It’s been a busy week for Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein. First he signed Manny Ramirez as a player coach for the team’s AAA affiliate Iowa Cubs. Then he watched as pitcher Jeff Samardzija finally got his first win of the season. That is why now is the perfect time for owner Tom Ricketts to give Epstein the week off, so he can chase the one goal that has always eluded him, first place in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
For Epstein, this is his last year of eligibility. Whereas most competitors in the Spelling Bee are either in the 8th grade or under 16 years old, Epstein was given a waiver because for the past decade he has spent his time around Major League ballplayers, which in no way, shape or form has helped to make him more qualified academically.
With only minimal time to brush up on his spelling skills, the Yale alumnus is training for the Spelling Bee furiously. Part of Epstein’s training regiment includes making a spelling wall on the team’s unused whiteboard for mid-season playoff acquisitions. Also, he has Cubs players quiz him with words in between their trade requests. Finally, the savvy sabermetrician is using the team’s empty, outdated high school era weight center to jumping rope and spell at the same time, because he saw how well it worked for Akeela.
Although Epstein’s not the overwhelming favorite going into the Bee this year, Ricketts said he hopes Epstein can just finish in the top five of the standings, “like the Cubs hopefully will in the NL Central.”