Wrigley Field may be one of sport’s grandest cathedrals, but it’s no secret — the old gal could use a bit of a facelift.
The Ricketts family has repeatedly asked the city of Chicago to finance those renovations despite the fact that they’re wealthy enough to own a Major League Baseball franchise and money is running tight for every government entity. It’s not a popular plan in this city given the fact that not everyone in the Windy City cares for either the Cubs or for Wrigley Field. To each their own though.
We’ve got a different idea for how the Cubs can finance those renovations, and in a bit of good news for taxpayers throughout the state of Illinois, it doesn’t involve spending one red cent of their money.
Brace yourselves folks, because you’re about get smacked right in the mouth with some pure, unfiltered genius. Here are three words and one brilliant idea to fix up Wrigley Field: Theo Epstein shirseys. That’s right. Theo Epstein shirseys.
Theo Epstein hasn’t even officially been announced as the team’s next General Manager (or Head of Baseball Operations or whatever other lofty title they’re going to bestow upon him. Call him the Czar for all I care) but one thing is for certain. He will likely never be more popular in Chicago than he is right now. He comes to the Windy City hailed as a savior, baseball’s answer to Bobby Fischer playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers, a man who will do the unthinkable — lead the Chicago Cubs to the Promised Land, capital P, capital L. After all, he did the unthinkable, breaking a seemingly unbreakable curse by building a franchise good enough to win not just one but two World Series in sweeping fashion.
The Cubs, for better or worse, are as much in the business of hope as they are in the business of baseball. Next year is always right around the corner on the North Side no matter how early it is in the season. People are always hanging their hat on prospects who they hope will bring some semblance of joy to the Friendly Confines. From Kevin Orie and Terry Adams to Felix Pie and Bobby Brownlie, the names flash in neon on the iconic red Wrigley Field marquee and are gone just as fast. Today’s savior of the future becomes tomorrow’s thing of the past, a glimmer of hope fading behind a cloud of failure. That’s the way things have gone at the corner of Clark and Addison for more than a century now, an unfortunate circumstance that Cubs fans have conditioned themselves to accept.
But now…now that glimmer is more than just a glimmer. In Theo Epstein, Cubs fans have someone they can hang their hats on. Women swoon at the mere mention of his name and why not? He’s a good looking, very successful young guy. Grown men swoon at his track record of success, more than a little bit jealous that he’s living out their childhood dreams but happy that he’s now one of their own, an out of towner brought in to save their beloved local nine from an eternity of mediocrity and misery. And right now, aside from All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro, there is no Cub with a Q rating as high as Epstein’s.
The idea of selling Epstein shirseys to the hungry masses almost makes too much sense. Shirseys are cheap to print up (I’m assuming — otherwise they wouldn’t make them up for seemingly every player to wear a Major League uniform) not to mention the fact that they’re far more stylish and versatile than an actual jersey. It doesn’t have to be something grandiose either — just a simple blue t-shirt with the C and bear logo similar to the team’s batting practice jerseys. Given his popularity, seemingly every man, woman and child will snap these things up about as fast as they can be printed up, so long as they’re priced reasonably in the $20-$25 range. It’s the novelty to end all novelties, especially because no other team in the history of baseball has marketed their GM by selling an actual product prominently featuring him. Print up a couple hundred thousand of them, sit back and watch the money roll in. It’s so simple that it’s amazing the team hasn’t actually started doing it yet.
As for the number on the back, there are a couple of possibilities since obviously Epstein won’t have one in actuality. There’s No. 1 since Epstein will be in the top dog in the organization, but here’s a far more intriguing possibility. Take a cue from Yankees manager Joe Girardi, the Cubs could print up the shirseys with “Epstein 3” on the back, acknowledging the two rings he won with the Red Sox and the one he’s presumably going win with the Cubs. If and when he does win a ring with the Cubs, the team can order a new batch of shirseys with the No. 4 on the back, generating even more revenue in the process.
On Chicago’s North Side, hope doesn’t float…but it sure does sell. And right now, it’s hard to imagine anything selling more than Theo Epstein.