A little more than four years ago, I threw left field-leaning members of Cubbie Nation a curve by asking whether they would rather see an Obama victory or a World Series parade at Clark and Addison. Although Cook County residents had the option of voting more than once, the Cubs’ impeachable performance against the Dodgers in the NLDS made the question moot a month before the election.
Now, I have another question: Who’s got the brighter future, Barack Obama or Theo Epstein?
Both the president and the president of baseball operations have been weighed down by the failures of previous administrations. But this is about the future, where each man will be judged on wins, losses, and how he played the game.
Before you vote, here are the key issues to consider:
While U.S. presidents are required to renew their contracts after four years and are limited to eight total, Epstein has no foreseeable limit to his term. If Theo wins, he’s King for Life. And he never has to buy his own beer anywhere on the North Side of Chicago.
Rather than increasing payroll debt in pursuit of near-term stimulus and left-handed power hitters, however, Epstein is pursuing alternative ways to energize the roster. It’s a long-term plan. By the time the Cubs are ready to return to the playoffs, Hillary will be preparing for her own primary season. And if they don’t make it, Epstein may be looking for work as a used car salesman.
Obama, on the other hand, stands a fair chance Tuesday of winning four more years. And, win or lose, he’ll enjoy a long and prosperous run as a writer and lecturer.
Future Prospects — Edge: Obama
Mitt Romney knows how to execute defensive shifts, but he probably makes too many errors to beat the incumbent, especially after Obama’s lauded handling of Hurricane Sandy. Assuming Obama pulls out a squeaker, he’ll still have matchup problems against a Republican-controlled House. Those opponents won’t even play ball sometimes.
With the Houston Astros finally seceding from the National League, the Cubs are polling last in the Central heading into 2013. While double-dip 100-loss seasons are unlikely, being competitive in Missouri and Ohio, much less Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, seems unlikely anytime before the midterm elections.
Thankfully for Cubs fans, Major League Baseball does not impose any roster finance limits. Once the Ricketts family is done investing millions to attack wasteful spending, the family’s fortune can be earmarked to restoring the Cubs. These financial advantages for Epstein will make up for other shortcomings in the Cubs’ field staff.
Opposing Forces — Edge: Epstein
Perks of the Job
Obama has the Rose Garden. Epstein has Bricks and Ivy.
Obama travels the globe via Air Force One. Epstein lives walking distance from the office and has better drinking spots nearby. When he needs to get away, Obama has Camp David. Epstein has a gorilla suit.
Perks of the Job — Edge: Obama
Upon his arrival in the Oval Office, Obama was greeted with 700,000 monthly job losses, two wars, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and the pressure of being the first African American president.
Epstein inherited more than a century of futility. And Crane Kenney.
Job Stress — Edge: Obama
Ultimately, if we give both men the benefit of the doubt, the question comes down to this: Which is a greater accomplishment, delivering a World Series to the Cubs or being a two-term U.S. president?
Put it another way. If you’re a long-suffering Cubs fan who believes the free world would be better off with Obama as skipper, but you had to choose between Romney as Commander-in-Chief and a championship flag fluttering over Wrigley, which one would it be? Come on… You know the answer. Romney did pass healthcare reform in Massachusetts, right? He’s probably a closet progressive waiting to work that Etch-a-Sketch one more time after inauguration day. Anyway, he can’t be as bad a president as the former Texas Rangers owner, right?
Obama’s already won his biggest battles. He became the Jackie Robinson of the White House, went to bat for the auto industry, picked off Bin Laden, and got the win on healthcare reform. How badly does he really need a second term?
Epstein, on the other hand, can deliver something truly epic, something truly grand, something no one has done since Teddy Roosevelt was stomping around the Oval Office.
When it comes to potential upside, on this Election Day the choice is clear.