The Cubs can hang all the blue-and-red banners they want around the Chicago Hilton and Towers.
They can put up pictures of Ron Santo, standing posters of Starlin Castro, even a large mural titled ‘‘Cubs Timeline,” which could have fit on a piece of paper rather than taking over an entire wall.
They can disguise it whatever way makes them feel comfortable under the pretense of the 27th annual Cubs Convention, but don’t be fooled.
This is the first TheoCon.
Theo Epstein is the star. He’s the face. And considering the power he wields, he’s the reason Cubs fans have any sort of hope.
As a matter of fact, he’s the only reason for a Cubs fan to pay the price of admission this weekend, whether that makes him uncomfortable or not.
‘‘I think it will die down,” Epstein tried to say with a straight face about his rock-star status. ‘‘The players are the show. That’s why we’re all in this profession. As a kid, when I got involved in baseball, it wasn’t to see Lou Gorman, the [former] general manager of the Red Sox. It was to see Jim Rice and Dwight Evans.
‘‘Things have changed a bit with the information age now. People pay a little more attention to what GMs do. I think that’s great, but if that ever becomes the show, you probably don’t have a very good product to begin with.”
Sorry, Theo, you are the show. And you don’t have a very good product to begin with.
Epstein and the rest of the Brat Pack have been busy trying to change that, but it won’t be a quick process. Signing outfielder David DeJesus and left-hander Paul Maholm and trading for first baseman Anthony Rizzo and right-hander Chris Volstad only will serve to lessen the expected growing pains.
‘‘We were able to get young players back with some upside, the exact type of thing we were trying to do,” Epstein said of his recent activity. ‘‘The big part of our winter – the big part of the next few years – is just going to be scratching and clawing, trying to figure out any way we can to acquire assets.”
Collecting assets means the fan base will have to keep being patient. Considering the ovation Epstein received Friday, Cubs fans can accept that.
At the end of the day, there will be only one man to praise or blame.
‘‘Any time you commit yourself to a timetable, you are setting yourself up for failure,” Epstein said. ‘‘It’s more important to focus on where you want to be, what you want the organization to look like when you achieve some fundemental goals. I know more about what I want the Cubs to be than when we’re going to get there, to be blunt and honest with you about it.”
That’s all Epstein is selling right now: a promise of what is to come. Is that fair for Cubs fans? It doesn’t matter because that’s all they’ve got.
The corporate way under the Tribune Co. failed. Now the Ricketts family has gone ‘‘Moneyball” and brought in one of its original disciples.
The problem facing Epstein is that every organization now has a ‘‘little Theo” on its payroll. The Cubs are banking that Epstein 1.0 is still the best version. The fans are praying that it is.
And the players?
Well, Rizzo was asked what it was like to be the first ‘‘real piece” brought in and answered the question before it was complete.
‘‘Wait,” he said with a smirk, ‘‘the first guy brought on board was Theo.”
Die down? Theo? Not a chance.