No secret. I am not a Cubs fan and certainly not a Red Sox fan. However, I am a fan of Theo Epstein. The 42-year-old phenom has accomplished a feat that no one will ever and could ever do again. He brought a championship to two teams in droughts spanning a combined 194 years.
A few years back as I sat in a West Hollywood restaurant with two of my fabulous girlfriends I overheard two gentlemen next to me talking baseball. As usual, when I hear such things, I zone out. My selective hearing set in and I heard the name, Epstein. I smiled, tuned my friends out and concentrated on the conversation being held by the two well-dressed gentlemen. The man that worked for the Cubs, or at the very least was an integral part of the group who acquired Theo, spoke about Theo’s allure. The man went on and on, telling story after story about various players and associates. Yet, he raved about the faith they had in Theo. He spoke how Theo had promised Cubs brass he would bring them a championship, but that Theo said it would take some time, to have trust in him. One thing, according to this executive, they had in spades.
Theo’s reputation preceded him. The Yale graduate became Larry Lucchino’s protege in 95, moving to San Diego to work with the Padres and subsequently attending law school at the University of San Diego on Larry’ suggestion. When Lucchino became President and CEO of the Red Sox in 2001, he brought Epstein with him. At the end of the 2002 season, Epstein was appointed as interim GM. To say the rest is history would be an understatement. Boy wonder was responsible for the initiation of the trade of Nomar Garciaparra and acquiring Kevin Millar and Curt Schilling. In 2004, the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years crushing the St. Louis Cardinals. Theo was at the helm of another World Series victory with the Red Sox in 2007, then left in 2011 to take on a new venture, the Chicago Cubs.
Anyone who knows anything about baseball knows that quite a few moving pieces go into winning a game, more importantly a series, most importantly, a championship. Fundamentals, timely hitting, pitching and old fashioned luck. However, Theo Epstein needs to be awarded the credit due his way. Epstein traded for Rizzo, pulled off a one-sided deal for Arrieta and drafted Kris Bryant. Add on the signings of Jon Lester, Jon Lackey, Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward and you have the 2016 World Series Champions. No, seriously, you do. He did it….again.
Theo Epstein was at the helm when the Red Sox won their 1st World Series in 86 years and today he was behind the Cubs when they won their first World Series in 108 years. He didn’t do it alone, he had a team behind him with both organizations. Still, he was the builder, the common denominator, the catalyst. There is only one word for where Theo belongs, Cooperstown. Nothing less, but Cooperstown. Four GM’s have been elected, Theo will be number five.
For the time being, Theo is still basking in the glory of the Cubs championship.
“I’m relinquishing my presidential duties,” the Cubs’ president of baseball operations said jokingly. “[GM] Jed [Hoyer] is in charge. I’m going on a month-long bender. Wake me up for the winter meetings.”
See you next year Theo.