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Home » 2005 News & OpinionsNovember 2005 » Back to the Past

Back to the Past

So, disparaging domain names about the Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino are already popping up like mushrooms after the rain: this one calls for a boycott of the Boston Globe (been there, done that, doesn’t get you anywhere) and you can buy a t-shirt while you’re there. I’d say it’s rather disingenuous to criticize a man that has over-commercialized the Red Sox with a merchandising venture of your own.

The World Series championship days seem so long ago now that many, too many, of the key men that brought the title to Boston are gone. And yet there are certain things that I remember clear as day despite the delirious joy victory inspired. So famished was I for any type of talk about the World Champion Boston Red Sox (do I send a nickel to Lucchino’s coffers each time I use that phrase?), I brought myself to tune into WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan show to hear their weekly interview with Lucchino. He said that it was unfortunate that the World Series did not last more games because the team would have gotten a bigger share of the gate as the series progressed. He did say it with tongue somewhat planted in cheek, but he proceeded to explain in detail and length how the percentages of profit change after four games. I don’t recall the exact split because I was taken aback by his comments were more about maximizing postseason earnings rather than enjoying success in the game.

In contrast, Theo Epstein spoke of certain Red Sox executives who had pen and paper at the ready during Game 4, poised to craft a fitting statement of defeat. Whether it was Dr. Charles Steinberg or Lucchino was left open to interpretation.

Epstein’s press conference on November 2nd also left much to the imagination. After mulling over his departure and having a few more days to read the transcript of his cryptic responses, it would be lunacy for me or anyone else to claim to know the true story of why he left, but I’m left with a few impressions of this regrettable process.

Epstein felt he had earned the right to be treated as part of management. I revise my previous statement that I thought Lucchino was the source of the leaks, but the fact remains that someone with access to sensitive details spoonfed these particulars to Dan Shaughnessy. Such an act seems to be predicated by an apparent lack of respect for Epstein that may permeate the organization. Everyone thought of him as the young protegé and hometown kid willing to take his lumps indefinitely.

But kids grow up. He was not willing to play the ingenue any longer. He helped bring a championship to a town that was fallow for decades. Perhaps his front office peers, for he saw them as peers, never thought of him as being more than a novelty act. Epstein imagined that he had established himself as a full-fledged member of the management team and a league elite, not part of the rank and file. But when it came down to it, Epstein wasn’t accepted as part of the old boys’ club.

Maybe it’s because he didn’t put on airs. So many of the players spoke out on Epstein’s departure: Curt Schilling (not entirely surprising), Jason Varitek, David Ortiz. Rookie phenom Jonathan Papelbon spoke out on how Epstein gave him confidence when he was told by the man who recruited him “to act like you’re meant to be here this whole time.” Much like how the now former Red Sox general manager took to his own responsibilities at the age of 28 with an aplomb and deftness alien to recent Red Sox admininistrators.

For one so young, he understood how the Red Sox were not cursed by figments of former players but by a lack of innovation. The team Theo loved growing up was plagued by uninspired owners and managers who couldn’t see beyond their provincial cant and received so-called wisdom. The legacy of racism and moribund imagination that hobbled the team is so often whitewashed by the song and dance of Shaughnessy’s devising.

How deliciously vile that this specific Boston Globe columnist play a part in this drama. In a struggle between counterfeit understandings of Red Sox history represented by Shaughnessy against a vibrant baseball dynasty-in-the-making exemplified by Epstein, the former triumphed and a part of a promising future that was lost. Why write a new story when you can just keep on reissuing the old?


Good post empy. I don't see Theo leaving as the end of the world - but the seemingly conscious choice by Henry to have a dysfunctional front office is maddening. He had a chance to keep someone who very clearly was both beloved by the fans and incredibly savvy with the media. And he chose to let him go. I don't know if you heard his stint on WEEI yesterday but he tried to take credit for urging Theo to ask for a contract extention in spring training. And of course he then squirmed around when the Big Show guys asked why Theo was then rebuffed.

Henry allowed this to be completely messed up. He was 100% correct when he suggested that he's not fit to be the principle owner.

I agree that this isn't the worst thing that could happen to the team, but I'm surprised that some people that post on the Royal Rooters boards are trying to underplay the importance of this change, including some of the longtime fans. They of all people should realize that incompetent ownership and management can lead to years of under-forming teams.

With Epstein at the helm, I had visions of a John Schuerholz-like like organization in the offing. Now we must hope that someone with a similar mindset is hired so that years of development doesn't go waste.

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