Apr 8, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein meets with the press prior to a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
What is the most thankless job in the entire world? Team psychologist for the Chicago Cubs has to be somewhere on the list. Maybe at the top.
I can’t imagine anyone actually wanting the job of maintaining the psychological health of the most inept franchise in all of sports history, but if someone out there does wish to take on this challenge, the Cubs are looking.
The job opened up this offseason after Theo Epstein decided to get rid of long-time team head shrinker Marc Strickland. Turns out, as with most things Cubs-related, there’s a bizarre backstory to Strickland’s firing.
Strickland was first hired by the organization in 2009, and began working with the major league team in 2010. Somehow or another, Strickland’s job quickly evolved from consulting with players off the field like a normal shrink to acting as an on-field coach.
I don’t mean Strickland was out there offering psychological insights on the field, I mean he was out there doing things normal baseball coaches do, like wear a uniform and play catch with players during BP. Strickland became so much a part of the team, he would even stand in the tunnel and fist bump with Cubs players after games.
This weirdness got on the nerves of then-general manager Jim Hendry who attempted to have Strickland fired. But Strickland evidently had some special Rasputin-like hold over ownership and was kept on the team despite Hendry’s protestations.
Strickland’s tenure outlived that of Hendry and as of this offseason he was still employed by the Cubs.
It took the dashing young Theo Epstein to finally slay this Rasputin. Paul Sullivan reports that the overly-attached team psychologist is no longer affiliated with the Cubs as of this year. Maybe Epstein drowned him in the icy Neva River.
The whole thing is incredibly weird, and totally Cubs-like. What other organization lets their team psychologist basically become a coach? I’m surprised they didn’t hire him to manage.
Hell, maybe they should have. He couldn’t have done any worse than Dale Sveum.