October 24, 2011
Perhaps the folks at Sports World, a souvenir and novelty shop across the street from the home-plate corner of Wrigley Field in Chicago, know something that most others do not about Theo Epstein coming to the Chicago Cubs. Is expensive slugger Alfonso Soriano(notes) part of the compensation package heading to the Boston Red Sox?
Only in the dreams of fiscally fed-up Cubs fans, right? And yet, on the eve of Epstein's formal introduction Tuesday morning as the team's president of baseball operations, Sports World is selling, for $184.95 (plus shipping and handling if you're not in Wrigleyville), an authentic Epstein home jersey with his name and the No. 12 on the back.
Now, you're probably thinking: general manager/executive-types don't wear jerseys. They wear suits and golf shirts and pullover windbreakers and sweaters. Well, you're just going to have to suspend disbelief on that issue. Besides, Theo's not just a baseball executive; he's a rock star.
But what about this: The Cubs already have a No. 12. Soriano!
To be clear, Sports World isn't owned by the Cubs, nor is the team shop at MLB.com selling Epstein jerseys (although you could personalize one if you like, and it might be cheaper that way — just saying). So it's not like the team is telling Soriano that he's unwelcome and the new boss wants his number. And it's a good thing, because Soriano has three more years left on his $136 million contract.
Another problem: Because of Theo's jersey number being 12, seemingly based on 2012 being his first season in charge, does that mean the jersey wearer will have to update the jersey every season? It's not going to make immediate sense in say, 2015, to wear a Theo jersey that has No. 12 on it. (Although, Soriano's contract will have expired by then, so 12'll be available.)
It's also rare to see folks walking around in manager's numbers at all, much less front office garb. How many Phillies fans out there wear Charlie Manuel jerseys, for example? You've got to be a real Theophile to wear his jersey (not that he really has a jersey) before he's even made his first transaction. I'd be excited, too, for what might be coming to the Cubs, but let's see whom he trades for himself, first. It's not really going to be Soriano.
Big BLS h/t: @Bill_TPA for the head's up