The Media Is A Part Of The Theo Epstein Story


The Cubs’ pursuit  of Theo Epstein to be their next general manager and president of baseball operations has been unique on so many levels. For one, the fact that Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts has accomplished his mission of keeping the Cubs’ general manager search quiet in this era of social networking is incredible to say the least. For all we know, Ricketts may have already hired Epstein and is waiting until after the American League and National League championship series to make an official announcement. Or, Ricketts may not even be focused on Epstein anymore and could have moved on to a different candidate. The truth is that no one can possibly know where things stand between Epstein, the Chicago Cubs, and the Boston Red Sox.

That is why the coverage of the Epstein rumors has turned into a human chess game, with each reporter trying to spin their guess as information being told them by a source. That in part, is because no reporter wants to go out on a limb in either direction and risk losing credibility. The biggest example of that type of reporting came from Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated when he tweeted over the weekend that “unless something changes, The will stay with the Red Sox.” That means nothing. Epstein is already the Red Sox general manager, meaning unless something changes–Epstein going to the Cubs organization–he will stay with the Red Sox.

It is that type of reporting that has spiraled the Epstein rumor out of control. The common theme among all reporters is that they can not stand the silence that is coming from Epstein, the Cubs, and the Red Sox and they are beginning to make guesses–while phrasing it as “source information”–in order to be recognized as the reporter who had first knowledge of Epstein either coming to the Cubs, or staying with the Red Sox. If Epstein does come to Chicago, is Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune going to credit Noah Pinzur for giving him the scoop of seeing Epstein at a Chicago land Starbucks?

Nonetheless, with each new report comes the hope that there will finally be a resolution on the Epstein speculation. Today did not help the movement for clarity on the Epstein situation as there has been nothing new to report. However, reporters are beginning to fluff up their guesses in order to give their predictions some more merit.

Heyman writes today that some people think Epstein is ready to embrace to the challenge of operating the Cubs, while “most think he will stay in Beantown.” So either way, Heyman could say that he was told by his alleged “sources” about what the future has in store for Epstein. Notice that Heyman offers no specification of the term “most” meaning he could have been talking to anybody. Certainly “most” Red Sox fans think Epstein will remain with Boston, while some Cubs fans think he is coming to Chicago. This is not meant to single out Heyman–as just about every reporter is guilty of this in their coverage of the Cubs’ pursuit of Epstein–but this is meant as a way to show readers and fans alike how a reporter takes the necessary steps to protect their credibility.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, who is well-connected to the Red Sox organization, offered up his opinion on Sunday. Cafardo wrote as if Epstein had already been named the Cubs next general manager, and suggested that spotlight for the Red Sox would once again be on team president Larry Lucchino. Cafardo mentioned that Lucchino would have the most power in the baseball operations of the Red Sox organization, while Ben Cherington would take over as the full-time general manager. It is known that the Red Sox hold Cherington–their current assistant general manager–in high regard, and that is why Cherington has had an increased participation in the the Red Sox operations this off-season. Whether or not that is sign that Epstein is headed to Chicago remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Fox Sports insider Ken Rosenthal made his weekly radio appearance for the “Mully and Hanley” morning show on 670 The Score. Rosenthal mentioned that he believes “with each passing day, the chances increase that Epstein is headed to the Cubs’ organization.” In fairness to Rosenthal, he may be the only reporters that has gone to extra mile to make a clear and concise prediction on how the Epstein situation plays out. If Epstein was not interested in the Cubs’ position, all this speculation would have ended by now. The same can be said if the Red Sox brass were sold on the idea of Epstein remaining their general manager. The fact that the Red Sox have been quiet throughout this whole process, may seem to indicate that Epstein is on his way to the Cubs’ organization.

I would imagine that an Epstein decision is likely to come this week. The Cubs can not afford to drag their feet in locking up Epstein–or any other prospective general manager–as they have too many key decisions to make before the Hot Stove season kicks off. My personal opinion is that Epstein is in fact going to become the Cubs’ next general manager, whether or not that is case will not be known until Ricketts formally introduces the next general manager of the Cubs.