Are you reelin’ in the years
Stowin’ away the time
Are you gatherin’ up the tears
Have you had enough of mine
You been tellin’ me you’re a genius
Since you were seventeen
In all the time I’ve known you
I still don’t know what you mean
Just 3 years ago, Da Windy City declared Theo Epstein to be baseball’s biggest fraud. But look at the transition since that was written:
By this year’s post-season, A-Rod himself was giving Theo an A+ as baseball’s top executive – a sabermetric savant who was also a good judge of character. And look at that huge transition from 2014 – 2015. Anything else happen that year other than Theo morphing into a genius? Oh, yes – the Cubs hired Joe Maddon as their manager between the 2014 and 2015 season.
No one will rain on the Cubs’ parade this year, and winning always makes GMs and managers look like geniuses. Kudos to the Cubbies for ending their 108 year drought and, genius or not, it’s impressive that Epstein was pulling the strings that chased away two of baseball’s most famous ghosts: The Bambino in Boston, and Billy the Goat in Chi Town.
Theo’s early trajectory of being born in New York and transplanted to Boston paralleled the arc of a certified genius, the paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould. Gould, born in New York and a dedicated Yankees fan, was the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship – their unlimited fellowship grants are known colloquially as the Genius Awards. He became a professorial fixture at Harvard and adopted the Sawx from his seat at Fenway. Toggling between his stints in Boston and New York (he kept a gig going at the Museum of Natural History), Gould wrote elegantly about his lifelong passion for baseball.
Theo may be rightly hailed as a genius after all, and part of that may stem from his ability to channel Maddon’s genius; part form sabermetrics; and part from grasping the intangibles of the game the way Gould appreciated it. And from a fan’s perspective, perhaps the biggest intangible is “character” – the type of baseball dedication that Kyle Schwarber made legendary this year, and a new tradition in Chicago that their #1 draft choice last year, Ian Happ hopes to continue.