By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

In defense of Theo

The talk shows and the sports pundits are turning against Theo Epstein. Let’s stipulate that this is not his finest hour. But I think he deserves credit for not trading away the team’s future.

If Jason Varitek hadn’t gotten hurt, the Red Sox would probably be on their way to the playoffs right now. I think we’ve all seen in the past few weeks how much he means to the team, especially to the young pitchers. A guy like that can’t be replaced.

But — if Varitek had stayed healthy, and the Sox had also picked up Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle, the Sox would still be lucky to make it past the first round the playoffs. There are way too many holes on this team, starting with Josh Beckett and the brutal middle-relief corps.

You might trade Jon Lester, Craig Hansen and/or Manny Delcarmen if you realistically believe that could get you into the World Series. But it would be idiotic to trade away the future in order to make marginal improvements to a team that still wouldn’t have what it takes.

Are there moves Epstein made that look bad? You bet. Johnny Damon apparently meant even more to the Sox than we realized when he was here. Bronson Arroyo could have provided some stability to the back end of a rotation ravaged by injuries and ineptitude. Bringing Coco Crisp and Josh Beckett here might prove to be a mistake, although I suspect they’ll both be a lot better next year.

But keeping the kids was not a mistake. This team isn’t worth the sacrifice.

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Probably too kind


In defense of Theo (II)


  1. Don

    It’s all about the money. . . Cheer up; there’s always next year. (Have you ever heard that before?)

  2. Dan Kennedy

    A few minutes ago, I posted an anonymous comment from someone who claimed that Dan Shaughnessy had referred to David Ortiz as a “sack of you-know-what” and Jose Offerman as a “piece of human garbage.” I then thought better of it and did some research. I can find no record of the Globe’s having published either of those phrases in any context over the past 10 years. So I took the comment down.Anyone with a public library card can gain free online access to the Globe’s archives. I do not want to post inaccurate information on Media Nation. As the old saying goes, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.

  3. oiginal commenter

    Correction Dan. He called Offerman a “piece of junk” not a “piece of garbage,” in 2002.

  4. Charles Foster Kane

    Dan:I remember Shaugnessy saying that Offerman was a “piece of junk”–try May of 2002. I’m unsure about the Ortiz quote.

  5. mike_b1

    Dan,Shaughnessy made the Ortiz comment on Jan. 4, 2003, on WWZN radio. The column about Offerman came out in late May 2002, and what he wrote was: “Let us consider for a moment the piece of junk that is Offerman.” On May 29 he went on FSNE’s New England Sports Tonight and claimed he was “stunned” about the reaction, saying he meant it as a player (not a person). Here’s the link to BSMW’s writeup on it:

  6. Dan Kennedy

    I should have added that the comments sounded like things Shaughnessy had said, but that I didn’t want to post them without backup. Now we’ve got the backup.

  7. mike_b1

    To me, the bigger issue is — and perhaps this is one your classes could discuss — what kind of editor would let their writers say such a thing, and especially in a “family newspaper?” Whose interest did that statement serve?

  8. Anonymous

    Dan, I like Jason Varitek, but he wasn’t hitting all year (.243). Yes, his absence has hurt, but “probably be on their way to the playoffs right now” is too much of leap. Beckett’s problems have been apparent all year also.

  9. baseballfan

    Why is it that nobody, anywhere, has any tape of this alleged Shaughnessy comment about Ortiz. One guy’s response to a blog entry is hardly “back-up.” Mike_b1 takes a crack about why the Globe “would let their writers say such a thing, and especially in a “family newspaper?” so presumably he can tell us when this Ortiz comment was in a family newspaper. Seems, Dan, like you’re still falling into the Internet trap where if something is repeated often enough, it becomes true and need not be questioned.The “backup” for the Ortiz comment does not seem to include anyone even claiming to have heard it personally and I can find no contemporaneous account of it being made anywhere.

  10. mike_b1

    baseballfan, can you read?As I noted, Shaughnessy made the Ortiz comment on the radio. That comment was not in a newspaper.The Offerman remark was in the Globe, May 28, 2002, I think but I’m going from memory. And that such an utterly asinine comment was printed reflects poorly — at best — on the Globe editors.

  11. mike_b1

    I should add that Bruce Allen references Shaughnessy’s outburst on July 29, 2003, and again here on Oct. 31, 2004. Allen also has a tile of the “quote” in rotation on his website —

  12. baseballfan

    Just because a Bruce Allen says it’s true doesn’t make it true — he’s just another blogger repeating things he thinks he heard. Mike-b1’s first link offered as proof of the comment is a statement that a Shaughnessy column in July of 2003 “goes without contrition for his out-of-place comments about David Ortiz before the season.” No reference whatever to what was said. The second offer of proof refers only to a comment having been made, again, with no reference to when it was made, who heard it, in what context it was made, or even exactly what was said. I’m not sure what the fact that this Allen guy “tiles” an alleged quotation has to do with veracity. This Allen also regurgitates comments about Shaughnessy’s daughter on his blog, also without serious reporting or fact-checking, just a blogger quoting another blogger, hardly a test for veracity.So we need to be enlightened. Who heard the quote? Didn’t the radio station keep tapes of such things? Has this quote ever been reported anywhere by someone who either heard it first-hand or can quote a reputable source, preferably one involved in the broadcast, as having heard it?What is also puzzling about people claiming to have heard Shaughnessy call Ortiz a sack of bleep on January 4, 2003, as MikeB1 claims, and being so certain they remember it, is that he was not Red Sox property at the time and there wasn’t even heavy speculation of the Sox chasing him.Ortiz was signed January 22, 2003, two weeks and four days after this alleged the comment was made. It seems odd that anyone would have such a vivid memory of an off-hand remark about a player who had just finished tied for 73rd in the majors in home runs and whose only public link to the Red Sox at this time it was made was being on a list of available free agent first basemen.Maybe Shaughnessy said it. He probably did. But show me better proof that what is offered, especially when the quote is used to condem him.Citizen journalism is wonderful. Reckless disregard for the facts, and that is the only way that blogger quoting blogger as gospel can be characterized, is unacceptable in any public forum.

  13. mike_b1

    Gimme a break. Ever heard of libel? If Shaughnessy didn’t say it, and folks like Allen — who are read by thousands of people every day — are running around saying he did, one of the Globe’s fine lawyers would have been looking for the FedEx man years ago.

  14. mike_b1

    “Just because a Bruce Allen says it’s true doesn’t make it true …”The irony of this is astounding. We could say the same for Shaughnessy…as in:”Just because a Shuaghnessy say Manny is faking doesn’t make it true…”or”Just because a Shaughnessy says he doesn’t get his hair permed doesn’t make it true…”

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