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By Murray Chass

March 29, 2015

Theo Epstein, the man who runs the Chicago Cubs’ baseball operations, said this:

In this business of trying to win a world championship for the first time in 107 years, the organization has priority over any one individual.

He also said this:

We have clung to two important ideals during our three years in Chicago. The first is to always be loyal to our mission of building the Cubs into a championship organization that can sustain success. The second is to be transparent with our fans….To our fans: we hope you understand, and we appreciate your continued support of the Cubs.

Epstein included both of these comments in a statement he issued when the Cubs fired their manager, Rick Renteria, last October and hired Joe Maddon. If they sound familiar, it’s because I quoted them in last week’s column. I quote them again for this column about a Cubs’ player. Kris Bryant.

The last I looked Bryant had hit nine home runs, more than any other player in this spring’s exhibition games. I have long said it doesn’t pay to pay attention to spring statistics, but Bryant has forced the Cubs to pay attention.

A third baseman whom the Cubs are also trying in left field, Bryant has certainly caught the attention of Cubs fans. He has convinced them he is ready to help the Cubs win – a playoff spot, the National League Central title, the N.L. pennant, the World Series. Whatever it is, they’ll take it, though they prefer the World Series, which the Cubs haven’t won since 1908.

Bryant, however, can’t help the Cubs win anything if he’s not on the team, and when last heard on the subject, the Cubs said they plan to have Bryant start the season in the minor leagues. They’re playing a game I have chronicled here for the past several years. It’s the major league service time manipulation game. It’s legal under the labor practice, but it undermines the integrity of the game.

If steroids and Pete Rose’s violation of the game’s gambling rule undermines baseball’s integrity, so does …

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By Murray Chass

March 26, 2015

Theo Epstein, president of the Chicago Cubs’ baseball operations, comes from a writing family. His grandfather and his grandfather’s twin brother, Philip and Julius Epstein, collaborated on writing the Academy Award-winning screenplay for the great 1942 film “Casablanca” starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

Theo’s father, Leslie, is a novelist, has written numerous magazine articles, until last June was director of Boston University’s creative writing program and still teaches fiction there. Theo’s sister Anya is a television screenwriter.

Little wonder, then, that Epstein can write. In his case, though, he’s not writing screenplays or novels, though one might suspect he incorporates fiction into what he writes.

Epstein writes statements. Every time he fires a manager he writes a statement. With each one he demonstrates an improvement in linguistic dexterity.

When Epstein fired Dale Sveum, his first Cubs manager, in 2013 after two seasons, he wrote this statement:

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By Murray Chass

March 22, 2015

Commissioner Rob Manfred disclosed last week that Pete Rose had formally requested reinstatement from baseball’s permanently ineligible list. Manfred told reporters he was prepared to deal with the request “on the merits.”

Manfred’s replacement of Bud Selig in the office of commissioner has resurrected talk of the possibility of Rose’s reinstatement after a quarter of a century. Rose last applied for reinstatement in 1997, but Selig never acted on the request, saying neither yes nor no.

Rose’s ever hopeful fans apparently think Manfred’s mere mention that he is prepared to act on the request suggests that he will act favorably and reinstate Rose. If that’s what they think, they are getting way ahead of Manfred.

All he is saying is he will …

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