Cubs’ Ian Happ using various platforms to make the business of baseball understandable for fans

Happ is using his role as Cubs’ player rep and his podcast “The Compound” to bring fans behind the scenes of the business of baseball.

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“I would love to continue to be involved with the Players Association post-playing career,” Cubs player rep Ian Happ said. “I think that they have a lot of great programs and they have a lot of former players who are really involved, because they care.”

“I would love to continue to be involved with the Players Association post-playing career,” Cubs player rep Ian Happ said. “I think that they have a lot of great programs and they have a lot of former players who are really involved, because they care.”

John Antonoff/Chicago Sun-Times

The year is 2041, and MLB just completed the final season of a successful collective-bargaining agreement with the players’ association. Commissioner Theo Epstein sits down to discuss the framework for a new CBA with MLBPA executive director . . . Ian Happ?

It might sound crazy now, but it’s plausible.

“That would be pretty crazy,” Happ said with a big smile.

Happ has become a renaissance man in a short period of time, and after a breakout 2020 season, he has started to break out in a different way off the field. The Cubs center fielder has a variety of business interests inside and outside of baseball.

Happ, 26, is no stranger to business. During his three years at the University of Cincinnati, he majored in finance, becoming an academic All-American in the process with a 3.68 GPA. As a first-round pick in 2015, baseball was always going to be his journey, but his passion for business has never gone away.

“I think it’s always been interesting to me,” Happ told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I have an older brother, Chris, who also studied finance and then got his MBA from Notre Dame. So we’ve done a lot together, obviously, cultivated interests together.”

“Ian’s so smart,” third baseman Kris Bryant said. “He’s so engaged in it. That’s gonna help him well beyond baseball because he’s got so many connections outside of baseball. It’s crazy. . . . When he first got called up, I felt like he didn’t talk much. Everybody was always like, ‘He doesn’t smile or any of that,’ but this kid is always out there now.”

Maybe Happ’s biggest success so far off the field has been his podcast “The Compound,” which he started during baseball’s shutdown last year with Cubs minor-leaguer Dakota Mekkes and former Cub and current Tigers prospect Zack Short.

Happ also has been the team’s MLBPA player rep for a year after taking over the duties from Bryant last spring. Happ has become a go-to with fans and media when it comes to speaking about the game from a union standpoint.

As Happ’s podcast has grown, so has his voice on issues affecting the game. He has used his platform in hopes of better informing people about things going on behind the scenes with the MLBPA and the league. Whether it’s something as small as how minor-league meal money works or as big as service-time manipulation, everything is up for discussion.

“I think that just having an understanding of the way that the business of baseball works is important,” Happ said. “I’ve always been very vocal about wanting to leave the game better than I found it, and I think that takes not only dedication on the field, but to understand all facets and to try to do your best when you’re in that position to represent the union, to be a player rep, to be involved, to help your fellow teammates with whatever it may be.”

“He’s done such a good job of that,” Bryant said. “There’s a lot of stuff where I see things that are said, and it’s like, ‘I just wish I could find a way to clear that up,’ but without being mean about it or without tooting my own horn or any of that. But he does a good job of that and explaining things. Obviously, now he’s a player, he’s -really good in that role.”

Happ’s success in his first year as player rep hasn’t gone unnoticed around baseball, and he has a desire to do more around the game as his career continues.

“I would love to continue to be involved with the players’ association post-playing career,” he said. “They have a lot of great programs, and they have a lot of former players who are really involved because they care.”

While being a voice within the union is on Happ’s radar after his playing career, the big step of taking over for Tony Clark as MLBPA’s executive director one day isn’t exactly what he has in mind. So that Happ-Epstein labor negotiation in 2041 might have to wait a few more years.

“There’s a lot of days where Tony’s job doesn’t look very fun,” Happ said with a big laugh. “I don’t know if I really want the commitment of the executive director, but I’ll definitely be heavily involved in other ways.”

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