Epstein says 'Farewell, Red Sox Nation' in op-ed

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Epstein says 'Farewell, Red Sox Nation' in op-ed

As it turns out, a full-page ad wasn't enough for Theo Epstein.

Not enough to describe his feelings toward Red Sox Nation and all it meant to him over the years -- from his childhood to now, the time he decides to walk away from his dream job.

Epstein wrote an op-ed piece in Tuesday's Boston Globe, saying everything he couldn't cram into his full-page ad, while trying to sum up a career as Red Sox GM that nobody will ever forget.

From the highs to the lows, Epstein's tenure in the Sox front office will forever be the measuring stick for all other Red Sox GMs.

Epstein begins by reflecting on the early stages of his life, when working for the Red Sox was nothing more than a dream of a young boy growing up in Brookline, MA. How he and his brother lived and died with every pitch, and how that 12-year-boy he once was deserves an explanation for why he's leaving -- as well as the fans.

"For the last decade, I gave everything I had to the Red Sox and received even more in return," Epstein wrote in the Globe. "I grew enormously as a person, had some successes, and made a lot of mistakes, too. I still love the organization, enjoy close relationships with owners John Henry and Tom Werner - as well as a complicated but ultimately productive and rewarding relationship with Larry Lucchino - and count many of my co-workers among my dearest friends. The reason I am leaving has nothing to do with power, pressure, money, or relationships. It has nothing to do with September, either.

"Football legend Bill Walsh used to say that coaches and executives should seek change after 10 years with the same team. The theory is that both the individual and the organization benefit from a change after so much time together. The executive gets rebirth and the energy that comes with a new challenge; the organization gets a fresh perspective, and the chance for true change that comes with new leadership. This idea resonated with me. Although I tried my best to fight it, I couldnt escape the conclusion that both the Red Sox and I would benefit from a change sometime soon."

Epstein goes on to write how, with Walsh's words in his mind, he could prepare his successor, Ben Cherington, for the inevitable -- his departure. He just didn't see it going down the way it did, with the way the season ended.

Epstein knew it was important for a GM and manager to have a strong relationship from the start, and that it would be "less than ideal" for him to take part in the search for Terry Francona's replacement when he would be leaving the organization in a year, when his contract ran out.

"What a privilege it has been to be a part of the Red Sox these last 10 years," Epstein wrote. "The first title in 2004, born from the heartbreak of Aaron Boone, was unforgettable: The Steal, Papi, the Bloody Sock, the Greatest Comeback Ever, the end of The Curse. The second, 2007, was equally rewarding as it solidified the franchises rise and marked the emergence of a core drafted, developed, and trained in the 'Red Sox Way' so many had worked so hard to establish."

Epstein also wrote about how proud he was for what the Red Sox now stand for.

"Pride in the uniform," Epstein wrote. "Appreciation of our history. Controlling the strike zone. Grinding at-bats. Having each others backs. Rising to the moment. Never backing down. Connection to the fans. Hard work. Playing with passion and urgency."

But Epstein couldn't leave without one more reference to the collapse, and the aftermath that came with it.

"Yes, September was a collective failure. As the general manager, I am the person ultimately responsible. Things did indeed happen in the clubhouse that do not have a place at the Red Sox or anywhere in sports. But the reports about team-wide apathy and indulgence are exaggerated."

Yes Epstein is now gone, but he writes that he leaves Red Sox Nation in good hands with Cherington as GM.

"Ben is infinitely more prepared than I was when I took over nine years ago," Epstein wrote. "Hes been an area scout, an international scout, an advance scout, a farm director, and hes supervised drafts. Ben is honest and insightful, fearless and friendly - and he is ready to lead this organization forward."

Epstein wraps up the op-ed with words of encouragement, hope, and good will towards the Red Sox organization, saying that although he won't be there, "the 12-year-old in me will be rooting for the Red Sox (except, of course, when they play the Cubs in June)."

"Thank you for all the incredible support this last decade," Epstein wrote. "I will never forget it. May we meet again in an October not too many years from now."

Felger: Will October be a dance or a dud?

Felger: Will October be a dance or a dud?

For a Red Sox team that has been the best in baseball in September and had won 11 straight prior to last night, you have to admit: There are a lot of things that could go the other way with this team in the playoffs that wouldn't surprise you.

To wit:

-- Would it surprise you if David Price blew up again in the postseason? He has a 5.12 career postseason ERA and has never won a playoff start. Was last night a precursor? He looked like his old shaky October self with a chance to clinch the division in Yankee Stadium.

-- Would it surprise you if Clay Buchholz crapped his pants when it mattered most? This is your No. 3 starter, folks, or No. 4 at worst. He's getting the ball in the playoffs either way, and if I told you that two months ago you'd tell me the Sox are sunk. He looks good now, but we all know he is the ultimate tease.

-- Would it surprise you if John Farrell blows a game with a bone-headed decision from the bench? Of course not; he's been doing that for nearly four years. Yes, he did it all the way to a title in 2013, but the possibility remains very real. It's in the back of most everyone's mind.

-- Would it surprise you if Koji Uehara regresses and the eighth inning once again becomes a problem? Uehara certainly has the experience and has pitched well recently, but the fact is that it feels like his arm is attached by a noodle.

-- Would it surprise you if some of the Sox' youth shows its age? It shouldn't. Happens all the time. Would it surprise you if Craig Kimbrel can't find the plate in a big save situation? It shouldn't. He's shown glimpses of it all season and has never pitched past the division series in his career. Would it surprise you if Hanley Ramirez makes an important mistake at first? Or the Sox' hole at third becomes a factor? Nope and nope.

We could play this game all night.

Now, what do I think is going to happen? I think the Sox are going to pitch well, even Price, and the offense will remain a force. I have full faith in Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Rick Porcello and the lineup in general. There's a feeling on this team that's hard to ignore, likely inspired by Ortiz, and I think they'll keep it going in the postseason. I agree with those who say the Sox have the most talent in the American League, so that's a great place to start. I don't know if that means the ALCS, the World Series or a championship. I just think they'll continue to play well into October.

But all of that is just a feeling, just a prediction -- and you know what those are good for. The point is this: If it goes the other way for the Sox, I think we already have the reasons why.

E-mail Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 FM. The simulcast runs daily on CSN.

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

NEW YORK -- The division title was there for the taking Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. When you've won 11 straight and steamrolled every other team in the division, what's one more?

One too many, apparently.

The Red Sox' 6-4 defeat to the New York Yankees postponed the Champagne party for at least one night. In and of itself, that's not a huge concern. The Sox' magic number remains one with five games to play and the club's epic hot streak had to come to an end eventually.

A better night by either David -- Ortiz or Price -- might have resulted in corks popping and on-field celebrations.

Ortiz was 0-for-5 and stranded a total of seven baserunners. When he came to the plate in the top of the ninth against Tyler Clippard with two outs and two on, it almost seemed scripted.

Here was Ortiz in his final Yankee Stadium series, about to inflict one final bit of misery on the rival Yankees with a three-run homer in the top of the ninth.

Talk about drama. Talk about one more famous, final scene.

Alas, Ortiz took some feeble swings and swung through strike three for the final out. Not even Ortiz, for all his clutch performances, can conjure a game-winner on-demand every time.

A far bigger concern was the work of Price. Perhaps the best thing than can be said of him for now is that he almost certainly will not have to face the Yankees again this season, against whom he's compiled a gaudy 7.89 ERA this season.

More troubling, though, is that Price is not exactly hitting his stride as the postseason appears on the near horizon. In his last three starts combined, Price has pitched 19 1/3 innings and allowed 27 hits and 14 runs.

That isn't the line of someone at peak form at the right time. To the contrary, after a run of outings in which it again appeared Price had figured everything out, he's regressed in his last three.

Most troubling Tuesday was a repeated inability to turn back the Yankees after his team had pulled close on the scoreboard.

Price spotted the Yankees a 3-0 lead, and the Sox finally scored twice in the top of the 6th to close within one at 3-2. But Price quickly gave anther run back in the bottom of the inning.

Then the Sox scored two more times in the seventh to tie things at 4-4. . . but Price gave the two runs right back in the bottom of the inning.

"Very frustrating,'' sighed Price. "It's something I talk about all the time. It's a very big deal. And it's something I feel like I've struggled with this entire year. Whenever you're going good, it's something you're doing very well. And whenever you're going bad...you get a lead, give it right back. . . that's tough.''

It also doesn't portend well for the postseason, where Price, as you may have heard, has a spotty track record.

With some strong starts in the final few weeks, he could have reached the playoffs with both momentum and confidence.

Instead, he's got one more start -- Sunday -- to straighten things out.

Ortiz? His postseason bona fides are set.

Price, meanwhile, has no such reservoir of success upon which to draw. And starts like Tuesday's only reinforce the doubts.