Say what you will about the relentless drama and media intensity that surrounds the Yankees, every day, every year, but we're pretty sure no one ever accused Joe Girardi or Joe Torre of being addicted to pain medication and being unable to separate his job from a messy divorce. We're pretty sure Andy Pettitte never drank beer in the clubhouse. And we're pretty sure no Yankees team ever started a mutiny over having to play a doubleheader before a hurricane. Those are all the gory details in the Boston Globe's dissection of the Red Sox's collapse this morning. That collapse cost the team its manager, its clubhouse, and now, it seems, its wunderkind general manager. Suddenly, we understand why Theo Epstein might want out.
And it's starting to look like Epstein, the architect of the Red Sox's only two World Championships in the last 93 years, is really gonna leave the team he grew up cheering for. It's not for certain — everyone keeps calling it his "Billy Beane" moment, while ignoring that, had Beane left Oakland when he had the chance, he would be the hero of Boston right now as opposite to a guy running a team that keeps finishing in third place every year — but Epstein may want out of the last year of his contract to go run the Chicago Cubs.
That situation is far from settled — the Cubs might not want to pay out the compensation the Sox want, and maybe Epstein will change his mind — but if Epstein goes, it's the end of a revolutionary era in Boston and could foretell the end of a Sox juggernaut that has caused the Yankees nothing but fits for the last decade. Whatever your thoughts on Epstein, Terry Francona, and the Red Sox braintrust, the team has been extremely well-run, with a budget that rivals the Yankees'. If those guys leave, it'll be tough to find replacements who can keep the team as consistent as this group has been. In fact, you can make an argument that if Epstein leaves, the Yankees' major concern in the AL East might switch from the Sox to the Blue Jays. Or, ideally: There will be no major concern at all.
That's to say: It's pretty difficult, for a Yankees fan, not to be secretly thrilled that the kid who got the Red Sox two World Series titles in the last seven years (more than the Yankees, by the way) might be leaving the American League altogether.
And when you consider that it's the Cubs, it's easy to see what's in it for Epstein too. Epstein, still just 37 years old, has already secured his legend as the guy who defeated the mythical Curse of the Bambino. If he were to win a World Series for the Chicago Cubs? The guy could be in the Hall of Fame by the time he's 45. You can't come up with a better run of achievement for a general manager than to bring a World Series to the two historic franchises that so desperately wanted one. It would make Epstein one of the most accomplished baseball executives of all time. It's a challenge we can't imagine him passing up.
To be honest, as Cardinals fans who are almost as desperate to see the Cubs not win a World Series as we are to see the Cardinals win one, Epstein coming to Wrigley Field is a terrifying concept for us. But if we were a Yankees fan? Go, Theo, go. Get the heck out of this division. All it does is clear the field for the Yankees a little bit more.
UPDATE: And WEEI is reporting this morning that Epstein has agreed to a five-year deal with the Cubs. Here we go.