For Marty McFly’s World Series prophecy to come true the Chicago Cubs could use a time machine of their own and go back to the start of the NLCS, a series they now trail 3-0 in. Ironically enough, the Cubs were supposedly cursed by a goat called Murphy. It is the bat of a man named Daniel Murphy who is doing all the damage now.
As dire as the situation may seem, Cubs President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein has been here before, 11 years ago as then General Manager of the Boston Red Sox, Epstein saw his team come all the way back from 3-0 deficit against the rival New York Yankees to advance to the World Series and end a 86-year-old championship drought.
The son of Leslie Epstein, the head of creative writing at Boston University and Grandson of Julius J. Epstein, Academy award winner for his screenplay of Casablanca, you could say that Theo is used to the dramatic.
If Billy Beane is the poster child for the Moneyball, then Epstein is by far its most successful proponent. Appointed Red Sox General Manager at 28 on the recommendation of Beane after he himself famously turned down the job. Epstein quickly set about trying to construct a World Series winning roster.
After Losing out to the Yankees in heart breaking fashion in the 2003 playoffs, Epstein put in place a deal to acquire a player widely regarded as the best in the game at that time, Alex Rodriguez.
Ultimately, the deal fell apart as most things do over an argument over money. Rodriguez had just signed a $250 million dollar contract with the Texas Rangers and then owner and future Liverpool head honcho, Tom Hicks, immediately got buyer’s remorse and was looking for someone to play the European Union and bail him out by taking A-Rod off his hands.
The Red Sox agreed, but only if Rodriguez dropped his annual salary by €4 Million a year. Amazingly such was A-Rod’s desire to play in Boston he agreed and even offered to pay Hicks $15 Million out of his own pocket to make the deal happen, but the players union vetoed the deal as it set a bad precedent for their players and A-Rod ended up as a Yankee and a pariah.
In the aftermath of the A-Rod failure Theo turned his attention to pitcher Curt Schilling, so determined to land him Epstein and assistant Jed Hoyer went to the Schilling house for Thanksgiving dinner. That bold move worked as Schilling signed and ultimately starred on the 2004 World Series team.
Epstein added another World Series in 2007 but, in between the two titles he left the Red Sox briefly after reportedly falling out with Red Sox president, Larry Lucchino. On the day he resigned, Epstein left his office at Fenway Park dressed in a gorilla costume to avoid the awaiting media.
Now Epstein can only hope that history will repeat itself if the Cubs are to get the monkey off their back and win their first World Series in 104 years. If they can, Epstein will go down as the greatest General Manager in baseball history by overcoming the sport's two most famous curses.
Surely if he does that there is only more job he could take on. The Mayo Footballers.