Monday, October 31, 2005


The Boston Red Sox and the Boston Globe conspired and drove Theo out of town. Whether or not they to do so or were just trying to keep Theo "in his place" is irrelevant. According to a piece by Michael Silverman in The Boston Herald, the Red Sox leaked some information to Dan "Shank" Shaughnessey. Shank used this information to compose what is essentially a propaganda piece for the Red Sox front office. Here is the column from Sunday's Globe

Right off the bat, Shank demonstrates his journalistic ineptitude:

The news conference should be at Fenway tomorrow afternoon. Halloween. No tricks. No boos. Look for the traditional handshake and jack-o-lantern smiles from Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino. They'll say they look forward to many more years working together to bring championship baseball to Boston.

This, as we all know, never happened.

The unfortunate part of the entire episode is that a lot of inside stuff went public.

It is unfortunate. It is also unfortunate that Shaughnessey himself aided the Red Sox in allowing certain things to go public. This is such a hypocritical statement. Don't whine about something you helped others do.

Theo Epstein is a truly remarkable young man from a truly remarkable family. He would be a success in any field of his choice and Boston is fortunate that he set out to have a career in baseball. He got to the mountaintop faster than anyone in the history of the game and deserves to be paid accordingly. But he did not get there alone. And that's why he's not signed yet. That's why this has taken so long.

The Theo-Larry story is as old as the Bible. Mentor meets protege. Mentor teaches young person all he knows. Eventually, the prodigy is ready to make it on his own and no longer feels he needs the old man. That's what we've seen unfold on Yawkey Way, and that's why the Theo deal is not done yet.

Actually, I am reminded of a story in the Bible that mirrors this situation. When David, the guy who killed Goliath (New York Yankees, perhaps?) was beloved by everyone in the land of Israel for defeating the Philistines (winning the World Series) and bringing back the coveted Ark of the Covenant (World Series trophy), the King of Israel (Larry Luchino) was insanely jealous. Saul, David's predecessor on
the throne, even went so far as to nearly kill David in his sleep. Instead, Saul unpopularly appointed his son to be King. After the civil war that ensued, David was able to claim the throne. Saul was an envious old man who wasn't happy that David was getting so much praise for winning the war. It was Saul's war, but David had been the one who went out and won it. Instead of sharing in David's glory, Saul was
consumed by jealousy and turned against David. This is exactly what happened in the relationship between Theo Epstein and Larry Luchino. Theo got the accolades for conquering baseball while Larry sat in his office like some miser trying to figure out how much he could charge people to sit in the 3rd row behind home plate and asking himself "How come I'm not getting all the credit? Without me, Theo would be nothing."

Larry taught Theo too well and now he is looking in the mirror as he tries to hammer out a deal with the GM he made in his own image. Both are merely doing what they are trained to do. In Theo's case, he's doing what Larry trained him to do.

Apparently, Larry Luchino is the ONLY person responsible for Theo Epstein's success. The professors at Yale, Theo's parents, his mentors throughout the years, the intelligent baseball people whom he surrounds himself with, and Theo Epstein himself are not repsonsible for Theo's metioric rise from intern to GM of a World Series Champion.

What is alarming -- for the future of the Sox franchise -- is Theo's sudden need to distance himself from those who helped him rise to his position of power. Lucchino and Dr. Charles Steinberg are a pair of Red Sox executives who ''discovered" Theo when he was a student at Yale. They picked him out of thousands of wannabe interns. They hired him in Baltimore and then took him to San Diego with them. They held his hand and drove him places during his Wonder Years. They urged him to get his law degree. And when they set up stakes at Fenway Park, they fought vigorously to bring him home. A year later, when Billy Beane got cold feet, Lucchino turned to 28-year-old Theo and made him the (then) youngest GM in the history of baseball.

Wouldn't you want to distance yourself from a group of overbearing men who didn't praise you for what you did? What if all they did was take responsibility for everything good you ever accomplished? I have a Professor at my college who is urging me to go to law school. If I do and become succesful, will she take responsibility for my success? She can claim success in guiding me towards it, but any success would be mine, as would any failure. That's what life is. People point you in directions and then leave the rest to you. Shank, Luchino, and the Red Sox organization fail to comprehend this. Yes, Theo was helped along the path to success, but he had to do most of the walking.

Let's start with Theo being a ''baseball guy" while Larry is a lawyer with a lofty title (CEO). Granted, Epstein is a student of the game, but it's a mistake to say he knows more about baseball than Lucchino or anyone else in the Red Sox baseball operation. Theo is 31 years old and did not play baseball past high school. He spent four years at Yale and three years at law school. That hardly leaves time for much more than rotisserie league scouting. He can read the data and has a horde of trusty, like-minded minions, but we're not talking about a lifetime of beating the bushes and scouting prospects. Lucchino was a good high school baseball player and made it to the NCAA Final Four with Princeton's basketball team. He came to baseball as an executive in 1979, when Theo was 5 years old. That doesn't make him George Digby or Ray Boone, but he's not Les Otten, either.

The only thing keeping Theo from being a lawyer like Luchino is that he hasn't passed any bar exam to my knowledge. I'm sure if Theo put even a little bit of effort into it, he would pass. Let's look at The Shank's logic here:

1. Larry Luchino is old
2. Theo Epstein is young
3. Older people know more than younger people
Conclusion: Luchino knows more than Epstein

Luchino may know more because he's been around longer, but that doesn't mean he is wiser than Theo. It only means that he might know more facts and more history. Theo, on the other hand, is more willing to try new things and experiment. He also has more energy and vigor. He also has much more charisma. As important as baseball knowledge is, it is equally important to be willing to try new things in order
to get ahead. After all, almost every other GM for every other team will be following the beaten path. Trying new things will set you apart from your competition. Also, charisma and vigor are vital to a GM, particularly at trade deadline time.

Some more Shank logic:

1. Larry Luchino played baseball in college
2. Theo Epstein did not play baseball in college
3. Playing baseball in college gives you a smarter baseball mind
Conclusion: Luchino is smarter when it comes to baseball.

So Larry playing second base or whatever for Princeton many years ago makes him more intelligent? What? How the hell does that work? Where did Peter Gammons play his college ball? How about you, Shank?

More on this later.

The fact that the Red Sox offered what Theo wanted, and that it took so long to do so, demonstrates that Theo just didn't want to be here. I don't think it was anything against the fans, or his players, but against his "bosses." People might remain loyal to the Red Sox organisation and portray Theo as an egomaniac, but I think the problem resides with the organisation itself.

I don't like Larry Luchino that much. He's a good CEO when it comes to profit, but he has alot of failings. Things like the budget the Red Sox were kept on last season which prevented them from re-signing guys like Pedro Martinez. Things like spending $100M to renovate Fenway by putting in even more $200+ seats instead of investing $500M and putting in thousands more seats for everyone. Then he claims that he cares about the average Sox fan.

Luchino has always seemed bitter about the praise Theo has gotten for the team's success. Face it, Larry, even if you were making all the pivitol deals, Theo was the guy whose face was out there, not yours.

Now the big questions is, how do the Red Sox replace him? I really have no idea. Will they get another young kid and create a puppet regime like they think Theo was? Maybe Luchino will be the GM himself. According to Shaughnessey "Epstein is a student of the game, but it's a mistake to say he knows more about baseball than Lucchino or anyone else in the Red Sox baseball operation." Shaughnessey's conclusion is that Luchino is older and played baseball in college, whereas Epstein is only 31 and didn't play ball for Yale. If you want to laugh your ass off, read his column.

There are times when I look up the VFW Parkway towards Fenway Park, then I turn around and look down Route 1 towards Gillette. The way the Patriots handle things leaves me in awe. The way the Red Sox handle things causes me pain.


Thank God we retained him. I know he's made some bad moves but he's also the man who helped assemble the 2004 WS Champions by getting Curt Schilling, and Keith Foulke. Then he polished the team into championship calibre when he dealt Nomar and got Cabrera and Mienktiewicz. Hopefully it wasn't just a freak thing and he can return to his genious ways for the 2006 season.


Patriots 21, Bills 16. More on this game tomorrow.