It is perhaps the only story in recent memory that we all have digested so thoroughly and are still left feeling empty, hungry for more information, and downright nauseous at the same time.
Theo Epstein is gone, and the Red Sox are suddenly at a crossroads. Again.
So … what? Why? Who’s to blame? And who pays? Besides the fans of this franchise?
Whether or not we’ll all care about all this in a few months is a point of some contention among members of the Nation. Come spring training, will we really be talking about the Epstein-Larry Lucchino-Charles Steinberg controversy, or who’s hitting behind David Ortiz, the maturation of Jonathan Papelbon, and whether Edgar Renteria can return to form?
Who knows? I tend to think this issue will have long-standing ramifications. Others think this will be old hat with the first crack of the bat. If that is the case, it’s a bit upsetting to be honest, as the reasons why Epstein left might never be answered if the general public is willing to simply sit back and wait for the wins to roll in. It’s only if the team struggles on the field, of course, that the inquisition will commence. Gee, who said anything about fickle?
Let’s dip into the mailbag …
I generally agree with the substance, or at least the tone, of what you write. But not this time.
If I were to do some creative substituting of names and organizations and modestly rewrite some of your sentences, your article could be turned into an Op Ed piece on the Bush administration, complete with Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby, i.e. lack of trust, lack of candor, leaking to the press, etc. etc. etc.
I realize that there is a direct relationship between readership and pointed and critical reporting — often the more outrageous the position, the more it’s read (does the name Dave Egan, aka The Colonel, mean anything to you?) — but we’re talking about baseball here. A game (albeit very much a business), not the State of the Union. This is not about the great political, economic and value separations that exist in the Red and Blue State atmosphere of this country. This is not about the issues of the war in Iraq.
This is about baseball, even though it’s played by the Boston Red Sox and consumed by Red Sox Nation.
Pick any night in July 2006, and less than four fans in the bleachers will be talking about who leaked what to whom and whether the Sox management can be trusted.
The Sox have survived worse.
Agreed. But let’s put aside all this Bob Marley, “Three Little Birds,” don’t worry ’bout a t’ing stance until the team actually has someone in place to take care of this business. Right now, there is no GM in place, Josh Byrnes is off to Arizona, and who knows if he wants to take Ben Cherington, Jed Hoyer, or Peter Woodfork with him.
As for the political analogy, don’t be so definitive that this is baseball, and only a game. This is obviously a billion dollar business, and in a billion dollar business, you need politicians to weasel and schmooze their way through deals. Read Joan Vennochi’s fantastic editorial today discussing the team’s desire for public funding dollars in order to renovate the surrounding area of the Fenway district, and how this whole issue with Lucchino being painted as the bad guy could put that in jeopardy. That sound like just baseball to you? It is a game? Sure. Unfortunately not one played on the field though. And it’s concerning that this is the one the Red Sox are more apt to deal with.
Why do you and so many other shortsighted Boston fans forget that when Duquette made the “twilight” statement, that Clemens was 40-39 with a 3.78 ERA, which was steadily decreasing since even before that? Most fans were split on the matter including myself, who actually cheered him on his return to Fenway. It wasn’t until he started posting decent numbers again that people got really upset and wasn’t until the Yankees that they became completely bitter.
Saphron Jenkins, Roxbury
Um, no. Actually it was the shortsighted fans who agreed with Duquette, refusing to look at his solid 3.63 ERA in 1996, as well as his 257 strikeouts, the most he had had to that point since 1988. Kid yourself all you want, but when Clemens went 21-7 with a 2.05 ERA (a mark he had not beaten until this season’s 1.87) in 1997 with the Blue Jays, while Steve Avery went 6-7 with a 6.42 ERA, Duquette’s honeymoon in Boston was done.
This is the second team I have lost to business interests this year. I grew up in Boston, but spent part of my childhood in Manchester, England, so I have spent my whole life supporting both the Red Sox and Manchester United Football Club. I am sure you heard about the buyout by Malcolm Glazer of Manchester United, and how the fans raged against it (let me assure you, I am in constant contact with a lot of friends back there, and they tell me that it’s a completely different club and in no way is that good). Is this what the future holds for Red Sox Nation? Have we made the first steps in losing what we have all held so dear to ourselves? What is this world coming to?
Anyway, I just wanted to say spot on. You have nailed it on the head.
Doug Courtney, in exile in St. Louis, Mo.
If you haven’t seen it yet, Ian O’Connor of the Journal News (Westchester, NY) has decided that Epstein’s personal decision to leave the Red Sox was one based on immaturity, and proceeds to rip into the former GM.
“At his bizarre and dishonest news conference yesterday, Epstein revealed himself for what he is: a baby. A kid who needs to grow up. (Brian) Cashman can weather year after year of George Steinbrenner’s storms, fight off all the owner’s back-room operatives, and end up with a lavish contract extension and home-field advantage for business once conducted in a hostile Tampa environment. Epstein? Larry Lucchino, his baseball elder, suddenly decides to bounce a ball off Theo’s forehead, Great Santini style, and the kid goes down faster than the Red Sox did in the first round.”
Maybe there’s a ring of truth to that, but Theo Epstein’s name isn’t Brian Cashman. Only he and a select few really know why this whole situation has exploded the way it has.
And while they may be talking, they ain’t saying much.