Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Vote Theo Epstein for President

I'm not the most politically active person I know, but I try to do what I can to keep up with what's going on and sometimes I'll do a little research on a candidate if I see something I like. I'm not really captivated by any of the current presidential candidates, but I think I've found someone who can not only run this country the way it's supposed to be run, but also win a World Series while he's doing it, and that certain individual is none other than Red Sox GM Theo Epstein.

Before I get too far, I want to clarify two things. One, I grew up in the south as a Braves fan, and I have absolutely no affiliation with the Red Sox, either as a fan or as an amateur blogger. And two, I'm dead serious about this one. If George W. Bush can get elected and operate under the title of President of the United States, then Theo Epstein could easily do the same. In case you think it's some kind of far-fetched idea, let me assure you that there is already an underground community completely devoted to this cause, and they will stop at nothing to see it happen.

Anyways, there are a lot of reasons to elect Theo Epstein as President, but the one reason I'm interested in is the fact that he gets it. He gets what it's all about, and he definitely gets it more than "W" gets it. If President Bush was half the man Epstein is, then the Rangers would be a power house in the AL right now, with at least 3 World Series rings on each hand. But President Bush doesn't get it, and I don't think he ever will. The "it" I'm talking about is conventionally known as the Money Ball theory, but in reality it's much more than that. If I were only interested in the best Money Ball man, I would be writing this article about someone like Billy Bean or maybe John Schuerholz, and both of those men wold make fine presidents, but I'm talking about more than just being the master of Money Ball. I'm talking about being able to capture the synergy of baseball, including the business side, the draft side, the development side, and the stat side. Bean and Schuerholz have both shown a certain level of proficiency at all of these things, but no one has done it so well and at such a young age as Theo Epstein.

Just to give you an idea about what kind of presidential candidate Epstein would make, let's take a look at his qualifications. A graduate of Yale University, Epstein is also the son of the head of an English department at Boston University, and the grandson of Philip Epstein who won an Academy Award for the screenplay of Casablanca. Epstein's brother-in-law Dan Futterman wrote the screenplay for Capote, and Theo's sister Anya is a writer for the television show Commander in Chief. Theo himself was the sports editor for the Yale Daily News and is also a graduate of the University of San Diego Law School. With that pedigree and his education background, I think Epstein matches up pretty well with the likes of Bush, Clinton (both Bill and Hillary), Romney or McCain. But beyond his family history and his illustrious law degree, Epstein also knows how to hire good help. As the GM for the Red Sox, Epstein went against years of baseball inner-circle tradition and hired Sabermetrics guru Bill James, along with Eric Van, a Harvard grad early and Sabermetrician best known for his development of the OPS stat, and Voros McCracken, known for his work with DIPS in the late 1990's. With the hire of James, Van and McCracken, Epstein created the baseball equivalent of an All-Star Presidential Cabinet, covering every facet of the game in statistical form and providing a deep wealth of historical and analytical knowledge unparalleled in all of baseball.

By assigning such gifted men to be his aides and counselors, Epstein has been able to re-establish the Red Sox as a yearly favorite to win their division, and even the World Series. When you play in the same division as the Yankees, such accolades are hard to come by, but Epstein makes it look almost easy. How has he done it? By maximizing talent and minimizing cost. By trusting in the numbers and identifying undervalued skills, the Red Sox have been able to maintain their high priced free agents while filling in the gaps with highly productive players at discount prices. They've put a premium on intelligent hitters with high on-base percentages, and maximized their team slugging numbers by combining extended pitch counts with powerful swings. They've also maximized their returns in the draft by identifying hitters that not only fit into their system, but can contribute early.

As good as the Red Sox have done at the plate, Epstein hasn't just developed solid line-ups. When outsiders look at the Red Sox pitching depth, they often think that their secret to success has been a rotation that includes Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling and Daisuke Matsuzaka, but that's only half the story. By hiring stat heads such as McCracken, the Red Sox have been able to identify, draft, and develop young pitchers that are extremely undervalued, extremely talented, and above all else very good at inducing ground balls. Every early round pitcher taken by the Red Sox in the past several drafts has been a player that has exhibited high ground ball rates and solid control. While a few other teams have realized the value of ground ball pitchers, both as players and as capital investments, no other team has been as successful as finding such pitchers and developing them with the same amazing efficiency. These types of pitchers are what championship caliber teams are built around, and they create a depth chart that is virtually immune to major injuries while consistently producing the type of numbers that create solid win totals at a low cost to the team budget.

With all the things Epstein has going for him, I think it's is only appropriate if we use some kind of comparable politician to help us understand what type of potential Epstein has. With "W" still in the White House and as a former co-owner of the Texas Rangers for 5 years, I think we can look to his track record to draw some accurate conclusions. When you compare Epstein and Bush on all levels, Epstein is equal to or better than Bush in every significant category, indicating that Epstein would make a significantly better president than "W". First, Bush and Epstein both graduated from Yale, with Bush earning a degree in history and Epstein earning a degree in American studies. Bush went on to earn an MBA, while Epstein earned a law degree. During his time with the Texas Rangers, Bush had a hand in developing teams that won 466 games and lost 458 games, for a winning percentage of 50.5%. Epstein has helped develop a Red Sox dynasty that has won 563 games and lost 409 games, for a winning percentage of 57.9%. Under Bush's watchful eye, the Rangers drafted Rusty Greer, Benji Gil, Rich Aurilia, Kevin Brown and Scott Posednik. With Epstein at the helm, the Red Sox have drafted Jon Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, Michael Bowden, and Justin Masterson.

In summary, Epstein has the same caliber educational background, had a better winning record with his team, and recognized and recruited young talent better then Bush. His ability to recognize and bring together the best people and the best ideas makes him the perfect candidate as Commanded in Chief, and his track record speaks for itself. He understands the value of history, while embracing and utilizing the best of intellectual developments, and his leadership skills are obvious. If November rolls around and you still don't know who to vote for, consider writing in the name of Theo Epstein. You won't regret it.


reuven malter said...

Hmm. Interesting idea, but is Theo even eligible? You have to have "attained to the age of thirty-five Years" and he doesn't turn 35 until after the election. Maybe we have to wait until 2012.

Adam said...

I worried about that too, but I think he's such a great candidate that the general public may overlook it and elect him anyway, and then Supreme Court could change the law.