Sunday, November 6, 2016


How is it possible that one young guy could turn around two cursed teams and make them World Series Champions within a few years?  It's crazy to think that these two vintage baseball teams, the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs, could go so long without winning. It's equally crazy to believe that a 28-year-old General Manager, the youngest in baseball, could step into Boston and lasso in a championship after 86 years. But it happened, in two major cities and it's not a Hollywood blockbuster.  It's real life.  And it's happening now.

It took a young, "Super Genius" in Theo Epstein to build winning ball clubs piece by piece.  12 years of resilience separate the Red Sox from the now champion Cubs.  And the two teams have more in common than curses.

“I think human beings can accomplish more for each other when they feel connected than they can for themselves (individually)," said Epstein after the Cubs won the World Series on Thursday morning, ending the Lovable Losers' 108-year drought.  The Yale University educated, now 42-year-old, president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs, didn't come to the North Side of Chicago with all of the answers, despite bringing two World Series victories to the winless Boston Red Sox, who before 2004, hadn't won a Series since 1918.  And when they did win, it was the 100th World Series in baseball history.

According to NBC Hardball, "...combine The Cubs Way with that 2004 Band of Idiots and Epstein has been involved in 194 years of curse-busting in two of America’s greatest cities – before his 43rd birthday."  But as Epstein said, it was not just who was on the team, it is the chemistry of that team that brought the ultimate victory to cities who never thought they'd see one again in their lifetime.  

“It’s like comparing two of your kids,” Epstein said. “You cherish both of them. Different origins, different personalities, but they’re both things you treasure for your lifetime."  And I would venture to say that between trying out different managers in Chicago before finding the right one in Joe Maddon and hiring Terry Francona in Boston after he had four failing seasons in Philadelphia, Epstein needed the right guy at the helm in the clubhouse before his world champion formula would be ready to bring a championship home.  

He had to build back farm teams, pick up free agents, and make off season moves that would make a difference, even if they seemed unpopular to the naked eye.  According to, "(Manny) Ramirez, who hit .412 with a homer and four RBIs against the Cardinals, was named World Series MVP, almost exactly one year after the Sox put him on waivers. The Boston brass spent most of last winter (2003-2004) trying to trade Ramirez for Alex Rodriguez. Now they are World Champs and Manny is the MVP. Alternate reality, indeed."  Remember that guy Ben Zobrist?  You know the one who hit that blazing grounder to break the 6-6 tie in the 10th inning of the 2016 World Series?  "It took a “multiple-bank shot” at the winter meetings for the Cubs to be able to trade Starlin Castro to the New York Yankees and convince Ben Zobrist to take less guaranteed money and sign a four-year, $56 million deal for this exact moment," reported Hardball.  

 "The chessboard has changed from years ago,'' (Cashman) said on a conference call Sunday morning (July 31, 2016). "If you want to be a super team now, there are certain ways you have to go about it."  That includes having the right amount of youth to take risks, run hard, be unafraid to do things differently but the right amount of veterans who can be mentors to the young guys, without having an ego when it comes time for them to be more of a voice in the clubhouse than on the field.  Guys like David Ross in Chicago and David Ortiz in Boston took on that role of mentor along side of their managers, respectively.

Comparing Brian Cashman to Theo Epstein might seem like comparing apples to oranges, but perhaps not.  According to the NY Daily News, "For (Andrew) Miller and (Aroldis) Chapman they received a total of seven minor-leaguers from the Indians and Cubs, respectively, as well as reliever Adam Warren. And as they did in acquiring Gleyber Torres in the previous trade, the Yankees got a headliner of a prospect for Miller in 21-year old outfielder Clint Frazier."  Guys like Brett Gardner and Joe Girardi need to be able to teach these Baby Bombers how to do thing here in the big leagues. 

Of course the Yankees, themselves, are yet another commonality in both winning teams.  For the Sox, they had to beat us to get past us into the Series and for the Cubs, they needed Chapman to get to the post season and get the outs that helped them battle back from a 3-1 deficit in the Series.  

Theo Epstein has solidified his place in the Hall of Fame and both of his championship teams have their own place in Cooperstown as well.  Will Cashman and our Yankees make their way back to today's game in a way that makes the impact the Sox and Cubs' victories have?  "We're trying to get back to where we can build an uber team, a sustainable one,'' he said.  That may be the best thing he said as GM, and with the moves he made after the All Star Break, The RailRiders being named the best team in the minor leagues, and the Yankee farm system the best in baseball, he may have solidified himself as the best turnaround GM in baseball.

--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Senior Staff Writer
BYB Hot Stove Columnist

Twitter: @suzieprof

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