11:55 AM EDT, October 18, 2011
Attention, Tom Ricketts: Your legacy is on the line. This is no time to be Baseball McCaskey.
It might seem early in the projected lengthy ownership of the Cubs by members of the Joe Ricketts Lucky Sperm Club, but this is it.
This is Ricketts’ defining moment. This is Ricketts’ first big hire. This becomes his seminal move, give or take new urinals and bison dogs.
To come home today, next week or next month without Theo Epstein makes Ricketts a failure. A dead-bang failure.
Oh sure, Ricketts might be able to peddle the story he stood up for his principles or young talent. A lot of Cubs fans will buy that hogwash the way they blindly swallow everything else.
It will be a crock, of course.
Ricketts declared himself all in for $20 million worth of Epstein's services and whatever his believed brilliance is for five years. That deal made him vulnerable to hard negotiating. If Epstein was worth that much, then Boston could claim they are owed a big return on such a big loss. It might be an act, but that's the position Ricketts plopped himself into. He was playing his cards face up, even if might've been the last guy to figure it out.
It feels as if Ricketts doesn’t know his opponent and couldn’t read his situation. He is the newbie. He made the first move. Perhaps he felt that joining this exclusive ownership club would make the transaction a done deal quickly. Ricketts appears to be getting pantsed here. Guess they didn’t teach leverage at whatever business school Ricketts went to.
Boston owns Epstein. The Cubs don’t.
Boston could pay Epstein to sit. The Cubs can’t.
Boston has a better roster than the Cubs and Boston has home-grown executives familiar with the Red Sox’s home-grown talent. The Cubs have a handful of magic beans and a crying need for Epstein or somebody smarter than your average Hendry.
Stories of Red Sox demands sounds wildly onerous. They want Starlin Castro for Epstein, said one. They want Matt Garza, said today’s rumor du jour. They want prospects and money, said previous whispers. OK. Fine. Done.
Or at least, it should’ve been done. Like, two weeks ago.
Presuming the Red Sox aren’t just killing time and acting like divas for their own beaten-up egos after their Cubs-like choke in September, there is no reason this deal hasn’t gotten done yet.
Ricketts needs to step back and ask himself this: If we had can’t-miss talent worthy of killing a deal for Epstein, then would we really need Epstein?
And then he needs to step back and ask himself this: Which of the players I’m being asked to give up figure to matter when you win the World Series?
Connect the dots, Tom. The Red Sox dictate terms. You need this deal. You can’t have your first, major, celebrated, time-consuming hire be ruled E-Fanboy Owner.
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