October 25, 2011

Theo Epstein Explains It All

As Theo Epstein begins his new job with the Chicago Cubs, he further explained his decision to leave the Red Sox in an editorial published in today's Globe:
I grew up in Brookline just down the road from Fenway Park, living and dying with every pitch, every win or loss, and every Red Sox season that fell painfully short. My whole outlook on life changed at age 12 as my twin brother and I writhed on the living room floor, devastated by Game Six of the '86 Series.

Had you told me then that the Red Sox would go on to raise not one but two World Series flags, I wouldn't have believed you. And had you told the 12-year-old me that I would someday walk away from my dream job as general manager of the Red Sox completely of my own volition, I would have thought you were crazy.

I think that kid would appreciate an explanation - and so might some of you. ...
In Chicago, Epstein has been nicknamed the "Savior" (even before he officially took the job). With quotes like this one from Curt Schilling - "If he spends the same amount of time he spent in Boston in Chicago, you'll have a World Series" - I guess that hype and hope is inevitable.

Epstein, at Wrigley Field:
I was so lucky to spend a decade in the Red Sox organization, and I consider myself very, very lucky to be a Cub today. ... To me, baseball is better with tradition. Baseball is better is with history. Baseball is better with fans who care. Baseball is better in ballparks like this. Baseball is better during the day. And baseball, best of all, is better when you win. ... Over time, I believe we can build a consistent winner, a team that is playing baseball in October regularly.
See Extra Bases for lots of press conference stuff.

1908 was 103 years ago. Good luck, Theo!


FenFan said...

Good luck, Theo, but in order of precedence:

1. Red Sox World Championship
2. Cubs World Championship

Benjamin said...

I'm cool with Chicago winning the pennant if they want.

johngoldfine said...

FenFan, I wouldn't mind keeping the Cubs in the cold a dite longer.

Surely they would be happy enough with the 2012 NL championship but losing the seventh WS game to the Red Sox at Fenway 3-2 in the 11th inning.

Is that so much to ask?

laura k said...

I wish him the best of luck. It would be incredibly awesome to see the Cubs win the WS. The Red Sox can't win it every year, after all.

Can you imagine if one man first helped bring a championship to the Red Sox after 86 years, then did the same for the Cubs after 103 years???

Surely Red Sox fans are not so begrudging that they can't see the beauty in such a thing. They're not exactly our rivals!

Kathryn said...

Theo is ever the professional (except maybe for the ape suit). I wish him all the best.

And Lackey gets TJ surgery. That's one way to get rid of him.

He won't pitch next year

Maxwell Horse said...

After reading all these articles about how excited Cubs fans are for getting Theo, I can't help but feel excited for them.

And then I turn my head back to the Sox and go, "And then who do we have? ... Oh, we still have Larry. Great."

laura k said...

He won't pitch next year

Things are looking up already!

Amy said...

As I posted elsewhere, I am jealous of those in Chicago, and I really do hope that we see the Cubs in the WS, whether against the Sox or some other AL team. Good luck, Theo!

And yay! No Lackey to kick around next season!

9casey said...

Maxwell Horse said...

And then I turn my head back to the Sox and go, "And then who do we have? ... Oh, we still have Larry. Great."

I assume that is sarcasm . I never really understood why Henry , Werner, Theo and Tito were heroes when we won 2 championships, but Larry has always been the guy people hate.....I just don't get it.

laura k said...

I never really understood why Henry , Werner, Theo and Tito were heroes when we won 2 championships, but Larry has always been the guy people hate.....I just don't get it.

Why is it? What's their problem with Lucchino?

Maxwell Horse said...

Admittedly, it's all based on perception and supposition. There is no "proof" of anything. I might get ripped for putting my general ignorance on display here, but here goes.

Lucchino often comes across as cutthroat and disingenous. You know how Francona gave that great, sincere press conference after his departure was official? He said, quite believably, that he didn't feel that he was really getting the support of ownership.

In the next conference with ownership, Lucchino--in stark constrast with Francona--came off as very calculating when he addressed that issue. He said he was "puzzled" over why Francona would say that. It felt very actorly. It was almost insulting to watch.

That, in a nutshell, is the "problem" with Lucchino. Whether it's a completely unfair perception of him based off shallow superficialities (which could very well be the case), or if people are picking up on something real, he comes across as scheming.

You know how many people think that the sleazy dirt on Francona with the divorce and painkillers had to have been put out by someone higher up? Well, it's Lucchino more than anyone who people are envisioning pulling such a stunt. Is there any proof that he did this? No. But it wouldn't be surprising if he did. (And it had to have been someone.)

I like Theo, and think he's a smart, sincere guy. But there was a perception--again, no proof--that he butted heads with Lucchino a lot. Maybe Theo felt he never got the full freedom to do the job he was hired to do. (Nor would he ever get the promotion he perhaps was hoping for.) Perhaps this was part of Theo's motivation for leaving, because if he'd stayed, he would always be under that thumb.

How many of Theo's mistakes over the years were his own, and how many came as a result from ownership's wishes? I don't know. It's quite possible they were *all* Theo's mistakes. But my perception (there's that word again) is that Lucchino certainly liked to have a say in matters, in a "final word" sort of way. And now with Theo gone, never to butt heads with Lucchino again, I have a vague worry that it will basically be the higher ups running the show, with Cherington acting as less of a stopgap than Theo ever was, between the wishes of ownership vs. what is strategically smart for the team.

Joel said...

On the Lucchino question: even Theo, in his good-bye alluded to the fact that Lucchino wasn't quite like the rest of them:

"[I] enjoy close relationships with owners John Henry and Tom Werner - as well as a complicated but ultimately productive and rewarding relationship with Larry Lucchino."

A little bit of a sour note in an otherwise extremely classy good-bye.

Anyhow, I wish Theo the best in his new role -- including, perhaps, some less complicated relationships. He has his work cut out, and all eyes will be on him.

laura k said...

M Horse, thanks for the thoughtful answer. That falls under the large universe of things I don't know from resolutely blocking out Everything But The Game, so it's interesting and new to me.