I can relate to Theo Epstein. It is why I have always been and always will be a fan of his. It doesn't matter that he is no longer running our Red Sox. We are both the same age and grew up on Red Sox baseball. His father would take him to games at Fenway at the same time my father was taking me to games at Fenway. I wonder how many of the same games we attended.
We both are baseball simulation nerds. Theo likes to build teams of the greats from the negro leagues. I am always trying to go back in time and get Ted Williams a ring while trying to right a wrong and make sure Willie Mays ends up on the Red Sox playing alongside Teddy in the outfield.
We both were devastated by the 1986 World Series. October 25th is still tough day for me and I am going to be 42 years of age. The 11 year old inside of me doesn't let me forget though. Theo would understand.
There are two great books that shed even more light on Theo. One is Francona: The Red Sox Years and the other is Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top. Then there is this article that Wright Thompson just wrote about Theo Epstein for ESPN. It is as long as it is amazing. Re-arrange your schedule right now and make time to read it. You won't regret it. Here are some of the highlights:
He's In The Neighborhood
Theo lives just seven blocks from Wrigley Field and walks to work every day.
That's Not Nice
One of Theo's closest friends describes him as a "dick" who is able to give shit and take shit with friends and co-workers alike. One more thing we have in common.
When Theo gets mad, which is often, he likes to break things. When he was with the Red Sox he got so mad after a loss that he started swinging around a golf driver in the office. He then teed up a golf ball and aimed down the hallway. The struck golf ball hit a pole and bounced straight off the forehead of Ben Cherington causing a bloody mess. Theo would later autograph the golf ball and give it to Ben as a gift.
Don't Be a Kirschner!
If Theo calls you a kirschner it is not a compliment. Kirschner is the company that made Fenway Franks in the late 80s when Theo would attend Red Sox games with his parents. Kirschner became a code word that he, his parents and his siblings would use whenever a fan would sit next to them who didn't seem to know much about Red Sox baseball. We call them pink hats today.
Theo gave his 2004 World Series ring to his father because seeing his dad stare quietly at it felt much better than getting it himself.
Chicken, Beer and Plane Crashes
You think the 2011 Red Sox collapse was tough on you? Theo Epstein would get up in the middle of the night and search the internet for Air Traffic Controller recordings of plane crashes. The stress got so bad for him that he could hardly turn his neck. He knew it was time to leave even if it looked like he was running from the collapse.
The Hunt For Information
Theo loves this part of his job more than anything else. He loves reading the dossiers that the the scouts put together of each player. They are full of details from information about their friends and enemies to what their childhood bedroom looked like. This leads to one of my favorite quotes from Epstein in the article. "They write these background reports that all read like Russian novels," he says one day. "I'm telling you, everyone's life is a fucking Russian novel if you dig deep enough. Everyone."
Advice from Bill Belichick
After winning the World Series in 2004 Theo called Belichick for advice on how to handle success. Bill's answer? "You're fucked," Belichick told him. Yeah, that was it. Brilliant!
The article goes into so many more details with so many more stories. Check it out. You won't be sorry