First there was the full-page ad in Sunday’s Boston Globe, thanking the fans, the ownership, Terry Francona and the players. Now, today, there is the editorial in the Globe where Theo Epstein says goodbye, thanks the fans again and acknowledged not only the shortcomings of the 2011 team but the bright future it has as well:
Despite recent criticism, Red Sox ownership remains a model for others to follow. John, Tom, and Larry demonstrate their commitment to winning in the most fundamental way possible: If something needs to be done to help the team on the field, it gets done. September happened despite them, not because of them. It may not seem this way now, but I am convinced that we will look back at September of 2011 not as some harbinger of the demise of the Red Sox, but as an anomaly in the midst of a decades-long run of success for the franchise. Some good may even come from it. I know the climate is especially hostile right now, and our mistakes are well documented, but I encourage fans not to lose faith in the players or in the organization. Red Sox Nation is a fantastic place, and it’s even better when we take a deep breath and give each other the benefit of the doubt.
In Fort Myers next spring, a rededicated, revitalized, reborn Red Sox team will take the field for its first workout of 2012. September will seem like a long time ago. So will 2004 and 2007. I won’t be there, but the 12-year-old in me will be rooting for the Red Sox (except, of course, when they play the Cubs in June). From afar, I think I’ll finally be able to enjoy the experience more, to pull for the players with appreciation for their hard work and better perspective when things don’t go the way we – or they – want. I hope you will join me.
Many fans were concerned that the Red Sox and/or the media would start a Theo Epstein smear campaign the moment Epstein left. Today being the day where the Chicago Cubs announce their acquiring him (at noon ET) while the Red Sox are set to announce Ben Cherington as the new general manager (at 3pm ET), Epstein has made all the right preemptive moves by praising the owners, taking some of the heat for the team’s collapse, and acknowledging, as Terry Francona did, that it was time to move on.
It seems there will be no bad blood and Epstein will be leaving Boston with his head held high and with the respect of those who worked with and for him as well as the good wishes of the fans. The only bone of contention being what kind of compensation the Red Sox will get from the Cubs for Epstein. Reports are that if the two teams don’t have a compensation deal in place by November 1, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig will step in to mediate an agreement between the two teams.
Today marks the end of an amazing era for the Boston Red Sox (and what the Chicago Cubs hope is the beginning of the same for them). In spite of the September collapse, Epstein leaves the team in better shape than he found it and most Red Sox fans are eternally grateful.
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