Skip to content

Theo Epstein: Chicago bar scene has been “an impediment to the Cubs in winning”

Mar 4, 2012, 9:33 AM EDT

wrigley tall getty Getty Images

Cubs president Theo Epstein has developed (and will distribute) a pamphlet outlining the way he expects players in the organization to behave. Especially those tempted by the Chicago nightlife.

“It’s been a factor in ruining some careers,” Epstein told the Chicago Tribune. “And I’m sure it’s been an impediment to the Cubs in winning. … The approach we’re going to have is the opposite of laissez faire. We’re not just going to say, ‘Oh, that’s the way it is. This is Chicago. Boys will be boys. I’m sure they’re going to get enough sleep and I’m sure they’ll show up the next day ready to play.’ That’s a failure on the organization’s part. We have to take a very proactive approach in setting a high standard.”

The Cubs still play far more day games than any other team in Major League Baseball. And in a city with 4 a.m. liquor licenses, that can mean rough sleep schedules for athletes who like to go out.

“It’s important for young players to recognize that you need to get your sleep,” veteran outfielder Reed Johnson told the Tribune. “This is your career. This is what you do for a livelihood. You need to treat it that way, especially in our park. You don’t have that extra 10 hours when you wake up in the morning to get ready for that 7 o’clock night game.”

So instead of treating grown-ups like grown-ups and hoping for good decision-making, the new Epstein-led regime is informing players this spring that with a new sheriff comes a new set of expectations.

  1. havlicekstoletheball - Mar 4, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    I am pretty sure New York had some bars, and the Yankees did okay. They didn’t play their first night game until after the war, and did not play a majority at night until the mid-60s.

    Could it be that today’s players are immature, undisciplined, overpaid crybabies who cannot be trusted to act like adults?

    • indyralph - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:36 AM

      Oh dear. If you’re going to do the tired “In my day we marched 12 miles through six feet of snow” bit, at least choose an example of a team whose star player didn’t have a premature and miserable death due to liver failure.

      • havlicekstoletheball - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:37 AM


        Name me a business where another employee making $10m a year will be excused constantly for crappy performance because he/she was out all night three days a week. Not “in my day” but TODAY. They’d be fired immediately.

        Coddled, immature, overpaid crybabies.

      • indyralph - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:17 PM

        I’m a bit lost here. First you seem upset that players need the new rules to be held accountable for their actions. Now you seem to be upset that they never have had those rules even though every other business does. I don’t really care one way or the other what your point is. My point was that your example was terrible and self-defeating.

      • havlicekstoletheball - Mar 4, 2012 at 2:05 PM

        Why should you be a bit lost? Players haven’t the self-discipline to take care of themselves, and the bars are to blame? That is like blaming a keyboard for poor writing skills. On top of that, the Players’ Union ensures that no meaningful consequences are in store for the players who misbehave and break the law.

        As for the Yankees, even with Mantle’s and Martin’s (and Ford’s) adventures, I noticed the Yankees still managed to win. A lot.

        Night life? Hardly the problem.

  2. randygnyc - Mar 4, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure that the towns night life has NOTHING to do with on field performance. They win in NYC, the night life capital of the world. Florida too. With Theo’s reasoning, the Marlin’s would have never won anything and they’d all be coke freaks.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 4, 2012 at 9:40 PM

      Take Theo’s word for this. If anyone knows about alcohol affecting his team’s on-field product, it’s Theo.

  3. steve7921 - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Hmmm….night life can affect on-field performance if the majority of your home games are played at 1, 2 or 3pm instead of 7pm. Common sense says that someone out partying until 3 or 4 am is not going to be playing at their best for an afternoon game compared to a night game!

  4. shawon0meter - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Guys who have spent too much time in Chicago bars are trying to figure out what ‘impediment’ means.

    • Old Gator - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:59 AM

      It’s that little foil-wrapped thing the team hotels leave on their pillows every time the maids make their beds.

      Assuming the maids didn’t fall asleep before the guys woke up and snuck out to the bars….

  5. Glenn - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    Theo did such a great job with this in Boston that he is going to take his “responsibility” program to Chicago. It’s almost like he is doing this for himself – to show that if he had his way, there would have been no collapse in Boston.

    • havlicekstoletheball - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:38 AM

      Yeah, there’s that.

      Makes you wonder, dunnit?

    • frankvzappa - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:41 AM

      Seriously, I don’t recall any beer and fried chicken pamphlets last winter…good riddance to lousy loafers.

  6. pisano - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    Theo doesn’t like the bar scene for the Cubbies, but it’s fine to have chicken and beer in the clubhouse. Yes Theo, you were there when the beer and chicken was going on, all you had to do is look at Lackey and you could tell he had half a load on with his pitching performances.

    • jason1214 - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:35 AM

      Yeah cause it was Theo’s FAULT the manager and “leaders” in the Boston clubhouse fell asleep at the switch……ok then. Didn’t article mention something about grown ups to ACT like grown ups???

      • Old Gator - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:00 AM

        Theo blew it. It’s the chicken that caused all the problems. Beer is good for you.

      • jason1214 - Mar 4, 2012 at 2:25 PM

        I agree Gator.

  7. Alex K - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    You seem to imply that Theo is treating the players like children. I don’t think that is the case. I think all he’s saying that there are consequences for not acting responsible that weren’t there before. That is wildly different than treating men like children.

  8. Dave Barker - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    The Cubs should just embrace their reputation and start selling the “Win or lose we still booze” shirts inside Wrigley.

  9. contraryguy - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    “Being with a woman all night never hurt no professional baseball player. It’s staying up all night looking for a woman that does him in.” – Casey Stengel

    • Old Gator - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:01 AM

      They didn’t call him “The Old Philosopher” for nothing.

      • deepstblu - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:45 PM

        They didn’t call him The Old Philosopher, they called him The Old Perfesser. The Old Philosopher was this guy:

      • Old Gator - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:55 PM

        Duh-uhh, right. Perfesser. Though clearly, a perfesser of philosophy. Then there’s Professor Irwin Corey…..

      • Old Gator - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:59 PM

        Duh-uhh, right. Perfesser – but clearly, a perfesser of philosophy.

      • Old Gator - Mar 4, 2012 at 2:15 PM

        Uh, right, Perfesser. Duhhhhh.

        But he was clearly a Perfesser of Philosophy.

      • contraryguy - Mar 4, 2012 at 4:17 PM

        And not that I care about the up/down thing but who gives Casey Stengel a thumbs down? Cmon people…

        The Cubs need more than a curfew to raise them from the ashes. The Reds have pushed all their chips in this year, before Brandon and Votto face free agency, and STL and MIL are still strong. Not a super year to start a ChiTown renaissance.

      • Old Gator - Mar 4, 2012 at 9:51 PM

        “And not that I care about the up/down thing but who gives Casey Stengel a thumbs down?”

        Estes Kefauver?

  10. paperlions - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    If grown ups acted like the idealization of grown ups, we wouldn’t need things like laws or rules and policies for work places…..because, you know….grown ups are all responsible and shit and always make good decisions. Even your typical 40+ year old makes a lot of dumb decisions…when they were the age of most ball players (23-32), decisions that many would classify as irresponsible were a way of life.

    • Old Gator - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      “It takes very little to govern good people. Very little.”
      …Sheriff Ed Tom Bell

    • Alex K - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:37 AM


  11. bloodysock - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    “And I’m sure it’s been an impediment to the Cubs in winning”

    Really? I thought bad contracts and bad drafting would be a larger impediment to winning.

  12. Old Gator - Mar 4, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    You know, all those horrible horsemeat and Velveeta™ sandwiches didn’t impact the Feelies very much. Of course, we don’t know their cardiological histories once they left the game….

  13. fossilhippie - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    All the jokes and snide comments in the world won’t change the fact that the assumption behind this post is correct- the bar scene in Chicago, with the late hours and early starting times have apparently had an adverse effect on a lot of baseball palyers during their time at Wrigley. David Eckersley has a problem with alcohol and it caused him to have a terrible record. Many people aren’t open about drinking problems or even deny they exist and so fans don’t know if there is an underlying cause to their struggles on the field or if they just suck.

    To compare this against other teams is like apples vs oranges. No other team plays as many day games as the Cubs. If you don’t realize that then you aren’t a fan.

    • tampabayirish - Mar 4, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      Maybe, just maybe, the Cubs should move into at least the 20th Century and change their scheduling philosphy and play predominantly night home games. Obviously you can still play some day games on weekends, “get away days” and the occasional “business man’s matinee.” Either that or Theo the Boy Genius can get rid of the “W” and “L” postgame flags and replace them with “Drink” or “Don’t Drink” flags to help the players remember if they have yet another home day game the next day.

      • Old Gator - Mar 4, 2012 at 1:08 PM

        The problem isn’t with the teams, archaic philosophies or anything of the sort. The problem is that the stadium sits smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood and it had always been the assumption of the team’s owners – quite the correct one, too – that night games at Wrigley would be highly problematic for the quality of life of the people who live adjacent to the stadium. From that perspective, they’ve struck about as practical a balance as they can short of doming the stadium – which would be as blasphemous as putting a retractable roof on the Vatican.

      • fossilhippie - Mar 4, 2012 at 1:29 PM

        Don’t overlook the fact that they are restricted by law the number of night games they can play. Ricketts, Epstein and the rest would lover doubling the amount of games.

      • Old Gator - Mar 4, 2012 at 9:57 PM

        As a relict hippie to a fossil hippie, a practicing alcoholic will always find a drink whether the bars are open early and close late or not. A guy leaving the stadium at eleven PM will still find his way to a bar as easily as a guy who leaves at 6 PM, and ballplayers make enough so that they don’t need to depend on happy hour discounts to coddle their booze budgets. Given the kind of money in their pockets, it’s kinda hard to absolve an irresponsible or addicted drinker on the basis of the availability of local bars. If the doors are shut, they’ll pick up their cellphones and call for a delivery.

  14. sisqsage - Mar 4, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    And Bobby, Jimmy and Stevie, don’t forget to brush after meals, eat your vegetables and wash behind your ears.

    Who the hell is David Eckersley?
    DENNIS is the one who had the drinking problem, which could have happened just as easily in any other big league city.

    Read Bob Welch’s book about being an alcoholic and a big league starting pitcher with four days off and plenty of cash to do whatever the heck you want.

    Maybe Theo is overreating to the chicken and bear fiasco in Beantown last year.

  15. asharak - Mar 4, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    Teetotalers are the new inefficiency.

  16. dnc6 - Mar 4, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    After just the headline I assumed he was talking about the jobless, sometimes-racist, idiots that populate the stadium and its surroundings on a daily basis.

  17. brewcrewfan54 - Mar 4, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    The bars aren’t the reason the Cubs lose. 100 years of bad baseball decisions is why the Cubs lose.

  18. surefooted1 - Mar 4, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    “So instead of treating grown-ups like grown-ups and hoping for good decision-making, the new Epstein-led regime is informing players this spring that with a new sheriff comes a new set of expectations.”

    So any company or or place that has rules for its employees treats them like children? Really?

    Does your place of employment require a starttime? Rules for how to dela with fellow employees?

  19. glink123 - Mar 4, 2012 at 10:29 PM

    wait, what? you mean I can’t show up for my million-dollar-per-week job all hung-over and smelling like skank hoe??

  20. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 5, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    I have no strong words to say; I simply love this statement. A general professional reminder on how a ballplayer should handle himself during a 162 game season is nothing erratic or out of line.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. D. Wright (2639)
  2. G. Stanton (2597)
  3. D. Span (2442)
  4. Y. Puig (2420)
  5. B. Crawford (2348)