Bookmark this and get to work.
Bookmark this and get to work.
ESPN is reporting that the compensation talks for Theo Epstein are basically done, and that Epstein will become the President of the Cubs. In tandem with that Jed Hoyer will leave San Diego after just two years (and a trade of their fan favorite to his new boss!) to become the GM in Chicago. Josh Byrnes, another former Epstein lieutenant will ascend to the GM role out west in place of Hoyer. Story here. We are curious to know the compensation, it will probably be nothing like what has been reported over the last two weeks.
Derek Jeter:Brian Cashman :: Nomar Garciaparra:Theo Epstein?
Time will tell…
While we'd much prefer to speculate on the future of the Red Sox on the field, it is unavoidable that the off-field circus that has transpired these last two weeks are part of the discussion. Some general thoughts:
The rumors that Theo Epstein could move the the Cubs came as early as the All-Star break, and were fleshed out thereafter. Buster Olney addressed the possibility on August 24th, citing friends of Epstein who said Theo, "in years past", thought the Cubs situation a great challenge. Pardon me for being a cynic, but that's a trial balloon if there ever was a trial balloon. Gordon Edes wrote a column in late August addressing this issue. It was out there, in strong fashion. Pete Abraham wrote yesterday that "Epstein's top assistant, Ben Cherington, has been operating as the de facto general manager for several weeks and is expected to swiftly be named as his replacement.". Several weeks?! Is this just another Ownership leak to make it look like Theo checked out? Who put each of these out there? Epstein, his agent? Jon Henry? The media? Does it matter?
Another thing: we are pretty tired of the indignance of sportswriters with great access to the clubhouse editorializing about this supposed trainwreck of a team. Guys who were in the clubhouse every day, intimate with players, watching baseball 5-7 hours a day from the sidelines and the locker room, who now act like they had the wool pulled over their eyes? If these writers are as talented, hard-working, intrepid as they think they are, they would have been discussing this throughout the year since the friction was not even remotely sub-text. If they didn't notice it, it is an indictment of their own skills as reporters and writers, a testament to their laziness or lack of critical ability. Or they are simply complicit, and have no right to their indignance. This situation is a testament to the adage that everyone loves a winner. Losers, however, aren't forgiven.
One last item caught our eye, a story on ESPN's Soccernet (we are footie junkies) about John Henry's purchase of Liverpool, and we found it both unastounding and incredibly cynical. Henry says in response to a question about what he knew of that storied team (the Yankees of the EPL before Manchester United became the Yankees of the EPL), he states that he "knew virtually nothing about Liverpool Football Club nor EPL [the Premier League]". Henry may be playing dumb here, but in our mind there is a bit of revelation in this admission, and it should inform our view of this ownership: the Red Sox is not a sentimental holding for him. It is a commodity. When Henry perceives that maximum value has been extracted, he will move on. He will sell. The team is primarily a vehicle for revenue generation (and secondarily a vanity toy, of course). Henry is a financial tool, and we ought not think he is a fan like we are. He will do what he can to make the most money and he will move on, and whatever wreckage he leaves in the wake of that revenue extraction will be ours to inherit as fandom's collateral damage. Our trust has to be that Henry sees successes on the field as inextricably linked to revenues, but that may not actually be the case now or in the future. At some point maximum value will be reached, and at that point we are guessing Henry will look for another investment. We cannot expect or rely on the idea that John Henry cares about winning. He cares about money. For 8 years those two cares have been entwined. Those years will surely end.
Globe colleague Dan Shaughnessy has learned from a team source that the Chicago Cubs have asked the Red Sox for permission to speak with Theo Epstein regarding a position in their organization.
So sayeth Pete Abraham. So clearly
Larry Lucchino a team source wants to get it out there that Theo may be gone, and is prepping the PR battle. Should be a fun month.
All we can say is that if this is true the Sox ought to be holding out for some substantial compensation from the Cubs.
We write to say "thank you" to Terry Francona.*
While we can't say whether this conclusion to a disastrous season is good or bad for the Red Sox (we loved him as a manager, and that's saying a lot coming from our fickle self), we will miss him. He was intelligent, humorous, and steady, a key mix for surviving the Boston sports scene. He managed with a long view, and while at moments that would frustate us intensely (what fan doesn't manage every game by the pitch, out, and half-inning?!) his successes with the Red Sox were unprecedented in our lifetime, an essential contributor to moments of immeasurable joy. So we will miss him. We hope the Red Sox front office is as smart in hiring his successor as they were in hiring Francona in the first place. So good luck, Tito, and thanks.
* We will leave commentary on how this all seemed to have gone down until a later date.
Have at it, Bombers fans.
update.. lineups added – ag
Let’s Go Yankees… clap..clap..clap-clap-clap
We think it is fair to say that there will be changes on the Sox this offseason. We hope they aren’t reactionary (fire the GM!) moves, but rather smartly considered personnel decisions tailored to the context. Beyond player personnel (Papi, Paps, what to do with an albatross like Lackey) we are curious to hear what people think will happen. We’re going with the following:
Theo – sticks around unless he quits, he is NOT getting canned
Tito – sticks around unless his health and emotions aren’t in it. He shouldn’t be canned, and won’t be
Allard Baird – gone
Curt Young – gone
Tim Bogar – gone, even Wendell Kim thinks this guy sucks
We come at this a bit uninformed: we didn’t watch a single pitch of any of last night’s action. But we have read up, and we did follow (in cursory fashion) the action of the month of September. All we can really say is that the Sox are right where they should be, on their way home to clean out their lockers. The September team was not the mid-summer team, which was the team the front office wanted. That’s life. Had the Sox come out of the winter with a rotation including Kyle Weiland, Andrew Miller, Time Wakefield, nobody would have picked them to win a damn thing, and that’s the team we got (and, to an extent, Theo gave us) in the last 30 days. They go home getting what they deserved, and while it happened in gut-wrenching fashion we can’t help but think this was essentially a mercy killing, the dispatch of a team that had neither a right to be in the playoffs nor any future in that tournament (had they made it at all).
This was no 1975, 1978, 1986, 2003. We lived through all of those. We feel nothing like we did freshman year in college when the Sox blew it. We feel nothing like we did on that red-eye home from California the night Aaron Boone hit it out, just before we boarded the place. 1986 and 2003, in particular, were small sample size freak-shows of tragic decision-making and performance. This, on the other hand, was a terrible performance over a long stretch by what was, in the end, a lineup and pitching staff that (had they been in place in April) nobody would have pegged to win even 81 games. In the end, this was the just result, and there should be no hyperbolizing or complaining about that.
As this 2011 season implodes on our beloved Red Sox, it seemed like a fine time to explain our sentiments on what has been transpiring, what might transpire, and our connection (or lack thereof) to this real-time athletic cataclysm. In the absence of a brilliant historical piece from Paul, we’ll air some thoughts on the current plight of the Olde Towne Team.
In no particular order:
1. About a month and a half ago, prior to the clusterf*ck of a September, work got INSANE. Hence we have (despite the occasional rant-ish comment here and there) been mostly detached from what has happened. Thank goodness for that. The total innings of Red Sox action we have seen over the past 45 days may be below 20. So we never had to pick the wrong time to stop sniffing glue, so to say, since we never started.
2. Despite not paying attention or posting here much, there’s certainly some pain in seeing the scores every night, reading game threads (at SoSH, especially), and trying to comprehend the horrible end to this season.
3. Despite that pain, being an adult has never come in more handy. Emotional maturity is an asset, and though we came in possession of it late we are grateful we came in possession of it at all.
4. 2004 and 2007 might have made a wee contribution to the acquisition of said emotional maturity, we aren’t naive. Those titles may have been 4 and 7 years ago, but I am still in the “house money” phase of my life with regards to Boston sports. I can’t imagine engaging in anything like self-pity because the Sox blew a lead this year. Those who want to make a big, personal deal out of this are short on memory and long on arrogance. We have had it good, still have it good.
5. While one may subjectively bandy about the term “choke”, the Sox most certainly are collapsing. But they are collapsing for a whole host of rational reasons: bad signings, bad performances, bad injuries, combined with bad luck. Such is sports, frankly. So it goes. Were the Sox healthy and failing this would be exponentially harder to take.
6. Moving forward, assuming this season goes no further than Wednesday (a safe assumption, we think), there will be changes. The Sox will HAVE to make changes. That doesn’t mean they should fire the manager or the GM. But they should change something. Conditioning coach, bench coach, pitching coach, players (Ortiz and Paps are free to choose their future to an extent), who knows. One cannot pin failure on a single reason, or blame injuries alone. Something will change. Many things may change. We advocate a new third base coach. Beyond that we hope stability and reason reign, combined with a LOT of re-assessment of organizational strategy – any good business would assess why failure happened without blinders. We hope this September isn’t chalked up solely to bad luck, though we do hope the front office is able to recognize that rash, reactionary moves aren’t the right thing either and that there is some accountability, even if it only means something non-personnel-based like a change in talent assessment methodology.
7. There’s always next year.
If it keeps raining, we’ll have a playoff spot clinched in no time!
We’re sorry about our earlier mean-spirited post. We really hope the Sox hold on and get you your 200th. You seem like a nice man.
Then, maybe, could you consider retirement as at least a possibility?
That is all.
This is Isaac at his first ever pro baseball game, yesterday. While we aren’t overly strict or ungenerous as parents, we are happy to say we were able to hold out on this experience until we could do it right. Meaning at Fenway Park.
Isaac had a blast, and then Jacoby (his favorite player) hit one to end the game.
A sweet night.