As you’ve heard by now, Theo Epstein this afternoon resigned his position as Red Sox GM. This outcome was shocking to most, and leaves the Red Sox organization staggering. No matter what they say and do over the next few days, this day could go down in franchise history with other ownership/front office gaffes that have taken place over the years. Is Theo the next Carlton Fisk? Local guy with a spot on his home team, pushed out the door because of an extended negotiation that should have been taken care of much earlier? In these situations, when you’re negotiating with your own guy, the result you’re trying to achieve is a win-win.
Well, this situation is anything but. In fact, it leaves losers all around.
Loser: Larry Lucchino – For the rest of his tenure with the club, he will be viewed as the bad guy who forced Theo out. Can he recover from that? I really don’t think so, no matter how much PR he attempts in the pages of the Globe and on the airwaves of WEEI and various other outlets.
Loser: Dan Shaughnessy – Could Sunday’s column have been the beginning of the end for Shaughnessy in Boston? Already reviled by many Red Sox fans, fair or not, the impression is now out there that Shaughnessy allowed himself to be used as a mouthpiece and puppet by Lucchino in the “Let’s iron out some of this dirty laundry” column. Everyone that I have seen and heard thus far has agreed that the article was spoon-fed to Shaughnessy from Lucchino. I’m not just talking about the WEEI guys, but also the WFAN guys (Who are saying Theo is making a huge mistake), and Sean McAdam, who said on FSN that Shaughnessy may have to enter the witness protection program around here. It is clear though, if Shaughnessy didn’t write the article on Sunday, someone else would have.
The irony that Shaughnessy, who spent the better parts of two decades reveling in the failures of the Red Sox, should now be accused of being a mouthpiece for the club is steep indeed. Shaughnessy has made so many enemies over the years that it is hard to believe he would do this as merely out of the goodness of his heart. The article was so clearly pro-Lucchino that it is laughable. The talking points for the column were clearly outlined: Why would Theo rebel against those who brought him here? Larry is more of a “baseball guy” than Theo. There’s no smear campaign. All just as Larry would want them to be portrayed. Dan, the good “company man” went along with it.
Loser: John Henry – The Red Sox principal owner finds himself with a PR nightmare on his hands, something that I don’t think even guru Dr. Charles Steinberg can fix. For an ownership group that is said to be so “PR Savvy”, to paraphrase Kevin Mannix – they bollixed this up like amateurs.
Loser: Boston Globe – They’ve laughed off all rumors of the “cartel”. At the same time they’ve gladly continued to take the handouts of information the Red Sox feed them – but who can really blame them on that score when it gives them an advantage over their competition and is good for their bottom line and that of their parent company. (Noticed how many Red Sox articles were in the New York Times this season?) Good reporters such as Gordon Edes and Chris Snow are put in an impossible situation, and I don’t judge them as harshly as the management of the Globe and ones like Shaughnessy who have disgraced themselves and the reputation of the largest newspaper in the region by abandoning any semblance of integrity by eagerly snapping up the scraps of whatever information that Red Sox management will feed them and serving as their virtual mouthpiece.
Let’s remember something here. The Globe and its parent company own a portion of the Red Sox, not the other way around. I know it may seem like the latter is true.
Loser: Red Sox Fans – They embraced Theo as one of their own, and reveled with him as he was the GM of the team that finally won the World Series after an 86 year drought. They felt that the future of the franchise was secure with a young man at the helm that could develop the farm system and led the organization for the next 20 years if he chose to do so. Now after three short years, the reign is over, and Red Sox fans must learn to accept a new GM and begin the process of building faith in that position all over again.
Loser: Theo Epstein – He grew up dreaming of this job. He got it, and did the job. Now he doesn’t have it anymore. Was it by his own choice? Well, it appears it really wasn’t. He felt he could no longer work there. Is he going to be this big anywhere else? I don’t think so. He deserves a ton of credit for standing up for himself and letting go of all of this, but will it work out better for him elsewhere? That remains to be seen.
Links thus far: Michael Silverman’s piece which was the first put together once the news broke. (Was it a coincidence that the Herald got Theo’s news first after all this?) Eric Wilbur says Theo cared too much about putting a baseball team on the field in an organization that cares more about real estate development. Theo Leaves Club – credited to “Globe Staff” Decidedly anti-Theo.