the smart guy!”

That was what James Taylor suggested to a concert crowd, who obviously approached the political plate from the left side, to do during the “Vote for Change” tour in the Fall of 2004.

Truth be told, the musical artists signed onto movement — from Springsteen and his E Street Band, Taylor, R.E.M., and even the eclectic Bright Eyes, to name just a few — was much better than the choice voters faced in incumbent George Bush or John Kerry that November.

Taylor tabbed Kerry as the smarter of the two Yale products running for the White House in what was then Jim Hendry’s second year as the Cubs general manager.

Political leanings aside, anyone who watched Theo Epstein, another Yale grad, knock the press conference out of the park Tuesday knows Tom Ricketts picked a smart guy to head his Cubs.

Epstein showed intelligence, confidence, humility, and a healthy dose of humor during the grand-slam press session.

Touch ‘em all, Theo.

Epstein was was also manicured better than the Wrigley Field grass.

Ever imagine an unmade-bed of a mess dressed Hendry referencing The Office Space’s Milton Waddams and his red Swingline stapler, paradigm lens, macro-economics, vertical integration, and parallel front, into a Q and A?

The Cubs have finally have a front-office brain trust.

When Theo spoke of the feelings he had when Bostonians were sticking Red Sox pennants on the grave sites of Moms, Dads, grandparents and siblings and the street scenes as championship buses rolled from Logan Airport to Fenway in 2004, this Cubs fan was figuring a way to land season tickets for Year One of the Epstein era.

The team’s new president of baseball operations used the pronoun “we” comfortably in talking about the Cubs, as if he has been here for years rather than days.

Epstein, just 37, seemed the wise baseball elder statesman and oh-so-believable, as he talked about building an organization which will produce playoff teams annually.

Two World Series Championships during his eight years at the helm of the Red Sox should sell even the most skeptical of Cubs fans.

“We’re going to have to grind our way to the top,’’ Epstein said.

Grind away! All Cub fans have waited a lifetime to experience a World Series, another three, five, hell 10, years won’t matter.

When Theo talked about being the architect of the “Cubs Way,” a road which will be paved with a singular philosophy of core beliefs in strong fundamentals and teamwork — on and off the field — was exhilarating for fans.

Epstein was short on specifics on moves to be made. No managerial moves to be made this week. Don’t ask about him about money matters. He doesn’t share financials.

He has a belief in paying players for future, not past, performance.

How refreshing!

He talked about the hundreds of decisions which go into building a perennial contender.

In sports, that is called doing the little things that make a difference.

He talked about the importance of a scout driving an extra six miles to take one more look at a prospect.

He talked about the importance of a coach spending as many hours as needed to get that grip on a kid’s change-up major-league ready.

He talked of about the need to combine traditional scouting and modern statistical analysis. Seeing players through those combined “paradigm lenses.’’

He talked about the importance of players who “have each others’ backs.’’

All that talk was music to Cubs’ fans ears.

The Cubs have voted for a change.

Take a bow, Tom Ricketts.

Brian Hanley co-hosts The Mully and Hanley Show, weekdays, 5am-9am, on 670 The Score and 670thescore.com

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