Jim O'Donnell: Theo's next puzzle not all that puzzling
SO THE THEO EPSTEIN OF NOW arrives for a job interview.
And the H.R. director asks: "What exactly do you do?"
Epstein replies: "I solve puzzles."
He doesn't paint houses. He no longer chases Bambinos. He doesn't spruce ivy.
He solves puzzles.
Epstein solved major ones at Fenway Park.
He solved a mystic one at Wrigley Field.
And then he moves on.
Leave the platitudes and mythologizing for others to construct and contextualize.
Gone like a cool breeze. Up, up and away.
Nine years ago, at age 37, in The Boston Globe, he made it clear he visualizes his career in blocks of approximately 10 years.
Block one, Red Sox, victory.
Block two, Cubs, goat-neutering triumph.
Block three ...?
As was strongly suggested in this space 21 months ago -- anything short of a significant equity stake in whatever his next adventure is, Epstein is cheating himself.
Block four then becomes easy to project -- majority ownership of whatever he deigns to undertake as his final professional opus, be it a baseball team, a new-age sports and entertainment conglomerate, a used book store on Martha's Vineyard.
A bit of background on what was swirling toward The Orb of Theo during the winter of 2018-'19:
He had three years to run on his contract as president of baseball ops for the Cubs.
But the dog had been fed at Clark and Addison and the iridescent flame of November 2016 was clearly fading to dying ember.
A business force of significant resources had its designs set on an eminently rehabbable MLB team.
And that force wanted Epstein, complete with a minor stake in the project, as its master of baseball operations.
For the record, all was simply in the air.
There was no meddling. To this day, Epstein retains all plausible deniability. He has long had an appropriate relationship with the primary source of "the force."
The purchase didn't happen. Epstein had no firm offer and, thus, no decision to make about leaving the Cubs in 2019.
Now he is more free an agent than the election cybersecurity chief at the White House.
A realistic seer would venture that Epstein will rise higher than ever in his block three.
And wherever his used book may land, he will continue to do what he does best:
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• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at email@example.com.