Monday, October 31, 2005

The Prodigal Son

What did you want to be when you grew up? Your dream job. A fireman? Astronaut? Professional athlete? How about now? You’re over 25, got at least part of college education and a beer gut. Now a little more realistically, what is your dream job? I am willing to bet that if you are on this site, or were directed here by some other sports link, you at one point or another thought about running your own sports team. Maybe even your FAVORITE baseball team. Imagine that. You are in charge. The Boss. Making trades, buying contracts, wavers, free agents… you name it.

Well, that’s what happened in Boston from 2002 till today. Theo Epstein was under 30 years old and running the Red Sox. Here was this local kid from Brookline, making trades and deciding contracts just like you do on your fantasy team. Sure he has Yale education, a law degree and experience on the Orioles and Padres. But he was also an infielder at Brookline High. Is he really that much different then you or me or any of your buddies you talk about the Red Sox with at the corner bar? How many times have you said “I can run a team better than these clowns”? Well Theo said that, and proved it. He brought a World Series to Boston after an 86 year drought. Ok, so he’s got us beat there.

I was explaining to Eric earlier today that I thought Theo was the managerial version of Tony Conigliaro. He was the hometown hero kid and started off with a tragedy. The 2003 playoffs wasn’t exactly a line drive to the head, but it was pretty bad. Losing A-Rod to the Yankees was even worse. Even with all that has passed now, I still remember where I was when I heard the Sox couldn’t make that deal with Texas and Steinbrenner scooped up his new “Third Baseman”. Not good times. Yet Theo bounced back, got us Schilling, traded Nomar, won the World Series and got the chance to bang any girl from Portland to Pawtucket in the process. What a story! I think I know how this one ends. He gets a big fat contract extension ($1.5 mill a year for 3 years) and the Red Sox take shots at the title from now until 2008. At least that’s the Boston Globes version of this story.

In reality? Well, think about your dream job for a second. What if it’s not all it’s cracked up to be? What if you have an overbearing boss and mentor that isn’t that well liked locally? What if everything you did was put under a microscope? What if you didn’t get the money you wanted without a fight? What if you already achieved your highest goal? Would any of that be enough for you to give up your dream job?

It was for Theo. New contract or not, he won’t be the GM of the Boston Red Sox next year. This week everyone will be asking the questions I just did and I really wonder what the answers will be. I guess I’m going to have to wait and see what (if anything) Theo has for a response. In the end… knowing what I do about Boston, the Red Sox and the upper management, I am not even sure I can blame him for leaving.

Anyway, Theo Epstein, I forgive you for 2005, I try to forget 2003 and I can never thank you enough for 2004. I wish you the best where ever you end up (Dodgers?) and hope you remember that in the end… you’re a Red Sox fan.

Go Sox