We knew that Theo Epstein would take a year away from running an MLB team after departing the Cubs, but we hoped he would stay involved in the sport somehow. Yeah, we’ve talked about him being the Commissioner in a future life, but that probably wasn’t going to happen any time soon.
So instead, he’s doing the next best thing:
— Cheryl (Raye) Stout (@Crayestout) January 14, 2021
Perfect. Just perfect. Epstein has been a leader in the game for nearly two decades, and always struck me as more than just a guy who knows how to lead one team’s baseball operations department. The guy just gets leadership, and gets baseball. Not only do you just want a bright baseball mind like Epstein’s helping shape the game, but it’s those on-field matters where he could really shine.
As recently as his departing press conference, Epstein was accurate and candid about the transformations in the game over the past 20 years, and how they aren’t necessarily making for the most compelling on-field product.
Here's what Theo Epstein had to say during his farewell Zoom conference with the Cubs, telegraphing his interest in the job he was hired for today. He blamed himself and other front-office executives for hurting the aesthetics of baseball and said he wants to fix that. pic.twitter.com/C8mVDQ81Sl
— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) January 14, 2021
Epstein didn’t get into too many more specifics, but, behind the scenes, he has been at the fore of efforts to think about what the sport needs to do in order to improve its long-term entertainment value. No, that doesn’t mean you start getting into all kinds of whacky gimmicks, but it’s long past time we start thinking about whether we’ve let the incentives among baseball teams get too far out of line with what makes for the most watchable game.
I cannot wait to hear more from Epstein and MLB on this transition.