Aging prop comic Gallagher and once-funny Dane Cook have both been invited to Cubs camp in Mesa, Ariz., to vie for the role of backup comedic relief to pitcher Ryan Dempster. Staying true to the team’s new philosophy of being deep in each position, team president Theo Epstein issued personal invitations to both comics.

“We think Ryan is one of the funniest pitchers in the big leagues,” said Epstein with a chuckle. “However, we want to be sure that if he loses his Harry Caray impersonation, or should he stop being funny in general, we have a serviceable backup. Despite this, Dempster’s face alone is kind of funny-looking, so we’re banking on him giving us another banner year.”

When asked why the team chose Gallagher and Cook as possible backups, Epstein emphasized the need to be frugal while looking toward the future.

“I know Gallagher’s seen better days,” said Epstein. “But the guy can still smash a watermelon with the best of ’em.” Regarding the once-adored Cook, Epstein said, “We think Dane may have one good year left in him. If we sign him and it doesn’t work out, we may be out a small amount of cash, and have to hear nonsense jokes for a summer. But we’re willing to take that chance.”

Epstein apparently has his eye on younger comedic talent. “I’ve been touring a lot of venues from New York comedy clubs to Second City in Chicago. My goal is to sign the next Chris Rock to a long-term deal with club control.”

When asked of his concerns about actual baseball talent, Epstein stated, “It could be a long couple of years. We’re going to need to be able to laugh every now and then.”

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