Amid reports that negotiations between the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox are turning personal, I thought it appropriate to take a step back, and look at the bigger picture. No, I don’t mean the larger organizational picture – I don’t even mean anything to do with baseball. I mean the larger picture of life, and how we treat our fellow travelers in this world.

And who better to instruct in this retreat than the man heading up negotiations for the Red Sox? The man whom a CSN source described as “one of the most unreasonable people I have ever dealt with,” and whom the source said, “because of his frayed relationship with Theo Epstein, he is looking to make a point at the expense of Theo’s happiness and his desire to go to Chicago.”

That man is Red Sox President Larry Lucchino, and he has words of wisdom for us all, now wholly appropriate, courtesy of a 2008 commencement address at Boston University.

Let me start with a personal note that is a bit embarrassing. Not long after I completed law school, I kept – enlarged, framed, and posted proudly in my office – a passage written by Brendan Gill, a writer and critic for The New Yorker magazine. He wrote it as encouragement for the young, who, even in the easy-going 1970s, were hearing, in Mr. Gill’s opinion, far too much about what a serious matter life was.

According to Mr. Gill (and my office wall), I quote: “Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the argument that life is serious, though it is often hard and even terrible. And saying that, I am prompted to add what follows out of it: that since everything ends badly for us, in the inescapable catastrophe of death, it seems obvious that the first rule of life is to have a good time and that the second rule of life is to hurt as few people as possible. There is no third rule.”

Smile, laugh, and be pleasant. This may sound banal and naïve. It is not. It is a profound occupational and personal advantage. Let me quote Elwood P. Dowd, the central character in the unforgettable Jimmy Stewart film Harvey – a man with whom I have come to agree. Quote: “My mother used to say to me, ‘Elwood, in this world you must be oh-so clever, or oh-so pleasant.’ For 40 years I tried clever. I recommend pleasant.”

Remember Jackie Robinson, although, believe it or not, many baseball players do not. Be mindful of the catalytic effect one person can have on a community, on a neighborhood, on a nation, on a compelling cause or a nagging injustice. Hold within yourself a capacity for outrage at injustice. Be confident that if you fight long enough and hard enough, you too can make a difference. And like Jackie Robinson, you can do it with dignity.

Help some people along the way. The famous French soldier and statesman, Marquis de Lafayette, wrote long ago of America: “What charms me most is that all of the citizens are brethren.” We are – and must still be – brethren. Find a cause you care about. Involve yourself. And start early in life. For me, a two-time cancer survivor, cancer research and patient treatment are at the top my priorities, and those of the ever-growing Red Sox Foundation.

Life is not about warming yourself by the fire, life is about building the fire. And generosity is the match. To consider yourself – and to be considered – capable is good. To consider yourself – and to be considered – loving is even better. But to know yourself as generous is best of all. Generosity is its own reward. There is a Chinese proverb that applies. (Isn’t there always?) Roughly it says that if you want happiness for an hour, take a nap, but if you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.

I don’t know what’s going on behind the closed doors of the negotiations. Few truly do. To pin any delays or hurdles on Lucchino, alone, would be lazy and probably inaccurate.

But these are genuinely wonderful lessons from an obviously gifted man. May his words resonante with us all.


(h/t jeffmills1972 at BCB)

  • Fishin Phil

    I hope you e-mailed that to Larry, just in case he forgot.

    • Brett

      It crossed my mind. That might be a bit dickish. Besides, I don’t have his email address – though I could take a couple of reasonable guesses. And, as I said in the piece, there’s no way to truly know what’s going on in the negotiations. We can have our suspicions, but it’s possible Lucchino is preaching temperance and reason.

  • Bails17

    In a few words….he’s a major douche bag!!  Thank you, thank you…if you can find a Chinese proverb that comes somewhat close to that…I would enjoy reading it!!

  • jstraw

    “But these are genuinely wonderful lessons from a man who obviously received a copy of Bartlett’s Famous Quotations as a gift. May his words resonante with us all.”


    • Brett


      In concert, the speech is actually quite impressive. (Like, “taken together,” not like, “in a concert hall.”)

  • Brandon Howes

    Hey folks….I am a Cubs fan by virtue of my perch at the AA level in TN, but for 10 years I held season tickets in San Diego to the Padres during the John Moores/Larry Lucchino era. Larry was instrumental in getting Petco Park built, and was a huge asset to the Padres organization. Prior to coming to San Diego, he was instrumental in Baltimore in getting Camden Yards done. Since he has been in Boston, he has helped deliver 2 World Series titles, and also turned the Green Monster into some of the most Desireable seats in the game. He is a visionary. Did he have an ego? YES. Most great leaders do. We know Theo is coming. 9And Yes…I am FIRED UP about it). We know the Red Sox want some of our minor leaguers. This deal will get done, and both sides will move on. If the shoe were on the other foot, we (the Cubs) would be doing the same thing. But, in my opinion…..Larry Lucchino is just doing what his supporters expect him to do….and that’s to ge the best deal possible for his club. I believe that Lucchino is a potential HOF executive someday. Stay Classy Cubs Fans.

    • Fishin Phil

      I’ve got no problem with Larry trying to get the best deal possible for his club, that’s his job.  But if the reports of his personal vendetta against Epstein are true, then Larry remains firmly in the Douchenozzle Camp.  Of course, reports have been wrong before…..

    • Wilbur

      Brandon, good points well presented.

      I think the delay is both sides finding a business deal that makes sense for them, and the time it takes is irrelevant. Some inconveniences may occur, but nothing more severe.

      As for the angst among sports columnists, fans and “unattributed sources” its just the the frenzy of the month. Next month it will be the Bulls, Black Hawks or Mike Martz.

  • Brandon Howes

    Hey folks….I am a Cubs fan by virtue of my perch at the AA level in TN, but for 10 years I held season tickets in San Diego to the Padres during the John Moores/Larry Lucchino era. Larry was instrumental in getting Petco Park built, and was a huge asset to the Padres organization. Prior to coming to San Diego, he was instrumental in Baltimore in getting Camden Yards done. Since he has been in Boston, he has helped deliver 2 World Series titles, and also turned the Green Monster into some of the most desireable seats in the game. He is a visionary. Did he have an ego? YES. Most great leaders do. We know Theo is coming. (And Yes…I am FIRED UP about it). We know the Red Sox want some of our minor leaguers. This deal will get done, and both sides will move on. If the shoe were on the other foot, we (the Cubs) would be doing the same thing. But, in my opinion…..Larry Lucchino is just doing what his supporters expect him to do….and that’s to get the best deal possible for his club. I believe that Lucchino is a potential HOF executive someday. Stay Classy Cubs Fans.

    • Brett

      I don’t think there’s anything in this post that disagrees with that. Thanks, Brandon.

  • Edwin

    So, you see, the puppy was like industry. In that, they were both lost in the woods. And nobody, especially the little boy – “society” – knew where to find ’em. Except that the puppy was a dog. But the industry, my friends, that was a revolution.

    • Brett

      “That’s how you debate!”

    • Sam

      “Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

  • LouCub

    Nick Cafardo’s article in the Boston Globe this morning talks about the Sox wanting McNutt but also goes on about them wanting one of either Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters or Matt Scszur..Chris Carpenter was also mentioned..

    • Luke

      I’d deal Carpenter. The Cubs are deep enough in relief prospects that the loss of Carpenter is tolerable. I might even deal Vitters now that it looks like he’ll have to move to first or left for defensive reasons (but not both of the two). Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur are off the table.

      I’m really surprised Boston isn’t try to get the Cubs to take Lackey’s contract as part of the deal. A move to the NL might do Lackey some good. If the Cubs offered to take all of Lackey’s contract and send Jay Jackson and Scott Maine to Boston, I have to think the Red Sox would be very tempted to pull the trigger.

      • Hawkeye

        I still don’t know whey we can’t come up with something where we trade Soriano or Z for Lackey with some money exchanged to even things out.   Both teams have needs and these things could be done to help out both organizations?

    • MrCubs73

      Having been keeping tabs on the Cubs players in the AFL, the last couple games has me wondering whether Vitters will be going to Boston. After seeing Vitters, Lake and LeMahieu in the lineup everyday, Vitters has not been in the lineup the last two games, while Lake and LeMahieu have remained. Just seems you don’t set the guy hitting 405. Maybe its nothing, but just seems he could/will be a one of the guys to go.

  • RY

    This is bullshit, can’t Selig step in and do anything about Lucchino being a whiny little bitch? Oh wait, it is Selig I am talking about, he cannot do anything right!

    • Sam

  • bacboris

    Brett, I really enjoyed the post. As part of that same lawyer community maybe I should look into framing that “you must be oh-so clever, or oh-so pleasant”. It probably works better than my current Fitzgerald sign, “Visitors are requested not to break down doors in search of liquor, even when authorized to do so by the host”

    • Brett

      When I decided to stop being clever and start being pleasant, I stopped being a lawyer.

      That’s not to say that I didn’t know many, many excellent people who happened to also be lawyers.

      • Hawkeye

        I like to think that you are both clever and pleasant.   Kind of a dual threat type of guy.

  • jim

    being a cub fan has been a lifetime, gut wrenching affair…and it continues

  • mb21

    I’d say there’s a .0000001% chance that Lucchino is the issue here. If one man who wasn’t even the owner was the problem this would have been resolved by now. This is just typical for negotiations. There won’t be a quick resolution to this. Maybe not even after the World Series ends. It will be before the organizational meetings take place.

    • Bails17

      Really mb21?  This is not how it always goes.  And to think that Lucchino (the guy that is running the baseball side of things…ie..the decision maker) is not behind this for the most part is crazy.


      • mb21

        I’d say that until someone can prove it’s true. I don’t care about reports. We’ve seen in the last week how accurate those are. It takes two to get a deal done. If the Red Sox value Theo as being worth everything the Cubs have, so be it. That’s their value for Theo. If the Cubs value him as being worth $1, so be it. That’s their value. Neither side is right and neither is wrong. Each are working to accomplish two entirely different things.

    • Brett

      I, too, am dubious that Lucchino is the sole issue. But there’s enough smoke to suggest he may not be acting rationally.

      • mb21

        That’s true, but at the same time we have more than enough evidence that Tom Ricketts does NOTHING quickly. This goes back to his days before he owned the Cubs. He takes his time.

        If we’re interested in blame, put 50% of it on the Cubs and 50% on the Red Sox. If the two sides have two entirely different ideas about compensation, one side isn’t to blame over that. One side just values it more than the other. We all value certain things more than others.

        • mb21

          I should add that I’m not interested in the blame game. There’s just way too much information that I’m never going to know and I’m very skeptical of all reports to the point I just don’t believe many of them. But I don’t think blaming one or the other does anybody any good. Lucchino may be the most irrational person ever, but that’s something Ricketts should have known when he got involved with this. If he did not know that then he had not done his research. I don’t know if it’s true or not and it just doesn’t matter. The two sides can value the services in a significantly different way without one being to blame. The Cubs are somewhat irrational in how much they value Theo to begin with. I’m glad they went after him, but a rational person would have said no thanks to giving the Sox anything and moved on. Cubs fans, myself included, are being extremely irrational when it comes to acquiring Theo Epstein.

          • Bails17

            That is all fine and dandy boys.  Speculation has it’s loose ends.  However, if Lucchino really wanted this done.  It would have been done a long time ago.  He knows he doesn’t have the type of leverage he needs to get those type of players.  He IS the one pulling the strings by the way…not just him…but he is the head puppet master at this time.  In my experience…if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck….it’s a ******* Duck!!

        • Brett

          All fair – and, I’d go even a step further (as I think you would, too), and say “blame” is probably the wrong word. They’re all just working toward the best possible end for their respective side. I just happen to suspect one side is being less reasonable.

          • mb21

            It really depends on how you define reasonable. I think both sides are being unreasonable. The Cubs are being unreasonable in willing to give up much of anything to get Theo Epstein. Yes, I’m thrilled to death they are doing so, but recognize there are other GMs and that Theo’s surplus value in a trade like this is less than $1 million. He’s worth a 25-year old middle reliever in terms of value, but the Cubs are willing to throw in a lot more than that. So the Cubs willingness to throw in much more than Theo is worth is fueling the Red Sox being unreasonable in wanting more and more.

            • mb21

              And yes, I think blame is the wrong word. I especially think that given the lack of honest information we have at our disposal. I also feel blame is irrelevant, but we are a society that enjoys assigning blame. It’s easier for us to look at one side as being 100% to blame than trying to figure out what percentage it really is. Even if Lucchino bears more responsibility than Ricketts, there is almost no way Lucchino could be more than 60% responsible. My gut instinct tells me 55%, but I suppose I could see 60%. It is the Cubs that initiated this. It is the Cubs who desperately want Theo. It is obviously the Cubs who are willing to pay a premium even beyond the contract given to Theo. If I’m the Red Sox, I’m going to take Tom Ricketts to the cleaners. I may not have any more leverage than he does, but he is the one who unreasonably initiated this so I want an unreasonable return. I want a return that matches the desperation that Ricketts is displaying. I think it would be my responsibility to the Red Sox to see that happens.

              • Bails17

                How has TR been unreasonable?  By offering one of the best (if not the best) GM in the business a $500,000 a year raise to come and work for us?  You are ridiculous my man….this is HOW this stuff works.

                • mb21

                  Ricketts has been unreasonable because he has tried to hire a guy who was already employed. Yes, he’s the best in the game, but is the difference between Theo and, say, Andrew Friedman worth what the Cubs will give up? I happen to think it is, but many don’t. Either way, it’s not as simple as you’re making it out to be.

                  The bottom line here is that the Red Sox currently have Theo Epstein under contract and if the Cubs really want him they’ll pay what the Red Sox want. I don’t know why that’s unreasonable. If you desperately want my car, I’m going to make you overpay. That’s just business. You can try to work me down and I would to some extent, but you want my car even though there are many others available. You can’t tell me my demands are unreasonable.

                  If I came after you and was unreasonable, go for it, but you contacted me about my car. I’m happy with my car and though there are many, many others available, you want mine. Being unreasonable would be me selling you my car for what it’s worth. You obviously value that car for more than it’s worth so I’m going to make you pay that much plus some.

                  Let’s say you have a candy bar that I really want. It cost you $1. I could go buy similar ones, but I really want the one you already own. I want it very badly. How much are you going to sell me that for? You’d be unreasonable to charge me $1. I might be willing to pay $2, $3 or maybe even more than that.

                  Being unreasonable is getting anything less than the other party is willing to give up.

                  • Bails17

                    If he was being unreasonable by trying to hire a guy that already has a job…then MLB wouldn’t allow teams to even talk to guys under contract.  The Cubs asked for permission…the Red Sux allowed it…end of story.  Nothing unreasonable about that at all.

                    And by the way…I can ALWAYS say your demands are unreasonable.  That’s how shit like this fall apart.  You can’t tell me by asking for Garza or Castro would be unreasonable.  If you can…you are out of your mind.

                    The real bottom line is that if this does fall through…it will be on the Red Sux.  They are holding back a guy who has given them a ton of success.  He is being promoted and has an opportunity to better himself…and they sure look like they are willing to stand in the way.  That is unreasonable.

            • Bails17

              Well the conversation started with Garza.  Let’s play the “Who is Being Unreasonable Game”!!!  UMMMM…let me see…that’s a tough one.  That would be the Boston Red Asses!

              And how do you know just yet who the Cubs are willing to give up?  Do you have some sources that we just don’t know about?

              • mb21

                How can everything be so black and white to you? There are two parties involved with distinctly different goals. Of course there will be disagreements. Of course some of it will be contentious. Of course the Red Sox are going to ask for more than they get and of course the Cubs will offer less than they will have to give up. I don’t see how this matters one bit. It takes two to reach a deal. If the Red Sox value Theo more than the Cubs do that’s not the Red Sox fault. Ricketts tried to hire an employee who was already employed and not capable of working for the organization he was hired for.

                There’s a reason if you check out the Red Sox blogs that they blame the Cubs for all of this. There’s a reason that Cubs fans blame the Red Sox. The reality is somewhere in the middle like it almost always is.

                • Jeff

                  The point here is that John Henry came out last week and said that letting someone interview and leave for a promotion is something that is commonly practiced, accepted, and a courtesy that most teams allow.  Larry Lucchino is sitting in the seat that Theo wants, and them not allowing him to leave unless the other team heavily compensates makes the Red Sox the biggest hypocrites and jackasses in all of baseball.   Most people already knew this about them, others of us are just now figuring it out.

                  • mb21

                    I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Even Paul Sullivan has a source who has said it’s nonsense that it’s Lucchino holding up the deal. I know we’re Cubs fans and all, but sometimes it’s best to wait to take a stance on something until the facts are in. They aren’t in. All we have now is speculation, but more and more of it is saying it’s the Cubs holding up the deal. That makes sense. The Cubs want Theo and the Red Sox tell the Cubs what they want. The Cubs think they can put two of their best prospects off the table and still get a deal done. That’s just not how it works.

                    • Jeff

                      The point is, he can’t get a promotion in Boston.  Larry Lucchino is the number one baseball guy, and all decisions go through him.  In Chicago, Theo would be that guy.  This means that the Chicago job is a promotion, and teams/organizations usually do not keep any front office/coaches from other teams when they are being promoted.  The certainly don’t ask for the other teams most valuable assets in return, which Boston has done, and is continuing to do.

                • Bails17

                  The Sox arent’ valuing Theo any longer.  They know that they are in a situation that can’t be reversed.  There is .00001% chance (just a little percentage banter I stole from you) that they can turn this thing around and have Theo work for them next year.

                  1.  It is beyond repair for Sux nation.

                  2.  Theo WANTS to leave for a promotion and it has been common practice to allow employees to do so.

                  3.  They would owe him 7 million dollars to work just ONE more year and then leave anyway because he is pissed they wouldn’t just get a deal done.

                  So….asking for a guy like Garza and dragging this thing out is 100% unreasonable!!  Black and White my man.

                  • mb21

                    Of course Theo can no longer be the GM of the Red Sox. Once again, I’m being told I’ve said things I never did. Look, I hope the Cubs get him, but I refuse to wear Cubbie-blue glasses and blame everything on the Red Sox. That’s just not reality and even Cubs sources are now confirming it.

                    • Bails17

                      You said that the Red Sox were valuing his services more than what the Cubs were!  IF they can’t have him back as GM…then why are the valuing his services?

    • Brett

      I should add, thanks for the compliment on Obstructed View this morning. Too kind, sir.

    • John Arguello

      MB21, I couldn’t disagree more. First of all, these compensation negotiations almost always take less than two weeks. It is anything but typical. Saying that it’s normal to last beyond the WS just isn’t true. It is absolutely against the norm.

      And if the hang-up is indeed over player compensation, who do you suppose is in charge of baseball operations? It’s Lucchino. The owners aren’t going to be making this decision. You can be sure Ricketts is consulting Wilken, Fleita, and Kaplan when it comes to players. To say that Lucchino isn’t involved or isn’t at least part of the issue just doesn’t make sense.

      • mb21

        I didn’t say Lucchino wasn’t involved. Of course he is. He’s involved every bit as much as John Henry is. The point I’m making is that Lucchino isn’t 100% to blame here. I don’t see how any rational person could place 100% of the blame on Lucchino, but I also don’t see why it’s even a discussion. Seriously, who cares who is to blame? I don’t care if it’s Lucchino, Ricketts or the man in the clouds. Assigning blame has never been productive and it’s not productive here either. All that matters is that a deal gets completed. It doesn’t have to be completed today. It doesn’t have to be completed in two weeks.

  • Rick Swanson

    I just sent your story to Larry Lucchino. I told him to listen to the guy who gave that speech at BU in 2008. I told him to let Theo go for free and lets find a new manager.

    I said anybody that stayed with you from Baltimore to San Diego, to Boston should get to leave a year early after 19 years

  • Cubbies4Life

    Having just seen, and enjoyed, “Moneyball” this weekend, I’m thinking that this current soap opera between the Sox and the Cubs would make an excellent story line for another baseball-themed movie! Let’s say… Jon Hamm as the dashing Theo Epstein? How about Danny DeVito as Larry Lucchino? And I’m thinking Boris Karloff as the venerable Bud Selig… oh, wait a minute… Boris is dead…

  • Roland

    Rick did you tell Larry that Theo deserves alimony and they can have joint custody???

  • Toosh

    It’s time for Ricketts to call his negotiating team and tell them the deal is off. Then call Boston and tell them the same thing.

  • Richdanna

    Mb21, wondering if you’re Bill James in disguise? How else can you have come up with a determination that Lucchino is 55% responsible for the blame. Now that falls under the sabermetrics stat of xGMb (expected GM blame) or xFAH% (expected F’ing A-Hole percentage).

    Point remains…. Unless you are Ricketts, Lucchino, or their wives, you have absolutely zero way to know who or what is holding up the finalization of the deal. Everything else is nothing more than speculation. And in cases like this, speculation is as worthless as the diplomas and achievement awards hanging in Bud Selig’s office.

  • Mike

    Sullivan like some, not all of the Cub writers suffer from battered housewife syndrome. Why not just deny the issue continue to throw out nothing is problematic and then pin the blame on the people stating the obvious or the cop anybody but the person doing the beating. Tom Ricketts is not irrational. You don’t hire from the unemployment office usually for high profile jobs. Boston had every right to try to promote Theo and they didn’t because Lucchino is going to take a more active role and we do know Lucchino and Henry don’t really want Theo other than for the purposes for players and cash. We also know, that they wanted Garza and as the Globe has pointed out, it’s not one player Mc Nutt and at least 2 more and probably at least 4 all together, in other words a package similar to the Garza trade the Cubs put together by JH.

    And bluntly there’s so much of a gap, it’s not unheard of, were the Cubs to agree to just end this, Lucchino would move the marker and demand that you take Lackey too. That’s the real issue here. How much skin is Lucchino going to be allowed to take. Tom Ricketts is the most reasonable person in this mess. If Lucchino today said let’s end this, we’ll take McNutt and Vitters for example, I have zero doubt despite the bitching of many us, this would be over. And while most of the media in Chicago I believe understand this, their issue, at least some seems to be if you tease us with Theo then just close the deal and give them what it takes. They are not well formed in their process which is clearly what Lucchino and Henry are doing in trying to shake this organization down. They are counting on being able to drag this out long enough, maybe best case scenario and least for those of us who want the best for the Cubs, to get two or 3 of the best Cub prospects and least another body. And I don’t think you can count out an 11th hour moving of the marker if they ever agree.

    It’s startling how Boston and the Boston media view this compared to Chicago. The general view is Boston suffered the worst collapse in modern history, think 1969. Theo is not a genius.. The Red Sox organization is a mess, and no one connected to it is immune from intense criticism. In fact they use the word dysfunctional constantly. Is Lucchino a devil, likely not, but he’s not a saint either and the Boston media closest to this, clearly views venom in this. So I don’t buy Ricketts is the irrational one here or do I see anything he has done whatsoever to suggest that.