In some of the latest MLB news, former Cubs President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein, won’t be taking this year off after all. Late Thursday night, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic tweeted that Epstein has now agreed to consult for MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. Sharma’s (subscription-based) story can be found on The Athletic’s site.
For a time it was rumored that Epstein may be interested in team ownership, while rumors were also floated about a possible run for public office. While neither seemed plausible for 2021, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Epstein wouldn’t stay away from baseball for an entire year.
So, what is Theo Epstein’s job within the NY MLB offices? Simple: Help Major League Baseball put out a better product. This is somewhat ironic, considering Commissioner Rob Manfred has been changing rules around like crazy, driving more people away from the game than he’s attracted.
As the old saying goes, “The first step in recognizing you have a problem is admitting it,” and Manfred now seems to have done just that. The MLB numbers were already down, and COVID-19 didn’t help matters any. Bringing Epstein aboard to help turn the game around may be among the smartest moves Manfred has made to date.
Latest MLB News: Theo Epstein May be an Asset to Players and Fans
Forget about Rob Manfred and his somewhat eccentric perception of what MLB should look like. It’s no secret that (most) players despise him while most fans… well, let’s just say they want him out. Epstein not only knows the game, he knows what’s best for it, despite being somewhat more reserved than Trevor Bauer in his rhetoric.
Epstein had been nothing short of a miracle worker in both Boston and Chicago, assembling World Series caliber teams which ended droughts in both cities; but his intellect went far beyond that. Internal policies for Chicago were handled in a straight-forward, yet delicate way, as Epstein battled through COVID-19 issues, furloughs, and the death of the team’s Sports Psychologist, Ken Ravizza, among other issues during his tenure.
The former were examples of Epstein’s character in times of crisis, but Epstein is also well known for his professionalism when dealing with contract negotiations and trades, while also fostering a personal relationship with the players he governed. Epstein is more of a baseball purist, whereas Rob Manfred deems himself more of a radical visionary.
Make no mistake, Manfred is doing what he truly believes is best for the game. Like any US President, right or wrong, his heart and soul believe in what he’s doing, but in Manfred’s case, he seems to be batting about .090 – and that statistic may be generous.
Manfred wants to draw the next generation of MLB fans based on his thought process which believes people are unable to pay attention. His entire agenda is set upon the premise of pace of play, and yes, it’s ruining the sport. While the universal DH may not be a bad thing (making Manfred’s batting average what it is), some of his other rules seem ludicrous – especially that damn runner on second in extra innings.
Epstein for MLB Commissioner?
Theo Epstein, at least outwardly, has never voiced an interest in assuming the Commissioner’s job, though I wouldn’t put it past him. When you stop to consider what kind of product he assembled in Bean Town and the Windy City, having Epstein seated comfortably in Manfred’s chair might not be such a bad idea in the future.
Time will tell what Theo Epstein does in the not-so-distant future, but for now, the latest MLB news has him firmly implanted in the Commissioner’s office. One can only hope that Manfred allows Epstein to tweak and change as he sees fit.
With a strike/lockout looming after this upoming season, Epstein may be the guy who ends up smoothing the waters and ensurring MLB has a full season in 2022. Godspeed, Mr. Epstein, you have your work cut out for you.
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