Theo Epstein’s Next Job Could Save Major League Baseball For The Next Generation
Something happened Tuesday when Theo Epstein resigned as president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs. It turned heads and got the baseball world thinking about new possibilities, which hadn’t been given much thought before Epstein left.
Having ended the kind of World Series drought in Boston and Chicago that film scripts are written on, Epstein leaves the Cubs as one of the most coveted people in the executive workforce – perhaps ever . It feels like he might just announce something in the area of what he’d like to do next, and businesses and organizations would fall to the ground trying to make room for him. And he would probably have no trouble getting back the $ 10 million he would have left on the table with the Cubs.
But for now, perhaps after a brief hiatus, it looks like Epstein could stay in baseball. Because when he left the Cubs he had some interesting things to say about the state of the game and how he became a less attractive product to his admirers.
“It’s the best game in the world,” Epstein said Tuesday. “But there are threats to that because of the way the game is playing, and I take some responsibility for that because executives like me who have spent a lot of time using analytics to try to optimize individual and team performance unintentionally negatively impacted the aesthetic value of the game and the entertainment value of the game.
For many, including those within the game and in its broadcast booths who seem to despise what the game has become, the words were validation of their concerns. One of the faces of the Mt. Rushmore sabermetrics is actually on their side, claiming that all the data and numbers could in fact be bad for the sport.
It means defensive changes. The launch angle revolution. The barrage of batters. Bull enclosure. All of this could hinder the growth of the game.
“Obviously the strikeout rate is a little out of control, and we need to find a way to get more action in the game, to get the ball played more often, to allow the players to show their athleticism more. and give fans more of what they want, ”Epstein added.
This reflection and self-awareness gives us hope. While Epstein might not be in a front office any time soon, maybe his departure won’t exactly follow the brain drain which has seen some of the smartest people in the league leave baseball for other opportunities, which looks likely to continue.
But anyone who’s ever spent time with Epstein knows he loves baseball. He wasn’t just an Ivy Leaguer who chose him because he offered her wealth. He chose baseball because he is a fan.
And that just might be Major League Baseball’s saving grace right now.
The Phillies and Mets could court him harshly, but a sideways move doesn’t seem like what Epstein wants right now. And maybe one day in the near future a piece of an ownership band is the way it’s going.
For now, however, he gives us hope that he understands some of the problems in baseball, and maybe he has some ideas for solutions. Maybe that means he’s starting a think tank where other smart baseball minds can produce remedies. Or maybe he’s joining MLB, not necessarily as a commissioner, but as a consultant who can help the product out on the pitch or as the head of a whole new league branch that focuses on the league. product improvement – because the people who work there now are Lost in the forest.
Epstein truly believes baseball is the best game in the world, and he’s got ideas on how to make it better. While many agree that the game is not “dying”, no one can argue that its young fan base is.
And anything that could help stop this trend – like making the game more attractive and athletic – will be welcome. Perhaps it is Theo who has the ideas that spark the answers and a new revolution.