Theo Epstein earlier this week stepped down as President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs. For those of you that live under a rock and have no idea who this guy is. There is no help for you. Just kidding. He was the GM, an executive that helped not only the Red Sox break their 86 year World Series curse, but one up that by following it up by helping the Cubs erase their 108-year world series drought. The most important thing he has done, though, is completely changed baseball and was a pioneer in introducing the baseball world to analytics.
During an interview, he was quoted as saying, “it is the greatest game in the world, but there are some threats to it because if the way the game is evolving…using analytics and other measures to optimize individual and team performance have unwittingly had, you know, a negative impact on the aesthetic value”. He continues by saying that he wants to stay involved in baseball in the short and long term. Hearing these comments and how he said them, you can tell he genuinely feels bad about where the game is going and his involvement.
My Take Away
Good. He is exactly right. I love baseball, and always will. I have been coaching it at all levels from little league up through High school. I love this game, but my god is baseball tough to watch sometimes, from launch angles to shifts to the garbage about pitchers going through a lineup for the third time. It ruins the game. Now, believe me, I love a pitcher dual as much as the next guy, but now those pitchers duals that use to be 8 or 9 innings are 6 innings because of some nerd upstairs that stopped playing baseball after tee-ball said the other team has a much better chance of getting a hit third time through the lineup. Well, no shit, Sherlock! That’s what made watching guys like Pedro, Clemens, Johnson, Schilling dominate lineups for 7 or 8 innings so much fun. Theo started this trend, and as much success as it has brought the Red Sox over the past 15 years, I can not stand it. I am genuinely happy to hear Epstein talk like this and hope that he works to make this game more entertaining. I have no hard feelings towards him. He is one of, if not the greatest GM’s of all time. He is going into the Hall of Fame. I really do like Theo and would even strongly advocate for the Sox to bring him back in some capacity to help, but I know that won’t happen.
Analytics has a place in the game. I fully understand that. What I don’t agree with at all is taking the human element completely out of the equation. Obviously, the most notable example of this was in this year’s World Series. Snell is absolutely dealing through 6 innings and is at 70-something pitches, and Cash takes him out after a bloop single because “our data shows third time through the lineup blah blah blah.” Oh, yea? Your data should also tell you that the next 3 guys up in that inning are 0 for 6 with 6 strikeouts. As a coach, what does that tell me? These guys aren’t picking up the ball well and aren’t putting good swings on it. Translation? LEAVE YOUR ACE IN THE DAMN GAME! We went from watching Snell in the middle of etching his name in the history books to Cash completely stealing the show, and now this move will go down in history as one of the worst decisions made by a manager. Right next to Grady Little.
A round of applause for Theo. He is spot on with his comments, and I am glad to see and hear one of these executives, well, former executives, come out and say it. Our game sucks right now! Period. It needed to be said, and he is the exact guy to say it. Hopefully, this gets the ball rolling on actually making the game more entertaining for fans to watch. Nice job, Theo! Boston will always love you!
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-Kevin Perdios (@Perdios95)