HORRIFYING, AND GETTING WORSE
I don’t know about you, but the things I continue to read and hear on a daily basis are sickening. OK, Terry Francona’s gone. Ron Johnson and Rob Leary are, too. Now it looks like Theo Epstein is bound for the Windy City and Wrigley Field. There has been a lot to digest. (And I’m not talking about fried chicken and beer). I have read some really interesting accounts over the last week. Two that stood out in my mind, were Howard Bryant of espnboston.com and his analysis of the Theo Epstein era and Bob Hohler of the Boston Globe and his comprehensive look inside the dysfunctional Red Sox clubhouse. After reading Hohlers’ piece, it made me yearn for the days when the biggest criticism of the Sox was “25 players, 25 cabs”. It blows my mind. I am not a “head in the clouds” kind of guy. I know these guys and hundreds like them. If Hohlers’ story is even 50% true, shame on them. Young men that I respect, because I’ve gotten to know them on a personal level. It’s shameful. When I was a kid, I idolized Carlton Fisk, Carl Yastrzsemski, Rico Petrocelli and Luis Tiant. Not because I knew them, because they wore the most beautiful uniform in all of sports. These days, I’ve admired the likes of Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, John Lester and Clay Buchholz (among others) because I know how hard they’ve worked to achieve their current status. If I feel let down, imagine how some 9 or 10 year old kid feels. It dawns on me that I don’t know this current crop of Sox stars any better than I did the heroes of my childhood.
When the season ended years ago, the players went their separate ways and the media that covered them, moved on to football or whatever other sport they specialized in. Not anymore! I have probably read more on the Sox over the last couple of weeks than I would have if they’d still been in the playoffs. If you think that baseball in New England isn’t a 12 month a year proposition, you’re naive.
The hot topic today seems to be what type of compensation the Sox could get in exchange for Theo. What would the Cubs owe Boston? Don’t get me wrong, I’d love some compensation for the G.M., but really, is that fair? Apples and oranges, my friend, apples and oranges. Then we move on to Theos’ replacement. If Boston stays “in-house”, his logical successor, is Ben Cherington. Over the years, Cherington has been generous with his time and knowledge. I think he’s a good guy and extremely intelligent and probably has learned a lot from Epstein. The Sox like to make a “splash”, though. They could opt for a bigger name from outside the family. Can’t name a manager until you get a General Manager. Can’t name as new G.M. until the old one leaves.
At age 37, Epstein may have already earned a spot in Cooperstown. He was at the helm when the Sox erased the “Curse of the Bambino” in 2004 and put an exclamation mark on it in 2007. This summer, former Blue Jays and Philadelphia architect, Pat Gillick went into Cooperstown with a similar resume. If Epstein can help the Cubs to their first World Series since 1908, he joins Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Ernie Banks and Bobby Hull on the Mount Rushmore of the city. In the process, he’ll cement his spot in the Hall of Fame.
Right now, here in the “Nation”, I’m not sure there is much good will towards Theo, Tito or any of the players, with the possible exception of Dustin Pedroia. There’s a lot of talking going on and a lot of changes pending. What will be the next “bomb” to drop. Stay tuned, it can’t be far off.