There’s really no better way to get the inside story on something than to do in-depth interviews with the people involved and let them tell their story in the form of an oral history. A crucial part of that is to let the event breathe, and age, so you can give it the proper context. With that in mind, here’s a comprehensive oral history of yesterday’s press conference where the Cubs formally announced the signing of pitcher Yu Darvish.
THEO EPSTEIN, President, Baseball Operations, Chicago Cubs
When the offseason started, we didn’t think there was any chance that we’d be able to sign Yu. He was the top free agent pitcher on the market, and even though we needed to add two starting pitchers to fill out our rotation, it seemed like he would be out of our price range. But the market was slow to develop, and it started to look like the prices would come down, and we might have a shot.
SCOTT BORAS, agent
I like to compare this free agent season to a school bus. Even though the cool kids get on last, they always get to sit in the back. But this year it was like the cool kids couldn’t even get on the bus, and the ones who could had to sit in the middle, next to some third grader who was still at risk on any given day of wetting his pants. I think you all can follow that analogy, I’m really pretty good at these.
YU DARVISH, starting pitcher, Chicago Cubs
I’m not sure if you guys know this, but I struggled a little in the World Series with the Dodgers last year, so I was hoping to re-sign with them so that I could atone for my poor performance. But they prioritized their spending in other ways, so I had to look elsewhere. But I really enjoyed my time in Los Angeles, I wish them well in their future endeavors. I really don’t have a bad thing to say about anyone in that organization.
TOMMY LASORDA, Hall of Fame manager/senient gasbag, Los Angeles Dodgers
Who? Hugh Dervish? Yeah, I remember that guy. He choked in the big games! Reminds me of Jay Howell! Who did he sign with? The Cubs? Perfect, it’s good to keep all of the losers in one place.
Fuck Tommy Lasorda.
JED HOYER, General Manager, Chicago Cubs
No, really, I’m the general manager. Yeah, of the Cubs. I have been for seven years. I’m serious. Here, hold this, I’ve got a business card here somewhere.
CRANE KENNEY, President of Annoying Everyone, Chicago Cubs
Oh, getting Darvish is huge for us. I’m working on a pretty sweet deal for our TV rights starting in 2020, and to get a guy from China is a real asset. That’s a huge market. There are like a billion Chinamen, and they are all going to be Cubs fans now. This isn’t public knowledge, but I am thisclose to finalizing a deal with Chairman Mao to get our games broadcast live on all of the TVs in the Shanghai airport lounges.
Darvish is what? Japanese? Yeah, I knew that. That’s what I meant. Japan, great market. We’ve had talks about getting our games shown on karaoke screens when they’re not showing lyrics. I’ve got a lot of things going. It’s going to be great.
BRUCE LEVINE, Twitter expert, 670 The Score
The press conference was initially set for noon Arizona time, but I let [Cubs Director of Media Relations] Peter Chase know that I couldn’t make it until 1 p.m. I’m not sure if you know this, but I’m really, basically, the ambassador of Chicago for prominent baseball players, and it’s my official role to welcome them to town. So if I’m not there, I mean, the whole press conference can go sideways. It was nice of Peter to move it.
We didn’t move the press conference. Besides, when Bruce got his first question, he not only forgot to do his stupid “Welcome to Chicago” bit–which would have been awkward since we’re not in Chicago, but he obviously forgot Yu’s first name. He called him, “Mister Darvish.”
That’s ridiculous, I didn’t forget his name. I called him Mr. Darvish as a show of respect. How could anybody think I’d forget a prominent player’s name. That would never happen.
Either he forgot my first name or he was just kissing my ass. I’m not sure which one’s sadder.
We knew the announcement was a big deal. Some of the Japanese media were lining up in front of the complex at six a.m., just to try to be the first to get a picture of Yu as he walked in the building. We could also tell it was a big deal because Paul Sullivan wore pants.
PAUL SULLIVAN, National baseball writer, Chicago Tribune
They’re actually shorts. I just forgot to pack a belt.
We pulled up and saw all of the photographers waiting by the front door, so the Cubs let us in through a side door.
SEIKO YAHURA, Photographer, Tokyo Times
Shit. There’s a side door?
The press conference was nearly delayed because we forgot that our team translator, Henry Blanco went to the Nationals to coach with Dave Martinez. Then we remembered it wouldn’t have mattered because Henry doesn’t speak Japanese, and he’s a really terrible translator.
I still use a translator in these kinds of settings, but my English is actually pretty good. And, my new teammates have been really helpful. Anthony Rizzo taught me how to say, “Go away, Gordon. Go bother Chatwood.” They say that’ll come in really handy.
JIM ROSE, Sports Anchor, WLS ABC 7
I was disappointed that I didn’t have a chance to be there, I was going to ask Yu what he thought about Derrick Rose clearing waivers.
CHRIS GIMENEZ, Cubs catcher
I get asked a lot if the Cubs signed me to my minor league contract with a chance to make the big league team because I caught Yu with the Rangers, and we have a really good rapport. I really don’t think that Theo would do that, though. I’m pretty sure I got this spot on my own merit.
I would never do something like that.
Sorry, I have to run, I need to ask Theo if we’re finally ready to issue the news release that now that the Darvish signing is official that we’re releasing Gimenez.
How did I pick my number? I wore 11 with the Rangers, and I wore it back in Japan with the Nippon Ham Fighters. So I was glad it was available with the Cubs.
KYLE SCHWARBER, Cubs leftfielder
Wait, they have ham fights in Japan? I need to get over there to see that.
I was told that once [former Cub] Jacque Jones found out they issued his old number to me that I’d probably get a text message from him. And I was warned never to look at a Jacque Jones text message.
DUSTY BAKER, Former Giants/Cubs/Reds/Nationals manager and guy who really wants you to know he used to bat behind Hank Aaron
Look, dude. I’m sure Jacque is going to be exonerated on that revenge porn accusation. [Dusty’s phone vibrates, he looks at it and cringes.] Or, maybe not.
We sincerely think that Darvish was the best starter on the market and we’re really excited that we were able to sign him. But that doesn’t mean we won’t miss Jake Arrieta. He was a huge part of getting our team to where we are. Without Jake, none of us have World Series rings. And, knowing him, the fact that camps are opening and he’s still unsigned is just making him work out that much harder.
JAKE ARRIETA, Free agent starting pitcher
Hey, can you hand me that towel? I just finished up 90 minutes of nude pilates and a nice 20 minute Scrotum Ripper X™ session.
TONY HORTON, Fitness expert/creator of P90X
Man, o’ manoshewitz, I can assure you that Scrotum Ripper X is not a thing.
Yeah it’s frustrating to finally get to unrestricted free agency and not get the offers you expect. All I can do is work hard and be ready whenever a team calls. Look, I know the Phillies and Brewers are interested, and maybe even some real Major League teams, too. Until then, I’ll just get up early every morning, go for a brisk eight mile nude run, then come home and get a great workout in on that Chuck Norris Total Gym thing and try not to get my penis caught in the spring.
JODEE MYERS, Next door neighbor to the Arrietas
Did Jake say what time he’d start his run every morning?
I was really excited to meet Joe Maddon. I’ve heard a lot of great things about him, and he didn’t disappoint. We talked for just a few minutes and he offered to shave my head for charity, sell me a t-shirt with his new spring training slogan on it, pet a llama and listen to some Earth, Wind and Fire in his RV.
Well, I didn’t want to come on too strong and overwhelm him on the first day.
All in all, it was a great signing for us and a very good press conference.
Do you have any questions for me?