Results tagged ‘ Tom Ricketts ’

Epstein sets out to build a new “Cubs way”

Theo Epstein made his vision clear: The Cubs will start with scouting and player development, and they’ll be infusing the game’s best and brightest minds into a front office working toward one common goal.

A new “Cubs way,” starting with a focus on fundamental play, would be taught everywhere from the Dominican Summer League to Chicago.

It was a statement that sold Tom Ricketts immediately.

“After 10 or 15 minutes of our conversation, I knew that this was the guy that we needed here.”

Ricketts clarified that he didn’t go into his GM search with a specific name—or list of names—in mind but rather used an analytical process that looked at major league then minor league success. Through various metrics, as well as advice from around the game, Epstein’s name kept coming up.

Now Epstein comes to the Cubs in the newly created position of president of baseball operations, and he said that the Cubs were a dream place to make his next move. The tradition. The classic baseball setting. Day baseball. The fans. And the commitment from ownership to preserve all of that while building a consistent winner that plays in October.

“That does not happen over night, and it certainly does not happen because of any one person,” Epstein said in his opening remarks. “Over time and together, we will build a solid foundation that delivers sustained success for the Cubs.”

Stay tuned to the blog for more from the press conference and Vine Line’s one-on-one interview with Epstein, including video clips. And subscribe to Vine Line for the insider’s pass into the Epstein era in Chicago.

1000 Words: An arrangement for a new age

Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein quickly found common ground that will set forth a new “Cubs way” of doing things in Chicago. (Photo by Stephen Green)

Theo Epstein introduced at Wrigley Field

Tom Ricketts introduced Theo Epstein as the team’s new president of baseball operations today in the United Club at Wrigley Field. (Photo by Stephen Green)

The Quade Squad

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgA big day here at Wrigley Field yesterday. Longtime organizational man Mike Quade finally got his shot at skippering his own ship. Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said they sought a manager who wanted to coach.

In Quade, general manager Jim Hendry found exactly that. The press conference was loose, and Quade kept his address pretty informal. He’s exceptionally unguarded and straightforward. But he knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. After taking 10 days off to decompress by going fishing and crabbing near his home in Bradenton, Fla., he got the call from Hendry–with blue crabs in hand.

“I had the crabs in one hand and my cell phone was ringing,” Quade said. “I looked at the number and it was Jim’s. The timing was almost comical.”

QuadeSquadsmall.JPGIn the October issue of Vine Line, we ran this sketch from our resident editorial cartoonist, Tim Souers. Indeed, it’s Quade’s squad now.

With yesterday’s announcement, it seemed only fitting that we ran it again on our blog. For more of Vine Line‘s editorial cartoons, visit our landing page at cubs.com/vineline.

Quade got a two-year deal, but he said money never was going to be an issue.

“There was no way I was going to let money get in the way of this [opportunity],” Quade said.

Quade’s a lunchpail kind of guy, one who admits he has only one suit and hates wearing it. But when it comes to teaching and coaching, the Chicago-area native wears both hats with ease.

“We’re going to build on the last six weeks of the season,” Quade said. “We’re going to grind it out every day…You set yourself up as an example by being involved. I plan on taking a hands-on approach [with our players].”

We’ll have more behind-the-scene photos tomorrow including some candid moments with Quade in the Cubs clubhouse.

–Michael Huang

 

 

 

1000 Words: Toasting Harry

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Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts joins Dutchie Caray in the rededication of the Harry Caray statue, which now has taken root at the Bud Light Bleachers, known as the legendary broadcaster’s favorite spot.

Thumbnail image for 1000 WORDS LOGO.jpgThe new Billy Williams statue — already installed outside the Hall of Famer’s former home in rightfield — will be unveiled in a ceremony beginning 5:30 p.m. CT later today. Stop by the ballpark to congratulate Billy in person and grab a ticket for what’s turning out to be a beautiful evening game. We’ll have full coverage of the Williams statue in the October issue of Vine Line.

Fill up the Cup! Sponsored by BP

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgOn Monday morning, executives from both Chicago baseball teams unveiled the annual Crosstown Cup, sponsored by BP, at the Cloud Gate of Millennium Park. It was the perfect neutral site for such a partisan event.

From the North Side, on hand were Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, manager Lou Piniella, Cubs President Crane Kenney, Chief Marketing Officer Wally Hayward and Cubs players Marlon Byrd and Randy Wells.

From South Side, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Brooks Boyer, White Sox players Gordon Beckham and AJ Pierzynski were on hand. WGN on-air personality Dave Kaplan emceed the event.

BP logo small.JPG“It gives [the city of Chicago] two weekends where everyone is just focused on baseball,” Ricketts said.

The previous Crosstown Classic now will be known as the BP Crosstown Cup. Under these new rules, the team with the most wins in the yearly series will be formally awarded the rivalry’s namesake trophy. If the annual series is split 3-3, the BP Crosstown Cup will be awarded to the winner of the series’ last game.

“I’ve been here three years, so I know what this series means to the city of Chicago that has such great sports fans,” Piniella said. “Obviously my focus is winning games on the field, but it’s going to be hard not to think about winning that cup for the first time.”

Here’s a trio of photos from yesterday:

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Lou Piniella in front of the “Bean”

Tom Ricketts Cup presser.JPG Tom Ricketts and Randy Wells mug for staff photographer Steve Green.

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Marlon, we know it’s a bit brisk, but a parka? You better get used to Chicago springs! 

  –Mike Huang

Cubs blue, Wildcats purple

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgLooking up at the scoreboard, where there normally would be a line score for a Cubs game, it read: NOVEMBER 20 2010.

Most of the men wearing suits had purple ties accompanying them. Northwestern University flags flew above the scoreboard along side the United States flag.

On either foul pole, purple mixed with yellow, as Northwestern flags flew where Billy, Ryno, Fergie/Greg, Ernie and Ron usually fly.

Even on the podium the Northwestern logo had supplanted the Cubs logo. In the center of the stage sat two Northwestern football helmets and a football. The flavor of the morning was unmistakable.

NW helmets 2.jpgIt was announced today at a press conference this morning that Northwestern football would host the University of Illinois at Wrigley Field on Nov. 20 at 11 am CST. It marks the first college game played at Wrigley Field since 1938. 

Some dignitaries attending the event were the Bears’ matriarch Virginia McCaskey and her son, Brian, Northwestern head football coach Pat Fitzgerald, two Northwestern players–quarterback Dan Persa and lineman Corbin Bryant, as well as former Bears players Ronnie Bull and Mike Adamle. Northwestern football radio play-by-play man and longtime WGN sports director Dave Eanet emceed the event.

NW Ricketts McCaskey.jpgDown in the Cubs clubhouse, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts presented Virginia and Brian McCaskey with a framed print of Wrigley Field’s marquee welcoming back Virginia to the park where her Bears played so many games.

This will be the first time in more than 87 years that Northwestern and Illinois will play at Wrigley Field.

On Oct. 27, 1923, the Wildcats and the Illini squared off at the Friendly Confines (then called Cubs Park) in front of 32,000 fans.

–Mike Huang

More from a beautiful Opening Day

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Should Opening Day be a holiday? Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny thinks so:

“If you love baseball, when Opening Day comes around, it’s a great feeling. It’s awesome for us as players. I think of when I was younger. I was always excited because I would try to get out of school and run home as quick as I can to watch baseball the rest of the day. That was a fun time. It was almost like a holiday for me. It should be a holiday.”

Here’s the day in photos, from the lens of Stephen Green.

Cubs tickets are still available for April and May games. Grab your seat at Wrigley Field on cubs.com. And don’t miss out on Stephen Green’s photos in every issue of Vine Line. Get your insider’s pass by subscribing today.

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Welcome to the neighborhood

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ON LOCATION LOGO.jpg12:30 PM: It might have been raining cats and dogs outside, but there was no raining on this Cubs parade.

Five or six photographers stood outside the Captain Morgan Club in the Wrigley Field concourse awaiting the Ricketts arrival to the press conference.

If Quentin Tarantino had captured the moment, it surely would have been in slow motion. The four Ricketts–Peter, Todd, Laura and Tom–did their best “Reservoir Dogs” impersonation walking side by side, looking like a quartet of gunslingers.

They just bought the Chicago Cubs. They should feel confident!

Tom discussed everything from payroll, tickets, the “Triangle” Building, Wrigley Field, naming rights, Lou Piniella….The entire press conference went off without a hitch. Well, almost.

As she started to add to a comment made by Tom, Laura Ricketts’ microphone shut down. Being the nice brother that he is, Tom–who was wearing a clip on mic–snuggled up next to his sister, who used the clip-on to finish her statement, to the laughter of the media and ancillary audience. I was standing next to Comcast SportsNet producer Bob Albrecht and I remarked:

“Wouldn’t it be great if she planted a nice kiss right on her brother’s face right now?”

“I was thinking the exact same thing,” Bob said.

Though she didn’t, the moment made for a very good photo-op.

rickettslaura andtom.jpgThe siblings discussed how each had come to be a Cubs fan, despite growing up in Omaha.

All had gone to school in Chicago and found themselves caught up into Cubs mania. Peter, who currently is the only sibling living in Omaha, recalled his college days.

“I came to Chicago in 1982 to attend the University of Chicago,” said Peter, who lived above Sports Corner on the corner of Addison and Sheffield. His brother Tom came to live with him. “By 1984, it was hard not to get into the Cubs. I lived with my brother, and he slept overnight in line to get bleacher tickets.”

Sister Laura came and stayed with her brothers one summer and got hooked as well.

“I became immersed in the culture of Wrigleyville,” Laura said.

After the press conference and an interview immediately following, Tom is whisked away for even more appointments. He still looks relaxed and poised.

“How are you holding up,” Cubs President Crane Kenney asks.

“Good. Real good,” Tom replies.

“Well, hang in there. It’s a marathon.” In baseball, no truer words have been spoken

That’s probably good considering the Ricketts family have said on numerous occassions that they are in it for the long haul. That’s good news.

Hey, Cubs fans! Welcome to the family.

–Mike Huang

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A family atmosphere

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ON LOCATION LOGO.jpg11:00 A.M.–It’s almost showtime. The Ricketts siblings have done just about every sort of media shoot and interview possible.

The weather didn’t cooperate with the day, so the press conference was moved into the Captain Morgan Club. Just outside the Club, the Ricketts family poses for photos for Michigan Avenue Magazine. They have been coached well, as Laura Ricketts remarks, and understand what the media requires. But Tom said this morning that if the media relations department does their job, fans won’t see the Ricketts in the newspapers. But he is realistic.

“It’s hard–you can’t have it both ways,” he said. “You can’t buy the team and become chairman without having a profile.”

Ricketts Family__035small.JPGTom and his siblings often try to break the tension with jokes and self-effacing humor. The echo of laughter and jokes are a welcome addition to the halls of Wrigley Field. Not that the corporate ownership of the Tribune was bad or difficult, but Tom stressed that he would like to change the culture of the organization to turn to one of a family.

The family’s jocularity went a long way to the front office employees and those watching the Ricketts go through a photo shoot out in the rightfield stands.

Tom did draw a stark line in the sand between family ownership and corporate ownership, however.

“There are no other businesses for us to subsidize within the organization and we won’t be caught up in quarterly reports,” Tom said. “We have only one goal–and that is to win the World Series. We are going to reinvest every dollar into the team, Wrigley Field, and the facilities those people need to make us the best organization in baseball.”

As the press conference gets rolling, Tom Ricketts takes the stage with his three siblings. It is notable that during the front office breakfast, as well as the press conference, Tom refuses to use the podium. I asked one of our human resources people where the podium was during breakfast. She replied, “He didn’t want one.”

Tom is relaxed and informal, staying true to that very down-to-earth attitude. If there is any sort of new attitude on the North Side from this family from Omaha, Neb., to Cubs fans it is:

They are one of you.

–Mike Huang

 

 

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