So just how bad was it in Boston?
By CHRIS RUDDICK, Sports Network
|Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz walks back to the dugout after flying out in the fourth inning of their MLB American League baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts September 21, 2011. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)
Maybe we should have seen this coming when Terry Francona parted ways with the Boston Red Sox just days after the regular season and didn't seem to mind one bit.
In fact instead of being relieved of duties, Francona just looked relieved.
Now comes word that general manager Theo Epstein will be leaving the team to assume the top baseball job with the Chicago Cubs, a move that had been rumored as far back as August, but one that not many people gave much credence to.
Epstein is a life long resident of Boston and with all due respect to the Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, the architect of the two biggest championships the city has ever seen. He's a God there. There's no way anyone thought he would leave.
Even last night when reports started to trickle in that it was a done deal I still had it at 50/50, comparing the situation to a big time college coach flirting with another school to get more money.
But, it appears the Yale educated, Brookline-raised wunderkind responsible for assembling the team that broke the curse of all curses appears to have $20 million reasons to leave his dream job to go to a team that in case you didn't know, hasn't won a World Series title since 1908 and hasn't won a playoff game of any kind since 2003.
Not to mention it's a team that still has to pay Alfonso Soriano $14 million a season for the next three years. And oh yea, Carlos Zambrano is still an issue.
Epstein will have some work to do that's for sure but he'll also have money to spend. This team may not be as far away as some may think. They have a solid group at the top of the rotation and a quality bullpen. A tinker here and a tinker there and maybe it's not so crazy to think that Albert Pujols ends up with the Cubs.
And if that happens who knows?
But, still why would Epstein leave a comfortable situation in Boston that was basically paying him the same amount of money with a team that for the better part of four months was the best in baseball?
Well for one, if he wins in Chicago, Epstein's legacy will be off the charts. Not only would he have eradicated the Curse of the Bambino, but he would have won with a team that has basically gone a whole lifetime without a championship.
And, two, and more importantly, it's starting to look more and more like the situation in Boston was just a train wreck. Epstein might be jumping off a sinking ship at the right time.
Now granted, much of that train wreck was his doing. Epstein put that team together. Carl Crawford, John Lackey, Bobby Jenks and J.D. Drew among others are all on his watch. Plus he unloaded his farm system for a guy who complained about having to play too many ESPN Sunday Night Games.
That team just had no chemistry and we are starting to realize that the 7-20 September was just the tip of the iceberg.
I remember someone telling me at the Winter Meetings last year that the Carl Crawford signing would be the beginning of the end of Epstein in Boston. He said Crawford just didn't have the makeup to play there. Nice call.
There was also a report that Lackey, along with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester would not only drink beer in the clubhouse on their off days, but gobble down fast food and play video games. Now that's probably more of an indictment on Francona rather than Epstein, but it just goes to show you what was going on there.
As relieved as Francona looked to be leaving, the same will probably be said for Epstein when he's introduced in Chicago. And don't be surprised that a week or so after Epstein takes the job that Francona isn't right there with him being named the Cubs' new manager.