Yesterday, quotes attributed to Theo Epstein found in Terry Francona’s forthcoming book made their way around the ‘net, and they purported to put some of the blame for bad moves by the Red Sox in 2010 and 2011 on ownership, rather than Epstein.
The money quote: “They told us we didn’t have any marketable players, that we needed some sizzle. We need some sexy guys. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. This is like an absurdist comedy. We’d become too big. It was the farthest thing removed from what we set out to be.”
At the time, I expressed skepticism that Epstein would be throwing his former coworkers and bosses under the bus so publicly. According to Epstein, I was right – but not in the way I thought.
“My quote about how ‘they told us … we needed sizzle’ was in response to a question about the meeting to discuss the consultants’ study on NESN ratings,” Epstein explained, per ESPNBoston. “It was specifically about the consultants’ meeting; it was not about ownership ….
“There is no direct link between that meeting and the Red Sox moves that Winter. I take full responsibility for those moves. It was my job to handle the pressure of a big market and make good decisions.”
So, as expected, Epstein keeps the blame on himself, and isn’t interested in passing the buck. This appears to be a simple misunderstanding about which group Epstein was criticizing (of course, I doubt it was Epstein’s idea to bring in that group of consultants, so … ). Still, I’m sure there’s a bit of truth in Epstein’s original quote – the Red Sox organization had some issues, and it played out for the worst in 2011. And Epstein moved on.